Ryan Herman, our journalist-at-large, speaks to Gary Widdop from Dewsbury Moor Big Local in West Yorkshire, to find out how the local community is responding to COVID-19
Human capital can be defined as ‘an intangible asset or quality not listed on a company’s balance sheet.’
Over the coming weeks and months, the most important assets that any Big Local area possesses will be the commitment, resilience, and ingenuity of local residents as they react to unprecedented events in all sorts of extraordinary ways.
As Dewsbury Moor Big Local worker Gary Widdop says;
“We may look back and think that how we managed to help people through this crisis turned out to be Big Local’s greatest legacy.”
Earlier this week Gary set up an online group for Big Local residents to talk about their responses to COVID-19. He wanted to find out what other Big Local areas were doing but also wanted a forum for ideas and learnings.
The way Gary sees it, Big Local is made up of 150 communities and that means strength in numbers, an amazing pool of talent, all coming together to share advice for the greater good.
He adds, “Last week I was asked ‘how is your role going to benefit the people of Dewsbury Moor? And my response was, ‘I see it as something far bigger than Dewsbury Moor. I should be out there, online, on social media, and trying to help other areas.”
While we’re chatting on the phone about what supplies are like in our respective areas (I live within the W12Together Big Local in West London), he suddenly comes up with an idea to set up a WhatsApp group for people to swap goods. Gary is never short of ideas.
“The thing is you don’t want to panic buy, but people are forcing your hand. I’ve even ordered all the ingredients to make my own hand sanitisers. I’ve got Aloe Vera and Strawberry! I can make eight litres and I can give it out to people who need it.
“So, I’m going to set up a WhatsApp Group for a road that runs through the housing estate. What I’m thinking is if you need something, or you’ve got too much of one thing, but not enough of something else then you can swap goods. It’s like a Swap Meet.”
Inevitably the kindness and dedication of Big Local workers, board members, and partners will also be dependent on people within those communities doing the right thing.
He adds, “Hopefully it will work. But if it does, then it could be the same for other Big Local areas”
We want to hear from other Big Local areas, not only to highlight the incredible work happening across the 150 areas but, more importantly, to help any Big Local community wondering how they can help, where to start, what they can do in a practical way to help those who will need it most.