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

KBUG – Kiverton Bungalow Users Group

By Vicky Hilton, Community Organiser

Kiverton Bungalow Users Group (KBUG) are a group of RMBC tenants who have been active for a long period of time, with around 20 regular members involved. They have a weekly lunch club, bingo, a knit and natter, arrange social trips and generally help local older people to come together socially.

A couple of months ago, the KBUG group were going through a few changes and struggling a little bit to keep things going. In May, I attended their group meeting and was informed that the groups chair and treasurer had sent in their resignation letters. This was a bit of a shock for the group as it was out of the blue and no reason given, so it left the group a bit down and unsure if they really wanted to carry on.

At the meeting, I helped them in voting in new members to take up the positions which the group voted on. I offered support particularly to the member who had taken up the treasurer roll, who was nervous about the responsibility. I reminded the group of the services Rotherham Federation offered regarding helping with their accounts, and that they would have our support through this period.

By the next meeting, the group seemed a little more settled, and with the members in their new positions we looked at where the group wanted to go. The treasurer seemed to have got on top of the accounts and was a lot happier & the group were now looking at ways in which they could raise some funds for the sustainability of the group going forward. I advised that if they were looking for funds, I could look at potential bids for them.

The group then decided that they would like to start putting on a Saturday night social once per month, which they started on 15th June. This was a real success, with all members bringing in food they had prepared. This led the group on to arrange a Faith supper on 20th July at the centre and booking a day trip to Bakewell on 5th August.

Thurcroft Young People

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

Prior to Thurcroft receiving the £1 million lottery money in 2012, there was nothing much for the young people in Thurcroft. The village has always wanted to have a youth club, but due to funding and a suitable location to hold a club this was not possible.

In 2013, thanks to the investment from the Lottery, a youth worker was employed to move this project forward and since then two youth clubs have been running on a weekly basis. There are two clubs, a juniors (11-15) on a Friday and a seniors (16-19) on a Tuesday. Both clubs now run from the Thurcroft Hub and there is now over 500 young people on their register.

The young people are involved in many different activities including the gala, litter picks, attending big local conferences where they have run workshops, dance and sporting activities, outdoor pursuit weekends plus much more. In 2017 they took on a derelict allotment with the help of the allotment holders and members of the community and this is going from strength to strength. The young people also do a lot of their own fundraising.

Three young people aged between 11 and 13 have regularly attended the Big Local monthly partnership meetings over the years which has been amazing to see. Other Big Local areas comment on how difficult it is to get younger people involved in their area.

In January of this year, three young people became partnership members, giving them a say and a vote about how the remainder of the funding is spent. They had to attend 3 consecutive meetings before they could apply and also complete a formal application form saying why they wanted to join the partnership and what they had to offer. They were asked to present their “pitch” at a partnership meeting.

It’s been really good to hear the young people’s ideas and opinions and is brilliant that they want to get involved with the community.

The young people represent Thurcroft on many occasions and it is always noted what a credit they are to the village. Thurcroft should be very proud of this.

Young Parents Group

By Jess Clarke, Project Manager

Previously Rotherham Federation had tried to bring together and support a young tenants group, this went well and RMBC worked with the group to make slight changes over the last year. However, recently members have drifted apart from the group setting. Following this Rotherham Federation decided to work to bring this group back to life again and engage with more young people.

In July I met with workers from rush house and target housing, two organisations who work closely with young people and can offer a good insight into the issues they are facing currently in Rotherham today. Rotherham Federation discussed the best way to form and support a young persons group around their issues and after much conversation we decided to aim for supporting a group of young parents around tackling their issues.

I organised a meeting for the end of July at Rotherham Rise, and had 6 families book on to attend our initial group meeting. On the day the room location seemed to cause an issue and only 2 families actually attended. However, even though the meeting was only to a small scale a lot of useful information was gained.

The success of this story is that we found out these main issues young parents are facing today:

  • Isolation
  • Information is not easy to access
  • Training is not easily available or accessible with a new born child (eg first aid)
  • Housing information is limited. Many do not understand the housing officer role or have not had sufficient contact/support from them
  • Support. The main support has been from Target Housing- if this was not available a lot of young parents would not know where to turn to

I then had the conversation with the young parents on how we could all address these issues and these were the solutions they came up with themselves:

  • Creation of a Facebook page to share information we all get/find out to help one another
  • Getting information printed on useful placed, eg the back of council tax letters
  • Passing information on to RMBC about the housing team and ask for more information. Eg- a leaflet they could use to drop at houses explaining what they do and a contact number if we ever needed them
  • More support for young parents. ‘We often get judged a lot so ensuring events/activities are promoted with ‘children are allowed’ eg at AHP meetings’.

Although this group has a VERY long way to go there were 2 leaders which seem to want to drive this project forward. A Facebook page has been set up and I will be passing this project onto Kathryn our new Project Manager to drive forward after I leave. I have passed the feedback around housing services onto the tenant involvement team so they are aware- and they are happy to work closely with the group once formed in the future. Although this isn’t a success story at present- I see this as being the start of a successful group over the next year with Rotherham Federation supporting.

