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 Covic-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

Loneliness Awareness Week (15th to 19th June)

Lady talking on a mobile phone sitting at home.

Loneliness can be difficult to talk about. It’s hard for people to say sometimes that they feel lonely. It shouldn’t be, but it is. The last few weeks in lockdown will potentially have highlighted to some of us what loneliness is who haven’t previously given it a second thought. There are others who may well have felt lonely even before lockdown.

Writing something to share that dwelled on all the effects loneliness can have on our mental and physical wellbeing didn’t feel quite appropriate. What so many Mutual Aid Groups, volunteers and neighbours have been doing over the last few weeks is a demonstration that loneliness and isolation is being tackled, that we are aware and collectively we are doing something about it.

Tackling loneliness may have been disguised as the shopping you’ve done for a vulnerable neighbour, or picking up that prescription from the pharmacy, because the other part of that action is the conversation you’ve had with those people and making sure they’re okay. Small human interactions can make all the difference.

How many of you have seen or helped out celebrating an older person’s birthday who lives on your street? How many of you have clapped for carers on a Thursday evening, then exchanged words with neighbours you haven’t really talked to before?

The actions of groups, volunteers, friends and neighbours have helped to reduce isolation, and have demonstrated the caring nature of people and communities. Together we’ve done that.

Yet there is still a need for vigilance and awareness beyond our own neighbourhoods. There is always potential for individuals to fall through the gaps, but there are also local volunteer befriending services who do amazing work to catch those people.

The challenge for us all will be to maintain our neighbourliness beyond lockdown and to keep talking to each other, to keep visiting those who may be more vulnerable, whether that’s an older person or someone who you know that isn’t as socially mobile as they would like to be.

You might have been inspired yourself to sign up to be a volunteer at the befriending service, or know someone who you think might want to do that. We should all encourage that as an option. But we should all keep doing what we’re doing.

If you want to read more about the Befriending Partnership in Kirklees, read our blog:

Befriending Partnership

If you are interested in being a Telephone Befriender with full training and support please email: befriendingpartnership@yccuk.org.uk

If you, or someone you know, would like telephone befriending support please let us know via our Covid-19 Community Response online form, or call our Freephone helpline: 0800 4561114.


Let's talk loneliness
Loneliness Awareness Week

Loneliness Awareness Week is about encouraging people to speak about it openly and understand loneliness, one conversation at a time.

Let’s Talk Loneliness – Get involved

 

 

 


There are five organisations involved in the wider Befriending Partnership in Kirklees.

Yorkshire Children’s Centre

Age UK Calderdale & Kirklees

Royal Voluntary Service

Kirkwood Hospice

Locala