Warreners Drive Neighbourhood Centre

I first visited Warreners Drive, Thrybergh in October 2021 when a group of residents contacted me to say they were interested in forming a constituted group to run from the Centre. The Centre had recently been redecorated and has now had new curtains and blinds fitted. I worked with this group, who called themselves UNIT (Uniting Neighbours in Thrybergh) for the next few months we helped to get them a constitution, bank account, etc.  In January 2022 we carried out a door knock around the area to find out if there was any interest from people who wanted to use the Centre and what activities they would like to see held there. A coffee morning was arranged for a couple of weeks later and since then things have gone from strength to strength.  A weekly coffee morning now takes place every Wednesday where the residents get together and have a cuppa, cake, and a chat.  As well as the coffee morning, we are working with RNN (Rotherham College) who have put on flower arranging sessions, which the ladies are loving, and some light exercise and mindfulness classes, these classes have been funded through the Councillor’s CLF funding. The group are also holding their first ‘real’ event on Friday 3 June, an afternoon tea for the Queen’s Jubilee. Over 30 people have already booked to attend this. 

Unfortunately, the group UNIT group decided in March that they no longer wished to continue, therefore, Friends of Dalton, East Herringthorpe & Thrybergh Green Spaces have kindly taken this new group under their wing and will support them until the group feels ready to be their own constituted group. One member of the Friends of Dalton group who has been learning flower arranging, recently applied for funding through Arnold Clark and was successful in getting £500. With this money she is making flower arrangements for the graves in the cemetery which are not tendered anymore, using the skills she has learnt at the flower class. Amazing!

The “previous” council warden who lives above the Centre said how nice it is that the Centre is being used again on a regular basis, she says it’s brought the life back into it.  She did say when we first did the door knocking that she hoped we could make a difference, but she doubted we would as people have tried before. It’s really nice to know that a difference has been made and the residents are once again enjoying the Centre and what it has to offer, and we hope this continues. I will continue to support the groups where needed and required.

Winterhill Engine Pond Project

The Engine Project has been a school led project that has been active for the last 7 years. The advertiser published a piece from them in the Young Tizer section of the paper in 2015.

We formed the Year 10 student council earlier this year and we were all eager to find a project to get stuck into. The Old Engine Pond in front of the school was brought to our attention due to concerns from the community, and we wanted to make a positive change. Everyone within the local community knows the Engine Pond and at some point will have played around it and in some cases, weather permitting, played in it! However, over the last three years it has become extremely polluted, overgrown and dangerous, not to mention the big impact on innocent wildlife that live there.We immediately wanted to get down there and clean it ourselves but thought that we may have little impact just on our own. Therefore, we contacted Kevin Burke who works for RMBC and is head of green spaces.We needed his help and support in order for us to get this project under way. Of course, for him to take us seriously, we wanted to make sure we had a thorough plan of action, a clear set of objectives, and the right team. Also, we wanted to be a lead on this project and to personally contact all the necessary people that we would need for this project to progress. As a result, the Winterhill Year 11 school prefect events team and Year 11 environment prefect helped us organise a meeting for us all to meet. To ensure we did the right thing with the pond, we also contacted the science, history and geography departments to research the area so we can create information to put around the pond.We had one more meeting so that we could set a date and decide exactly what we were going to do. We decided on November 21 and 28 that it would run over the both Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. We realised the more people that knew about this project, the more people would come and help us, and obviously we would get more vital work done to support the community. To promote the project, we went and spoke in all the school’s assemblies to invite Winterhill students to join us as well as local councillors, Rother FM and the Rotherham Advertiser to further get the message out there.The whole of the Winterhill student council took an active part in this too. Some contacted the councillors, some contacted the radio station and some asked the questions in the meetings. It was my job, as head of the student council, to ensure that it was organised and done professionally. Overall, the team have learnt so much from this experience and it’s not even started yet! We would also like to rename the pond to something a little more appealing to show off all our hard work.We want to make it a place that primary schools can visit and learn from.  But ultimately, we want to create something that we can all access and enjoy, something that was created by Winterhill students for the community. Our aim is simple – to make a difference in the community.

