By Dan Barron & Sam Dixon, Project Workers

Dayle Hill is the lead of the newly formed Canklow based group The Community Tree. In only our second meeting she came to us with the idea of creating a community picnic, a “world picnic”, where residents come together to share food that is important to them. The idea is that no matter who you are we all have a connection to food. Dayle wanted to work with this idea to help people recognize that we are all connected. We talked about how people could bring food that they could have a cultural connection to, their favourite dish, or even their signature dish, the one that must be at every family get together.

During further discussions Dayle said she would like the picnic to be the start of a whole week of events to improve and bring together the whole community in Canklow. Her aims were to Celebrate the diversity of the area, support families and help people to feel safer. The idea of having a community clean-up day and an event to round things off were also brought up. May quickly arrived and Dayle had formed a plan of exactly what she wanted to see from the week.  Monday to open the week with the World Picnic. Dayle also had the idea to create Acts of Kindness bingo cards for residents and young people. Those wanting to be involved would fill out the card over the week and return at the final event to be entered into a prize draw.

Wednesday was to be a crafting day working with local social enterprise Casting Innovations. Residents could create their own heart out of Fimo that would then be cast into aluminium and then added to a giant heart, that will be displayed in Canklow. Residents also can work with Castings to make the heart themselves.

The community clean-up day was going to be on Thursday. This is planned to be a Litter Pick by the Friends of Canklow Open Spaces, a group that is part of the community tree, and a community skip that will be provided by RMBC housing.

Finally, the week would be rounded off with a community sports day. Delivered by partner organization Rotherham United Community Sports Trust, they will be delivering football-based activities as well as health and fitness advise in a fun event for everyone to get involved with.

During the planning for the event the local school were also engaged with. They not only promoted the event within their school but also had the young people create flags for bunting that will be displayed for the whole week of the events. The hope is then the young people will feel some ownership towards the event and encourage their family to attend.

The week came, AND WHAT A WEEK IT WAS!!! Every event had engagement from different aspects of the community. From a community that is known locally to struggle with anti-social behavior and has little engagement with services, everyone involved commented on how well they felt it went. The picnic was a mix of curry, sandwiches, pasta and sunshine, everyone who attended got the opportunity to sit, relax and engage with other residents.

On Wednesday we saw a dozen people drop into Casting Innovations to create the FIMO hearts.

On Thursday a skip was delivered for the community to be able to get rid of their excess waste thanks to funding from the local housing authority. Alongside that Friends of Canklow Open Spaces went out on a litter pick around with other volunteers from the area, more than 10 bags were collected, and several piles of fly-tipping were also removed.

A typical wet summer Sunday was the day for the Sports day. Despite the weather, plenty of people came down to the event. With an inflatable penalty shoot-out, small football pitches set up and skipping ropes, families had the chance turn burn off energy whilst being out in the open spaces the area has to offer.

Over the week we all took the opportunity to build up new relationships with residents and reconnect with those who are already aware of what we are trying to achieve for the community. Planning will be starting soon for next year, and no doubt Dayle already has in mind what she wants to achieve and will work hard to make it bigger and better.

Volunteering in the Community

By Nicola Evans, Volunteers Coordinator

One of the wonderful things about working at RotherFed is that it has ignited my passion for personal volunteering, I like nothing more than getting involved where I can. July saw a fantastic opportunity presented to me with the Women’s Euros. Four matches were to be hosted by the New York Stadium, home of Rotherham United. I saw an advert and volunteered my time, not truly sure of what I was letting myself in for.

After lots of training, the first match day came and I found myself in one of the amazing fan zones being hosted by RMBC, this continued through the four days of the tournament. It was truly wonderful, over 40 volunteers coming together to help highlight the best of Rotherham and oh, did we know how to put on a party! One shift was done in the heatwave, temperatures reaching 36 degrees, which was very hot. We were well looked after, and we ensured the Rotherham public was too.

By the end of match day four and over 40 hours of volunteering we all retired tired but happy to have been part of this momentous occasion for Rotherham. One memory that will stick with me is meeting a lovely Rotherham resident, who pops into town just for some company as he was lonely. I had a lovely conversation with him, and we chatted about all sorts, he kept popping back throughout the day to say hello and let me know what a lovely day it was.

Moving Rotherham

Sally has been walking with the S62 group from Greasbrough Dam since the start, a popular member of the group who has a fascinating knowledge of nature (especially trees) she really opens up your eyes to things you do not usually take notice of. Recently she disclosed that she might not be able to continue with the walks as her trainers which were 5 years old were causing her issues. She could not really afford a new pair due to her hours being reduced due to covid and due to the rising cost of transport to get her to events.
To remove this barrier and to enable her to continue we have provided a new pair of walking trainers for her to use with the caveat that if she continues to attend the trainers will be hers. Sally was overwhelmed as she really did not want to stop walking as it had an impact on her mental and physical health, this has removed a barrier and will enable her to continue.

