Rotherham Deaf Futures

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

Rotherham Deaf Futures is a group of profoundly deaf people who support other members of the deaf community and champion deaf awareness in Rotherham. The group formed in 2012 and with the help of RotherFed became a constituted group. Prior to this group setting up they had a dedicated team at RMBC who helped and supported them.

The group have met at Springwell Gardens on a Friday from 11am until 3pm. The sessions are open to all the deaf community and include cooking, bingo, quizzes, arts and crafts and key speakers from various companies. An interpreter has supported this group for the past few years to help them with everyday things i.e. phone calls, letters, doctors and hospital appointments etc, the things which the hearing community take for granted. Without an interpreter the deaf community cannot communicate with the hearing community.

In the past few months a significant amount of the funding they had been receiving was lost and therefore so was a lot of their support. Funding in the past had covered the cost for interpreters, room hire and refreshments. Unfortunately, without this funding the group have been without the help of an interpreter to help with their everyday issues and problems.

RotherFed prepared an application for an Awards for All grant on behalf of the group in August, which has been successful in securing £9,900. This grant will pay for cost of BSL interpreters to enable the Deaf community to link with the Hearing Community and also for room hire, refreshments, activities and training.

This is fantastic news for Rotherham Deaf Futures as they can now continue to support the deaf community.

Over a 12-month period from January 2020 there will be 50 weekly sessions organised with between 15-25 Deaf people attending each session. The sessions will be open to all and include cooking, bingo, quizzes, arts and crafts, films, educational videos, as well as key speakers from local authorities, Police, DWP, etc. An Interpreter at the sessions will support with everyday things i.e. phone calls and letters to doctors, dentist, hospital, RMBC, Citizens Advice etc, something the hearing community take for granted.

This project will also enable the development and growth of Rotherham Deaf Futures community group and sustain the group as a self-organised entity supporting the social and learning development of Deaf individuals and championing Deaf issues with the hearing community. Over the 12-month period the group will raise funds through raffles, sales, bingo etc. and also apply for additional grants that will enable the group and their activities to be maintained into the future.

This whole project has been designed by the group through listening and understanding the issues that deaf people are experiencing, and then planning the type of events, activities and opportunities that will address those needs. Attendees will be from a range of age, genders and backgrounds.

RotherFed will continue to support where required.

The Lanes Community Centre

By Brandon Freeman, Community organiser

I have been re-establishing relationships with the Lanes community and their community centre which was built  in 1997 after the group secured £245,000 from lottery funding. The centre is a sustainable venue as they do not rely on funding and they have charges in place to fund the venue, the cost of membership is only £2 per year. The leader of the group Lorraine has managed to sustain a bank account with a surplus of £18,000 for maintenance and repairs.

After speaking to local residents in the area it was clear people knew that the community centre existed but didn’t know what events were available. An online presence (in the form of a Facebook page) was suggested and this is currently in the works. The Lanes community centre offers daily events such as: coffee mornings, games nights, bingo and the most popular event the lunch club where you can get a hearty home cooked meal for as little as £3!

After speaking to Lorraine who runs and leases the community centre, it is clear that the local residents are not happy with the raised plant beds outside the centre as they are overgrown and unkempt. She mentioned that the raised beds needed work and wants something low maintenance as majority of the local residents are elderly. I am in the process of gathering interest from volunteers, organising equipment and discussing what plants the local residents would like to see sourced. I am hoping to link the event with the local school and other older volunteers I have met with an interest in outdoor activities in an attempt to encourage intergenerational work.

Springwell Sports and Fitness Project

By Dan Barron, Community Organiser

Dilly is a resident living in the Springwell area and is wanting to start a sports/fitness project in the area to engage with the community. He has spoken to local facilities to start costing up the project. After speaking with residents there has been interest for boxing and football sessions for the younger generation of the area.

Dilly has sourced the local RUFC indoor training pitches as a local resource to hire a pitch for the local youth to be able to play football. One of the biggest requests that we have heard from listening in the area is the lack of youth facilities that sees kids roaming the street looking for something to do.

Residents have also indicated they would be interested in a fitness class that would be based in Springwell Gardens Community Centre. Steve is currently designing a poster for a litter pick and has arranged a date to get the poster printed.

Springwell Litter Pick

By Rob Gooding, Community Organiser

I am currently supporting Nina a local resident who is wanting to hold a Springwell litter pick event on the 28th October. Due to RotherFeds continuous support Nina has developed a trusting relationship with RotherFed.