By Leoni Hill (age 14), Year 10 Winterhill School, head of the student council

Dan and I have met with Simon Jeffrey, the safeguarding lead from Winterhill, to discuss how we can work together on our project. Simon explained that the Engine Pond project has been running for 7 years as part of the school’s project that snowballed. This project became the bedrock of the school prefects that take on extra responsibilities. Simon has explained that they have received funding in the form of grants from RMBC and The Rotherham Advertiser. These funds were able to provide the new pavement at engine pond, £300 food parcels that were distributed to those in need and loneliness visits to care homes. The school has a team of 50 prefects that the lead the extracurricular activities that the school undertakes throughout the year. They specifically have a community team that we could work with to enhance what they already aim to achieve.

Simon is excited about the prospect at working together and believes that it’s a perfect time to begin engaging with a new batch of students to carry on the prefects. Simon wants to continue to engage in with the community and is also keen about connecting with residents. We have spoken about how a potential committee would work in the form of an official representative of the school on the committee as well as other community leaders.

I supported the community engagement on the Engine Pond. There were more than 10 young people from the school helping as well as representatives from school, local councilors, RMBC Green Spaces workers and local residents. It was amazing to see the how much enthusiasm and hard work is going into the area to establish the site as a place where nature can thrive without the threat of pollution and litter.

I am looking forward to seeing how the relationship between the school and residents develops, and how we can work together to make a more cohesive community in the area.

Building Confidence

Wafaa has been living in England about 10 years as she moved here from Saudi. Her first language is Arabic and when she came into this country, she couldn’t speak any English. Wafaa has got three young children and was invited to the Eid party. When she was invited, she was very excited but equally very worried about if there were going to be any men there. I did reassure her that if there were they would be sat to one side.

Wafaa has little confidence and is socially isolated as she doesn’t have any friends or family living in her surrounding area. Before coming Wafaa contacted me and said to me that if she feels anxious that she will be leaving the Eid party. I did check on Wafaa a few times throughout the event and she was happy to have been part of the Eid party. she commented saying that she was happy with the respect that was given to her and the rest of the ladies who attended were very friendly towards her.

Wafaa is also a council tenant, and the project outcomes were shared with her. She is very interested and is now wanting to be involved in the tenant meetings. With Wafaa coming to the Eid party she has also put her name down to do an ESOL class at Mowbray Gardens Library as one of the professionals who was invited to the Eid party currently tutors sessions there. Wafaa thanked me for looking out for her and has asked if she can attend any further events that are put on at RotherFed

Elizabeth Parkin TARA

When we were doing the engagement work around neighbourhood centres, we discovered that the group that used to run out of the centre had stopped pre covid and a lot of residents had missed the sessions that were happening there

Following on from the Neighbourhood centre engagement work Neelam has been doing the residents have started holding regular coffee mornings, bingo sessions and chair exercise classes. To build on this engagement I have started to attend some of the sessions and gotten to know the committee, as the sessions continue to grow the group have started to look at getting a constitution and bank account to expand on the activities they run. The group consists of around 12 regular members so far and three committee members but is growing slowly as news spreads.

The first draft of the constitution was made this month and the group are currently making alterations to this document ready for it being adopted. When the group have this and the bank account, they would like to investigate funding to hold luncheon clubs and day trips to expand on their regular activity and hopefully attract more members from the community.

Thurcroft Big Local’s Easter Event

This year’s Easter event in Thurcroft was another great success. The event this year was a joint event with St Simon & St Jude’s Church. The local Councillors, Zac and Thomas Collingham also donated some of their CLF fund which paid for a large part of the event. The event took place on Good Friday and started at 10am with arts and crafts in the church. There was also a raffle and refreshments. The Easter egg hunt started from the church at 12pm and there were 12 clues placed around the village for the children to follow. The hunt finished at the Thurcroft Hub where every child who took place received an Easter egg. There was also a mobile farm where the children could meet and pet the small animals. 

Around 200 children took part in the Easter Egg Hunt which is a fantastic turnout, however, we had only purchased enough eggs for 100 children. A quick trip to Morrisons to purchase another 100 eggs solved this problem though and all the children were happy. 

It is lovely to see how this community really works together and how people appreciate the events and activities that take place.

A couple of quotes from the community.

“Brilliant day starting with the crafts and then the Easter egg hunt.  Great to see so many smiley faces around the village and the lovely Easter bonnets”.

“My girls loved it. Thank you to all of you for organising it”.

Event Planning and Funding Training

RotherFed and Voluntary Action Rotherham held a joint training session on ‘Event Planning and Funding Your Event’. This event was booking only due to the amount of people that had expressed interest prior to the event. We didn’t expect the event to fill up as fast as it did, though that suggests that there is a real need for events like this in Rotherham.

