Canklow Rainbow Kids Club Relaunch

By Dan Barron and Sam Dixon, Heart of the Community Project Workers

A plethora of groups have been very busy this December with their festive celebratory activities and events. So, prepare for another Heart of the Community Christmas special good news bonanza. 

The group launched their first event since COVID and are being supported by The Community Tree. They will restart the afterschool sessions in the new year. This Christmas event served as a soft reboot of things to come in 2024. Unfortunately, we are unable to get pictures of those that attended due to permissions and safeguarding however the event was well attended. There were games such as musical chairs, Christmas music, small activities, and a small buffet for everyone to enjoy. Donna and Becky were elated with the outcome and are looking forward to next year’s plans to restart the group and provide some provision for the youth of Canklow. 

Leverton Way Group

By Dan Barron and Sam Dixon, Heart of the Community Project Workers

A plethora of groups have been very busy this December with their festive celebratory activities and events. So, prepare for another Heart of the Community Christmas special good news bonanza. 

The group had planned to host a Christmas event for the residents in the neighborhood centre. The committee had been relying on some funding that had been held up due to circumstances beyond their control. RotherFed looked to support the group with some funding from the heart of the community project. However, the group felt it may be too much to organize in the little time that was left. So, we decided to step in and do the heavy lifting for the group to give them and other residents of Leverton Way a Christmas event to enjoy. We began consulting the committee about what they would like to see, planned the event, ordered food, mince pies and Christmas crackers. However, that wasn’t the end of the rollercoaster of things to happen. 

Fast forward to the day of the event, the caterer had to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances. Traffic jams and road closures in Rotherham made getting to the venue very difficult. Rotherfed staff had to dig deep and pull together to make sure the event would go ahead, and although a little later than planned the air fryers were fired up and the room was set up with plenty of Christmas cheer.

The event was a huge success. Everyone pulled Christmas crackers, hot sandwiches were being passed about the room, there was music and mince pies and plenty of chatter amongst the 23 residents. The event even saw a few power cuts delaying some of the food from cooking, but it all added to the Christmas atmosphere and like most communities do they made the most of the occasion. It was the busiest we have seen in the neighborhood center since attending the group. The committee were chuffed with the effort that staff put in to support the activity at Leverton way in such a short space of time. The committee had also organized a free Christmas raffle for residents. Residents won prizes such as classic boxes of roses chocolates, deodorants, and biscuits. 

Despite multiple setbacks and some extra added elbow grease the residents of Leverton way had a great Christmas event and the group were delighted with the outcome and support. 

Thurcroft Luncheon Club

By Rachel Cole, Senior Projects Officer

Thurcroft Luncheon Club has been running now for approximately 7 years and is going from strength to strength.  It takes place every Wednesday at the Thurcroft Hub and over 50 people, the majority over 70 years of age, attend this.  At the Luncheon Club the members have a hot two course meal, which is subsidised, two games of bingo and a go on a free raffle.  Some weeks there is also a speaker who attends to advise them on different topics i.e., fire service, energy projects etc.  The Luncheon Club is a great success, and the members really enjoy attending this every week.  For some members this is the only time they leave the house and get to speak to other people, this preventing loneliness and isolation.  They also have two days trips a year and hold a Christmas Party with gifts and entertainment in December.

The luncheon club is run by volunteers who I helped become constituted 5 years ago.  The Big Local project has always helped fund this project, however, Big Local is now coming to an end so there will be no more funding from them available.  Over the past 3 years I have been successful in getting grants for the luncheon club which has helped enabled them to carry on for the members at a subsidised rate.  Now Big Local is coming to an end, the grants are even more important for the club.

I recently submitted an Awards for All funding bid to cover the rent of the Hub for 12 months, two-day trips and a Christmas party with a three-course meal, a gift for all members and entertainment where members can have a sing and dance.  We received confirmation yesterday that the grant has been successful which is fantastic news for them.

I hope the Luncheon Club continues to be the success it is today as it is needed and wanted by so residents in Thurcroft village and the surrounding areas.

Open Arms

By Nicola Evans, Senior Project Officer

In late October, a delightful couple joined us for a session at Dalton Parish Hall. Having previously met a member of our team, they expressed a keen interest in learning more about the Open Arms Project. The conversation covered a wide range of topics, and we discovered a shared connection of the voluntary community sector in Rotherham, going back over 30 years!

During the conversations, Giles and Kath revealed their challenges in navigating mobile technology. Nicola engaged in a thorough conversation with them, probing to understand their existing knowledge, which turned out to be quite basic. Following extensive discussions and guidance, the couple went home to reflect on the information shared.

