Making Our Money Go Further

There were a group of people waiting in the hall at the Unity Centre while I was there for the Job Club. I just started telling one of them why I was there and they all started listening in and asking questions. Neil decided to come along after his group and has started the process of signing up for the Pathways project to find employment. I spoke to him about green doctors and he has asked to book an appointment with them. We also spoke about other ways in which we can offer help. He doesn’t qualify for the fuel vouchers but he believes a family member does so we’ve helped them too. He has said that the others were daft not to come today but he is going to tell them about us and encourage them to join us at the next Job Club.

Ferham Community Skip Day

Rotherham West ward councillors and RMBC Neighbourhoods hosted the Ferham Community skip day on Thursday 24th February. This was supported by staff from RotherFed, Rema as well as other RMBC teams. The skip is the next step in tackling the fly tipping and litter in the area after the success of the bin amnesty event last year. In the run up to the event every resident received a leaflet containing the time, date and what items couldn’t be taken in the skip and on the day a shout out was put on the areas Facebook page reminding residents of the event.

The skips were funded by the local councillors through their ward budgets. Provisions were made that any resident that couldn’t remove the rubbish from their homes due to ill health could book an appointment for the caretakers to collect this from outside their homes and bring it down to the skip on their behalf. There was also a door knock on the day this ensured that everybody in the area could benefit from the day and remove any rubbish they had. 

During the 3-hour event, residents filled two walk in skips of household rubbish like old sofas, mattresses and general garden waste, and two loads of scrap metal was taken to be recycled. Resident came together with workers and helped each other to get larger items down to the skips and to fill the skips bringing the community together and making Ferham a nicer place to live. During the event approximately one hundred residents participated and disposed of their rubbish

Heart of the Community – Meeting with Volunteers

This project has started with a big focus on uncovering little acts of kindness, people giving their time within communities to help others. This approach means that we are having conversations with people and uncovering those that are already proactive within their neighbourhoods, one of these people is one of the residents of Canklow.

New to the estate, in terms of how certain residents feel, Dayle moved to Canklow about 13 years ago. She cares for her disabled partner full time but wants to do more within the village to help people come together and make more of a sense of community.

She has been involved in the creation of the new community group Wooly Kuddles. The aim of this group is to bring people together to learn and share ideas of how to knit and crochet, as well as giving group members a space to go to, to get away from their regular routine and giving them an activity where they can achieve something tangible. Dayle has got loads of ideas for community activity, her biggest idea is for a weeklong project called “Love tha Neighbour”. This would be a project that would be encouraging the residents of Canklow to engage in little acts of kindness. We discussed various ideas of activity that could be done that week, one was having a World picnic where everyone brings and shares food that is important to them, this could be something cultural or just something that reminds them of their past.

Heart of the Community Road Show

We have begun our roadshows with partners and community groups this month. Firstly we have worked with several groups the first of note being the RNN group. We were able to host a stand in daytime hours and was invited to a volunteer event at the college. Over the 2 roadshows with the RNN group we were able to secure 22 pledge cards and micro volunteer helpers and 37 recipients of acts of kindness. We have been able to create a positive relationship with Chloe Spafford, who oversees community social action activities through the college. We have also hosted roadshows within the Wharncliffe area for which we have recorded 15 pledges and have begun speaking with 4 potential volunteers.

We followed up and created a meeting with 2 residents from our roadshows. Ben does not want to be turning up at events he wants to “lead events” and take charge of community activities. So we will collaborate with Ben to promote the idea of a community hub across the Masbrough area. Ben has agreed for us to send him a volunteer form and we are exploring the area for community assets. Ben has specifically shown interest in hosting cooking lessons, getting involved in RMBC scrutiny panels and interacting with services for the area. Emily is looking to host social events such as coffee morning with potentially other activities such as crocheting and is also interested in RMBC scrutiny panels. It was a very positive meeting and we have set an estimated time to meet again.