Nina first approached us at the end of September with the idea of a community clean-up project, this was due to the litter bins in the Springwell area not being emptied leading them to be full and overflowing and consequently having further impact on the amount of litter being dropped around the area.

During a TARA residents meeting it was raised by many of the residents the area was a ‘litter tip’. She approached the Springwell TARA and Nina raised the need for the activity on 9th October. She has asked them for help through promotion and supporting the event to the local people by posting it on the TARA Facebook page, to try and engage more residents support and involvement. She came into RotherFed on the 14th October for I.T. support to create a poster for the event. She is arranging a leaflet drop to residents in this area later this week for the litter pick that has been arranged for 28th October.

We aim to get support from Wayne Munro- Smith from ‘Love where you live’ as well as a few residents that have already shown an interest in getting involved with the project.

Painting Swinton Red For Remembrance Day

By Ian Huddleston, Community organiser

Swinton Community Focus Group and Swinton Crafty Ladies have come together for a joint project to remember those fallen for Remembrance Day, with the idea of Painting Swinton red. #Swintonpoppy

The idea started last year after a resident suggested the group do something for the 206 local men fallen in WW1, which are commemorated at the Swinton war memorial at St Margaret’s church. The groups worked together to make poppies to go through Swinton and was a real success with lots of good feedback from residents and surrounding communities who travelled in just to see it.

This year, they wanted to expand on this and do something a bit bigger. The idea was to recognise all wars, and the fallen animals in wars, which would be commemorated with purple reefs, and some information on about this.

The group contacted Milton special needs school and invited some of their students to come to the centre and help make the poppies with them. This was a real achievement for the students there, as they have never worked on projects outside of school.

Rotherham college have also been involved with the group, with students painting canvasses which will be displayed in Swinton Library and the train station.

The poppies will be on display for 2 weeks from the first weekend in November, going from Woodman roundabout, right through the main street of Swinton to the border. St Johns church are also involved and will be doing a waterfall feature of poppies and Swinton train station will have posters on display.

Employment – Machine Operative

By Louise Johnson, Employment Coach

A Client attended our first appointment on 29th July 2019, he had finished work in April 2019 and not received any invites for an interview. He was worried it was because he had a 3 year gap where he was a stay at home parent.

We reframed his CV to focus it on his skills and experience not the gap in work. He was able to find work as a roofer but discovered on his first day he was terrified of heights.

He got in touch and asked if I could help him find a new job. I suggested he attend the jobs fair, which he did. While he was there he was interested in working for a company who attended. I helped him complete his application ensuring he demonstrated his skills and experience which related to the job and we talked about the level of detail needed in his answers if he gained an interview. I then handed in his application to the HR Manager who was my contact at this company.

A week later he was invited to an interview and he was successful. He has recently started as a Machine Operative. This will be a new job role for him but they will train him up and he is excited to start a new career that will support his family! 

Henley Community Group

By Vicky Hilton, Community Organiser

Henley Community Group (Henley TARA) are a group of local residents who come together on a weekly basis to plan and deliver activities within their area. They identify local issues and needs by talking to residents and engaging them in activities such as weekly bingo, youth clubs, trips and further support for the community. Many of the groups members are seen as ‘pillars’ within their community and support other residents living within the Henley area for over 15 years. The majority of the group are over 60 years of age.

The project will support the group’s priority of bringing communities together by enabling the group to help local residents who suffer from poor health, often disguised as loneliness and isolation. The TARA want to ensure a good quality of life for local residents, especially in this case for the elderly residents. They want to give local residents a chance to feel healthier and happier about where they live and the opportunities they can take as a community.

With high levels of deprivation, particularly around the Henley area, elderly residents cannot often afford or do not have a supportive network and family which enables them to get away on holidays and day trips out of the borough. We want to guarantee that there are fun things to do for people of all ages as its often the elderly residents that get overlooked.

When planning I hope that by giving this disparate community a chance to come together and help build a stronger and more cohesive community it will have an effect on the sustainability of the group. The idea of a trip will bring volunteers and leaders out, who then naturally take a lead role within their community. By ‘doing with’ we hope to achieve a better outcome, not just for individuals but for the wider community. We encourage people to get involved in their neighbourhoods and help each other, which in turn can lead to community action and stronger communities, drawing in on existing strengths and tapping into the skills and knowledge of individuals and the community as a whole.