Upon their return in early November, Nicola assisted them in setting up their “new” smartphone and provided guidance on fundamental aspects. Post-session, we informed them about the digital offerings from RMBC (Rotherham Borough Council). With their consent, we passed on their details to the digital team, and they were thrilled to learn about the possibility of receiving ongoing support.

Before concluding the session, Nicola also took the opportunity to introduce them to the Money Skills for Life program. Intrigued by the content, the couple expressed interest in undertaking the full course with our Energy Know How team. They emphasised that it’s never too late to learn and expressed gratitude to the team for providing the opportunity, which had helped them to feel less excluded from society.

“Thank you for helping us with our mobile phone, you were so kind and patient, thank you Nicola”.

Peregrine Way TARA

By Rob Gooding, Community Engagement Officer

In the heart of the Harthill community, Peregrine Way TARA (Tenants and Residents Association) recently played host to their second annual Christmas fair. Held on the 25th of November at the Peregrine Way Neighbourhood Centre, the event successfully brought together residents for a day of festive merriment.

The fair, featured Christmas stalls with an array of homemade gifts, decorations, and sweet treats, catering to the varied tastes of attendees. From unique handcrafted presents to mouthwatering goodies, there was something for everyone to indulge in.

As a bonus, the group ensured that refreshments were available throughout the day, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all participants.

The event had an impressive turnout of over 100 residents participating in the festivities. This allowed Peregrine Way TARA to raise much-needed funds. These funds will play a crucial role in providing a special Christmas experience for all members of the community with the funds contributing to hosting a free Christmas dinner for all members at the upcoming Christmas party on the 21st of December.

Shaftsbury House

By Dan Barron and Sam Dixon, Heart of the Community Project Workers

Shaftesbury House is a residential unit that resides in the center of Rotherham. It comprises 69 self-contained flats run by Rotherham Council (RMBC), with 6 available for use by the NHS for people with care needs coming out of hospital but are unable to go back to their own properties.

Heart of the Community has been working with the group at Shaftesbury House for a number of months, building up relationships and gaining the confidence of the group. Shaftesbury House Association are a motivated group that regularly deliver a range of activities to get residents together to tackle the social isolation.

As a project we worked with the group to promote their activities and there has been an immediate increase in engagement from residents. The quiz night, for example, was regularly seeing an attendance of 5 or 6 residents, this week 14 residents attended.

After several meetings, projects workers learnt that residents would benefit from a multi service drop-in supported by the various RotherFed teams and RMBC. We planned a four-hour event with free refreshments. In attendance were the More Energy Know How team, Making Our Money go Further, the local housing officer and the Estates Services Officer.

The event was positive with 19 residents engaged with the RMBC Housing services to discuss issues they are experiencing in the housing complex. The same residents were also supported by the More Energy Know How team talking about how they could save on bills with the frosty chill of winter on the doorstep. RotherFed were able to deliver a busy session overall with plenty of hot drinks, biscuits and cakes flowing with some residents happy they were able to speak to services.

Catcliffe Flood Response

By the Making Our Money Go Further and Energy Know How Teams

Making Our Money Go Further & More Energy Know How along with other agencies, including Citizens Advice Rotherham & District, Rotherham Council Housing Support & Neighbourhood teams and the Job Centre have offered support to residents affected by the floods at Catcliffe. The teams have attended many sessions at Catcliffe Memorial Hall.

Primarily, the support offered by the Money team to residents has been on an emotional level by providing a ‘listening ear.’ Engaging with residents by acknowledging the emotional trauma they have been through and allowing these emotions to be expressed, whether they be anger, frustration, fear for the future, or hopelessness.

The Energy team have been there offering support and advice around energy queries i.e., contacting energy providers to establish energy usage balance outstanding for gas and electricity, reviewing standing orders or direct debits to reflect changes in circumstances, notifying residents of charities or energy providers support schemes to assist residents with funding or grants.

Other practical support provided included signposting to other agencies, referral to Citizens Advice when they have been unable to attend, and the offer of Winter Warm Packs.

The media attended many of these sessions as well as Chris Reed, Leader Rotherham MBC, Sharon Kemp, CEO Rotherham MBC, Government Officials, and local councillors.

They are many resources available to residents affected by the floods including financial assistance provided by Rotherham MBC, Central Government, Charities and Community donations. Free food, cleaning materials, and clothes and bedding are also available. The local community have played a large part in relieving the practical and emotional needs of residents.

