Have you recently got involved in making a difference in your community?

Illustrations from our workshops

Online workshops, March & April 2021

We’ve been running workshops with local people to hear your stories and talk about how more people can come together to make local places better.

Lots of the people who have participated in our workshops so far have been doing all sorts of great things in their community for some time. Now, we’re particularly interested in hearing from more people who have only got involved quite recently, and who have a story about this to share.

Could you help us find someone, perhaps from the organisation or group you’re part of, who might also like to join in a pair of workshops? We’re looking for people who have only recently become involved in their community, who were perhaps not confident to begin with, or who didn’t know how much they had to offer until taking that first step.

These workshops for Kirklees citizens are an opportunity to meet with other local people to look to the future. It’s a bit of an experiment for us. But what we know for sure is that now, more than ever, we want to work with and alongside each other in our local places.

How to take part

Participants will take part in two workshop discussions. You can register now for the first session:

Monday 29th March, from 2pm to 4pm

The workshops will be online via Zoom video call. They will involve a mixture of activities and small group discussions. It’s a safe environment and everyone will have a chance to talk.

You’re welcome to join in if this sounds like the right thing for you, Or if you can think of anyone who might be interested, please share this link with them:

Register to take part

 

The workshops will be run by the Kirklees Democracy team. We’re working with an organisation called the New Citizenship Project, who are supporting this work.

 

Growing Great Places crowdfunding – spring drop-ins

The Growing Great Places community crowdfunding programme is back this Spring. Got a great idea to help your community recover, reconnect and thrive? Growing Great Places can help you to get your idea off the ground. Successful projects could also receive a pledge of up to £5,000 from Kirklees Council.

Springtime is about green shoots and sowing seeds, where new life grows and recovers after the cold winter months. In similar way we know that people in our local places are coming up with great new ideas to help their community recover and thrive.

Kirklees Council are now launching the Growing Great Places spring funding round to support groups anywhere in Kirklees who are aiming to start a project this summer.

Got an idea that will help people’s health and wellbeing in your local place? Want to reconnect people to grow friendships and tackle loneliness? Setting up new activities to support young people? If you’ve got a great idea for helping your community build back better, Growing Great Places can help you generate support from residents, businesses and Kirklees Council to make it happen.

Drop-in sessions – March 2021

Spacehive and Kirklees Council are running free drop-in sessions where you can get advice and support. We’ll be on hand to answer your questions and to share advice about running a successful crowdfunding campaign. Our online sessions include different breakout rooms where you can get the support that’s right for you. So whether you’re almost ready to get started with your project, or just working on some ideas, we can help.

The deadline to have your project ready to crowdfund is 21st April 2021. Come along to one of our drop-in sessions in March to get all the support you need to get your project ready in time.

Register to take part

This is a great opportunity to further develop the spirit of community you’ve already done so much to grow.

Growing Great Places

 


 

How can more people come together to make local places better?

Illustrations from our workshops

Online workshops, February 2021

We know that mutual aid groups and community organisations have made a huge difference in our local places over the past year. So we hope you’ll want to be part of these workshops about how we can help more people feel confident in their ability to make our local places even better.

These workshops for Kirklees citizens are an opportunity to meet with other local people to look to the future. It’s a bit of an experiment for us. But what we know for sure is that now, more than ever, we want to work with and alongside each other in our local places.

Please come and share your experiences, listen to other people’s stories and make new connections. 

You will take part in two workshop discussions. You can register now for one of these first sessions:

  • Tuesday 16th February, from 2pm to 4pm
  • Thursday 18th February, from 10am to 12 noon
  • Saturday 20th February, from 10am to 12 noon
  • Wednesday 24th February, from 5pm to 7pm
  • Friday 26th February, from 10am to 12 noon

We’ll arrange the second session with you later, at a time that’s suitable for you.

The workshops will be online via Zoom video call. They will involve a mixture of activities and small group discussions. It’s a safe environment and everyone will have a chance to talk. We hope you’ll want to join in. 

Register to take part

The workshops will be run by the Kirklees Democracy team and an organisation called the New Citizenship Project, who are supporting this work.