Our roadshows are proving that there are engaging in little acts of kindness in their daily lives but also those who want to find a way to get into volunteering. Building on this we contacted and met with Marie Shadwick from the DWP and are now actively working with the DWP at events in Rotherham.

Our roadshows are proving to be a real asset to the project in speaking with residents highlighting the little acts of kindness and attracting residents who want to become involved in volunteering.

Neighbourhood Centres

Elizabeth Parkin Centre, is going from strength to strength. The centre is attended mainly by CFC paying residents. Previously the centre has only been used for bingo twice a week but the ladies have decided that they would like to start and offer new things at the centre and build up some funds to enable them to put on new activities and fund trips out. They have decided to hold a monthly stay over after their bingo session and have a meal delivered to the centre.

After holding four successful coffee mornings the group would like to continue this but have decided to offer them fortnightly starting on the 29th February. They are going to charge £1.50 per session to include tea/coffees, biscuits, cakes in order to raise funds. They are now holding raffles too with prizes being donated by the residents. RotherFed have funded a leavers pack for the group to put them on with tea and coffee. The local Councillors have funded some raffle prizes and bought extra bingo supplies. We have got exercise and mindfulness funded through Pivotal Fitness and the Councillors. This is due to start with great enthusiasm from the residents on the 17th March. We also have a craft session booked for the 11th March in partnership with Rotherham Creative. From just 2 sessions of bingo a week this is very positive that the residents want to improve their centre and would like to offer more things.

February Coffee Morning

We hosted a coffee morning on Wednesday 23rd February which was open to all Rotherham residents. The coffee morning was mostly aimed at the Connex participants to get them out and integrated into events in the community. 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.

Also, in attendance were 24 council tenants, and providers from around Rotherham who offer services to Rotherham residents. RotherFed projects Energy Know How, and Heart of the Community joined us as well as South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, and South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership.           

The event was well attended, with 51 people connected to RotherFed attending. 18 people managed to get energy advice from our team, and 8 visits by green doctor were booked in as well as winter warmth packs, energy saving lightbulbs and thermostats given out. As well as this, good connections were made with other community groups like the Sudanese group, who were in attendance. Above all, old friends and strangers got to connect face to face which so many people said they were so excited for!

A participant on the Connex project said, ‘I wouldn’t have dreamed of coming to something like this a year ago, but I’m so glad that I’m involved now and can’t wait for the next’.

Making Our Money Go Further

I helped J with their Virgin bill. They had the full package that they didn’t really utilise. They were paying £96 per month but it was going up to £104 and they just couldn’t afford it any more. All they use is the internet and phone and only watch freeview channels. I spoke to Virgin and they could change the contract with zero penalty because J had received a letter to say the prices were going up, so they are entitled to leave the contract. They were told that 500mbps internet and talk anytime would be £57 a month. Looking online the same package is £51 so I queried this. They said this is because new customers get a ‘welcome’ discount. I was cheeky and asked why existing, loyal customers couldn’t have a ‘thank you’ discount for staying with them? Their answer………. just because, that’s how it is!

I remembered Martin Lewis saying that you could always cancel the contract and change it into someone else’s name. I did a bit of googling and found a lot of people have done this too. After a discussion of the pros and cons J decided to give it a go and has given 30 days’ notice. The contract ends on the 26th March.

B went online and saw that they offer up to £50 reward for referring a friend. She contacted her friend to submit a referral form, the email came through and she proceeded to set up the account with 500mbps and talk anytime for £51 per month and a £35 set up fee. She did this in less than 10 minutes. (The thing to bear in mind is that they do a credit search which may not be right for some individuals). The old connection will cease on the 26th March and the new connection will start on the 27th March.

Virgin will send out packaging for J to send the old equipment back. They will need to send new equipment for B. They will also have to pay out £50 to B and £50 to her friend (B will still be £15 up after the set-up fee.) The household will be saving £7 per month over 18 months. In total over the 18 months contract they will have saved £141 (18 x £7) + (£50 – £35) = £141.

