Friendship Call Volunteer – Chelsea

Chelsea approached us upon reaching her 18th birthday during March 2021. She had previously attended a talk at Thomas Rotherham College on how to become a friendship call volunteer but because of lockdown could not enrol back in November due to being under the age of 18. Chelsea started her first calls on 22nd March 2021 and has since shown so much potential as a young volunteer. She has been very consistent, taken on any extra calls when needed. During this month, she had been asked to take an elderly lady called Maureen on permanently as her usual volunteer had gone off sick. They immediately formed a very strong bond. Chelsea approached me to ask if she would be able to Skype Maureen in the future. After some discussion, Chelsea set up a new email account so that she could protect her personal details and will now proceed using Skype calls to Maureen (Maureen is very good on Skype). I asked Chelsea if she would be willing to become our first Digital Champion Volunteer and she has agreed, she would be supporting people with their preferred choice of social media, and she will be going out and about in the community after lockdown training both tenant voice and friendship volunteers as well as any participants that may be interested. Further to this, Chelsea is a very well-spoken young lady who also volunteers for St Johns Ambulance, and she has also agreed to become an ambassador for any other young volunteers or students wishing to become volunteers. We have reported back to Thomas Rotherham College on how Chelsea is expanding her role with us. She is an amazing young lady.

Friendship Call Participant – Mary

Mary came to us as a referral from Social Prescribing in September 2020. This lady had not been very well and although active had found that her life had changed since lockdown and she had then become ill. Mary enjoys cooking and reading books and during the initial stages of her being with us she had been receiving calls from staff members up until end of January. In February she was then paired with volunteer Chantelle and they immediately began to build a rapport with conversations lasting sometimes in excess of an hour and a half. They had become firm friends over the weeks following. Social Prescribing did a follow up with Mary in April and we received an email from the referrer ‘Just wanted to let you know that I got some lovely feedback from a patient who Chantelle calls. She is very much enjoying her calls.’ This highlights how important the calls are for those receiving them and Mary never misses a call.

Tenant Voice Group – Facebook and Virtual Coffee Mornings

The Tenant Voice group has continued to grow since it was started in January reaching 32 members all of whom are council tenants in the Rotherham area. This offers a community page for tenants to discuss meetings, mentor new tenants and grow relationships making tenants meetings more sociable and hopefully this will increase the uptake of tenants at these meetings it also allows people that cannot attend the meetings a chance to add their input and find out what has happened.

We are currently holding virtual coffee mornings once a month for the group to meet and as restrictions ease we will explore getting the group constituted and having meetings in person. The tenant voice group are a mix of existing tenant voice members who attend the tenant scrutiny and hip (housing involvement panel) meetings as well as new people who are interested in getting involved.

Most of the new tenants have previously been supported by RotherFed to put in Housing Hub Suggestion forms for projects that would improve the estates they live on. This has also offered a platform for our youngest Tenant Voice Volunteer to get involved. Ebony is a 17-year-old living in council housing, she is very eager to get involved in anything community based, she has already asked that when she turns 18 if she can start to attend meetings. We are currently supporting Ebony and other volunteers to gain the skills they need to attend virtual meetings and get more involved with RMBC services moving forward. We hope that as this group continues to grow, we can identify more tenants that are interested in making positive changes in the areas they live in and continue to support these going forward.

Rawmarsh & Parkgate Friends of Green Spaces

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

As I now cover the Rawmarsh area this group now falls in my HRA work. A couple of weeks ago I had a walkabout in Rawmarsh and met a couple of people from the group. I’ve also met the two local councillors who are involved in this group and regularly attend the litter picks put on. This group have their own Facebook page with nearly 400 members.

The group holds weekly litter picks, however, due to Covid-19 these were put on hold. The group did however go out on an individual basis to help to keep the community as clean and tidy as possible.

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Henley Resident Association

By Rob Gooding, Community Organiser

This month I have had the pleasure of mentoring the newly formed Henley Residents Association. The group have formed due to the old group dissolving last month. Since then, they have organised proactive community members who want to pick up the gauntlet of supporting their local community.

The HRA plan is to reignite the community spirit through activities to improve their neighbourhood by hosting coffee mornings with board games, weekly bingo at community centre and garden projects for those who want to leave their mark on the community centre garden on Oates close. The group also want to be able to put on away days for the residents like the good old days.

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Eggy The Eggsellent Eggsplorer

By Sam Dixon, Community Organiser

Easter was around the corner and our project wanted a fun activity for families to engage with. We came up with the idea of having an Easter character joining the Rotherham Federation team, who would go out on an adventure during the Easter holidays.

We decided that the first part of our project would be a design competition, young people were given the incentive of receiving a free prize for submitting a design to us. We had 19 entries for our design competition.

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Swinton Mobile Farm Visit

Rotherfed worked with Councillor Wyatt, Councillor Sansome and Brookfield Junior Academy in Swinton to fund a Mobile Farm Visit, which was provided by Ian’s Mobile Farm (www.iansfarm.com). The aim was to provide a fun activity in what has been a difficult year for the pupils.

Lauren Moore, the Inclusion Manager at the school said ‘I just wanted to write to say a huge thank you on behalf of the whole Brookfield Junior Academy family – staff, pupils and their families for funding the mobile farm visit. The mobile farm visit yesterday and was a huge success. Thank you for making happy memories and experiences for our pupils.’

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Laptops For Kids

By Sam Dixon, Community Organiser

As I started in my new role for RotherFed, we got instantly put back into lockdown as a country. Schools were closed and children were yet again unable to access their education. On the national media I noticed that there was a push starting to close the digital divide for families. Learning was quickly becoming an online entity and some of the most vulnerable families lacked the resources for their young people.

I knew that action needed to be taken, and that it had to happen quickly. I contacted Sheffield based charity Laptops for Kids who were already engaged with Learn Sheffield. Working together they were in the process of taking donations of devices and distributing them to schools who could get them those who needed them most. Part of their remit was initially to extend their support to all parts of South Yorkshire, so I arranged, with the support of Rob, a meeting to discuss how we could start working together.

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Mindfulness and Health & Wellbeing

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

The last 11 months have been very different and difficult for many people and for different reasons. The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession have negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness. To try and help Thurcroft investigated doing something to help towards mindfulness and health & wellbeing.

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Jo Workman

By Rob Gooding, Community Organiser

Rob nominated Jo for the volunteer of the month award in Wickersley Ward in December 2020.

This is a project run by RMBC staff and local councillors Jo is has run the local SEND youth club for children with additional needs for the last two years and was looking to expand this to other areas of Rotherham until Covid struck.

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