If you’re part of mutual aid, you’re part of local democracy

Online event – Thursday 22nd October, 6pm to 7.30pm

Have you been involved in a mutual aid group or community organisation in your neighbourhood during covid-19? By being an active citizen in your local place you are part of your local democracy. You are making decisions about what happens in your neighbourhood and working with others to make it happen. This October we’re talking with active citizens about whether you feel part of local democracy now, and listening to your ideas about what would help you and others to stay involved in civic life.

You are every welcome to join in our online discussion workshop to share your experiences and ideas with other mutual aid participants and members of Kirklees Council’s Democracy Service.

Register to take part in our online discussion

 


Local Democracy Week 2020

This is part of a series of online events and covid-safe activities to celebrate Local Democracy Week 2020 in our local places. See our full programme to find out what else is on…

More local democracy events and activities in Kirklees

 

Pride in Linthwaite – a shared journey

Pride in Linthwaite volunteers

In spring 2020, Kirklees Council more than doubled the funding that ward councillors have available to support local projects in their area. Through this extra £30,000 of funding per ward, councillors are able to support the groups, projects and volunteers who are such a vital part of the community response to Covid-19. We’re sharing some stories from different wards, so you can see how councillors are using these funds in our local places.

Pride in Linthwaite were able to quickly transform into a mutual aid group, providing support to vulnerable people in Linthwaite and Cowlersley, when the lockdown was announced. The group (who had formed two and a half years earlier) quickly adapted from their usual activities of litter picking, community fundraising and events.

Setting up and running something new isn’t easy. All the practicalities are challenges. It can also be a challenge convincing people of your group’s value to the local area. Pride in Linthwaite had seen a mixed response to their usual activities. Some people volunteered hands-on support with things like litter picks, some were supportive from a distance and attended events, but others were not sure why the group was needed. Experiences over the past few months have helped more people to see the value of Pride in Linthwaite.

We spoke to Liz Quinn, NHS nurse and one of the directors of Pride in Linthwaite. Liz told us about some of the group’s work, how people have worked together during lockdown and the new-found trust that has changed how some local people see the group.

“Pretty much the first thing we did was get a leaflet together with a helpline number and did a mass leaflet drop to households. We wanted to make sure people knew who to contact if they were in need. We also had people contacting us to volunteer as things quickly escalated.

“Volunteers were delivering food and collecting prescriptions, they were dog walking and supporting a befriending service.

“Small acts of kindness can be simply heart-warming. One lady who was self-isolating was panicking about being able to post birthday cards to her nieces. We arranged for her to leave them on her doorstep, collected and posted them. She had been so anxious about not being able to post them, and was so grateful that someone was there to help her do this.”

“We’ve recorded in total over 220 ‘volunteering acts’ but this is likely to be more, through things such as the befriending service. Once someone had made contact, they would then make their own arrangements for continuing that connection.”

Whilst it takes a lot of energy and commitment to create new ways of supporting people, sometimes a little bit of funding is needed too. The local Colne Valley ward councillors were on hand to support the group:

“Two of our local councillors, Cllr Rob Walker and Cllr Donna Bellamy, were able to provide some funding from their own budgets that they’d been given to support groups who are part of the community response to the coronavirus. This meant we could start making up food parcels for those people who were self-isolating. It was nice that they worked together for the good of the community and put any party politics to one side.

“We were so lucky to have the ward councillors on board and all those volunteers, but we also had support from Morrisons supermarket in Meltham, who were fantastic by donating food. Also the manager and staff of the local Premier shop were able to just help us get what we needed for a person in need, particularly if it was an emergency. They were just brilliant.”

Relationships and partnerships have been a key part of Pride in Linthwaite’s ability to respond so well to the needs of the community. Liz explained how relationships have developed over the last few months:

“Whilst we are looking to wrap-up the mutual aid group side of things, it has enabled us to gain the trust of more people locally and strengthen our partnerships.

“All the volunteers want to remain part of the WhatsApp group we have, so if there is any ever need to mobilise again, they will be there. The socially distanced litter pick we’re organising has already got more people signed up to help than we’ve had before. There is a good feeling about the group and I think a change in perception about Pride in Linthwaite.

“We were all thrown in at the deep end. I think the council support has been really good, especially when we started. Even though it was chaotic for everyone they provided information and guidance. It was a shared journey. Links with councillors and local businesses have been excellent.

“Feedback from the people we’re all helping – moving them from state of panic to relief – has been something every one of us has had a role in.”