Friendship Call Participant – Clarissa

Clarissa lives on her own, she used to be a nurse before she became a full-time carer to her severely disabled daughter. In recent years she has suffered with a number of bereavements, including the daughter that she cared for and her son. Her only remaining child also has disabilities and needs constant assistance.

Clarissa has previously volunteered as support for people whose children were also disabled and did a lot of work advocating for disabled people’s rights. She has found it hard to accept help, as she has always been independent and the one to help others, she is not used to receiving assistance. However, the befriending phone calls have helped her with her loneliness and the fact that there is someone who rings on a regular basis helps alleviate her isolation. 

She has been speaking to the same volunteer for over 6 months. They both have a love of crafts and genealogy. They regularly spend the entire phone call saying how they could put the world right. The conversations that Clarissa and her volunteer have vary each week covering everything from the war in Ukraine and gardening to aliens and conspiracy theories. Both Clarissa and her volunteer benefit from the calls as they both enjoy the wide range of topics covered and feel like they learn something new from each other.

“The befriending calls are something I look forward to immensely, we talk about all sorts and I feel we can put the world to rights”

Friendship Call Participant – Joy

Joy has been receiving calls since November 2021. She has mobility issues so cannot get around quickly. She has not been out of the house much since Covid started and she hasn’t shown any interest in going out.

Joy does not own a tv instead she spends her time listening to the radio and colouring.

She has incredibly supportive neighbours and friends who do her shopping and even organised for a vicar to come to her house to do communion with her which she hasn’t had in over 2 years! 

Joy speaks to the same volunteer every other week and then alternates volunteers the other week so that she has a wide range of people to talk to, which she appreciates. She is a very chatty lady who can talk about a wide range of topics, she says she loves having her calls especially with younger volunteers as she feels like she is staying in touch with the world around her.

“As usual I had a lovely chat with Joy, she was extremely excited that the vicar her and a good friend communion.

Typically, with Joy, in good humour she said that she’d insisted on having the first sip of communion wine as she didn’t want to catch anything from her friend”

Rawmarsh Community Allotment Group

David, one of the group volunteers, arranged for his team at HSBC to do a volunteering day at the Rawmarsh Community Allotment. Ten people in total took part. For some of them it was their first time on an allotment and while they were impressed with the plot, they did feel a bit overwhelmed by the work needing to be done! They split into groups to work on various jobs, put on some music and began to enjoy being outside for the day.

Emilio, who has a nearby plot for the Salvation Army, provided lunch and refreshments for the group of bacon and egg rolls and tea & coffee, which he cooked on his stove.

We provided water for them all and the gravel boards to build some of the vegetable beds.

By the end of the day the group had cleared and area and installed a vegetable bed which is already showing signs of a good crop.

Talking to some of the team about the experience these were some of the comments received:

“The day went so fast, and was so much fun”

“Great to see how much we actually managed to do in a few hours”

“Beats sitting inside at a desk on a day like this”

Thank you to David for organising the event and for everyone who took part on the day.

Tenant Involvement

Mrs S came to the Eid party, she was feeling anxious as she hadn’t been out since covid.  She lives at home with her children, but she was excited to be at the party. She was happy to meet the guests from other organisations and asked them for information regarding what they do. She also spoke to the Rotherfed staff, and she commented by saying “I feel privileged to be invited to the party I haven’t been out for over three years, and I don’t attend any groups or sessions as my daughter is very strict and says that I might get covid.  Therefore, she doesn’t allow me to go out. But after coming to the Eid party, I will be joining in more community events. I want to thank Yasmeen for checking on me at the party and for her inviting me. I am so happy I got the opportunity to make new friends and, I feel more comfortable in a public setting”. 

The Steadlands Neighbourhood Centre

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

I first visited this Centre in April 2022; it was one of the Centres selected by RMBC to look at the usage.  This Centre is used every single day by a group of lovely residents who hold and run regular activities and events.  They see the Centre as an extension of their homes and say they would be lost without it; this is apparent in the Centre too as it has a lot of homemade furnishings around making it feel homely.  As a lot of the residents live alone, the Centre gives them the opportunity to get together and have a chat, without having to go far.

Since then, I have visited the Centre on several occasions.  On a weekly basis they hold coffee mornings, craft sessions, book club, film afternoons etc they also hold afternoon teas or parties for special events i.e. Christmas, Easter, Queens Jubilee etc.  They are now looking at day trips for the group starting with an afternoon tea and a barge trip. The group are not a constituted group so all the money they have is raised by themselves. I am talking to them about becoming a constituted group to enable them to get and apply for funding. They do seem a little nervous about taking this step but are slowly coming around to the idea. I have passed their contact details onto John Heeley MP who has offered to support this group where he can too, as it falls in his area.   

