Litter Picking with Equans and Sanctuary Housing

In the Dalton area of Rotherham there is a large housing development, creating a combination of new affordable housing for private owners and social housing. Part of the Corporate responsibility of the two firms involved is to ensure that their staff are required to get involved in social action locally. The firms have chosen to organize litter picks around the site to give them a visible presence within the community. They have asked the Heart of the Community project to support the work as we can link them in with local services to promote their work as well as linking them to the community groups that are already active in the area.

All levels of employees are expected to take as part of their contract from management right down to construction. The people from the team that we have met so far have been surprised at how rewarding the simple task of litter picking has been and some have even described how addictive it can be and “make you want to make sure everything that you can see has been removed.”

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Digital Champion Support

Alison is a lady with disabilities Joanne met at the Catch-up Café. Alison attends regularly and is a council tenant, she needed help with her mobile phone as she had ‘lost’ her text messages or so she thought. Del was helping Alison to see if he could find them and tidy her folders and apps up on her phone. She was getting quite distressed about it as that was how she received messages about GP and hospital appointments Alison asked if Joanne could look, so Joanne asked Del to text Alison to see check what the issue was. By doing this Joanne was able to locate the Text Message folder on Alison’s phone and move the folder to her front screen for easy access. Alison was over the moon and so relieved, you could see the stress fall away. Christine and Allie (organisers of the café) were happy that Alison had her messages now as they could see she was becoming quite anxious. They can absolutely see the benefits of having a digital champion representation at the Catch-up Café, they don’t want anything formal, just a mingle and chat kind of ethos. This was very good for us to engage with different housing tenants in a informal setting.

Woodsetts Neighbourhood Watch

Woodsetts Neighbourhood reacting to an increase in burglaries in the area and a large rise in offroad bikes recently, decided they needed CCTV in the village. Working closely with the Police community support officer’s (PCSO’S) and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s (RMBC’s) CCTV department the group scouted locations that cameras would be most effective to cover the hotspots that developed through COVID. The group and partners both agreed that 9 Wi-Fi enabled CCTV cameras were needed and the Police would need an extra unit to view the footage from anywhere in Rotherham live but this would come at a substantial cost to the group.

Not deterred by this the group decided to raise the funds they needed and over the last few months, the group have been crowdfunding and holding social events to raise the money needed to install CCTV in the areas they had highlighted, in the first 5 weeks the group had managed to raise over half the cost through donations from residents and businesses in the area demonstrating not only the community’s backing for this project but that the community had come together behind the group and the project, but the group knew crowdfunding alone wouldn’t reach their target.

At this point the group decided to approach their Parish Councillors and Rotherham Council Councillors for help with the remaining funding. Both sets of councillors were more than happy to help get the group to the target, this means the group now have the funds to pay for the CCTV system for the community and it will be installed soon making the groups goals of a safer Woodsetts one step closer to becoming a reality

Making Our Neighbourhoods Centres Grow

The coffee sessions and now the bingo sessions have made a huge difference in Anne’s life at High Nook neighbourhood centre. Before these sessions existed she did not have much of a social life and said she spent her days inside watching TV. Now she comes to the centre for the coffee morning and bingo, and it has given her a bit of social life. People she knew faces of; she is now getting to know better. She said she has formed new friendships and even invited one lady into her home whilst she waited for her to get ready to go down to the centre, which felt nice for her. She feels like bonds are growing slowly but surely and its due to the sessions at the centre.

She also told me that coming to the centre has also given her the confidence to go to other places which she rarely did before. She said she is going out to Worksop tomorrow which she’s never done on her own. She feels the sessions have made a positive impact on her mental health and given her confidence.  She is also the bingo caller at the sessions which has given her a sense of purpose and the responsibility of doing this makes her feel good and needed. The bingo reminds her of old times when they use to have bingo on before and she is hoping the group grows and sessions get stronger.

She told me she has arthritis in her hip and knee so didn’t do much physical activity outside of her home so just going to centre has made her move more which in turn helps her feel better mentally as she knows she is moving more.

“Heart of the Community” at Rotherham Show

It’s that time of year again where RotherFed attend the Rotherham show. This year we decided the Heart of the Community project was going to spread the love and good vibrations on both days of the show. We were astonished at the response we have had to the luau stand and how residents are helping those who need it know matter how small the task. A whopping 1023 Rotherham residents embraced the Luau theme and our mission to discover the little acts of kindness. We’ve estimated from 1023 pledges over 1500 residents will benefit. We have found that residents are supporting each other in a variety of ways such as taking out the bins, looking after a friend, raising money for Charity, helping people find their car and so much more! We thoroughly enjoyed the weekend speaking with residents, groups, and the service providers and having fun at the stall. Here are just a few examples of what we talked about with you:

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The Circus comes to Warreners Drive

The Lets Circus tent had been one of the main attractions at Rotherham show. Seeing the buzz they created, we decided to look at their social media to see how the group engaged in the community and saw this advertised on their facebook account.

“It’s not every day that the circus comes to town and invites everyone over 55 to come and play. But that’s what we’re doing If you’re over 55 and want to do something fun, different, and exciting, then this is for you. Come join Let’s Circus for a day or three, as part of our adult participation programme. Come for a session, or we can bring an activity to a community group near you.

We contacted the group at Warreners Drive and asked if they would be interested in this activity. At first the group were quite dubious as none of them knew quite what to expect. This sort of activity is not readily available in our communities so we couldn’t even give them an idea of what was going to happen to put their minds at ease.

Steve, Demetri and Scribbles arrived with plenty of enthusiasm and a bag of tricks. They opened with an Icebreaking and memory exercise that had the group laughing and joking within minutes. There were spinning plates and plenty of activities for the whole group to get involved in. The session was enjoyed by everyone and there was some great feedback for the lets circus team.

