A charity that sources, collects, bags up and distributes food and essential household items to more than 1,083 people across North Kirklees in West Yorkshire, as well as providing a host of other essential services, has received a huge helping hand from two insurance firms.
Loving Hands Outreach was set up at the start of the Covid 19 pandemic and became a registered charity in June 2021. Bev Clark, who works for Bradford-based insurance broking firm, TL Dallas is just one of many Kirklees residents who regularly donates supplies to the charity.
Bev said: “Myself and six friends started donating food and supplies during Covid 19. Seeing first-hand what an amazing difference the outreach team makes is very inspiring and I was keen to do more to help. Our business has a long-standing relationship with insurance company, Aviva. Every year it runs the ‘Broker Community Fund Awards’, where insurance brokers from across the UK can apply for part of the fund, which could be anything from £500 to £20,000 in support of their chosen charity.
“I knew what that amount of money would mean to Loving Hands Outreach Team, so I entered the charity and was really pleased when our nomination was shortlisted! When we found out the charity had been chosen as one of the many winners at an awards ceremony this month, and were to receive £10,000, we were absolutely thrilled! The money will ensure that the amazing impact the charity has on the Kirklees community can go even further.”
Louisa Weir, from Loving Hands Outreach, said: “As well as addressing the immediate need of families who are struggling by delivering the parcels, we are keen to try and work in a preventative way, and that is where the money from Aviva will really help.
“The health and wellbeing of children is our priority, so in April 2022 we started a cookery club for mums to learn new skills, reduce their feelings of isolation, and make new friends at the same time. Our primary objective was to increase confidence and cooking skills to positively affect the well-being of the whole family. We have run three successful courses to date and have just started our fourth course at the beginning of October. We want to continue to increase health and well-being via learning activities and teach new skills to families, so they can budget and shop more efficiently.
The courses have also helped encourage shared experiences, with attendees meeting other mums and generating new, positive friendships. We now have five new volunteers who were previous participants from the earlier cookery classes, who are helping with other planned projects and supporting other mums.”
The Loving Hands Outreach team deliver 30 to 35 parcels made up of fresh and packaged food, household products and nappies to the Kirklees community at their homes each week. The emphasis is on supplying as much fresh fruit and vegetables to families as possible. Families are also signposted to other organisations, such as mental health charities, baby banks and other food banks, to enable them to get further help and support within their local area.
Louisa added: “We are so lucky to have had the support from our local community, who have made some wonderful donations, meaning we can also supply struggling families with clothing and small household items such as bedding, towels and kitchen equipment – most of which is collected and delivered by our volunteers. We also work with local community cafes to encourage our families to socialise in a warm, safe space with their children and receive further support in their local area.”
Loving Hands Outreach has been recognised and supported by grants from the Asda Foundation, The National Lottery, One Community, Locala, Arnold Clark, Kirklees Third Sector Leaders, Huddersfield Town Foundation, Dewsbury Soup, Coop and Tesco and now Aviva.
Louisa added: “We couldn’t operate without the help of these companies, organisations and our wonderful volunteers. We now work directly with the health visitors at Locala to provide further support and advice on topics such as dental care, child behaviour, and weaning after our initial six-week cookery classes. The health visitors also attend coffee socials with participants to chat and offer advice.”
At the start of 2023 Loving Hands Outreach launched a new six-week course which included a mixture of art-based activities with art teachers from the local community, plus support with child-related advice from Locala health visitors. The whole project has been designed to reduce isolation, increase confidence, learn new skills and help people meet new friends. With a simple lunch, based on healthy ingredients suitable for all dietary requirements and a creche, participants can bring their young children with them and meet new people. A partnership with Huddersfield University is in the pipeline for 2024, hopefully to help families further by running student-led group sessions on wellbeing, resilience and confidence.
Louisa added: “The Aviva funds will be used for further cookery classes and also for our next major project, which is a community garden and grow-your-own-at-home scheme. We will be involving as many families as possible and teaching them how to grow their own vegetables in the community garden, plus supplying them with growbags, tools and knowledge to use at home. This will also teach children about the food cycle and instil knowledge about healthy eating from a young age and we are so grateful to Aviva and Bev at TL Dallas for helping us get the funding.”