S2R are offering a basic Mental Health Awareness training session free of charge via Zoom on Friday 27th November 2020 from 9am to 11am. This is for anyone who is a Mutual Aid Group volunteer in Kirklees.
By the end of the session you will be able to:
Understand the difference between mental health and mental illness
Know the main signs and symptoms of the most common mental illnesses
Understand the relationship between wellbeing and emotional resilience
S2R have also created 12 Wellbeing packs – these are all available for volunteers to use and share with people who may be self-isolating or who are lonely and might be struggling with depression and anxiety.
Could you make time for a 30 minute conversation that can make a huge difference to someone’s life?
The Befriending Partnership are continuing to help tackle isolation through their telephone befriending service. Set up part of the amazing response from community organisations in Kirklees during the coronavirus lockdown, this vital service is supporting older people and vulnerable adults.
The partnership is led by the Yorkshire Children’s Centre and Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees. They are still receiving daily referrals for people who are at home and feeling lonely. This is a key time when we’re once again more isolated from each other and when we’re heading towards the colder winter months. They really need more volunteers.
Could you give up a small amount of your time to have a conversation with someone in need?
Full training (via Zoom) and support will be provided to help more people take up this important role. Not sure how to use Zoom? Support will be provided to help you.
Online event – Thursday 22nd October, 6pm to 7.30pm
Have you been involved in a mutual aid group or community organisation in your neighbourhood during covid-19? By being an active citizen in your local place you are part of your local democracy. You are making decisions about what happens in your neighbourhood and working with others to make it happen. This October we’re talking with active citizens about whether you feel part of local democracy now, and listening to your ideas about what would help you and others to stay involved in civic life.
You are every welcome to join in our online discussion workshop to share your experiences and ideas with other mutual aid participants and members of Kirklees Council’s Democracy Service.
The Covid Quilt Project is a nationwide project aimed at tackling social isolation by bringing people together to be part of something bigger in their community, by stitching our memories into the fabric of time.
By bringing people together in a creative space, to make bold statements about memorable moments in the time of Covid and piecing them together stitch by stitch, the project aims to document people’s experiences by creating a historical textile reflecting a living social history of our time.
But capturing memories and documenting them to look back on is only part of the story. This is also about people and places – a way to talk, create and give people a voice. It is about gaining new understanding of the local communities around us and how we coped.
This is a great opportunity to share your own memory with others, or to help other people to share something, and continue to help bind our communities together.
All project details are available online, including how to get a group together, a timeline for the project, and the support you can expect, such as regular updates, regular Zoom drop-in calls and mutual support and discussion groups.
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.
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.”
Crafty Home are inviting Mutual Aid Group co-ordinators and volunteers to attend a FREE art workshop. After a particularly intense time of helping and supporting your communities, what better way to relax, unwind and let your imagination run free?
Not artistic? Not a problem. This is a way of saying thank you for the amazing work you’ve done, to share in some downtime together, reflect, paint, draw or make.
You don’t have to be an artist to take part and the workshops are free of charge, but places are limited so please get in touch as soon as possible.
The first event for mutual aid co-ordinators and admins is on 25th July 2020 at the Piazza (Unit 16 next to USC shoe store) from 11.30am.
The second event for volunteers and those who couldn’t make to the first one is on 1st August 2020 form 11.30am, also at Unit 16 at the Piazza.
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.”
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.