“I would like to say how much I appreciated the fun we all enjoyed.”

Margaret B

“Brilliant fun, very therapeutic. Please come again.”

Pam

“We all quite unexpectedly enjoyed every ‘task’!!!”

Margaret F

“Great. Sorry I couldn’t stay until the end”

Janet

“It was a very good, enjoyable few hours”

Jenny

“Was very good. Really enjoyed it. Hope to do it again.”

Ellen

“Amazing!! Really enjoyed by all. Looking forward to seeing you all again.

If there was the opportunity for Lets Circus to deliver an activity within the community again, we know one group that would definitely want to be involved.

Making Our Money Go Further – Making a Difference

We first met this person many months ago at Shiloh homeless Drop-in session. Through the help of Shiloh and Rotherham Council, they secured accommodation. Through MOMGF (Making Our Money Go Further) they were referred to Citizens Advice who helped them with their benefits.

They seemed lonely, so we continued to engage with them regularly at Shiloh and provided information about money and community groups i.e., Government Cost of Living measures. We even went online with them to access Rotherham MBC’s Energy Crisis Support Scheme, from which they got £250 towards energy costs.

I met them again recently, at the social supermarket, where they are continued to be supported, and they were happy with their new accommodation and receiving tenancy support. They had always been keen gardeners and although their new accommodation did not have a garden, they were volunteering at a community allotment. They described the joy of picking and eating a ripe fruit straight from the tree.

It just shows that with the right support from different partner organisations, people can turn their life around and increase their sense of wellbeing.

Keppel and Scholes Heritage

The Keppel and Scholes Heritage group were formed during lockdown to help Chris from the museum with the restoration of Keppel’s Column.

Since its conception the has evolved and now encompasses the surrounding area that contains a Roman encampment, a rare ecological meadow and wet land and is home to rare daytime moths that the group spotted on their bug hunt and flora and fauna events earlier this year where they catalogued the species they found.

This month the group working with Clifton Park Museum the group helped to host the Keppel’s Column open day, this is the first time in around 50 years that the column has been open to the public. During the event members of the group led tours of six people up the column where they held a talk on the rich history of the site and landmarks that are visible from the top one of the members of the group also made a short documentary that visitors were invited to view.

On the run up to the event the group interview people around the area to get their memories of the column and these were incorporated into a land art installation where visitors were invited to listen to the interviews on mp3 players as they explored the different areas of the installation.

Looking to the future the group are looking at becoming part of the Rotherham Heritage Society, this is an umbrella group that showcases Rotherham’s many heritage projects through numerus events over the year the group are planning on using this platform as a means of promoting the group borough wide.

Friendship Call Participant – Barry

Joanne has now been actively supporting on the befriending calls and has a couple of people with who she speaks with regularly, plus other individuals. Barry is one of the people she have been speaking with.

Joanne started speaking with Barry in August, he has become a participant of the Telephone Befriending service due to experiencing loneliness. He has got family but since his wife passed away 5 years, he hasn’t gone out other than food shopping or to see family.

He is very lonely, during conversations Barry told Joanne how he doesn’t have friends, when his wife passed away, he lost himself and attempted suicide and was admitted into hospital for his mental health as he was at risk to himself, he was sectioned and placed on suicide watch. Barry had 1-2-1 support whilst in hospital to ensure he was safe and this whole experience has left him anxious. Barry has a colourful an extensive history, he was a businessman and has a wealth of experience gained from his business and travelling around the world for business. His family business of fruit, veg and flowers remains operational in Rotherham, now managed by his daughter Barry wears his heart on his sleeve and is happy for me to share some of his story. Barry came to the coffee morning, this was a big deal for Barry he had not been out in any social setting for 5 years, he was very nervous an anxious on the day, he was shaking, bless him. When he arrived, I made sure he was ok, he arrived early, and we were still setting up. He was happy to wait outside to have a cigarette and try to calm himself down. He got chatting with another guy who also was a first-time attendee. When Barry came into the room he was still shaking, I got him a cup of tea and he eventually began to feel a bit more comfortable, I reassured him he was a in safe space. Barry really enjoyed getting ready, he is a very proud man and likes to look the part, which he did. I think that in itself was a huge step for Barry and will support his journey to feeling better and more positive about the future. Barry would like to meet a companion to share his time with and make new memories, whilst he continues to grieve his wife.

Barry is very engaging and was chatting with everyone, he was smiling and laughing. Barry said

‘It was the first time he had smiled in a while, he felt very safe and was so pleased he came to the coffee morning. He felt it had given him something to look forward to and life was good’. He also said he felt more confident at the end to start going out more.

When Barry arrived home, he left Joanne a message to say thank you and that he was thrilled he came, he felt he had been given life back, it was a very emotional morning to be a part of this positive step forward for Barry was immense. Barry is really looking forward to coming to the next one in September which is a massive step for him.

The Summer themed coffee morning was a great success

This was Joanne’s first coffee morning to organise for Rotherfed, just 5 weeks into the role. With a great team effort, she pulled it off! The event was well shared and was great that KC café and Mowbray Gardens Community library were happy to pop posters up and are happy to share any future events with posters being dropped off and/or emailed through to them.

Having received great feedback from those who attended including befriending recipients, people from different communities and professional colleagues who came along to find out more about what we are offering, share what they are doing and chat to all those who came alone. We had 38 people attend which was fantastic, Nic had to run out and get some more milk and cakes – which was brilliant.

The kids loved the activities, the shells and fossils went down well, it was nice they took some home with them.

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