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:
Kirklees Libraries service have a range of free books, discarded from their stock, that they are making available to a number of community organisations including Mutual Aid Groups, to share with members of your community who would benefit from a new read.
These books are ones which are no longer used by libraries but are still in good condition. The intention is to gift them to community groups who are working with people in need, are shielding or who would not otherwise have access to them. They are not intended to be loaned and returned, just given away.
There are many different genres of books on offer – Crime, Thriller, Love and Romance, Mills & Boon, Westerns, General, Audio (general) or Large print (including crime and love and romance).
If you would like Kirklees Libraries to gift you some boxes of books to simply give away to people in your community, and you have the logistics in place to be able to do this, here’s how.
Ask in your email for the genre of books required (they will be boxed)
Get your email to Luc no later than Sunday 28th June 2020 (extended deadline)
How to get your books
Your books will be available for collection from Huddersfield Library on 3rd July 2020
Your books will have been quarantined for 72 hours prior to collection
You will be asked to collect your books at a set time, in order to maintain social distancing.
Ensure that when passing these books on to members of your community you have infection control measures in place.
This is a one-time offer and not a part of our normal library service, and is not intended to replace the library service (which will be resuming at some point in the hopefully not too distant future) but to release some literature in to our communities for the benefit of our residents and neighbours.
Third Sector Leaders Kirklees are hosting an online event on Thursday 25th June 2020 for mutual aid groups and other voluntary groups in Kirklees. You can get help with information about funding, volunteering and support.
If you’ve been helping run a Mutual Aid Group or other voluntary group over the last few months, you might now be wondering about how to develop your group and keep it going for the benefit of your community. This event will help you explore what the possibilities and options are, enabling you to continue the invaluable work you have been doing.
You will no doubt have already faced operational challenges over the last few months. Third Sector Leaders Kirklees recognise this and through working in partnership with Kirklees Council’s Democracy team and other experts, will be able to support you with a considerable range of advice and insights to take your next steps.
The meeting will take place on Zoom, from 6pm to 7.30pm.
Domestic abuse organisations have seen increased household tension and domestic violence due to lockdown restrictions, economic stress and fears about the Coronavirus. Increased isolation could also create an increase in abuse.
It is timely that Yorkshire Children’s Centre can announce they have launched their new telephone helpline for perpetrators of domestic abuse: “I need help to stop” – 07849 398711.
Support is available for those who wish to address their abusive behaviour to improve the lives of their partners, ex-partners and children. Domestic abuse includes physical violence, emotional abuse or any other form of coercive control.
The helpline is anonymous and confidential and provides guidance, support and advice in developing healthy relationships. If agreeable, callers can also gain further support through an online webchat session.
The challenges people have faced over the last few months have not fazed or diminished our sense of community. Neighbourliness is thriving week after week in our local places, where we’re helping each other and finding new ways of connecting.
A way we can all celebrate community and neighbourliness is by joining in with the Great Get Together, which takes place from 19th to 21st June 2020. Whilst there won’t be any public gatherings or large events this year, we can all reach out across the weekend with acts of compassion and connection in a safe way to celebrate the power of community.
On your street
Here are just a few of the fun activities you could help arrange with neighbours on your street over the weekend:
Community singalong: pick a song, share lyrics, and schedule a time to step outside and sing together.
Have your own Bake-Off: bake and present your masterpiece to your community for judging
Share a garden: grow one type of vegetable and get the community to do the same. Share what you grow and perhaps use it to make the same recipe.
Design a Treasure Hunt (think of things to hide in your windows and gardens that children could find on their daily walks).
Wishing Trees: encourage everyone to leave a wish for the future.
Community recipe book: share a recipe per household and create a recipe book.
There are lots more ideas on the Great Get Together website:
More in Common Batley & Spen are part of the Jo Cox Foundation and remain the key partner in organising the Great Get Together. The group works year round to build strong and compassionate communities where everyone has a sense of identity and belonging. They are also a vital part of the community response in Kirklees, as one of our community anchor organisations.
There will be a More In Common assembly for schools in collaboration with a number of local head teachers on Friday 19th June. On Saturday 20 June, a regular Community Service event goes virtual with a community quiz to follow. Details of how to watch and take part in these, and many other events organised locally in the community will be shared on social media channels.
There is a planned digital art projection in Dewsbury town centre, featuring the work of artist, Ian Berry and messages of thanks, thoughts, hopes and prayers from people across Kirklees. Ian’s work and shared local images will be projected onto a building in Dewsbury town centre, on the evening of Friday 19th June after dark. The public are not being encouraged to attend in view of social distancing. Instead, a film will be created that will be shared on social media platforms. There is also a longer term plan for an outdoor exhibition to support the re-opening of local towns following lockdown.
Run for Jo
On Sunday 21st June people across the country are being encouraged to take part in the Run for Jo by doing a 2.5km or 6.5km run in their own community. Hundreds of people are also training for the run on the Strava running community.
It is important to remember that this week is also Loneliness Awareness Week. You might want to consider doing something to make sure those neighbours who are more isolated or unable to participate outside can remain a part of your community. Here are a few virtual activities you can organise:
Take a walk for someone who can’t – call someone isolated on your daily walk and describe what you see, smell, hear and feel.
Organise a telephone tree to reach those most isolated.
Call an old friend.
Host an album listening party.
Have a virtual Open Mic night.
Loneliness Awareness Week
Loneliness Awareness Week is about encouraging people to speak about it openly and understand loneliness, one conversation at a time.
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:
Many mutual aid and community volunteers have recently found themselves supporting individuals who don’t have a working fridge, cooker or freezer.
The Yorkshire Children’s Centres Pass It On shops sell donated and reconditioned white goods at a reduced price. They have a range of fridge freezers as well as new electric cookers.
Whilst the Pass It On shops have not been open, the Yorkshire Children’s Centre have been running a buy and collect service. The shops are now reopening, but in small steps so this can be done safely – so please check their website for the latest updates.
How the goods are purchased may vary from circumstance to circumstance. We recommend speaking to the Local Welfare Provision team at Kirklees Council for advice and assessment if the person who you are supporting is struggling financially and you think they may be entitled to benefits.
Pass It On also offer new and donated beds along with various other furniture items.
For things like the Welcome Mentors project to work, willing volunteers are needed and it’s always nice to hear first hand the stories of those directly involved. These stories from Volunteering Kirklees say more about the practical help that Mentors provide to migrants, along with what the volunteers get out the experience as individuals. It’s heart-warming stuff.
Modern slavery continues to be an issue in our society. If you’re engaging with vulnerable people during the Covid-19 emergency, there’s a chance you may come across victims of modern slavery.
The term ‘Modern slavery’ includes human trafficking, slavery, servitude and forced labour. Modern slavery can affect areas differently, being more common in some than others. Being aware of what to look out for and how to spot the signs can only be a good thing.
Advice and guidance differs depending on your role. First Responders have a Duty to Notify the Home Office. People in other roles should contact a First Responder Organisation, such as the Police or the Salvation Army.
All of us need to know what to look out for. The Home Office have provided some information posters. These posters cover things like spotting the signs, where support and help is available to victims and how to contact support services. Also included is important information about how you can stay safe during Covid-19 and how to safely take action to support a potential victim.
You don’t need to be sure that modern slavery is taking place, or fully understand the types and definitions, to report your concerns.
Information posters from the Home Office
This poster tells you what to look out for and how to get help:
The Kirklees Safeguarding Children Partnership provides a wide variety of resources to help professionals working with children who may have been trafficked, including guidance, policy and referral information: