Ferham School Gets Organising

By Vicky Hilton, Community Organiser

The young people at Ferham School came together to organise their own summer fayre this year with the help of our Community Organiser Vicky Hilton.

The young people came together as a group made up of initially the school council and friendship ambassadors which then extended out to other pupils within school.

The young people had the chance to learn about community organising and how they have the power to bring about change and make things happen.

They set the date and time, designed posters and wrote letters to the voluntary and community sector to garner support and invite people along to the event. The young people even extended the invite out to Buckingham Palace by inviting the Queen.

The young people took part in a school wide competition which listened to the voices of over 50 school children to find out what they like about where they live, what they don’t like and how they think they can make changes.

The young people had a great insight into their community, what works well and what we need more of. The most common problem identified was there was more provision needed for young people in the area, although Ferham Park came up top trumps for one of the young people’s favourite place in the area.

Vicky said ‘It’s been a privilege and an honour to work alongside the young people at Ferham Primary School. The school has been extremely supportive and it’s the start to a whole programme of events designed by local school children’.

Ferham School Pupils

They had a Fire Engine, Bouncy Slides, African Drumming and much more planned for the day. The Ferham School Summer Fayre took place on Thursday 20th June 1.15pm – 4pm at the school.

Your local community organiser for Ferham is Vicky, if you are interested in getting involved in your community please do email Vicky at Victoria.hilton@rotherfed.org

This was taken from our quarterly newsletter for Summer 2019.

Springwell Tenants and Residents Association

By Dan Barron, Community Organiser

The Springwell Tenants and Residents Association have now sent out their first newsletter after a lot of hard work and deliberation it appears to have been a successful release for the group.

They have received early feedback from the newsletter from a handful of residents on suggesting that the newsletter had been presented professionally by the group. Within each newsletter was a membership form to be returned to the TARA if they wish to sign up. The group has seen it’s membership slowly grow over the last few weeks since membership was available and are hopeful that it will continue to grow.

The group have found a treasurer and are currently in the process of signing up the treasurer in order to become a fully constituted group. This will be a positive leap forward that opens doorways for the TARA to receive more support and funding. Additionally, a group Bank account is currently being set up for funding which is another step towards a positive self-sustaining group.

Plans are currently in the works to create a 20th anniversary celebratory street party for residents.

The group have also started a petition for a vote of no confidence in their housing association representative receiving 40 signatures to date and the petition is remaining within the community as the fight for living standards to be upheld continues. Street representatives and residents’ meetings saw a combined total of 14 attendees discussing issues in the local area.

The TARA is channelling community issues such as crime, Anti-social behaviour and illegal activities into productive incident reporting processes that ultimately bring more police attention to the estate.

The Springwell forum is to be hosted for a 3rd time on July 24th, 2019 to which it sees environmental health and the new RMBC housing officer attending the meeting to help solve the issues within the area.

Additionally, the TARA has found its first RMBC tenant giving a small insight into council housing issues creating a more diverse pool of membership within the TARA. With the housing associations confirming their attendance to the coming meeting the hope from the group is that residents’ issues are resolved amicably, and a relationship of trust can be established so the estate of Springwell Gardens can be restored to the proud area it once was.

Rotherham Sangeet and Choir Group

By Jess Clarke, Project Manager

Over the last month I have been working supporting the group Rotherham Sangeet and Choir. This group has been formed since 2014 and Rotherham Federation has supported them throughout their community engagement projects. They are a singing choir working to address social isolation and mental health through music and signing workshops, going into schools, care homes and putting on community events across the Rotherham Borough.

Recently, I have been supporting the group to take more ownership of themselves, this has consisted of making them more sustainable into finding and writing funding bids independently. I have been meeting with 2 main group members to support them in this.

So far we have applied for music for all, and groundworks carriers for causes. I did this through sitting with the group members highlight the funding priorities, and listening to type their responses. The information came purely from the group themselves and I just inputted the data and added extra advice where necessary.

Whilst these applications are in process, we also looked at their lottery awards for all bid which they put in independently, and was rejected a few months ago. I have worked with Rupa to re-word their bid and highlighted the information they need to include to re-apply. They had also not done any community consultation (which is required for A4A applications), so we sat and I supported them to create their own questionnaire for them to use to gain information. This allowed me to highlight to Rupa how to meet funding bid aims rather than just writing information for the sake of it and hoping they will pick them to fund.

Hopefully a bid will be successful for the group in drawing down some funds, but through this process I have enabled the group to start taking ownership themselves. By learning how to meet funders aims and ensure they are going for the right funder they are becoming less reliant on workers filling out bids for them and taking steps to learn these skills themselves. The group is confident in finding new potential funders who meet their aims and from the 2nd meeting have been fetching funders they have found themselves to ask my advice.

