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When I first met Client M at the Social Supermarket, they were very quiet and withdrawn and it was their friend who spoke on their behalf about money support, which we referred them into Citizens Advice for.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.

Community Solutions Event

Rotherfed hosted a community solutions event on Tuesday 5th April at the New York Stadium, which was open to all Rotherham residents. The event was mostly aimed at showcasing/promoting the Money Management and Energy Efficiency teams at RotherFed, with other organisations also in attendance. Present were many people from the befriending service we provide, as well as some volunteers who make the calls to these people. A lot of the service users really enjoyed putting faces to the voices that have supported them throughout their time on the service. As well as this, the event allowed staff to put faces to the names of organisations that we refer to or who refer into us. This has ultimately strengthened relationships with organisations such as Green Doctor and Live Inclusive.

In attendance were 11 council tenants, 38 Rotherham residents and 13 providers from around Rotherham who offer services to Rotherham residents. RotherFed providers Energy Know How, Make Our Money Go Further and Heart of the Community were highlighted as well as South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, Rush House, and RUCST.

In total, around 70 people connected to RotherFed attended. 14 households managed to get energy advice or a referral from our team, 50 people spoke to and engaged with money management and their advice and taste tests. As well as this, good connections were made with other providers around Rotherham.

A participant on the Connex project said; ‘I’ve found it so useful and got so much information that I wouldn’t have known about without coming’

Multiple providers expressed their gratitude for being invited as it was good to be able to speak to people face to face again, and it was a great opportunity for providers to showcase their projects.

Engie Litter Pick

As part of the Heart of the Community project, management had met local building contractors in discussions about how they could better engage with the local communities within which they are working. In the Dalton/ Thrybergh ward the Friends of Dalton, East Herringthorpe and Thrybergh Green Spaces group already have regular litter picks on the estates. It was suggested that all of the partners come together to do a litter pick around the building works on Oldgate Lane.

The litter pick was really successful, as you can see from the amount of bags that were collected. So fantastic to see proper partnership working within the community.

Heart of the Community Litter Pick

In February Dayle pledged to pick up 30 bags of litter within her community with Keep Britain Tidy and has been litter picking throughout the week in Canklow. Dayle has supported the annual KFC Canklow Franchise litter picking event.  The activity was led by KFC and Dayle advertised it amongst the Canklow areas social media groups to gather support for the community action.

Working hard to meet her pledge Dayle also organised a Spring clean event for her area inviting RMBC love where you live and Andrea Mason. The Spring Clean event was a litter picking event in Canklow for residents and partners to clean up the greenspaces around the pavilion. The event had an attendance of 11 people as well as achieving a massive 61 bags of refuse in a few hours.

The difference these litter picks have made to the area is huge because the litter within the woods surrounding the Canklow pavilion could be described as astronomically dense. The woods still need further picking but the difference that Dayle and residents have made has been fantastic. Accumulatively Dayle has been part of Litter picks that have picked 87 bags of refuse in Canklow and wants to carry on cleaning up Canklow.

Continue reading “Heart of the Community Litter Pick”

Community Centres – Warreners Drive and Elizabeth Parkin

Warreners and Elizabeth Parkin has received funding from Pivotal Wellbeing and Fitness centre to be able to deliver exercise sessions at their centres. They also received funding from Councillors in the area to be able to add on an extra wellbeing and mindfulness session after the exercise. The ladies and gents are loving these sessions and can’t thank the councillors enough for funding the project. They all feel more energised and generally happy when they leave the centre. Some would like to continue their exercise either at the centre or by attending the gym which Abbey from pivotal owns.

Wentworth Residents Association

I have been working with this group now for the last 18 months. They are only a small group but are very active and passionate about the area where they live, they have worked together for a number of years now, however, would always welcome new members from the village joining them. They meet on a monthly basis in the Barn at the Rockingham Arms pub. 

The group carry out regular litter picks, with Rotherham Council providing the bags and collecting the rubbish. They are also trying to get some something done about the speed of the traffic through the village. The volume of traffic to the village is also a concern that they have. They have agreed to write to John Healey MP and copy in the local councillors to see if he can help. The group also plants bulbs, shrubs and hanging baskets around the village, new plant boxes have been purchased to replace the old ones in Alms House Gardens. The group works closely with the Parish Council and the Fitzwilliam Estate, who both contribute with funding for the group.

In November 2021 I encouraged them to apply for the COMF funding available through VAR. I helped them with their application form, and they were successful and received £780. This money enabled the group to pay for this year’s public liability insurance and put on some defibrillator training with lunch afterwards.

