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

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

 

Loneliness Awareness Week (15th to 19th June)

Lady talking on a mobile phone sitting at home.

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:

Befriending Partnership

If you are interested in being a Telephone Befriender with full training and support please email: befriendingpartnership@yccuk.org.uk

If you, or someone you know, would like telephone befriending support please let us know via our Covid-19 Community Response online form, or call our Freephone helpline: 0800 4561114.


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

 

 

 


There are five organisations involved in the wider Befriending Partnership in Kirklees.

Yorkshire Children’s Centre

Age UK Calderdale & Kirklees

Royal Voluntary Service

Kirkwood Hospice

Locala

 

Supporting local people with connecting digitally

Man sitting on bench in park and looking at computer tablet

Staying connected really matters for us all, now more than ever. It’s important that everyone can find out what support is available and have easy ways of keeping in touch. But not everyone has access to the internet to help with this, and not everyone feels confident using digital ways of communicating. We want to work out how, between us, we can best help with that.

Kirklees Council are working to find ways of supporting people, by removing any barriers to accessing the internet. This may be through providing IT devices. But it’s also important that we find ways of supporting people in using, or starting to use, digital technology.

Mutual Aid Groups and community organisations are incredibly well placed to support this project as you know the neighbourhoods and people in the areas where you live and work. So we are hoping that you might be able to work with us to develop this offer.

Volunteers in your group might be able to support others with growing their digital skills and confidence. This might include helping people to get started with using a digital device, connecting with family or friends, doing online shopping or accessing advice and services online. Or you might be part of an organisation who could share smartphones, tablets or other devices with people in our local places.

Together we can have a fantastically positive effect in increasing connectivity in our communities during Covid-19, but also as we move past the pandemic into the future.

If you’re interesting in taking part, please either contact your nearest Anchor organisation to talk through how you’d like to get involved or complete this online form: Staying connected online.

This will help us to work out what we can do between us, and to develop the project together.

If you have any questions, you can also leave a reply on this page.

How the Befriending Partnership are connecting people during lockdown and beyond

Lady talking on a mobile phone sitting at home.

The Befriending Partnership are helping to tackle isolation through a telephone service set up to support older people and vulnerable adults, as part of the community response during the coronavirus lockdown.

Volunteers who give their time to the Befriending Partnership are matched with citizens who are known to the organisations as needing contact, to make sure they are okay in their homes and to help reduce feelings of isolation.

The telephone befriending service is led by Community Connections at the Yorkshire Children’s Centre and Age UK Calderdale & Kirklees.

We spoke to Christine Rhodes, Service Manager for Community Connections, about how people have been making connections and helping each other during lockdown.

“In the last few weeks we have seen our volunteer numbers grow to 90, and we have made 56 matches to those who need befriending phone calls. Our volunteers spend between 2 to 4 hours a week on calls with vulnerable or isolated people. We try and match people with similar interests and in the same local areas, with the hope they will carry on befriending afterwards, hopefully face to face.

“Of the 90 volunteers we have at the moment, around 35 have been forwarded from Kirklees Council’s call for volunteers and from staff that have been furloughed from elsewhere. The other volunteers have come in from all areas and walks of life.

“Referrals for the service come in from the Covid-19 Community Response team, from the community anchor organisations network and also now from the mutual aid groups who are doing brilliant work all over Kirklees.”

The volunteers not only phone people to have a friendly chat, but also receive training from the Befriending Partnership to help identify if someone needs other kinds of support. You can read Mark’s story on the Volunteering Kirklees blog to find out more about the experience for volunteers.

Christine told us that, until recently, one person was getting their shopping delivered. The volunteer identified that this had stopped and was able to feedback this information via a new app the Befriending Service are using. This resulted in a referral being made, making sure that the person received the essential supplies they needed.

The service continues to grow and more people are being welcomed to volunteer. We know there are many compassionate people in Kirklees who are keen to offer friendly phone calls to others. We’ve asked the people who have volunteered to offer this kind of support via our Covid-19 Community Response whether we can share their details with the Befriending Partnership.

We’re delighted to say that this has already resulted in a surge of new volunteers. Training is provided for all volunteers and enhanced ID checks are carried out routinely to make sure we are keeping vulnerable people safe.

“The Befriending Service is very important and is still growing. We know this is true of other support services too. We’re very supportive of the Mutual Aid Group network and the amazing work they’re doing too. It’s all about making sure vulnerable people don’t fall through the gaps and we’re doing all we can.

“I hope the volunteers signed up to the Befriending Service now, will continue to volunteer when we come out of the other side. And I hope those volunteering elsewhere in their communities continue as well.”

If you are interested in being a Telephone Befriender with full training and support please email: befriendingpartnership@yccuk.org.uk

If you, or someone you know, would like telephone befriending support please let us know via our Covid-19 Community Response online form, or call our Freephone helpline: 0800 4561114.


Befriending Partnership members

Find out more about the Befriending Partnership

There are five organisations involved in the wider Befriending Partnership in Kirklees. During the Covid-19 Community Response, the specific telephone befriending service has been set up by the Yorkshire Children’s Centre and Age UK Calderdale & Kirklees. They are also working closely with the Royal Voluntary Service and some of the volunteers have been matched with people on their waiting lists too.

Yorkshire Children’s Centre

Age UK Calderdale & Kirklees

Royal Voluntary Service

Kirkwood Hospice

Locala

 

Kirklees Food Network

Volunteer delivering shopping

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 food@kirklees.gov.uk or contact Rebecca Strutt, Transformation Project Manager directly on 07790 349978. Thank you.

 


Food safety support and training

Home Delivery Of Takeaway Food Outside House Observing Safe Social Distancing During Coronavirus Covid-19 Pandemic

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: food.safety@kirklees.gov.uk 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:

  • Food banks.
  • 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 food.safety@kirklees.gov.uk 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:

How to help safely

 

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.

 


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