Mutual aid groups in the Colne Valley have added something a little extra to their food deliveries after local organisations got together to create a recipe book. As well as being value for money, the recipes in the book are easy to make and are nutritionally balanced.
Third Sector Leaders Kirklees supported the groups with funding from One Community and One 17 Charitable Trust have produced the book. The recipe books will now be given out with food packs in the Colne Valley.
Liz Quinn, a director of Pride in Linthwaite, has put together the recipes. She says in the book:
“I’m an NHS dietician in my day job and I felt that this was something that I could help with. I tried to keep the recipes nutritionally balanced and easy to prepare, inexpensive and accessible for everyone. Tinned, dried and frozen foods can be a fantastic source of nutrients. We hope you enjoy the recipes.”
Among the 18 recipes are the likes of Sausage and Bean Stew, Pea and Pesto Soup, Tuna Pasta Bake and Tinned Meat Hash. If you fancy a dessert there is Banana Flapjack.
Just as different ingredients come together to make a healthy meal, it is the many different groups within a community working together who can make useful projects like this happen.
Co-operative Care Colne Valley are the community anchor organisation who are working with community groups and citizens to respond to needs and priorities across the Colne Valley. Along with mutual aid and community groups, they have been at the heart of support for the community during the Covid-19 crisis, providing food supplies, supporting isolated people and developing community activities in Linthwaite, Slaithwaite, Marsden and Golcar.
Community anchor organisations such as Co-operative Care Colne Valley play a significant role in bringing local groups together to help make healthier and happier communities.
Third Sector Leaders Kirklees are a local charity who support and represent charities, community and groups, and social enterprises anywhere in Kirklees. They have been working incredibly hard to support local organisations and informal groups during Covid-19 and are keen for you to know what free support is available for groups in all our local places. Groups and organisations do not need to become members in order to access this free support.
TSL Kirklees offer a free volunteer matching service. The TSL Kirklees Volunteering team (formerly known as Volunteering Kirklees) work with organisations to develop their volunteering programmes and opportunities. They can promote volunteering opportunities from local groups via their volunteering website:
Organisations can get involved in various TSL Kirklees projects which are designed to fill gaps in service and delivery and support communities. TSL Kirklees have some small pots of funding that groups can access to try out new ideas and activity in their local place.
TSL Kirklees membership – free to April 2021
In addition to all the free support on offer, any group or organisation can choose to become a member in order to help lead and promote the voluntary and community sector in Kirklees.
The benefits of membership include access to a Members Area on the TSL Kirklees website where groups can:
Add their own news and updates (these will appear on the TSL Kirklees website and will also be shared via email updates and social media)
Add job vacancies to the jobs board (again, these will be shared with the network)
Find member offers
Find details of other members
Join a members-only Facebook group
Members can also take part in additional networking meetings and will receive extra communications.
In March 2020, TSL Kirklees offered 3 months free membership to support local organisations who might be struggling financially during Covid-19. This offer has since been extended twice. The free membership offer is now available until April 2021.
Regular membership costs are:
£12 per year for micro or start-up organisations
£36 per year for any other organisations
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.
Pride in Linthwaite were able to quickly transform into a mutual aid group, providing support to vulnerable people in Linthwaite and Cowlersley, when the lockdown was announced. The group (who had formed two and a half years earlier) quickly adapted from their usual activities of litter picking, community fundraising and events.
Setting up and running something new isn’t easy. All the practicalities are challenges. It can also be a challenge convincing people of your group’s value to the local area. Pride in Linthwaite had seen a mixed response to their usual activities. Some people volunteered hands-on support with things like litter picks, some were supportive from a distance and attended events, but others were not sure why the group was needed. Experiences over the past few months have helped more people to see the value of Pride in Linthwaite.
We spoke to Liz Quinn, NHS nurse and one of the directors of Pride in Linthwaite. Liz told us about some of the group’s work, how people have worked together during lockdown and the new-found trust that has changed how some local people see the group.
“Pretty much the first thing we did was get a leaflet together with a helpline number and did a mass leaflet drop to households. We wanted to make sure people knew who to contact if they were in need. We also had people contacting us to volunteer as things quickly escalated.
“Volunteers were delivering food and collecting prescriptions, they were dog walking and supporting a befriending service.
“Small acts of kindness can be simply heart-warming. One lady who was self-isolating was panicking about being able to post birthday cards to her nieces. We arranged for her to leave them on her doorstep, collected and posted them. She had been so anxious about not being able to post them, and was so grateful that someone was there to help her do this.”
“We’ve recorded in total over 220 ‘volunteering acts’ but this is likely to be more, through things such as the befriending service. Once someone had made contact, they would then make their own arrangements for continuing that connection.”
Whilst it takes a lot of energy and commitment to create new ways of supporting people, sometimes a little bit of funding is needed too. The local Colne Valley ward councillors were on hand to support the group:
“Two of our local councillors, Cllr Rob Walker and Cllr Donna Bellamy, were able to provide some funding from their own budgets that they’d been given to support groups who are part of the community response to the coronavirus. This meant we could start making up food parcels for those people who were self-isolating. It was nice that they worked together for the good of the community and put any party politics to one side.
“We were so lucky to have the ward councillors on board and all those volunteers, but we also had support from Morrisons supermarket in Meltham, who were fantastic by donating food. Also the manager and staff of the local Premier shop were able to just help us get what we needed for a person in need, particularly if it was an emergency. They were just brilliant.”
Relationships and partnerships have been a key part of Pride in Linthwaite’s ability to respond so well to the needs of the community. Liz explained how relationships have developed over the last few months:
“Whilst we are looking to wrap-up the mutual aid group side of things, it has enabled us to gain the trust of more people locally and strengthen our partnerships.
“All the volunteers want to remain part of the WhatsApp group we have, so if there is any ever need to mobilise again, they will be there. The socially distanced litter pick we’re organising has already got more people signed up to help than we’ve had before. There is a good feeling about the group and I think a change in perception about Pride in Linthwaite.
“We were all thrown in at the deep end. I think the council support has been really good, especially when we started. Even though it was chaotic for everyone they provided information and guidance. It was a shared journey. Links with councillors and local businesses have been excellent.
“Feedback from the people we’re all helping – moving them from state of panic to relief – has been something every one of us has had a role in.”
The outbreak of Covid-19 has presented many challenges but has demonstrated how neighbourhoods and communities have pulled together, kept an eye out for each other, and supported those who are not in a position to help themselves.
Forming a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in your neighbourhood is just one opportunity that local volunteers or mutual aid groups could move forward with, continuing the amazing work already done over the past few months.
Neighbourhood Watch schemes are far more than the old cliché of ‘nosy neighbours’ and there are number of ways they can impact positively in our communities. They can:
Support neighbours struggling with Covid-19 restrictions
Create safer neighbourhoods
Build community spirit and cohesion
Enhance partnerships with other community groups
Address issues relating to anti-social behaviour
Improve quality of life and the local environment
Provide valuable information to the police
There are lots of resources available to help.
Becoming part of the West Yorkshire Police Neighbourhood Watch network will keep you informed and more alert to what is happening around you, creating a safer neighbourhood.
Safer Kirklees would like to build on the close community relationships and have a commitment to work with communities to address quality of life issues. They believe local people are best placed to understand local needs and help find the solutions to support others.
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 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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.