Connex Volunteer – Susan

Susan applied to become a Connex volunteer. She is a young mum of two young daughters and lives on her own. She also suffers with anxiety and depression. When I received the application, I had an initial discussion on the phone with her, and arranged to meet her in town for a coffee to discuss the role in more detail going forward.

When Susan arrived, she was so nervous and unsure, as she has never worked, nor done anything much in her life except raise her children. She was unsure about the role and how the meeting would progress. We rapidly put her at her ease and explained in detail how the project would work. She was very happy with the outcome. I followed up with her that afternoon to see how she was and as we had established at the meeting she was also a council tenant.

My thought was that before we placed her with an individual to support under Connex, she attends some of our events to increase her confidence. She attended our buffet lunch, and spend the afternoon chatting to those at her table. She was laughing and engaging, and even took some snacks home to her daughters. I followed up with another call that afternoon and this was what she said

‘Thanks you so much for giving me this opportunity and for all of your support. You cannot understand what this means to me, I am now so excited to start volunteering under Connex and would also love to volunteer at events.’

When asked how many participants she would like to support under Connex, she said ‘4’. Which really surprised me, and when I asked why, she said ‘in the sort time that I have been with Rotherfed, the support that had been given, had made me so happy, I now feel that I can give so much to others, and give something back to Rotherfed as well’

Susan will also in the new year be willing to attend HIP and Scrutiny meetings, but has said that she would not like to do the friendship calls, as she doesn’t like speaking on the phone.

Friendship Calls – June and Tammy

Tammy is one of our amazing volunteers who joined us in November 2020, Tammy lives in London but enquired about the position as she wanted to do something but couldn’t find anything suitable near her. As the opportunity was for Telephone Befriending we agreed she could take on the role.

Tammy originally made 5 calls a week to participants often laughing about her accent, it quickly became apparent that Tammy had a knack for engaging with those that seemed at the offset to be sceptical about the scheme. She really had a way of getting some of our older independent ladies to take advice and seek local advice when needed, she even managed to convince a stubborn lady to accept carers into her home to assist her, when nobody else could.

Tammy has been talking to June, a very independent 91 year old for a few months. June really looks forward to the calls despite initially saying she wasn’t bothered and she had nothing to say to anyone. June has numerous health complaints, which puts an enormous amount of stress on her daughter as June will not accept outside help, or have an operation for her cataracts or other medical conditions!

Tammy called me one morning really concerned about June, she hadn’t been able to speak with her for a while but managed to speak to her daughter that morning. It transpires that June had been in hospital, had to have blood transfusions and has now been discharged home.

Tammy said the last time she spoke to Martha she advised her to speak to her daughter and to ring the GP or go to hospital as she had a medical problem that she was keeping to herself, thankfully this is advice she took and she told her daughter that Tammy had said she should seek medical advice.

When Tammy called her this morning (she was still concerned as she hadn’t answered the phone previously), her daughter picked up, June was unable to get to the phone because she was in bed and her daughter didn’t know what to do for the best. She told Tammy that June had been discharged from hospital without a care plan or medical advice, and she didn’t know what to do.

Tammy called me and I called Alison at social prescribing to see if anything could be done. To cut a long story short , thanks to our wonderful volunteer and swift action from Alison, rapid response will now be in place to help June at home , her daughter gets the respite she needs knowing June will be cared for.

Our volunteer is still calling June for updates, unfortunately due to her being in bed she is not able to answer the phone but Tammy calls intermittently and if her daughter or the careers pick up she passes a message to June to let her know we are thinking of her and that she hopes they get to speak again soon.

Friendship Call Participant – Louise

Louise was referred to us back in June 2021. When she was assessed, she was in a really dark place, she had been estranged from her son, her daughter had long covid, and relations were strained. She told me about her marriage and the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her ex-husband. Her oral was extremely low and she struggled to engage in conversation as she did not trust anyone, she had also recently lost her dad, to whom she was very close. She was extremely lonely and socially isolated. There had been some suicide attempts as well. She was also waiting for a knee operation and had to lose weight to enable this to go ahead. Louise was placed with the same two volunteers and her confidence really started to increase.

When Connex was mentioned to her, and it was established that she was also a council tenant, she was invited to attend our first Tenant Voice coffee morning. It was dubious whether she was actually come along. However, on the day, she did, she arrived at the venue and just stood in the doorway extremely frightened.

She was met by Jane and made to feel welcome, Mary, our chair also spend time talking with her and she really opened up to us both. After the event, she was then contacted by Jane to see if she was okay and that she had enjoyed the morning, she could not thank me enough and advised that she would really love to come along to the buffet lunch. I am happy to say that she did come along, and thoroughly enjoyed herself and spent the afternoon talking with other volunteers and staff and again, on leaving, was so proud of what she had achieved, and said how this was now making a massive difference to her life, as she now has something to really look forward to. She is continuing to receive her calls and will continue to attend our events.

Have your say on the Council Housing Strategy Consultation

Rotherham Council has been delivering against the commitments in its Housing Strategy for 2019-22, now the Housing Strategy is being refreshed to set out the key priorities for 2022-25, and Rotherham Council are asking for your help in shaping this.