Employment – Handyman

By Louise Johnson, Employment Coach

A Client attended an initial meeting in May and we explored his barriers, he said that he was struggling to find work due to his age, being over 60.

He was not eligible for benefits and no longer had a private pension. He was a semi-skilled worker with a good background of work history and only recently finished work. We discussed the type of work he was looking for and the hours and matched him to Handyman work. He didn’t have a CV so we utilised the first session to create a CV which was tailored to Handyman jobs, as well as a cover letter.

He was then able to start to apply for work. In our next session we addressed his finances and completed the ‘entitled to’ calculation which identifies what benefits are available and what his situation would be like if he was working. He was pleased to know that he would be entitled to working tax credit and only had to work 16 hours which made part time work possible. I also taught him how to job search and how to read the job description to match his skills when applying.

The client has been applying for work and was successful with a full-time role.

East Herringthorpe Heritage Group

By Penny Thompson, Community Organiser

I’ve recently been supporting a local resident called Alan Tunstill who came up with the idea to set up a heritage group around East Herringthorpe. Alan has been a resident for many years, he also wanted to celebrate 100 years of social housing. Alan wanted the group to be inclusive of residents who currently lived there but had also moved on from the area, or family members who have memories from the area.

I supported Alan by designing a poster and promoted this on East Herringthorpe past and present Facebook page as well as Rotherham Federation’s Facebook page. We linked in with Chapel on the bridge as they already run a successful heritage group and they have agreed to advise the group.

Once other members began to attend, I supported the group by helping them agree what the groups aims, and objectives would be. The groups aim is to celebrate all forms of heritage around East Herringthorpe, this would include a timeline as well as schooling, activities/groups that where run in the area this would also include memoirs and photographs.

The group has grown in strength as well as numbers and are now meeting on a monthly basis. The group hope to formalise the future as a constituted community group. The objective is to then raise funds and apply for funding for all information to be displayed at Clifton museum as well as to be published within a book. From linking in with Clifton Museum it was identified by staff that there are currently no books on the heritage of East Herringthorpe and that they would be delighted to have something on their records.

East Herringthorpe Easter Extravaganza

By Penny Thompson, Community Organiser

Local residents hosted an event to promote family fun and raise money for charities.

The Easter Extravaganza was held on 20th April at East Herringthorpe social club by sisters Paula Allen, Toni Connell and Elle-Mae Spittle. East Herringthorpe Social Club kindly provided the room for the event free of charge.

The organisers received over 70 donations of prizes from local businesses and local residents for a tombola and a raffle, all of which have been won!

The prizes included an holiday to Mablethorpe, a Carlton Park Hotel meal for 2, Jump Inc tickets, Fantasy Island vouchers, Camelot tickets, Cannon Hall Farm family day pass, a Toby Carvery meal for 2, hampers, bottles of wine, chocolates, cakes, and many more generous donations!

There was plenty for all the family to do on the day with stalls ranging from local artist’s artwork to hair extensions. Soaps, wax burners, bath bombs and decorated stones were available to buy.

The event also had a cake stall manned by Elle-Mae and Penny Thompson, an impressive 180 cakes and cookies had been baked by Penny! Cakes were also donated by local residents including a huge chocolate one by a lady from Rawmarsh. Every last cake was sold!

Elle-Mae on the cake stall

You can’t have an Easter Extravaganza without an Easter egg hunt, right? After the children designed and decorated their own Easter bags to put their eggs in, they took part in a Easter egg hunt. The hunt was fun and enjoyable for the kids that took part and also their parents. Every child even took home an Easter egg for participating as well as doing an excellent job in finding all of the eggs that were hidden!

Residents who attended the Easter Extravaganza

The event was so well attended, with over 120 local residents stopping by, that the club had to bring in more staff to keep up with demand, and more seating had to be brought in from the bar area, as more people attended than anticipated.

Not only did the event create an abundance of family fun it was also a fantastic opportunity for the residents to raise a bit of money for McMillan, CALM and Rotherham Hospice. The residents managed to raise an incredible £613.12, which was split between all three charities. The money was raised through the tombola and raffle as well as a £1 charge to take part in the Easter egg hunt.

If you would like support to get involved in activities in East Herringthorpe, contact Penny Thompson by email at penny.thompson@rotherfed.org or call 07813 543332.

This was taken from our quarterly newsletter for Summer 2019.

Dinnington’s Bus Route Changes

By Ian Huddleston, Community Organiser

Community organiser Ian Huddleston received feedback whilst speaking to Dinnington residents that the bus route to Rotherham Town Centre had been changed, it no longer went through High Nook Road.

This was isolating many people, especially older people who then struggled to get to a bus into town. An open day was then put on at High Nook Community Centre due to the feedback. Members of the council and a local councillor was invited to answer residents’ questions.

The local council then spoke to the bus company. through working together with the councillor, Rotherham Council, the bus company and Rotherham Federation, a change in the bus route was achieved for the local residents.

This was taken from our quarterly newsletter for Summer 2019.