Calderdale’s kindness in national spotlight

The amazing kindness and togetherness shown by people in Calderdale during the pandemic is being showcased in a major new national report.

Faced with frequent flooding and COVID-19, Calderdale people have stayed resilient, come together and supported each other. Their community spirit, and the local investment to help people from different backgrounds to connect and value each other (social cohesion), has made our communities grow closer and stronger.

According to research in ‘Community, Connection and Cohesion during COVID-19: Beyond Us and Them’ report, people who live in places that invest in social cohesion are twice as likely to volunteer, have a higher sense of neighbourliness and a greater level of trust in local government’s response to COVID-19.

The national research has been carried out by Belong – The Cohesion and Integration Network and the University of Kent, funded by Nuffield Foundation. During the pandemic, they are studying the experiences of people living in six areas which are investing in social cohesion, including Calderdale. They are also researching the experiences of people across the UK who have been volunteering since March 2020.

The report shows excellent examples of volunteering, such as setting up food distribution programmes, running befriending schemes and taking calls through support phone lines. It also highlights the benefits of volunteering, both for individuals and the wider community.

Impressive statistics from Belong found that people in Calderdale are 140% more likely to have been volunteering throughout the pandemic than people elsewhere in the UK, and 41% more likely to donate money to charity – demonstrating Calderdale’s kindness in action.

In Calderdale, from the outset of COVID-19, the Council recognised the need to help those most at risk and set up a virtual support hub, working closely with community organisations. This harnessed the existing kindness across the borough, enabled hundreds of people to volunteer safely, and supported the most vulnerable residents.

Ongoing community engagement and other work to boost social cohesion remains a priority for the Council and its partners, including shielding and interfaith work, the COVID Champions scheme and flood support. The ‘Community, Connection and Cohesion during Covid-19’ report shows that this kind of investment helps people feel happier, more resilient and more connected to others and where they live. It also helps to reduce community tension.