The next steps is for the group to write a bid on their own without my presence and me check it over for them. They are no longer relying on staff to write the bid completely for them and I think this is the start of success story and sustainability for the group.

Dinnington Community Boxing Group

By Ian Huddleston, Community Organiser

From last month, we have now got the committee members together and completed the constitution for the Dinnington boxing community group. They will now get a bank account and start applying for funding asap. The group have lots of other ideas to expand and do other things in the community, so this may only be the beginning for the group in Dinnington.

The group have now put together their aims and objectives, which are to improve the quality of life for the residents of the area and working towards a safer Dinnington community. To provide activities for local children to get involved with, to promote respect and positive attitudes amongst children of Dinnington, to teach a healthier lifestyle and to encourage community spirit.

Their first session was undertaken this week at JADE youth & community, which was a real success and they have made some good connections with the staff and starting to build relationships with the young people there. David, the chair of the group has now started volunteering for JADE and doing other volunteer work within the local community, which he says he wouldn’t have known how to get involved in community work without the help of Rotherham Federation, so this has helped open a lot of doors to do some really good things.

More sessions have now been booked in for the boxing group, at High Nook this week, and linking in with the community club at The Lyric to run some sessions with the older community, so the group not only tackle the ASB with the younger generation, but also can help the elders with issues around isolation and keeping fit & healthy.

Shaftesbury House

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

Shaftesbury House is a RMBC sheltered housing complex close to Rotherham town centre. It is predominantly for people who are over the age of 50 or have a disability.

Back in May 2016 a couple of residents from Shaftesbury House contacted Rotherham Federation to see if we could help support them to start a group. We helped them write a constitution and open a bank account. The group started with three members and now three years on has over twenty members.

They now hold monthly meetings, weekly bingo sessions and weekly film nights. They have several day trips and hold regular parties for Easter, Halloween and Christmas in the communal lounge. They also have a party outside in the Summer. During the Summer they also get together on nice evenings to have food and a couple of drinks.

The group have had a couple of small grants from Rotherham Federation, but don’t receive any regular funding, they raise money themselves from either doing raffles, having bric a brac sales or one resident will bake and the other residents purchase the buns and cakes made. The residents hold Macmillan coffee mornings every September to raise money for cancer, last year they raised £430.55 which is amazing.

Many people living in Shaftesbury House don’t leave the building so these activities are really important to them. They are a great group of people who have gone from strength to strength over the past three years and I hope this will continue for the next three.

More Sporting Activities for Dinnington

By Ian Huddleston, Community Organiser

Following on from listenings with the young people at JADE, the information back was that they wanted more sports activities to do.

I arranged to meet with David Robinson who has run fitness and boxing sessions previously at a gym, to see if he would like to get involved and run some sessions at JADE with the young people. David is from Dinnington, and all his family are from the area. He talked about the area when he was a child and the community spirit that seems to have been lost, and how he would love to get involved in putting something back into the community.

We spoke about the possibility of setting up a community group and getting some ideas together to start running fitness/boxing group for the young people of the area. I gave David all the information for him to look into starting a constituted community group.

David also mentioned he would like to volunteer, and get involved with the community, so I arranged for him to attend the “introduction to community organising” course in June and has now signed up as a Rotherham Federation volunteer and has already started helping by doing listenings with myself at Dinnington carnival.

The project will benefit the local community as there is a big issue with ASB in Dinnington, so this will give a lot of the young people something to do. It will benefit the young people, improve fitness, give them focus, meet new friends, and bring old and young people together.

Sam Oldroyd from JADE was very keen on the idea and explained what JADE have been doing over the last few years. The idea would definitely fit in with their work and invited us back to the youth club to speak with Lisa – who is a youth worker at JADE – about setting this up. It was talked about potentially starting to run sessions at the youth club on a Tuesday evening (david has experience in working with Autism Spectrum Disorder & children with special educational needs), then see how it goes and if this is popular, or if some of their young people want to take it further, then other sessions could be run and would look at funding it, this has been now finalised and will start on 9th July.

We have also looked at the High Nook centre and will be putting sessions on there for all the family, tailored to the needs of the people wanting to go. This will also bring the centre back into use and connect residents to the TARA group, family fitness sessions will now start on the 16th July.

Green Hill Gets the Go Ahead!

By Sarah Bingham, Community Organiser

Through listenings carried out in the first year of organising in Rawmarsh and Parkgate, I began to find out what was important to people living there, what issues were affecting them and what change they wanted to see where they lived. It became apparent that a lot of the residents I spoke to were passionate about the area’s green spaces and that there were concerns some of them were under threat, in particular, council-owned Green Hill in Parkgate.

