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

Withdrawn Kirklees Library books FREE to a good home

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.

  • Email Luc Bride: luc.bride@kirklees.gov.uk
  • 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.

People Helping People – what next for your mutual aid or voluntary group?

People Helping People

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.

Find out all the details and how to register:

People Helping People Network

 

Be part of the Great Get Together 2020

Great Get Together

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:

The Great Get Together – FAQs

 


More in Common

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.

More in Common Batley & Spen

More in Common Batley & Spen – Twitter

Jo Cox Foundation – More in Common

 


Art Projection – Wall of Gratitude

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.

Run for Jo

 


Activities for Loneliness Awareness Week

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.

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

 

 


Welcome Mentors Service – support for migrants

Welcome Mentors

Kirklees is rich in diversity when it comes to our communities, with people from many different countries making their homes in local places and enriching our community life.

It isn’t always easy for migrants coming to live in a new place. One of the ways migrants can now be supported is through the Welcome Mentors programme, provided by Third Sector Leaders Kirklees.

The Welcome Mentors programme offers a volunteer support and befriending service to help reduce some of the barriers and alleviate the feeling of isolation some migrants may feel.

The Mentors are there to help refugees, asylum seekers and migrants settle in Kirklees and help them navigate through what can be a complicated process for starting again in a new environment.

You can find out in detail just what the Mentors can help with on the Kirklees Welcomes blog:

What is the Welcome Mentors project?

In this short video Steffi Rogers, the Welcome Mentors Co-ordinator at Third Sector Leaders Kirklees, explains more about the role of the mentors:

What is a Welcome Mentor? (video)

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.

Read Itziar’s story

Read Antida’s story

Creative Minds – great projects to engage with during lockdown and beyond

sunflower with smiling faceAs challenging a time as it continues to be at the moment, keeping our minds healthy is perhaps one of the most important things we can do. It can also be one of the most difficult challenges we face. Creative activity can often play a role in meeting this challenge. Creative Minds, part of the NHS South West Yorkshire Partnership, help fund a number of creative projects.

The latest edition of the Creative Kirklees newsletter is testament to just how much creative activity continues to happen in spite of the challenges we’re all facing. Here are just three examples of projects happening in Kirklees.


‘Budding Up Together’ from Growing Works focuses on mental wellbeing and physical health. The project involves activities such as gardening tips, advice and nature interests. While access and connections happen virtually through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and their website, there is also the physical maintenance of community gardens to be enjoyed, in line with social distancing guidelines. The project is available to anyone using NHS South West Yorkshire Partnership services. The project is run by the Growing Works charity and they can be contacted by email info@growingworks.org.uk or by phoning Rachel on 07845 415289 or through their website:

Growing Works


Wellbeing packs from Support To Recovery (S2R) are full of creative activities, instructions and useful information to reduce isolation during Covid-19 lockdown. There are physical packs available, but the resources can also be accessed online. To find out more about this and other projects you can email contact@s2r.org.uk or see our blog post:

Wellbeing resources from S2R


‘It’s Okay to Wave’ from Satellite Arts is all about movement, songs and drama sessions using enjoyable joining in material from Xylosound. The sessions will be available on YouTube and DVD. The focus of these sessions is to help adults with learning needs to keep themselves mentally and physically active during lockdown. The project is run by Satellite Arts and they can be contacted by emailing andy@satellitearts.org.uk or phoning Andy on 01484 848072 or through their website:

Satellite Arts


There are lots of other projects happening in Kirklees as part of Creative Minds. Have a look at their latest newsletter to see them all, find out who can access the projects and who to contact for more detail.

Creative Minds newsletter, May 2020 (PDF)

 

Online Volunteer Safety training through Paddock Community Trust

woman using laptop

Safeguarding in our communities has become a big talking point in recent weeks as many volunteers try to make sure the most vulnerable people in our neighbourhoods are kept safe. It is just as important that volunteers in Kirklees, whether part of a Mutual Aid Group, registered as a volunteer with Kirklees Council or volunteering in another capacity shouldn’t be forgotten when it comes to staying safe.

Paddock Community Trust are offering free online volunteer training courses and are encouraging any volunteers who might benefit from the training to get in touch. The course focuses on volunteer safety and everyone is welcome to participate.

The course covers:

  • Looking at the benefits and types of volunteering
  • Exploring ways to keep yourself safe when volunteering
  • How to keep others safe when you are volunteering

The course is a short series of one hour Zoom calls. There are two courses to choose from:

  • Fridays 12th June, 19th June and 26th June from 1pm to 2pm
  • Tuesdays 30th June, 7th July and 14th July from from 11am to 12 noon

How to take part

Enrolling is simple. Please get in touch with either Yvonne at yvonne@paddocktrust.org.uk or Sarah at sarahwk@paddocktrust.org.uk to book a place or find out more. Or you can telephone Yvonne on 07928 810 355.

These courses are funded through the Paddock Community Trust’s OFSTED-inspected Adult Community Learning programme.

Please feel free to share this information with anyone who might like to take part.

Paddock Community Trust

 

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.

Covid Mutual Aid

Covid 19 mutual aid ukThere are now thousands of local mutual aid groups across the country who are connected to Covid Mutual Aid UK. The basic idea is to coordinate care efforts for people who are self isolating in your neighbourhood, especially if they are more at risk. These groups are supporting the elderly, disabled people and those who have existing health issues. They are also supporting people who are feeling isolated or anxious throughout the pandemic. Many are on facebook.

A heartfelt thank you to all the groups who have already organised themselves to help their neighbours in local places across Kirklees. Some of these are new mutual aid groups, others are community organisations and networks who are looking out for people in their local place. We are listening to what local mutual aid groups and voluntary organisations need so that we can offer more support and advice where needed.

Find your local group to help out or to ask for support. Not all local groups are part of Covid Mutual Aid UK, so we’re also gathering more contact details to share, so that we can help to promote all our local groups.

Find your local Covid Mutual Aid UK group