The event was attended by 14 individuals from across the whole of Rotherham, this gave us a nice mix with both new groups wanting to get a taste for events and more established groups wanting a refresher after having two years where they have been unable to hold events. The event started with deciding on what your event will be, moving on to budgets, how and where to get funding from, health and safety law to cover the event, and it touched on risk assessments and insurance.

The event had interactive aspects to aid the participants in the learning experience as well as a lot of factual content and handouts that they could take back to the groups and reference later when planning any upcoming events and a reassurance that despite the training we will always be here to help community groups. The feedback received after the session seems positive with attendees feeling better prepared to hold events in the future and a greater depth of knowledge into the processes involved in hosting events, but attendees did add that they would like a more in-depth session to cover risk assessments.

 A quote from one of the attendees ‘the event planning training, I really enjoyed the morning and it was really well put together and gave a great insight into what is needed while planning an event. Hopefully you will be doing some more but I also think it could have been a full day course as there was lots of content in it and I would have loved to have gone into things further when planning events.’

Friends of Dalton, East Herringthorpe and Thrybergh Green Spaces and their Wonderful Community Leader – Heart of the Community

Friends of Dalton, East Herringthorpe and Thrybergh Green Spaces have a very proactive committee and team of volunteers, none more so than their Vice-Chair Nicola J.

Nicola got involved in the group through her connection to Councillor Bennett-Sylvester and the litter picking she was already doing in her free time. As the group officially formed Nicola was voted in to sit on the committee since then her confidence has gone from strength to strength.

Nicola has been instrumental in the group gaining the license for the Vale Road site. She is actively involved in nearly all of the litter picking activity even though she has a very full on work and personal life. She regularly attends the various community coffee mornings that happen throughout the ward, one of which found themselves in need of support as the emerging committee folded. This particular group had the leaders back out of being involved in the organisation of a new group but the residents that pay into the centre still wanted the coffee mornings to run. Nicola went back to the committee of the Green spaces group, explained the situation and the group have agreed to take on the coffee mornings as an extension of their community activity.

Since the group formed in September Nicola has learnt to liaise with partners, council officials and basically anybody who can help to support the group attain their objectives. She is not afraid to be persistent, because, as she says herself “the worse they can say is no”. She has attended training provided by RotherFed and will be gaining more skills going forward as she has already signed up for training being provided by RMBC.

Nicola has taken the lead for the group when applying for funding pots, she has already been successful in securing 3 different funds for different activities that the group are involved in and we have supported her in filling out another application that will be going in next month.

GO MENTAL! – Heart in the Community

We met with Rachel B and Rachel M to discuss a campaign idea. On our initial meet they presented to us their idea of creating sessions to help individuals who are struggling with their mental health. However they don’t want to create a normal or typical experience where someone comes to talk to you and presents in a boring manner, they want to host an interactive seminar that’s fun with sensory experiences such as dancing, music, props and full of energy and they want to call it GO MENTAL! They have made so much progress over the month we have worked with them and are aiming to be constituted in the coming months. The long-term plan is to be able to deliver this across the borough but the short-term goal is to continue create focus groups to create enjoyable sessions before rolling it out as a larger initiative. They have a presentation and are looking into their own GO MENTAL website and have already begun scouting potential partners.

They want to use their own life experiences and stories of personal struggles to engage with audiences who might not usually attend the usual type of talk or event. This isn’t the conventional method and won’t be for everybody but it is created though real experiences and what they have learned through their own journeys. The aim of the group is to educate and teach techniques that lots of people don’t use or know about that could impact their mental health positively and their day-to-day life. GO MENTAL also want to be able to link relevant partners and groups that teach positive mental health techniques. They want to achieve this by directing attendees to a partner’s room where they can speak to partner representatives about activities and sessions that best suites them. By doing this they take out the “I’ll call them tomorrow” as it is part of the overall experience.

The effort and time they are already dedicating to this project has been amazing. They are 2 very self-motivated individuals who are an absolute joy to work with. We have been able to offer support and set actions for meetings and they have completed them and much more.

“We all struggle sometimes, because let’s face it, life can be hard. But when we have a few tools in our toolkit and if we know we’re not alone, then the rough times can get a little easier. ‘Go Mental’ is an interactive event designed to empower YOU with a collection of tips, tricks and techniques to help you handle everyday stress.

But this is no snooze-fest seminar! Be prepared to boogie*, sing* and be wildly entertained. *No actual talent required. Hosted by Rachel and Rachel (yep, you read that right), they share their own mental health struggles and the extraordinary circumstances that turned them into the mental health mavericks they are today.”

