During one of our first online Local Area Coordination Network Gatherings, a Kirklees Council Local Area Coordinator shared an update about an approach that was been taken there to ensure good communication between the emerging Mutual Aid Groups and the Council. It sounded really innovative and I had to find out more!
It turned out that with the bridging and connecting support of Phil Marken, Council staff and Mutual Aid Group leaders have been regularly meeting on Zoom throughout the crisis to connect and share information and ideas. What is really interesting though, is that this practical approach has led to a growing emergence of new opportunity and trust-based relationships between those involved.
Recently Clenton Farquharson and I had the pleasure of hearing this story first hand as Charlene Novak who is running a Mutual Aid Group, Phil Marken and Jill Greenfield Director of Communities for the Council all came on our Podcast ‘Weathering the Storm’. We found their shared story to be inspiring and moving but also, we think, quite unique. It really shows what can be done when people commit to listening and learning from each other, doing their best to overcome any organisational and structural barriers that get in the way. I am certain that this story will prove to be one of the most important pieces of evidence for how meaningful commitment to collaboration between communities and councils has been central to better Covid-19 crisis responses.
What happens next is of course for the people, communities and organisations of Kirklees to determine, however what is quite clear from the interview is that there is a willingness to take these new trust-based relationships into the future whatever that may look like. This point was summarised beautifully by Charlene who said:
“The fact that we’ve all started communicating, we all know each other exist, we see the strengths that each other have and we’re seeing the impact of us all pulling together to use those strengths, it would be stupid to let that all end just because Covid does.”
by Nick Sinclair
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