Ward project budgets – your councillors can help

Learn more about councillors

St. Andrew’s Church Liversedge – our food box network

Volunteers at St Andrew's Methodist Church

In spring 2020, Kirklees Council more than doubled the funding that ward councillors have available to support local projects in their area. Through this extra £30,000 of funding per ward, councillors are able to support the groups, projects and volunteers who are such a vital part of the community response to Covid-19. We’re sharing some stories from different wards, so you can see how councillors are using these funds in our local places.

The relationships councillors have with people in their communities, and their local knowledge, continues to be an important part of helping citizens in our local places respond to Covid-19.

Like many local groups and organisations, volunteers from St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Liversedge realised that if they were going to set up a project to help their community, they were going to have to act fast to get it off the ground before lockdown happened. Their aim was to be ready to provide food boxes to vulnerable people across parts of North Kirklees.

Administered by Wesley Playhouse Ltd (as part of the Howden Clough Methodist Church in Birstall) the project quickly brought together representatives of other churches in North Kirklees, who together made a plan for the food box network.

Caroline Holt, one of the lead organisers, explained how the project came about and what they’ve achieved by working together with other partners. Funding from local councillors has been important in supporting their work.

“I was approached by a local ward councillor, Cllr Lisa Holmes. She has a really good knowledge of the communities and knew that through the network of churches something could happen. Churches covering the North Kirklees circuit quickly became part of the project.

“Getting funding to run a project under normal circumstances isn’t always easy. The bureaucracy involved can really hold things up. Cllr Holmes explained local ward councillors had been given extra funding so they could tackle issues more quickly. This allowed us to focus on getting the project up and running with minimal time wasted on form filling.

“We were keen to do things properly though, so made sure we consulted with parishioners on what they thought would be more useful to go in food boxes. From this we were able to work out the likely costs and let the councillors know how much funding we thought we’d need.

“We wrote a business plan to give ourselves some structure and an ability to demonstrate our approach. The councillors from Liversedge and Gomersal ward and Mirfield ward initially gave us £5,000 between them. They offered reassurance too though, that if the numbers of people requiring our help increased, they would support us with additional funding.

“The trust they showed in us to deliver a project like this was really important. We would have done something to support our communities anyway, but the time taken to do this would have been time lost when people really needed our help.”

As well as the benefit of having a good relationship with the councillors, Caroline also told us about the importance of managing the project properly and the support from other parts of the community.

“We knew it was important we reached the right people, so relied in part on referrals from the Covid-19 Community Response phone line set up by Kirklees Council. In this way, we knew the referrals we were getting were from people in need and were at a level of need we could definitely help with. We had so many people come forward to volunteer that we couldn’t even use all of them. This shows how brilliant the community response has been.

9E59F213-43F1-4A5E-BA12-D910D2FC8E4F
Mav Morse taking a request

“Some people gave up their time every day, such as Liz and Richard Sands, along with Mav Morse who manned the phone line. We’re also hugely grateful to Steve Dawson of Tesco and Wendy Clough of Morrisons supermarkets, whose local branches gave us donations of food, meaning the funding we did have could go a lot further. It probably doubled the length of the project.

“In all, throughout the lockdown, we’ve helped over 200 households and continue to help some. We’ll keep helping them until we know they’re no longer vulnerable, but will also encourage them to take back their independence as time goes by.

“The success of the project and the benefits to our communities shows why it’s good for groups to have a good relationship with your local councillors. The councillors took the initiative in approaching us, trusted that we could help and gave us the funding to deliver something much needed in our communities at the time.”

Ward project budgets – your councillors can help

Learn more about councillors

 

Shelley’s mutual aid story – looking out for each other

Shelley Village Hall

The story of Shelley village’s community response is about kindness, new connections and how Covid-19 has perhaps made us look at our local places in different ways. It’s a story that may be familiar to those who have been directly involved with their own mutual aid group.

Many people in our local places have benefitted from the actions of dedicated mutual aid group volunteers, who have helped to deliver essential supplies such as food shopping and prescriptions. When a potential lockdown began to look likely, it prompted some active residents of Shelley village to come together and form their own mutual aid group. We spoke to Ann Priestman from Shelley Community Association about how everything unfolded…

Ann“There was a core group of people from the village including the vicar, pub landlord, Brownie leader, leader of the mother and baby group and a resident who is a community first responder with the paramedics, along with several other active residents.

