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 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

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

 

Flowers from Clem's Garden

Spring cheer from Clem’s Garden & Mutual Aid Groups

Community spirit blooms in partnership with Kirklees mutual aid groups

Clem’s Garden are working with Lindley Covid Mutual Aid Group to brighten up the lives of local people in the area. Clem’s Garden CIC is a social enterprise in Huddersfield. It’s run by local volunteers who don’t have children or grandchildren to channel their care, skills and experience into. They work together to grow and sell flowers, supporting local charities and community projects with the profits.

Their locally grown flowers are included in essential deliveries of food and medicine for those neighbours who don’t have family around or at the end of the phone for support. The group are also supplying HRI staff with bunches of flowers, to show their love and support for NHS staff.

Golcar Mutual Aid Group’s Food Buddies are also working with Clem’s Garden, delivering beautiful bunches of flowers once a fortnight to those who are unable to leave the house.

The Clem’s Garden volunteers have also pitched in to help with writing letters for care home residents who feel isolated, as part of a project co-ordinated by Volunteering Kirklees.

Find out more & Get involved

Clem’s Garden welcome new participants, including adult volunteers who have their own family, as ‘Friends of Clem’s Garden’.

Clem’s Garden

Could you write a letter or draw a picture to brighten someone’s day?

Volunteer to be a letter writer

Find your local mutual aid group

Find your local group – Covid Mutual Aid UK

The Stocksmoor story – a real feel of togetherness

David Smith, Chair of Stocksmoor Village Association, has kindly shared his reflections about setting up a mutual aid group and being part of the Covid-19 Community Response 

We set up our Stocksmoor group on the announcement of lockdown and took the opportunity to register with Kirklees Council via the Covid-19 facebook page and council website. Having no previous experience of setting up this type of group or working with Kirklees Council in this type of setting, we didn’t know what to do or what to expect. We found that we were quickly helped to get set up as a Mutual Aid Group and then brought into the local family of aid groups across the borough through email communications and daily Zoom meetings.

The amount of information and activity flying around as a result of lockdown was immense. This is understandable because of the wide range of localities and individuals it has affected. We have been impressed by the way this information has been brought together and then disseminated to us together with the organising of the daily Zoom meetings (now bi-weekly). In the early period we were all learning from the Covid-19 Community Response team and other mutual aid admins. The meetings went on each day irrespective of the fact that they included bank holidays and weekends, to ensure that the groups were fully supported.

The leadership and management of the mutal aid admins and group meetings has been excellent, bringing a real feel of togetherness amongst us and helping us to share information whilst at the same time using that information to form good practice where relevant. The meeting follow up notes and actions have been excellent and this allows us to share that with our volunteers.

Staff absences, self isolation and illness has affected many organisations in this period and Kirklees Council will be no exception. Inevitably this leads to increased workloads even without the above mentioned activity. Not once has this visibly affected the output from the Covid-19 Community Response team. Whilst it would be justifiable, we haven’t (and hopefully won’t!) had staff shortages put forward when waiting for actions to come back down the line. For us this demonstrates a great working attitude and aptitude and indirectly demonstrates great empathy needed when supporting so many volunteers by meeting us “where we are” – which is to say, being really keen to be effective in our roles.

Please keep up the good work and we look forward to our next meeting.

 

How to connect with other mutual aid groups

Ways to stay connected

 

Find out more about Stocksmoor

Stocksmoor Village Association

Stocksmoor Village Association facebook

Stocksmoor Village Association twitter

Stocksmoor Village Association instagram

 

locally grown flowers

Pictures of you – share your photos

Flowers from Clem's Garden
Locally grown flowers from Clem’s Garden, included in essential deliveries of food and medicine by volunteers from Lindley Covid Mutual Aid Group, to brighten up the lives of people in the area

We want to do more to show the amazing work that everyone is doing as part of the co-ordinated Community Response in Kirklees. This includes pictures of local organisations, mutual aid groups, councillors, staff and volunteers. Please send us any photos that you are happy for us to use to help promote the Community Response to Covid-19 in Kirklees.

Share your photos

What we’re looking for:

  • Photos of people or activities
  • Landscape format photos are best
  • Please get consent from any people who are in the photo
  • Photos that you’re happy to be published on the web, including social media

Please send your photo, along with a short description (including who is in the photo) to:

Covid19Response@kirklees.gov.uk

Please also confirm that we have your permission to share your photo. We may use your photo on Kirklees Council web pages, on social media or in email bulletins. We may also share your photo with trusted partner organisations who are helping to promote our work.

 

Got a story to tell?

If you have a story about the response to Covid-19 in your local place that you would like to share, please get in contact with Diane Calverley.

Email: diane.calverley@kirklees.gov.uk or call 07966 248959.

Thank you.