Henley TAR are working with the community to organise a trip in which local residents visit a local seaside town. This will be a community decision with a workshop to consult with local people as to where they would like to visit and how it is to be organised. Already the group have met with me to share and speak about their ideas as a group and identify the support needed. I have helped the group to further consult and to make sure other local residents voices are heard when planning the project.

The project addresses many different priorities which benefit local people. By working closely with Henley TARA we have ensured the project addresses and identifies further need within the community ensuring that it is community led.

We have planned a day trip, out of the borough, predominantly with residents who are 50+ who work hard all year to ensure the young people and families get away.

As volunteers they also organise community seasonal activities such as Easter events and Father Christmas for the wider community. We have booked a 45 seater coach which will ensure many of the elderly residents can attend.

Working together I have supported the group to apply for CLF (community leadership fund) in which they have been successful in receiving £375 in which the group will use on a community trip to Mapplethorpe before the end of the year.

Springwell’s 20th Anniversary Street Party

By Dan Barron, Community Organiser

The Springwell Tenants and Resident’s association held the 20th Anniversary street party representing the opening of the Springwell estate after the Oakhill flats had been demolished. The event saw over 30 residents of all ages walk through the doors. There were games and competitions for the residents to participate in, to win prizes which consisted of a £100 Asda shopping voucher and a £50 Asda shopping voucher as the main prizes. All food was donated by local supermarkets and residents were encouraged to bring stalls to the event and sell some wares. This was a credit to the tenants and Resident’s association for being so proactive in sourcing the donations.

Every month for the last five months the TARA has hosted a residents meeting where residents can come together to discuss the problems they are experiencing on the estate. The first meetings saw 3 residents attend but 4 months down the line 24 residents came to an inclusive meeting to share and talk about the problems and how they can create positive change in the community. The residents had prioritised what they believe to be the biggest problems on the estate through a democratic voting process and the TARA has now began to work towards that.

When Jacqui and Michelle first wanted to take social action to create positive change in the community. But didn’t really know how to. At first, they were more reactive and followed the decisions of more experienced members that founded the Tenants and Residents association. However, as the TARA has progressed, they have both put their best foot forward when they are learning new processes, always giving 100% effort. Although at times it has been hard and time consuming, their commitment to the tenants and resident’s association has been amazing. They continue to strive to make their community great by wanting to learn and develop their skills every week.

They have continued to attend training sessions to understand the community organiser process, seek digital support in learning new digital skills or for general advice. It is due to their unprompted commitment that they have become more confident and knowledgeable. As a result, between them they have chaired meetings, recorded minutes and are continuing to be developing positive relationships with service providers, local authorities and councillors in the area. Additionally, they are taking further steps to become more autonomous creating positive change in the area for residents. A further credit to them is their ability to positively challenge action that directly affect the Tenants and Residents Association that could be considered as exclusive bringing an equilibrium to the acting board.

Moving forward the TARA is planning a Christmas event in the future, looking at a bank account and they have now significantly increased their membership.

Dinnington Boxing Group

By Ian Huddleston, Community Organiser

Dinnington boxing group have continued to work after signing their constitution and putting on trial classes by having sessions throughout the summer at The Lyric. These have been successful, with the young people continuing to come back and they are enjoying taking part.

The next step was to try and attract more young people to the sessions so the group looked at ways in which this could be achieved. A meeting was set up with the head teacher of Dinnington High School, who has seen the good work already achieved by the group on twitter and through conversations with me a Rotherham Federation community organiser.

I met with head teacher and vice principle Rebecca and Debs last week (unfortunately David couldn’t make it due to work commitments) and talked about what the group had done up until now, the aim of the group and how we think the group and the school could work together.

Rebecca was really behind what the group was doing and thought that it was just what the school needed. We talked about how the sessions would be run and how we could separate the classes for the younger and older students.

The school agreed to have the group in 2 times per week as part of an after school club, one for the younger students (year 7-9) and one for the older students (year 10 and 11) so they can run the sessions specifically for their needs.

This really shows that there is a need in the area for the group and it has the full backing not only of the school, but also the Mayor and local Councillors have given their backing and support.

