Year Like No Other: Kirklees’ volunteer pandemic stories celebrated in photography exhibition

A new photographic exhibition in Huddersfield is celebrating the extraordinary efforts of Kirklees’ volunteers during the pandemic.

The exhibition at Huddersfield Art Gallery has been brought together by Third Sector Leaders Kirklees and Kirklees Museums and Galleries to mark the role volunteers played locally in supporting their local communities during the Covid-19 pandemic and features photographs of local people which are now part of the council’s Museums & Galleries collection.

Hilary Thompson, Chair of Trustees at Third Sector Leaders Kirklees said:

“As we near the National Covid Day of Reflection (23 March 2022) it is an opportunity for us to recognise the vital contribution volunteers made.

“From marshalling at vaccination clinics, sewing scrubs for the NHS, delivering prescriptions and food to those shielding and isolating, helping people with digital skills, providing a friendly voice on the phone, or through a handwritten letter to those who were lonely and isolated. The list goes on. Many people have relied on volunteers and that need for support and friendship continues.

“We are proud of our charities, social enterprises, community, and voluntary groups in Kirklees who stepped up a time when they were most needed and have made such a difference. May this community spirit and kindness to one another continue.”

The exhibition includes the stories and images of over 20 volunteers. The volunteers all have very different experiences and have offered their time in different ways, including:

Mehmet and Arjola

Mehmet and Arjola 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. During the pandemic, they have been translating important key messages about Covid restrictions, testing and vaccinations, as well as signposting to support services.

Dan and Imi

15-year-old twins Dan and Imi from Huddersfield helped as much as they could. They raided their own wardrobes to donate clothes to people in need. Dan and Imi also packed stationery for children who were home schooling. They then decided to volunteer for ‘Give a Few Words’. ‘Give a Few Words’ provides letters to people who are socially isolated, included Care Home residents.

Imi and Dan

Amy

Amy from Thornhill in Dewsbury was already supporting new parents over the phone as a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter with Locala when the pandemic struck and so was able to continue providing this vital lifeline for isolated new parents. However, as she also helps with a local craft and sewing club. Amy quickly became involved in helping to make scrubs for frontline health workers who were dealing with Covid.

Councillor Will Simpson, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees said:

“I’m thrilled that we can share these human stories of the pandemic and document the vital contribution that volunteers make in our Kirklees communities through this fantastic free exhibition.

“I would urge everyone to make a visit to Huddersfield Art Gallery to find out about the selfless and important actions these local people made towards the national effort during a time of crisis.”

When can you view the exhibition?

The exhibition is free to view at Huddersfield Art Gallery Unit 7, The Piazza Shopping Centre, Huddersfield, from Wednesday 9 February to 2 April 2022, Wednesday to Saturday 11am till 4pm.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering can see all the latest volunteering opportunities in Kirklees and apply for them at: https://volunteering.tslkirklees.org.uk/opportunities/