The thing that we couldn’t understand; for the sake of £7 per month, Virgin will have spent a fortune on postage as well as an engineer visit for installation. It just doesn’t make sense.

Energy Know How Case Study

Energy Know How and Making Our Money Go Further came together to provide some training into our services to our RotherFed volunteers. We ran two remote training sessions on the 7th February 2022. We had over 20 people attend the sessions to give them a small introduction into Energy Know How and some tips when looking out for referrals when speaking with the residents of Rotherham.

We discussed community groups we have worked with already and groups that would be interested in what we had to say, as well as offering the attendees their own telephone call for some 1-2-1 support around their energy usage and bills. There was an open discussion around the current energy market and we explained what has been happening across the energy network with providers going into administration.

Energy Know How can support anyone in Rotherham with any of the following:

  • Give hints and tips about using energy more efficiently without putting health at risk.
  • Ensure that householders know about schemes that can help them with their bills such as warm home discount.
  • Ensure that customers with additional needs know how to be placed on the priority services register including elderly, those with health issues or young children.
  • Arrange for minor draught proofing works and LED bulbs to be fitted free of charge through the Green Doctor scheme.
  • Encourage switching between energy companies when this becomes appropriate.

We finished both of sessions with a friendly quiz about ‘The Robinsons’, an average family of four who wanted to know how much money they could save by making small behaviour changes in the household. This showed that they could be saving up to £604 a year if they made changes to their usage by doing things like only filling the kettle with what you need and by switching off appliances instead of leaving them on standby.

Heart of the Community

Keith rallied his community members to donate clothes to SHILOH in Masbrough. The charity supports individuals dealing with being homeless and therefore is host to the homeless community traveling through the area on a regular basis. Keith was delighted to have such as good response from his friends and neighbours as they managed to collect 15 bags of clothing.

“I saw an appeal from the SHILOH Charity in Rotherham. I mentioned this to Carol and knowing how much clothing we have, we decided to go through our wardrobes and see what clothing we didn’t want. We filled three bags. Whilst talking to a number of Group members, Carol mentioned the appeal to others and that was it. all of a sudden bag of clothing came from everywhere. John and I went out to collect from a number of group members and other friends and neighbours donated. What a wonderful gesture from some really nice people knowing that these people thought about others who are less fortunate than themselves. Although our group are still in voluntary ‘lockdown’ we still keep in touch with each other, and we all know that we are there for each other should help be needed. We don’t ask for much, but we enjoy helping others. We ended up sending 15 bags of clothing to SHILOH. Now we are coming forward with suggestions for the Royal Celebrations in June which again shows just how united we are.”

Heart of the Community Roadshow

As part of the Heart of the Community project we will be delivering Roadshow around the community. Engaging with local people to tell them more about our plans for the next three years and to uncover the little acts of kindness already happening.

For our first outing we took our stand to Tesco at Wharncliffe, armed with leaflets and chocolate we made our debut.

Being our first event we were unsure of how to approach the promotion. We decided to take a passive approach and not to overly give out the leaflets, we didn’t want Tesco to end up with leaflets all over their car park, especially as it was our first time working in store and Tesco’s is one of the main assets to the community at Wharncliffe. We engaged with 8 individuals and recorded 8 #littleactsofkindness, as well as speaking to 2 young people that are interested in giving their time to volunteering.

Kyle wants to be able to help others and use his community experience to achieve employment. Chloe wants to get involved to fill her spare time with a hobby as she works 9 – 5. Both are open to volunteering and traveling outside of their areas.

We also spoke to a gentleman in need of energy support, from what he told us he was in a position that he felt that he had to make a choice “Heat or Eat” however didn’t want to be contacted just wanted financial help to pay the rising energy bills. However we could not persuade him to be contacted by either our Money Management or Energy Know How teams that could help him.