The group designed some leaflets which we printed for them to advertise the training, and these were distributed through the village. The training was held in the Barn at the Rockingham Arms on Tuesday 22 March, it was very successful, and it was attended by a good number of people. Everyone said how useful the training was and how they’d enjoyed getting together for some lunch and a catch up. As the group still have some of the funding available, they are going to look at putting another first aid course on for the local community in the near future.

I will continue to work with and support this group as required. 

Sunnyside Supplies

Sunnyside Supplies was set up in response to the covid pandemic, this was as a food bank to help people struggling with the impact on their finances this caused as well as people who had to isolate in the Sunnyside area. The group worked closely with RMBC who helped identified people in need of help and referred them into the group for essentials while they were shielding or isolating.

Over the last two years the group has continued to grow and evolve as restrictions and the need of the community changed. The group now run a social supermarket where residents pay a small amount for their shopping and can enjoy a meal or other refreshments in the onsite café. This is helping to keep the project sustainable and less reliant on funding. Currently the group are thinking about becoming a registered charity. The group started with a small core of volunteers but has doubled in size since then as the community has come together around this project.

The group are currently supporting around forty-five families in the area with weekly shops and the café.

Energy Know How Case Study – Beryl

I was contacted recently by a lady of very mature years (92) who was given my number by a friend who had also had support from our project. She was very upset when she called me and did not know where to turn or what to do about her energy issue.

She had been with a company that went out of business in November 2021 and had been paying regularly by direct debit. A payment was taken by them in December even though they were no longer supplying her with energy.

Her service was transferred to Scottish Power. She had called them on many occasions to set up a direct debit for her ongoing usage and they had called her at least 3 times asking for bank details which were provided. Due to some technical issue that they were unable to explain they seemed unable to set up the direct debit for my client and instead said she would have to pay quarterly and that she already owed £700.00.

This was quite upsetting for my client as she had tried numerous times to sort out the direct debit but without success, she was also unable to obtain meter readings herself due to an issue with the ramp to her property. The handrail for the ramp was blocking access to both the gas and electricity meters so the gas could not be turned off in the case of an emergency, this issue had only been noticed when the new supplier had asked for meter readings.

After discussion with a colleague two complaints were made on behalf of this client – the first to the local authority stating that the client was not safe due to being unable to access her meters to turn off the supply.

Several phone calls and emails resulted in the swift alteration of the ramp which has had to be moved to allow access. Unfortunately, the contractors subsequently flooded the clients’ garage with water after leaving a tap turned on, damaging some of her belongings and the charging pack for her mobility scooter – this issue has been referred to the local authority.

The second complaint was made to the Chief Executive’s office of Scottish Power for their failure to set up the direct debit for the client despite many contacts with her, they also failed to act on her vulnerability despite being told of her age and concerns.

With the intervention of the CEO’s office a direct debit was set up for my client, she was placed on the priority services register and will have her meters read regularly by Scottish Power. They have also given £100.00 in compensation and will review the account upon receipt of the credit balance from the previous supplier.

Except for the damaged personal effects (the issue of which is ongoing), the energy issues for this client have been satisfactorily resolved and the client was very grateful for our help. She now has a direct debit set up and can, if need be, access her meter boxes to turn off her gas supply in the event of an emergency.

Energy Know How Case Study

We have spent a lot of March focusing on one of our target areas, Swinton. We popped over to one of the Crafty Ladies gatherings to find out what sort of questions they had around energy and the upcoming price rise. Although it was a small group, it was a very engaging group who had a lot of questions on how to be more efficient, how to be savvier with the current energy market and what services we offer.

We referred most of them (ones who were interested) for a Green Doctor home visit as they advised they had the older energy saving lightbulbs, they now understand that Energy Saving LED light bulbs use 90% less electricity than standard ones. We talked about heating habits and learned as a group that a lot of us have radiators on external doors and would benefit from having foils installed.

This group were eager to talk about energy efficiency and how old some of their appliances were. For example, using an electric hob instead of gas and making sure these appliances are efficient and not too old. As well as learning about water savings and what items they can get for free from Yorkshire Water to save them money on their water meters.

Making Our Money Go Further

Client B had been a member at the Social Supermarket since last year. Although they were not ready to engage with any money support at the time they have kept in contact with the project. They recently had to submit their PIP review and were worried about doing this alone. They struggle to engage online and prefer doing things face to face. We signposted them to some drop-in sessions they could attend in person and even gave them a call on the day before they set off to the session to check they were okay. They gave us a couple of updates throughout the morning about how it was going and when we arrived at the Social Supermarket, we were told they had just dropped in on their way to post the form off and had the biggest smile you can imagine on their face. This been such a massive positive step forward for them.