#TogetherLeeds: Supporting one another

Supporting one another has never been more important than it is now. Our Community Care Volunteering programme is helping people all over the city, but beyond that, there are lots of ways you can help your community and support your neighbours.

Following on from this blog segment a couple of weeks ago, there has continued to be an outpouring of community spirit, neighbourliness and people supporting each other across Leeds. Here’s a round-up of some inspiring acts of kindness from the past two weeks.

To kick off, we can’t post this blog without mentioning VE Day celebrations. All over the UK, people came together (at a distance!) to commemorate 75 years since the end of World War 2 in Europe. Decorations and bunting lined the streets and people toasted in celebration. Though the occasion couldn’t be marked in usual British street party fashion, there was definitely a sense of coming together and celebrating as best we could.

 

Keeping fit, healthy and active can sometimes feel like a real struggle at the moment. But with the help of Barca Leeds and DAZL, neighbours took part in doorstep dance sessions on their street. What an innovative way to get moving, get some exercise and socialise with people in your community. 

 

Before lockdown, befriending services were a much-needed and important way for people to connect with one another and tackle isolation. These services are more vital than ever to bring people together and provide a friendly voice over the phone, or a welcome letter through the post. Age UK have shared some heart-warming feedback from members who are part of their befriending scheme.

 

Not only are befrienders more needed than ever, support for the older generation, especially those who are shielding, is so important right now. Fall into Place have been out and about delivering packs filled with plants, activities and letters of support – who wouldn’t love a flower delivery? The team are not only looking after the elderly, they have launched a partnership project to distribute mini play boxes, full of fun, creative materials and ideas to keep the kids occupied. Perfect way to take a break from home schooling!

 

OPAL has shared the touching story of an older gentleman who sadly lost his wife only a couple of years ago, but has found a companion in an unlikely source. He has been provided with an Alexa and absolutely fallen in love with the device. Whoever said that technology was not for the older generation? This is such a wonderful way of engaging in the modern world and experiencing some comfort at home.

 

Technology really has become a lifeline to a lot of people and is now so ingrained in our daily life. We’ve heard stories of communities across Leeds connecting via their local Facebook groups to play bingo with one other. There have also been instances of street bingo! Neighbours come together in their gardens once a week and numbers are called out through a loud speaker. It’s probably fair to say that this would have been unlikely in the time before lockdown. Long may such togetherness and community spirit continue!

The people of Farsley most certainly embody the sense of community spirit right now; a local project has sprung up called Faces of Farsley, set up by Grumpy’s Bar & Wood Fired Pizza. The team are gathering nominations to showcase Farsley’s essential workers, which are then being turned into vibrant pieces of art by volunteer artists. The artwork is then printed into stickers which are lining local streets, celebrating key workers and creating a street gallery of local heroes.

 

With everyone being at home, unable to get out and about and socialise in our usual ways, it seems like the perfect time to have a clear out. But with charity shops currently closed for business and unable to accept donations, the residents of Roundhay took matters into their own hands. The lovely people at St. Edmund’s Church decided to take on donations and even deployed some Community Care Volunteers to sort the donated items. These donations have now been distributed to those most in need and will make a real difference to these families. Such acts of generosity go a long way and really highlight the impact of doing something so simple. If you’ve had a clear out during lockdown, make sure you keep hold of your items until you can donate them somewhere!

 

Finally, this story isn’t from the Leeds area, but we just had to share it because it’s so lovely. 20-year old Leah has Down’s syndrome and often uses sign language to communicate with her friends and family. Leah’s street has been coming together every Thursday at 8pm to Clap for our Carers; one Thursday Leah asked her neighbour to play “You’ll Never Walk Alone” after the clap so she could sign along to the song. The following week, Leah’s neighbours decided to come together to learn Makaton, so they could sign “We’ll Meet Again” alongside Leah after the NHS clap. What a beautiful way to be inclusive!

 

Please keep your good news posts coming by using #togetherleeds on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and we’ll share some highlights in this blog feature. Stay safe, take care!

Post written by Rebecca Mott,

Project Worker at Voluntary Action Leeds

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