Please complete the electronic survey by 21st January 2022.

Energy Know How

By Sharon Smith & Noor Salih, Community Energy Advisors

Energy Know How successfully presented a session giving details about priority services register and warm home discount to a large group of elderly people who attended their regular luncheon group.

The meeting was arranged following a discussion at Rotherham Show with the group organiser, Julia who proceeded to contact us via the office.

A telephone discussion took place to discuss in detail the services Energy Know How could deliver, and agreement was made to attend the luncheon group on 27th October 2021.

We intended to speak to the group as a whole and took our projector and equipment however, on arrival it appeared that due to the social nature of the group, chatting and enquiring on each others’ wellbeing and the fact that there were several attendees that were hard of hearing, our original plans to talk to them as a group would probably not be the best option.

We discussed with Julia who organised the event and we suggested that we talk at each table individually allowing us to engage more personally with the group as there was a maximum of 4 people per table. It also allowed for questions and answers and a more personal service particularly for those that were hard of hearing.

In total we spoke to 35 elderly residents each one informed about priority services register and the warm home discount scheme, 5 people booked to have home visits for free draught proofing measures and to fit new led lightbulbs.

Each person was given a thermostat which will help them to regulate whether their homes are too warm or too cold and we then left the group to enjoy their lunch and bingo.

Thurcroft Halloween Event

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

Due to the success of last year’s Halloween activities, we decided to do something very similar this year. On Friday 29 October we held a free Halloween crafts and pumpkin session at The Hub.  Over 200 people attended over the 4 hours the event ran and over 100 pumpkins were carved.  Everyone who attended said how good the event was and that it was nice to see people getting together.

Quotes from some of the people who attended:-

My girls loved it thank you for organising it  xx

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ESOL Classes at Rotherham College

By Kiera Lambert, Community Organiser

A big thank you to the team at Rotherham College ESOL department for allowing me to come along and speak to their more advanced English learners! I was able to speak to them about all things RotherFed, our services, and how we can help support them!

There was a fantastic response by the students there who were all keen to get involved in some way or another. The session allowed RotherFed to hear from a group of tenants who can often be left unheard and promote ourselves to the diverse community within Rotherham.

We look forward to continuing our work with Rotherham College and expanding our support for BAME tenants alongside this.

Peregrin Way TARA

By Rob Gooding, Community Organiser

The Peregrin Way TARA’s committee decided to step down during lockdown after years of service to the community, working with Nicky Hayes from RMBC Neighbourhoods and Kiera from Rotherfed, we set about holding engagement events to identify new members that are interested in taking over the running of the group.

We identified several members that could fill these rolls moving forward. Despite a number of setbacks over the last few months Julie and the committee are now happily in position and running regular sessions from the centre.  Residents have stated that they would like to see new activity’s taking place in the centre, and not just the usual bingo and luncheon clubs. We are currently working with the residents to identify activities that the new group would be able to hold in and around the centre. So far, the group has mentioned gardening clubs, knit and natter’s, craft groups and potentially a breakfast club one or two days a week.

The first event held was an open event for the local community to come along and put their ideas forward. This event was a big success with people from Peregrin coming along to have a chat and discuss what their interests would be. We hosted with tea and coffee, cakes, and even an art station which had an extremely positive response from the attendees. The group are now currently running these coffee mornings every Monday morning and hope to expand to other activities soon.

Friends of Dalton, East Herringthorpe & Thrybergh Green Spaces

By Sam Dixon, Community Organiser

Groups of individuals from all over the Dalton Thrybergh ward have been litter picking and participating in other Green Spaces projects for a number of years. As all of these groups have the same aims it was suggested by Cllr Michael Bennett-Sylvester that they all come together, formalize and then the group can start applying for funding and ensuring sustainability for the future.

The East Herringthorpe Pickers: A project run by Michael and Natalie, a local resident who has been engaged with RotherFed for more than 3 years. No matter the weather, Natalie and Michael meet in East Herringthorpe every single Thursday and pick litter from the streets where its agreed need the most attention that particular week. The group has had coverage in various local publications including the Advertiser.

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Rother Phoenix FC

By Dan Barron, Community Organiser

Rother Phoenix FC has progressed incredibly well over the last few months from non-existent to an ambitious footballing community group. Dan had first spoken to Natasha about a football project for children currently out of education. Tasha was then assistant coach in Kiveton. Due to circumstances could no longer work with the club. Natasha started looking into a community football group for Ferham. In doing so parents and children have followed Tasha’s football sessions to Ferham Park as well as engaging residents.

Natasha had spoken to parents who have said they would follow the project to Ferham because of Natasha’s reputation of putting the welfare of the children first. It only took a week for parents to come forward for potential community leadership roles as well as some volunteers who want to help the project with less responsibility. That is a massive credit to Natasha and her passion to become a coach in football and engage with children in sport. Natasha brings previous footballing and coaching experience enabling the project to begin immediately.

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