When I found out that Kirklees Museums were looking for objects that could tell a story about the Covid-19 outbreak locally, I nominated our local helpline leaflet, a ziploc bag, pair of rubber gloves and a small bottle of hand gel. These items in some small way symbolise the story of our Golcar Mutual Aid Group.
As we headed towards lockdown, and 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. I began the task of recruiting volunteers before lockdown kicked in and that gave us a crucially fast start.
The first week was a blur of working crazy long days. We soon had a group of 48 volunteers and a leaflet with a freephone number. The volunteers delivered these leaflets to 3,600 households in just two days.
We assisted with shopping, postal runs, and actively sought out those people who were isolated to make sure they were getting the assistance they needed, even if that was just about having someone to talk to. Our ‘Chatterbox’ team, who operate like a befriending service, made sure people who are isolated didn’t get lonely.
Our fabulously industrious Makers made laundry bags, sets of scrubs courtesy of Clare Quartermain’s wonderful Scrub Hub and ear protectors. As a result we were able to provide these to Calderdale & HRI Trust community midwives, Field Head Surgery, Crimson Manor, Knowle Court and New Street Surgery.
We also worked with the wonderful Clem’s Garden nursery to provide flower posies every fortnight to our buddied residents – our ‘You are Not Forgotten’ flowers.
We worked with Grow to School‘s “Growing Together Kirklees” project and delivered grow your own supplies to Knowle Court and Carlton Specialist Services for their vegetable patch, which we heard residents really enjoyed.
When I look back on what this village achieved, 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 of us, in our own way, have contributed to this support.
I count myself lucky to live in such a lovely place, with such wonderful people.
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Thank you to Jane for sharing this story after participating in one of our “How can more people come together to make local places better?” online workshops for Kirklees citizens.