I have also submitted two ward housing hubs proposals with this group for extra lighting around the bungalows and a dropped kerb, this will make things easier for the residents on scooters and in wheelchairs. 

Making Our Money Go Further and Energy Know How recently attended the Centre to speak to the residents and they all said afterwards how beneficial they had found the session. This was followed by a fish and chip lunch, which they loved. The residents have also been taking part in some gentle exercise classes.

This is a lovely active group of residents who I am really enjoying working with. I will continue to support the group where required. 

Eid Party

By Yasmeen Ali, Community Engagement Officer

This month we organised an Eid party. It was a good time for a celebratory event as it was the week after Eid al-Adha. After doing the outreach and talking to the ladies, it was agreed to do a one dish party which took place at RotherFed. It was a fantastic turn out, 22 ladies attended along with 4 professionals. All the ladies enjoyed themselves and were very happy to be part of RotherFed.

We received some fantastic feedback not only from the women but from the professionals who attended. All the ladies looked very comfortable. The ladies didn’t shy away at this event as they are getting familiar with the staff at RotherFed. This is great to see as at the first event in May the ladies were quiet and not as confident and sat with their backs towards the Staff. A few of ladies approached the staff and chit-chatted with them.

Some of the feedback I received:

“This party has given me confidence to attend more events and socialise more “

Mrs H

“I live in a council house and have learned that I can register enquires online as I have found that the RMBC council enquiry line is very busy, this is something I will be getting my children to do in the future for me. I am unable to do this as I have a language barrier and no digital skills.”

Mrs M

“I would like to thank Yasmeen for picking me up and dropping me off at home. I wouldn’t have been able to come otherwise. I am unable to read, write or speak English and I wouldn’t be able to walk to RotherFed because I have arthritis, I felt very happy being part of the Eid party”

Mrs W

“This is the first time I have been to RotheFed I was respected by all the members of staff there. I met Yasmeen at the Library and I am glad that she told me about the Eid party. I was very happy to be part of the party.”

Mrs K

“Thank you, Yasmeen for organising this party I haven’t socialised or been around people since covid. I am always at home this is the first time I have come out.”

Mrs Z

Women of the World Rotherham

By Sharon Smith, Community Energy Advisor

Led by Founder Jude Kelly, WOW Festivals are the world’s most comprehensive festivals celebrating women, girls and non-binary people. Launched in 2010, WOW Festivals have now taken place in more than 30 locations in six continents, reaching more than three million people to date. WOW Rotherham was on the 16th and the 17th of July. The two-day festival was to celebrate community, culture, and entrepreneurialism with artists local, national, and international taking part in the event, the first of its kind for the town.

One of the panels that takes place at every WOW festival is ‘Urgent Conversation’. WOW Global describe this as ‘Every day, it feels like we wake up to something new to respond to, a new urgent conversation to have, a new set of injustices to carry and solutions to come up with together. With the news agenda and world events changing at such rapid speed, WOW has reserved this panel to respond to the most up to date and recent happenings that affect us, gender equality and societies around the world.’

WOW Rotherham’s Urgent Conversation was around the cost-of-living crisis. Chaired by Jude Kelly the panel included myself, Noor Salih from Energy Know How Rotherfed, Becca Stacey who is the Senior Research Officer for Money and Mental Health Policy institute and GP Hannah Barham-Brown. The panel discussed about how where you live can impact your mental health and how GPs do not have enough time to really get to know the issues that the patients have and the importance of social prescribing. The discussion was also around the energy market crisis.

There was a real buzz from the audience during Q&As, they had no knowledge of Priority Service Register or Warm Home Discount. 95% of the audience said they didn’t understand what was happening in relation to the price rises and what cost of living payments they were entitled to.

The audience was taken aback by the cost of running a prepayment meter and the importance of having a conversation with your energy provider about moving onto a tariff instead of moving energy providers. One of the audience members talked about their daughter becoming a mother and moving into her first rental property with a prepayment meter. The daughter wasn’t aware she could have it changed to a standard meter to save some money.

The audience was mostly women with just 2 men in the audience, the entire audience were parents and were not familiar about how much money they could save by making small behaviour changes in their household. More than half of the audience weren’t aware of how to access their meters to read them to ensure accurate billing.

By the end of the panel the participants were aware of:

  • Priority service register
  • Warm Home Discount
  • How to access and read their meters
  • Cost of living payments and eligibility
  • Simple energy saving tips
  • Services offered by Social Prescribers
  • What is happening in the energy market