Energy Know How – Karen

This client was referred to Energy Know How by Social Prescribing as requiring urgent support. The client was heating their house with candles, had no income for heating other than Universal Credit and having to choose between utility bills and food.

Contact was made straight away although the client did not answer, a voicemail message was left saying who we were and who had asked us to call. We also said we would call again if she was not able to return our call for any reason.

Client called back shortly after the message was left and was offered a call-back just in case she was on a pay as you go phone however the client confirmed she had available minutes in her mobile contract.

Karen lives in a rented council flat with 2 bedrooms. She started to become ill towards the end of last year and was off sick from her job as an ambulance driver (non NHS employment/through another company) and had to claim Universal Credit. She has required food parcels to help her manage and by not having a gluten free/well controlled diet her health had deteriorated further to the point she collapsed and had to go to hospital.

She has had numerous tests and hopefully some results will come soon. She had received only £500 from universal credit and £300 of this was needed to pay her rent. She is also having a deduction for an advance which I informed her she can request is temporarily suspended and explained how this can be done.

She had had emergency top up vouchers via citizens advice and was expecting another however it had not come through. I offered to chase this for her, her first vouchers were issued over a month ago, she had no electric and was using emergency credit for gas – she was heating her home with tea lights.

We also discussed the possibility of her applying for help from the ambulance workers charity (TASC) – I gave her the contact details from internet, she had nothing to lose by asking for temporary help with her situation. She had applied for PIP – explained the importance of the assessment and offered a referral to Citizens Advice via our Money project however client declined this as she struggles to engage with lots of different people.

She is temporarily in receipt of dhp to cover the bedroom tax. She was worried about hospital appointments and has been asked to enquire re refund of travel costs to hospital as she is in receipt of u/c she should be able to reclaim these (or mileage).

Energy saving issues were discussed and Karen already does most things, she has installed led lightbulbs and radiator foils, she had a particular issue with her front door which is very draughty and leaks in water making her entrance wet and this in turn makes it harder to keep warm. She lives in an upstairs flat and has issues with the tenants below, sometimes the windows are broken so this impacts on draughts in her upstairs flat.

Karen was offered a visit from Green Doctors to see if there are any measures they could install around her door and whether they could check to see if the radiator foils have been installed correctly. She mentioned fans that had been installed for her heating so I was not sure if this is a heat pump style system – if it is I explained the green doctors would be able to give advice about using it correctly as she says it is completely in-effective.

I chased the Top up vouchers with Citizens Advice immediately and received an email confirming the client would be contacted in the next 24 hours to issue her second of the three allocated top up vouchers to enable her to reconnect her electricity and have some hot water.

A Green Doctor visit was also requested.

The client sent a thank you text the day after saying she had spoken with the ambulance charity and was being sent an application form to request support and that she had chased up outstanding issues with DWP to get her health assessments completed.

Making Our Money Go Further

The Social Supermarket Rotherham Minster runs every Wednesday and Thursday.  Those struggling to make ends meet can become members and come to our shop in the town centre each week for just £3.  Our team of volunteers chat, make tea, stock shelves, collect food and support members in all sorts of ways. We started 18 months ago after chatting to people who needed food support for a few months and wanted to be able to choose their food and make a contribution to the cost. It has become a place of opportunities:  friendships are made, money skills are learned, people start to save money and find help with benefits, housing etc. They also realise they have skills to share and start to volunteer. We have fun working out how to cook different meals, with some joining our cooking course.  Our next step is to have a go at growing veg and getting active with a Pilates class.

I first met Client L when they were a member of the Social Supermarket and we referred them into Citizens Advice for benefits and debt support. Once they graduated from the Social Supermarket, they became a volunteer helping at the Catch-Up Café and food sessions. I spoke to them about work opportunities and referred them into WorkingWin. They found some part time work, but the hours did not provide them with a regular income so left them still reliant on benefits. They have now managed to secure a full-time job and although feeling a bit nervous about managing their own budget, they are very excited to be taking control of their finances again.

When I first met Client M at the Social Supermarket, they were very quiet and withdrawn and it was their friend who spoke on their behalf about money support, which we referred them into Citizens Advice for. Over the past couple of months, I have seen their confidence soar and become much more engaged with everyone, and after being asked to help one day when they were short of volunteers, they now volunteer there on a weekly basis. They have also taken the lead to help run the allotment at the Clifton Learning Partnership building for the Social Supermarket.