These sessions will continue into November,

Sanctuary Gardens

By Dan Barron & Sam Dixon, Heart of the Community Project Workers

Sanctuary Gardens is a community organisation located in Rotherham Town Centre, with a mission to provide a nurturing environment for people struggling with mental health issues and individuals on their path to recovery. The group has been active for a few years now and has had its share of success and setbacks. One volunteer at the heart of the group is Andy who is filled with a pure passion about the allotment and what it can do to support people with their health and wellbeing.

The group recently was able to resign their constitution and bring in more active volunteers and has new volunteers active on the allotment. These new volunteers have brought in a fresh sense of enthusiasm to the group and have lots of new ideas about how to take the group forward. 

Over the last few months, the group have been working with the Bomer and Kirkland group, a construction company working in Rotherham. Bomer and Kirkland recognise the importance of having a positive impact in the communities they work in and have decided to extend a helping hand to Sanctuary Gardens Allotment Group. They contributed by supplying a new petrol strimmer, outdoor furniture and pledged to build new raised beds for the gardens. This partnership was driven by Bomer and Kirkland’s commitment to social values and corporate responsibility. 

The provision of a new strimmer was a game-changer for Sanctuary Gardens. It significantly eased the maintenance of the site, making it more accessible and welcoming for members. This simple yet impactful contribution from Bomer and Kirkland enabled the group to keep the allotment plot in a better and more manageable condition, providing a tranquil space for individuals seeking solace and mental well-being.

Additionally, the company has pledged to build raised beds for the group that will allow for more diverse plantings, encouraging members to take an active role in gardening. The expansion of planting opportunities will not only support the mental health of the community but also foster a sense of ownership and involvement among members. 

The group have also begun working with the Rotherham in Recovery project funded by Voluntary Action Rotherham. The project supports those in their journey of recovery and has begun creating a network across Rotherham to create a better support network through services and community projects. Rotherham in Recovery are a welcome addition to the Sanctuary group who will be able to benefit from each other. 

Open Arms

By Janet Malsch, Community Engagement Officer

At an Open Arms session held at Wath Library, Janet’s willingness to lend a helping hand brought relief and support to Lisa who came to the hub for support. 

Lisa initially approached Janet with concerns about her energy tariff. She shared her struggle in navigating the complex world of energy plans, feeling overwhelmed by the task. Everyone she asked seemed to advise her to make the decision alone.

We were able to offer to schedule a free appointment with the Energy team at RotherFed, who would guide Lisa through the process and help her make an informed decision about the most suitable tariff for her needs. Lisa replied thanking Janet saying: “it is lovely knowing there is somebody you can reach out to as sometimes life can feel overwhelming.” 

As the discussion continued, Janet discovered another challenge that Lisa faced as a council tenant. A large tree near her house had become a concern. Lisa and her partner were unable to maintain or trim the overhanging branches due to health concerns, especially during autumn when wet leaves posed a hazard. Despite the tree being on council property, and raising this concern with the council, no action has been taken.

Janet put Lisa in contact with the local ward councillor who could investigate and address the tree issue. This simple act of support held the potential to improve Lisa’s living conditions significantly. 

Further into their conversation, Janet learned that Lisa’s partner was not in the best physical health. Concerned for their well-being, Janet suggested conducting a benefit check. Lisa gladly accepted this offer, and Janet referred her to the Rotherfed Money team. 

As Lisa left the Open Arms session, she expressed her gratitude by saying, “I’ve got so much on at the moment, and this means a lot.”  

Open Arms

By Nicola Evans, Senior Project Officer

Sally’s* journey with RotherFed has been nothing short of inspiring, showcasing her dedication to making a meaningful impact in the lives of others. 

Sally’s involvement with Rotherfed initially began during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when she volunteered for the “Friendship Calls” project. This initiative was launched to combat the profound isolation and loneliness that many in the community were experiencing during these challenging times. 

However, as life often goes, Sally found herself at a crossroads. After dedicating many years to her secure job, she realized that it was time for a change, a new chapter in her life. This decision marked a significant turning point for her, as she embarked on a journey to discover a new purpose and direction for her future. 

It was in this transitional phase that Sally chose to return to RotherFed, this time as a volunteer in a different capacity. She joined the Open Arms team, eager to contribute to the well-being of her community. 

Since becoming a part of the Open Arms team, Sally has been a consistent and dedicated volunteer. She’s not only gained new experiences but has also become an invaluable member of the team. Her approachable and friendly demeanour makes it effortless for clients to approach her with their concerns and questions. Furthermore, her presence brings a sense of warmth and levity to the team, creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and supported. 

*Change of name