Green Hill was under multiple threats: excavation, arson, ASB and fly-tipping/ littering. The people I listened to were passionate about the area and the wildlife that lived there and were worried that the threats facing the area were going to have a significant (if not irreversible) effect on the wildlife there. So much so, the residents living in the area surrounding Green Hill had started a petition against the proposed exploratory works. As an organiser, I tried to get people together for a community meeting to talk about possible solutions and future action to protect the green space. However, I found out a lot of people weren’t at the stage in organising where they were ready for a community meeting, so I carried on listening to residents and to ask what ideas they had for potential action.

The community decided that they needed to raise awareness of Green Hill and the issues it faced in order to gain the support to take action. I began working with a team of twelve volunteer residents (including our now volunteer community organiser Rob) who were willing to plan a community event on the green space. Through listening and talking to the volunteers about ideas for the event, it was decided the group would hold a Christmas-themed lantern walk on Green Hill.

The group of twelve began to plan a project that would engage with the community of Rawmarsh and Parkgate and raise awareness of Green Hill, working alongside local charity Rawmarsh and Parkgate Friends of Green Spaces. The project consisted of two free lantern-making workshops at local community hub The High Street Centre, a community litter pick at the site and Christmas-themed lantern walk on Green Hill. Both the workshops and litter pick were really well attended. The lantern walk itself exceed expectations, attracting over 80 local people. The petition was signed by an additional 40 people, and the group created an information pack about the hill and efforts to save it, which was taken by all those who came.

With awareness starting to be raised and interest in the green space rising amongst the residents of Rawmarsh and Parkgate, the group decided to hold a second community event, an Easter Eggstravaganza! Again, the event was the end of a community engagement project consisting of two free workshops where attendees could make decorations for the event and a site litter pick in partnership with Rawmarsh and Parkgate Friends of Green Spaces. The event attracted even more community members than the lantern walk, with around 150 people coming on the day. A lot of the attendees spoke about how beautiful the space was and the fact they had never heard of it before the group started holding events there. The group also embedded community organising techniques into the Easter project, carrying out listenings throughout the project and over 35 on the day of the event.

Following the Easter Eggstravaganza, the group decided it was time to start taking direct action in protecting the space. The group thought the best course of action was to ask local charity Rawmarsh and Parkgate Friends of Green Spaces if they could work as a sub-group of them as their aims were similar. Rather than dilute the efforts of green activists in the area, they thought it would be better for the community if everyone with the same aims worked together. Community leader Rob put forward the idea of a series of conservation projects to help protect the space as well as encouraging more wildlife to the area.

The series starts with smaller projects (low budget, short time period) and ends in more complex projects which will need funding and people-power. The first project in the series is a community engagement and education project to install bird and bat boxes in the woodlands of Green Hill. The project was proposed to Rawmarsh and Parkgate Friends of Green Spaces and the group was enthusiastic for it to go ahead, so much so they proposed that the group extend the project to two further sites in Rawmarsh and Parkgate. This will entail community engagement and education working with three local schools, the scouts and other community groups.

Before any project could go ahead, the group needed to get the OK from the council. They were apprehensive about whether RMBC would support any conservation work in the area due to ownership and the threat of excavation in 2018. However, myself and volunteer community organiser Rob emailed the councils green spaces to enquire about the possibility of installing bird and boxes, and to our surprise Donna at the department said she ‘would support anything that encourages wildlife’ on Green Hill. The group were elated. If birds and bats inhabit the boxes, it gives an extra layer of protection to the woodlands of Green Hill as it is illegal under UK law to damage or destroy bat roosts. By engaging and involving the community in the conservation projects in the area, the group hope the people of Rawmarsh and Parkgate will become as passionate as they are about protecting and celebrating this beloved green space.

Employment – Engagement Officer

By Louise Johnson, Employment Coach

A new client attended our job club on a Monday and said she has recently been let go from her job as a recruiter due to personal circumstance.

After a loss in her family, she was only allowed 5 days off work for bereavement and so went back to her job as a recruiter but couldn’t handle the pressure and stress she was under. It was a mutual decision between her and her employer to leave the job.

She said she needed to find work ASAP and would consider going back to working in a call centre. We talked through her career options, and the strengths she had gained working as a recruiter and her salary expectations might not be met working back in a call centre. I suggested she look at more specialised work e.g. employment advisor, engagement officer etc.

The next week the client attended the job club and said she had an interview the next day for an Engagement Officer. We ran through interview questions and had a mock interview which she performed quite well. I gave her a few tips and advised her to ask about whether a particular direct competitor of theirs would have a negative effect on their business. She took lots of notes and said that she was feeling much more confident about going into the interview.