“Within just a couple of hours we had assigned roles. Two volunteers to coordinate and lead the response. Someone responsible for social media and the website. We knew it was important to communicate the offer of support to all residents, not just those online, so we developed a leaflet that could be delivered to every household.

“A group of eight volunteers were able to get out and deliver the leaflets and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Lockdown had just been announced and people were already feeling scared and concerned about how they would get food and prescriptions. The leaflet gave them reassurance that there was help in the local community.”

This was just the beginning of the community response from Shelley village. The landlord from the village pub set up a small farmers market so residents had access to fresh fruit and vegetables along with other produce. He also did deliveries to those who were shielding. The Brownies made happy postcards and painted rocks which they put around the village.

A call out for more help generated a whole team of extra volunteers. Over the next few weeks these volunteers delivered nearly 150 prescriptions and made almost 50 shopping deliveries. Ann explained that was not all, and the figures don’t necessarily reflect the reality.

“Once a volunteer had been matched to support a resident, future deliveries were often worked out between them. Volunteers also started to help residents with other things such as mowing lawns or tidying gardens. One couple even took a resident to all of her hospital appointments.”

The volunteer team also worked closely with the Denby Dale Centre, one of eight community anchor organisations across Kirklees, to help with some of the shopping requests.

“The Denby Dale Centre were great, particularly when residents could only pay for shopping using cash. The centre had a system in place which meant transactions could be done transparently for residents and the volunteers helping them.”

We asked what impact lockdown has had on Shelley village overall. Is there a sense that community links have strengthened? Ann explained her thoughts to us:

“People have been saying on Facebook and in conversation this is a great place to live and people are really thankful that they are getting help in their village. There is a sense that people are looking out for each other and their neighbours. People are talking to each other who they wouldn’t normally. They have connected and bonded.”

In October 2019 Ann was one of a group of volunteers leading the Ask Shelley conversations, which asked what life is like in Shelley village. Supported by the Democracy Service at Kirklees Council, Ask Shelley is one of a growing number of ongoing How Good Is Our Place activities in our local places. This programme of work recognises that citizens want to have more dialogue about what matters in our local places, and more of a voice in what happens here.

Ann told us that she thinks recent events will have changed how some people think about Shelley:

“During the Ask Shelley activities, some of the findings were a little negative about the village not having many facilities and some residents feeling that other surrounding villages had more to offer. I believe if the Ask Shelley engagement was carried out today it would be a lot more positive, as people have rediscovered their pride for the village.”

Volunteers in Shelley have been working on an action plan for the village, based on their conversations, which will be shared online soon.

Ask Shelley

 

Golcar’s mutual aid story – talent, skill and goodwill

Golcar volunteers

The creation of Golcar Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group was swift. In local places across Kirklees it seemed that mutual aid groups had almost sprung up overnight. But groups don’t magically appear. In Golcar village, as in other local places, it took a group of likeminded citizens to decide to come together as part of a community response to Covid-19.

Jane Smith, coordinator of the Golcar group, told us what sparked her into action, how a group of volunteers quickly emerged, what they have achieved together and how the amazing work goes on…

“With 90+ year old parents I was only too aware of the threat Covid-19 would be to the elderly and wondered how they would manage if, as seemed likely, they would have to go into lockdown and that their carers or family members may also be forced to self-isolate due to infection.

“After searching online and chatting to a few people it became obvious that no one was actually “there” to tell us what to do. It was a very confusing time. However it was very clear that if we wanted something to be done, we would have to do it ourselves.”

Jane describes the first week as being “a blur of working crazy long days”. At the end of that week though there was a group of 30 volunteers and a leaflet with a freephone number. After lockdown was announced, the volunteers delivered these leaflets to 3,600 households in just two days.

Whilst receiving requests for help generated by the leaflet drop, they were also inundated with people coming forward to volunteer their help.

The group assisted with shopping, postal runs, and actively sought out those people who are isolated to make sure they were getting the assistance they needed, even if that was just about having someone to talk to. The group have a ‘Chatterbox’ team who operate like a befriending service, to make sure people who are isolated don’t get lonely.

As well as deliveries and phone calls there was making, providing and working in partnership.