The group have now set up a bank account and a funding bid of £4,000 has been submitted to South Yorkshire Police Crime Commissioner, which will pay for 1 session per week for 12 months, all of the equipment needed – which has been agreed it will be stored at the school – and training so the group can train up another coach to cover or can help if the group numbers become high. Another “awards for all” bid will be put in this week for £9,000 which will pay for a further 2 sessions per week for the year, plus equipment, training and media costs so they can run another weekly session at The Lyric or High Nook.

In the meeting with the school, it was also discussed how Rotherham Federation can help them with engaging their students with the community and help them set up a community garden, so the students are able to grow food, maintain it and look after it.

Further meetings with the head teacher are to be arranged to plan out the community gardens, and to work with volunteers to set this up. Also, to arrange projects over the term such as litter picks with the students around Dinnington and “random acts of kindness” (3 weeks up to Feb half term) to try break down generational boundaries within the community.

Creswell Road Cemetery Clean Up

By Penny Thompson, Community Organiser

“I met Penny when she was on East Herringthorpe, asking about how people viewed the estate and what was happening in the community. One of the things we talked about was my work in the local cemetery”

Nora Platt

Whilst I was door knocking, I met a local resident called Nora Platt who had been volunteering at Creswick Road cemetery, cleaning graves and researching the war and pit graves. Nora discussed that the cemetery was looking over run and a lot of the graves were covered and that some of the graves were based in the boundary area which couldn’t be reached anymore. We then began to discuss some issues, and I encouraged her to reflect on what the issues were and explore any ideas or solutions to these issues.

“Three years ago in November 2016 I decided to take some of the 100 poppies I had knitted in Remembrance of the Battle of the Somme, to the cemetery to put them on soldiers graves. I found 13 war graves which were neglected and over grown. The following Spring after getting permission from Father Andrew I began clearing the graves and the cemetery I spent months clearing accumulated rubbish, some of the boundary fence was invisible and cutting back trees. A few other people came in at this time to clear round their graves and they cut back some trees and grass. Later I found other soldiers on family graves and I maintain those too.

In nearly three years I have cleared approximately 200 graves or what remains of some graves. Most of the graves were totally covered in grass sods, ivy, nettles and brambles. It is a constant battle to keep the trees and weeds from taking over again. On average I put in between 300 and 350 voluntary hours per year, depending on the weather.”

Nora Platt

Nora began discussing that there may be a potential opportunity in creating a group that would like to clean the cemetery on a regular basis. We arranged a meeting with Father Lee and Tim Roberts from Holy Trinity Church to discuss the idea and ensure we all worked in partnership taking on advice from the church in order to adhere to all current regulations. We promoted the idea via media such as Facebook in order to attract interest. A local volunteer and I then began to connect with people with shared interests, so we met with Cllr Ian Jones to discuss the potential of MVCV becoming involved.

The volunteers agreed a date and time and began promoting the 2 days of action to bring people together and use local resources. The volunteers on the day reviewed what equipment we had i.e petrol strimmer’s, loppers etc and and work out a structured approach. At this point we had over 14 volunteers attend made up of residents and MVCV, we also had Rugby Player Paddy Shaw from The Titans.

“I have carried on my own for a while now, just doing what I could, it is my ‘gym’ and my peace and quiet and it is very tempting not to change things. The only reason I thought it needed more people was because they will come a day when I cannot do it anymore and I don’t want it to go back to how it was. There is also the difficulty with getting the grass cut, the church only pays for three cuts a year and it is not enough. When we had the ‘two day clean up’ it made such a difference, it made me believe that the cemeteries overgrown state could be a thing of the past. It is hard work but it is so rewarding and the group that came along worked so hard and gave me hope for the future.”

Nora Platt

Over the 2 days the group cleared over 100 graves and two thirds of the area. They marked out clear paths for people to walk, removed moss carpets from the walls giving grave visitors somewhere to sit. It also gave the volunteers an opportunity to discuss further action. The group had decided to clear the graves on the first Tuesday of every month. Going forward the group have discussed other ideas they would like to put in place. They would like to become a constituted group in the future and would like to apply for funding to put together a notice board, they would also like to link in with local a business in Sheffield who would create an augmented reality video using QR codes telling the stories of the war hero and pit disaster graves.

“We have set the first Tuesday in the month for having a clean up day. We are going to look at funding for equipment. We are looking at encouraging more local people to be involved and forming a Friends of Group. Form a long term plan for the continued care of the cemetery.”

Nora Platt