I called the client after the interview and she said it went well and they were partially impressed that she knew about the competitor. She was offered the job and started on Monday 19th June 2019. She has contacted me a few times regarding what to do for references, ID documents etc I was able to guide and reassure her, so she can succeed in her new job. I will continue to support her while she is in work.

East Herringthorpe Group Becomes Constituted

By Penny Thompson, Community Organiser

Following from the success of the Easter Extravaganza and recognising and confirming the skills capacity with the residents who hosted the event. The group has now decided to formalise themselves as a constituted group.

I have supported the group with skills audit, which allowed the group to reflect on their own individual and group skills, such as creative writing which can be utilised for promotional activities as well as writing donation letters to local organisations and companies. This will also be useful for when the group begins to apply for funding. I also recognised the group is very effective at strategical timelines so I have supported and encouraged the group to assess a timeline of the short, medium and long term objectives and how to measure the impacts of the type of activities they would like to deliver.

In order for the group to recognise and put on events/activities I have recommended that some participants from the group attend the introduction to community organising training and listening training. The group have decided that the chairperson from the group will attend training as well as taking part in peer mentoring support, this was received very well by the group. This will ensure that the group will learn around listening and taking action but more importantly giving the group the power to make their own decisions.

I have given group information on the different roles required within a formal group, also giving them the opportunity and time to think about what the ultimate aim of the group and the objectives they would need to deliver to meet their needs. I have motivated and supported the group to make informed decisions for themselves.

The group has now decided on and identified the natural leaders and have voted on who will take particular roles within the committee. The group is also beginning to identify what community resources are available and any gaps within the resources they require. First event they are looking to organise is a family fun sports day working in partnership with the local school in the East Herringthorpe area. They are also assessing how financial sustainable the group can be so will be requesting a minimum booking fee from participants. The group will also look to apply for local council funding for their public liability and to purchase resources. From purchasing resources group has decided to advertise them for donation hire i.e. sumo suits, bouncy castle, tug of war etc for their future financial sustainability.

I have also supported the group with their constitution which not only describes aims for events but also for the members to have personal social and professional development. Group will try to source training that will assist on building their capacity in a variety of areas.

I have discussed with the group the benefits of becoming Rotherham Federation members. I will now support the group with the application. Groups next step is to become members and apply for their DBS checks. They will also be promoting for volunteers and members.

The group is also looking to run a young people group once a week for 6-17 year olds they are deciding upon which venue will be best suited from the asset map that has been completed, the group is also advertising to recruitment more volunteers for the weekly activity. I have signposted the group to RMBC online training for them to complete Introduction to safeguarding, health & safety and professional boundaries. I have discussed Jade youth club and the group will be making contact to go and review to see if the similar set up will work in the East Herringthorpe area.

Canklow Kidz

By Jess Clarke, Project Manager

As a community Organiser I worked in Canklow for 2 years, in this time I supported a team of community leaders and volunteers in forming the community group ‘Canklow Rainbow Kids Club’. In 2018 the group developed and became self sustainable and needed only minimal support from me.

Over the last year the group have found the need in Canklow to be extremely high but with little engagement from other community members. Because of this and personal circumstances /opposing ideas two group members left this group in order to form a new group which focuses on younger children and the older generation. This new group is called ‘Canklow Kidz’.

the last few months I have supported Canklow Kidz to form and develop their ideas into action. This has included forming a committee, opening a bank account, insurance, fundraising, listening to their community and developing new ideas.

Most recently, the group members have carried out their training in food hygiene, first aid and our community organiser courses. They have already made links with the school and other organisations and are currently working on an after school project with Casting Innovations, allowing younger children to attend tin recycling workshops to create art of their choice.

They have held several children’s art sessions during the last 3 months with Castings as shown here:

The group is slowly fundraising for their ideas by holding online raffles, prizes and activities on Facebook. They have so far managed to pay for their planned Christmas event including room hire, costume hire, and DJ which is a great achievement in only 4 months, around £400 has been raised.

The group have been very proactive in ensuring they have good governance in place to run the group correctly, they have just recently created paperwork for activities themselves, including media consent, accident slips, and sign in sheets. Recently I sat down with the Chair to fill out a funding bid and saw a massive change in the ideas and confidence the group members have now from when I first met them. Initially I would have to guide the group in writing the funding bids, but at the last meeting I was able to just type as they spoke to me in order to submit the form. The planning and organisation the group are carrying out is a great improvement, and I feel this is a massive achievement from the heavy support firstly needed when I met them as volunteers in their community.