Teenage twins Dan and Imi are among a host of volunteers who are being celebrated in an online exhibition entitled: ‘A Year Like No Other.’
To mark National Volunteers’ Week, which runs all this week, Kirklees Council is supporting Third Sector Leaders (TSL) Kirklees to celebrate the work of volunteers who went above and beyond for their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Huddersfield Town Hall, and other Kirklees town halls, will be lit up purple in tribute to the volunteers who stepped up during Covid.
TSL Kirklees is hosting an online photographic exhibition that will eventually become part of the council’s Museums & Galleries collection. The exhibition brings together images and stories of individuals who gave their time to help others.
It includes volunteer stories like that of 14-year-old twins Dan and Imi from Huddersfield. The twins helped out as much as they could by raiding their own wardrobes to donate clothes to people in need and packing stationery for kids who were home-schooling.
They then decided to volunteer for ‘Give a Few Words’ which provides letters to people who are socially isolated.
Dan said: “Writing letters throughout quarantine has been really fulfilling, showing kindness and caring for others.”
Imi added: “Writing the letters has made me feel happy that I was able to do something positive to help other people during lockdown.”
Also celebrated are Mehmet and Arjola, also from Huddersfield, who volunteer with the Welcome Mentors programme, run by TSL Kirklees.
They are part of a team of around 90 volunteers who speak over 50 different languages who during the pandemic have been translating important key messages about Covid restrictions, testing and vaccinations, as well as signposting to support services.
Mehmet said: “My wife and I are bi-lingual, and in our volunteer role we are actively supporting individuals and families, carrying out welfare checks, translation work, providing buddy calls to people in need and helping people to settle in Kirklees.
“We have helped families register a birth and enrol their children at school. We had very special memories during our volunteering, and we have learned a lot. It helped us adapt quickly to living in Kirklees, and we feel like we’ve been living here for a long time now.”
Another volunteer with a story to tell is Amy. Amy was already supporting new parents over the phone as a breast-feeding peer supporter with Locala when the pandemic struck.
However, she quickly became involved in helping make scrubs with three others. The enterprise quickly expanded to a group of about 30 people, producing 162 pairs of scrubs, plus hundreds of washbags and hats.
Clr Will Simpson, Cabinet member for culture and greener Kirklees, said: “We are delighted to be working with TSL Kirklees to create this historic record that will become part of the Museums & Galleries collection.
“It’s so important to document the collective efforts of the communities of Kirklees during the extraordinary, and unprecedented, times of Covid lockdown.
“In the future, people will be able to look back at these photographs, taken at this time of national crisis, and reflect on the contributions of these volunteers, their individual stories and the how the people of Kirklees came together during the pandemic to support each other.”
Becky Bracey, volunteer development manager at Third Sector Leaders Kirklees, said: “National Volunteers Week is an opportunity for us to recognise and thank all volunteers across Kirklees.
“We have experienced a year like no other and we wanted to do something special as a permanent reminder of the significant role volunteers have played during the pandemic.
“This important partnership with Kirklees Council’s Museums & Galleries will ensure that some of our remarkable volunteering stories from across the borough will become part of our social history for years to come.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has volunteered or simply been ‘neighbourly’ during this time, the power of communities to pull together and help each other has been truly inspiring.”
The exhibition is available online throughout Volunteers’ Week and the stories will go live from June 1 and can be read HERE. Volunteers’ Week takes place from June 1-7 every year. It’s a chance to recognise the fantastic contribution volunteers make to our communities and say thank you.
From June 8-10 TSL Kirklees is hosting a Virtual Volunteers Fair where you can hear about the latest opportunities to volunteer from a wide range of organisations across Kirklees. Find out more at https://tslkirklees.org.uk/specialist-help/volunteering-kirklees/