“Our fabulously industrious Makers have made 413 laundry bags, 76 sets of scrubs, courtesy of Clare Quartermain’s wonderful Scrub Hub, and 118 ear protectors. As a result we have been able to provide these to Calderdale & HRI Trust community midwives, Field Head Surgery, Crimson Manor, Knowle Court and New Street Surgery.

Golcar Flowers

“We also work in conjunction with the wonderful Clem’s Garden nursery to provide flower posies every fortnight to our buddied residents – our ‘You are Not Forgotten’ flowers.

“We are working with Grow to School’s “Growing Together Kirklees” project and delivering grow your own supplies to Knowle Court and Carlton Specialist Services for their vegetable patch, which we hear some of the residents are really enjoying.

“We are taking book donations to start a Mobile Lockdown Library, to deliver books to those still behind the shield with underlying health conditions.

“We are working with Carlton Autistic Care Home to provide props for their themed event seaside day.”

Golcar collie squadParticipants have contributed cards, chocolates and arts & crafts materials for residents and staff at Knowle Court and Crimson Manor. Other donations have included clothes, toys, books, food and toiletries for local families in need. The group have even formed a Collie Squad to help out with regular dog walking for those who can’t get out.

How everyone has worked together is a recurring message in Jane’s story. She explained that it is important to think of everyone’s contribution when it comes to community, neighbourliness and a sense of place.

“When I look back on what this village has achieved over the last two months, I am struck by how much talent, skill and goodwill is out there. In our village we have telecoms specialists, IT experts, professional machinists, florists, librarians, knitters, crocheters, sewers, card makers, artists, locksmiths, electricians, plumbers and even one couturier! Each in their own way have contributed to this support.

“I count myself lucky to live in such a lovely place, with such wonderful people.”

Find out more

Golcar Covid-19 Mutual Aid (Facebook)

Clem’s Garden

Grow to School

The Golcar community comes together through crisis

Chickenley Community Centre’s community response

In spring 2020, Kirklees Council more than doubled the funding that ward councillors have available to support local projects in their area. Through this extra £30,000 of funding per ward, councillors are able to support the groups, projects and volunteers who are such a vital part of the community response to Covid-19. We’re sharing some stories from different wards, so you can see how councillors are using these funds in our local places.

In Dewsbury East, councillors have supported Chickenley Community Centre to provide food and other help for people in local places across the ward, including Chicklenley, Shaw Cross, Earlsheaton, Hanging Heaton and Dewsbury town centre.

Councillors knew that like a lot of other places in Kirklees, local communities would be affected by the coronavirus lockdown. They were asked by Chickenley Community Centre to support setting up a food bank, and have provided £5,000 of funding to the scheme. Among other things, the project is distributing food vouchers and food parcels across the ward.

In this short video we asked Paul Moore, Community Centre Development Worker, to tell us about their work. A small group of volunteers have made the project possible. Together with support from Kirklees Council, the One Community foundation and the Charities Aid Foundation, they are providing far more than food for local communities.

Ward project budgets – your councillors can help

Learn more about councillors

 

Growing Great Places – free workshops in July 2020

Growing Great Places montage

The community response in Kirklees to the Coronavirus has been incredible, with so many mutual aid and volunteer groups providing support to thousands of people across neighbourhoods and communities.

Through our Growing Great Places crowdfunding programme, Kirklees Council are offering support to local groups groups who have ideas for projects that can make our local places even better. If you and others in your neighbourhood have developed ideas over the past few months which you want to turn into a new project, this programme could well be the opportunity you’re looking for.

Pledges of up to £5,000 are available for successful crowdfunding campaigns.

Growing Great Places is run by Kirklees Council’s Democracy Service and our partners Spacehive. Spacehive are a crowdfunding platform working with local organisations on projects seeking to make neighbourhoods more sustainable, inclusive or accessible.

Take part in a free online workshop

If your volunteer group have an idea for a project in your local place, such as a community garden, pop-up market or cycle hub, Spacehive are hosting two free online project creator workshops where you can learn more.

For more details on how Growing Great Place works and how we can help you bring your projects to life, please register for your free place:

Wednesday 15th July – 12 noon

Wednesday 23rd July – 4pm

 

Find out more about Growing Great Places

Growing Great Places – community crowdfunding

Growing Great Places – Spacehive