We are living through history – the Covid-19 pandemic has touched everyone’s lives and has made big changes to some.
Kirklees Museums and Galleries want to know more about your experiences, both positive and negative. We collect objects and the stories connected to them in order to help people in the future understand events and how they have affected people in local places across Kirklees.
So, what could we collect? Well, we are particularly interested in objects which say something about the pandemic locally. Are you a volunteer or keyworker who has experienced life changing times? Has home-working meant big changes for you, or perhaps you’ve had to adapt and spend your time in a different way? Perhaps you have a unique way of counting the days of lockdown, or maybe you have benefitted from the kindness of others supporting you. Perhaps you are a local business who are now manufacturing things for the NHS.
We are sure there will be many different ideas that capture an important part of this crisis. However, we cannot collect everything that we’re offered, as we have very limited resources and every object needs to fit with our collections policy. But we would like to hear from you if you have an object with a story, which really says something important about the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on people in our local places.
How to contribute
Please contact email@example.com if you have any objects you would like to donate to Kirklees Museums and Galleries which you think will help to tell the story of the pandemic to future generations. Please also email us if you would like to read our full Collections Policy.
Our colleagues at West Yorkshire Archives are interested in collecting any paper-based items which tell a story about the local response in Kirklees – anything from diaries to NHS rainbows.
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…
“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 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.
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.
“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.”
Participants 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.”
We know that many people in our community will continue to need support in accessing food as the lockdown is lifted. We also want to make sure that the support network we have built together remains sustainable as we gradually move past Covid-19. So we are developing a Kirklees Food Network to connect everyone.
If you’re currently providing a food offer to support vulnerable people through your Mutual Aid Group or local organisation and would like to be part of the Kirklees Food Network, we’d like to hear form you. Your food offer might be either food parcels, food donations, a food bank or hot food.
This is an informal support network where you will:
Have support in your local place from one of the 3 main foodbanks across Kirklees – The Welcome Centre in Huddersfield, Fusion in Dewsbury or Batley Foodbank.
Be signposted to further support for the people you’re helping.
Access support, guidance and advice around local welfare provision, food safety, safeguarding, housing and other essential policies.
Share good practice and ensure any gaps in provision are highlighted.
Access support from Councillors, Kirklees Council staff and other local community organisations.
Help to ensure our food offer is stable beyond Covid-19.
Join the network
If you would like to access this support, and be part of the network, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Rebecca Strutt, Transformation Project Manager directly on 07790 349978. Thank you.
Platform 1 are a local men’s health and addiction charity working with men who have lived in isolation due to their illness. During the coronavirus lockdown they are playing their part by reaching out to even more isolated and vulnerable people, including women and the elderly.
Through their bike repair scheme, Platform 1 have been loaning bikes to NHS staff and other key workers who normally rely on public transport, so they can get to work.
Such has been the demand of their bicycle offer they are now struggling to provide any more bikes to key workers who need them.
Platform 1 urgently require donations of bikes, so they can continue to provide this service.
Other services that Platform 1 have been offering as part of their Covid-19 response include a freephone number 0800 066 2828 for anyone in crisis who needs a chat.
It’s understandable that we may feel anxious and stressed, especially now. Anxiety has many different symptoms and may affect how you behave both physically and mentally. Platform 1 are determined to continue to support people in different ways at this difficult time. They offer a free, non-judgemental, confidential service where you can talk one to one.
How you can help
There are a number of ways you can support Platform 1 to carry on their work in our communities.
Counsellors wanted – If you’re a level 3 trained counsellor, they could really use your help to support vulnerable people over the phone.
Make a donation – If you have a bike to donate, or can make a financial donation to help them carry on making bikes available to key workers, this would be gratefully welcomed.
Be a volunteer – If you think you can contribute by volunteering, they would love to hear from you.
The Environmental Health service at Kirklees Council is here to support local groups and organisations who are providing food during Covid-19. Our Food Safety team are offering advice, guidance and support to help you provide food safely, for the benefit of yourselves and those you are supporting. This isn’t about getting in the way of the vital work that you’re doing in our local places, but is just about helping us all to keep people safe.
The Food Safety team may call you about your work, to find out whether you need any advice. Some organisations may also need to register with Kirklees Council. This is because national food safety requirements apply to everyone who is providing food to the public at any time, whether given away free or not. We’ve listened to feedback from local groups to help make this process easier for you.
Contact the Food Safety team
The first step is just to have a conversation with the Food Safety team. Whilst we’re in the process of contacting Mutual Aid Groups, you can also contact the Food Safety Team directly, to discuss what food provision you’re offering. We’ll help you work out whether registration is required (it might not be).
The Food Safety Team can be contacted by email: email@example.com or by telephone. Call Kirklees Council on 01484 221000 and ask for Food Safety.
What kind of activity requires registration?
Groups and organisations are working in many different ways to provide the vital support that people need in our local places. Not all activities will need registration. For example, if you’re collecting food from a supermarket or shop and delivering this straight to someone at home (without storing), you don’t need to call us or to register.
We understand that many new groups have set up and others have started new activities in order to provide essential support to our communities. So you may not already be familiar with the legislation surrounding the provision of food. If you do need to register, we want to make sure you have all the information and support you need to operate safely, in line with existing regulations. The aim is to protect you and make sure you can do what you need to.
Examples of activities that would require contact with the Food Safety team for advice or registration are:
Storing food before delivery to vulnerable people or key workers.
Cooking food for vulnerable people or key workers, especially cook and chill.
Changes in your normal food production practices – for example, changing from serving food in your venue to providing food at scale or cook and chill.
If you think you might need to register, please get in touch with the Food Safety team for advice and support. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01484 221000 and ask for Food Safety.
Free training and tailored support
We know that there are lots of different kinds of food support being provided by local organisations. The Food Safety team can provide tailored advice, guidance and support to any organisation providing food in Kirklees.
If it’s useful for your group or organisation, we can help you to access free online Food Hygiene Level 2 training for your volunteers. This training includes important topics for people who are handling food, such as why food safety is important, temperature control, hazards and contamination, and personal health and hygiene.
If you’re providing cooked food for vulnerable members of your community, we will need to undertake a site visit. If you are providing food parcels or non-perishable items, we may only need to ask where and how you’re storing your food. If you are simply doing shopping runs for people who are self-isolating or shielding and taking the food straight away, we won’t need to speak to you.
Do make sure any foods that need refrigeration or freezing are not out of a fridge for more than 30 minutes. Please follow the Government’s advice on hand washing, protecting yourself and social distancing:
If you do receive a phone call from the Food Safety team, we hope that you will find this useful and reassuring. You are also very welcome to contact the team whenever you need advice. Please call Kirklees Council on 01484 221000 and ask for Food Safety.
False information causes real harm
When shared, false information can take on a life of its own and have some serious consequences. It can lead to health scares, false accusations and potentially damaging hoax stories. Recently there has been a lot of this kind of false information about coronavirus. It’s not always easy to spot, so use the SHARE checklist to make sure that you don’t feed the beast.
Bad information hurts people
Bad information can ruin lives and hurts our democracy. There’s a lot of information out there about Covid-19, but not all of it is right. Full Fact, who are the UK’s independent fact checking organisation, have produced a simple guide to help you be more aware of false or misleading information. Their team of independent fact checkers are also fact checking current claims about coronavirus, with the aim of preventing the harm that bad information can cause.
Zoom (whom many of us had probably never heard of a few months ago) is an online platform for meetings, chats and conferencing , enabling us to keep connected at this time.
If you’re part of a community group or organisation in Kirklees and want to learn more about using Zoom, you can join in one of these 45 minute interactive sessions delivered by James Bulley (Calder IT), who is donating his time to run these sessions for Volunteering Kirklees.
Due to the interactive nature of these sessions, places are limited to a maximum of 10 attendees, but there are regular sessions to choose from. If you book on and then find yourself unable to attend, then please do cancel your place to allow another group in Kirklees to take part.
The death of someone close is one of the hardest things anyone has to deal with. At this difficult and distressing time, sadly more people than ever will be affected. Here are some organisations you can contact and places where you can find information and guidance.
Family Care Team – Kirkwood Hospice
The Family & Spiritual Care Team at Kirkwood Hospice provides emotional and psychological support for those living with, affected by or bereaved through a life limiting illness.
The team are now providing a telephone counselling service. If you would like to speak to them about making a telephone appointment, please call Kirkwood Hospice on: 01484 557908.
You can find out more about the support available on their website:
Cruse Bereavement Care has been providing life-changing bereavement support to people across the UK for over 60 years, mainly through face-to-face and group sessions. Due to the current situation, all of their support is currently being provided by telephone or email, until it is safe to return to normal working practices.
If you are bereaved, you can contact the helpline – 0808 808 1677
The helpline is open Monday to Friday from 9.30 am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays), with extended hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, when they are open until 8pm.
Sudden is a charitable initiative for suddenly bereaved people and the people who are caring for them. Looking after yourself, whether you are bereaved or a carer, is of the utmost importance and will help you to cope at this very challenging time. Sudden offer online advice and have a helpline.
The helpline is currently open Monday to Wednesday between 10am and 2pm. Sudden are working hard to expand their opening hours, so please check their website for updates. You can also leave a message at any time and they will call you back during opening hours.
Grief and Loss Support Service – West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership
The West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership Grief and Loss Support Service is for anyone suffering any form of grief and loss, or those worried about losing someone, whether this relates to a family member, friend or member of their community.
Practical and emotional support and advice is available from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week via a freephone number 0808 1963833, or online chat facility. The team can offer support and help connect you with organisations local to you, who can offer additional help where needed.
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.