Fitzwilliam Estate, Kilnhurst and Swinton East Pumpkin Painting 

By Rachel Cole, Senior Project Worker

Rachel is currently in the process of working with Rotherham Council officers to support a group of residents to set up a TARA on the Fitzwilliam Estate. They held a couple of meetings early this year, where residents attended and expressed their interested in getting involved and starting a group. They agreed to hold a Litter Pick and a Teddy Bear’s Picnic in August as their first event. 

Due to the success of the Litter Pick and Teddy Bear’s Picnic event, at the meeting in September, the group agreed that they wanted to hold a pumpkin painting event in the October school holidays. Rachel did the group a donation letter and they contacted Tesco who supplied 40 pumpkins, I used some of my budget to purchase the extra 20 they needed. FLUX agreed to come along and support this event and provided an artist to help with the painting. The event was held on Tuesday 25 October from 11am until 2pm and despite the cold wet weather, 60 children and their families took part in the pumpkin painting, which took place under gazebos on Calladine Way. They group did a raffle which raised over £45. It was another fantastic event which everyone enjoyed. 

Rotherham Council are running a Christmas grotto on the estate for the families, this will be on Wednesday 13 December, the group have agreed to hold a tombola at this to hopefully raise more funds. 

Four residents from the group are attending the Tenants Conference on Tuesday 31 October at New York Stadium and there are also have residents who are interested in joining the HIP meetings and Scrutiny meetings. 

It has been a long time since there was a TARA on this estate, therefore, they are really pleased to see the progress and hope that it continues. Rachel will continue to support the group until they are more established and then hopefully, they’ll become constituted, which will enable them to apply for additional funding allowing them to deliver activities/events/trips for the estate. 

Peregrin Way TARA

By Rob Gooding, Community Engagement Worker

Peregrin Way TARA, with a history spanning approximately 15 years, has encountered significant changes in response to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the lockdown, the group played a pivotal role in operating the local food bank. This critical phase saw the original committee stepping down, and a new committee to be formed to ensure the group’s continuity. 

Despite the substantial changes they have actively expanded their involvement in the community, offering a variety of activities from their neighbourhood centre. These initiatives are all purposefully designed to combat social isolation and alleviate the loneliness within their community. 

Relying primarily on self-generated funds, the group delivers an impressive five sessions per week. In their commitment, the group decided to explored funding options. With the guidance and assistance of Rotherfed staff, the group successfully applied to Awards for All for a grant. 

This grant will play a vital role in supporting some of the group’s most cherished sessions, including the Luncheon club, coffee mornings, Gardening club, arts, and craft sessions, and the “nit and natter” group. Furthermore, the funds obtained will enable the group to hold four subsidized day trips for members throughout the next year and the organization of a community-wide Christmas party. It is with great pleasure that we report the group’s success in securing this grant, which will empower them to continue their expansion over the coming year. 

More Energy Know How

By Madiya Shokat, Community Energy Advisor

A colleague from GROW got in touch with the energy team as she had a client, who was struggling with energy bills. She has a range of physical illnesses and is less mobile. This means she spends a lot of her time indoors. She said that due to that she struggles with energy bills and to keep the house warm for herself. She is on benefits. 

Madiya phoned the client to speak more about her energy usage and used this opportunity to offer a variety of support. The client explained she is finding it very difficult in her house as her house is always cold. The client has already spoke to CAB but feels like they put her through more debt. She is on ESA and isn’t getting any warm home discounts as she found out that she wasn’t eligible for it this year.

Client explained how she lives alone and is finding it difficult as 1 person is paying the bills. She explained that she is on a prepayment meter and feels like she is paying more than she owes. While Madiya was speaking to client, Madiya offered a green doctor’s referral and a winter warm pack which she reckons she will benefit from. Client wanted to see if she was able to get any vouchers for her gas and her electricity as CAB keep ignoring this question when she asks. Client was advised that only sometimes not all the time, green doctors can issue vouchers when visiting. Client explained how she has plug ins for her stairs, so she is able to see at night when going to the bathroom. Madiya advised client to replace these with battery operated fairy lights/candles as this way she will save more on her electricity by not having these plugged in all night. Client is advised other energy saving tips and is advised she can save up to £487 a year by doing these energy saving tips. Client is advised she will be contacted by green doctors. Client is also informed about winter warm packs and client thinks she will benefit from one. Madiya will arrange a time and date to pass on this winter warm pack to client. 

Client is overwhelmed and suffers with anxiety, which meant she didn’t want to leave the house to receive the winter warm pack. Madiya contacted the colleague from GROW as she regularly meets this client; Madiya arranged to meet up with the colleague to pass on a winter warm pack to client. 

Whilst visiting Catcliffe Memorial Hall, Madiya was speaking to the colleague from Citizens Advice who mentioned offering fuel vouchers. The colleague from Citizens Advice managed to set up a fuel voucher for client. Client was also contacted about this and felt relieved with the help provided and given. Client also mentioned from the last time she spoke to Madiya to now, she has had the green doctors visit and done the energy saving tips around the house and it has helped so far.

Heart of the Community

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

Part of the key to RotherFed’s and the Heart of the Community project success comes from developing and creating key relationships with partners across Rotherham. It is this collaborative approach to our work that supports us to reach the communities that want support our important community projects.  

A few months ago, a worker began working with Neil, one of the founding members of the S61 Litter picking group supporting the Masbrough and Ferham area. The S61 Litter pickers work alongside Wayne Munroe-Smith, the Love where you live project leader who is no stranger to working with RotherFed and volunteers across the Rotherham Borough. Love Where You Live was created by Leader of RMBC supported project seven years ago to support residents to get involved in litter picking and greenspace groups and is unique locally.

After some back and forth we looked at supporting Neil and other litter picking groups to support volunteers from different groups speak with other litter picking leaders and volunteers across Rotherham. Wayne said that he too was looking at how this could potentially happen and RotherFed was already on his list to get on board with an upcoming event.   Wayne Munroe-Smith created the event as an ice breaker between services and volunteers who are actively involved in environmental projects across Rotherham. Partners from across Rotherham were asked to come and talk with the volunteers in the morning, which saw the Rotherham Mayor who continues to litter pick in Rotherham open the event with a speech on the value of taking pride in your community.  The leader of the RMBC, Dominic Beck Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, the leader of the Neighbourhood Coordinators and the head of Environmental services. Each key speaker spoke about the impact they see that volunteers have in Rotherham and how services can work with Rotherham residents to improve the environment and the lives of Rotherham residents. 

Wayne Munroe-Smith, Love where you Live & Love my Streets Project Co-Ordinator:

“I wanted to get wider services involved like neighbourhoods because every area in Rotherham has a coordinator. If residents know their local neighbourhoods’ officer, they can develop relationships and gain valuable knowledge from services.  We want volunteers and residents to find the support they need for their community.” 

RotherFed became a part of this event because of our positive relationships with local authority and other VCS services. Wayne asked RotherFed to join the event because RotherFed a have the knowledge and experience supporting volunteers and community groups with a person centric focus to create positive social change. As an organisation our person centric approach gives volunteers the confidence to get involved in community activity or take their group to the next level, learn a new skill, or become more involved in their community. We strive to help volunteers and groups to reach their goals because their success is our success.  

 “Rotherfed can bring something different to the table. They have a different skill set that can create and support voluntary opportunities to make positive social change through their project workers. Their experience and knowledge supporting groups to become sustainable and the ability to work with people is an asset that is highly valued”. 

Rotherfed’s involvement in the event was to speak with volunteers about how we as an organisation can support them and their community groups. Overall, the event was able to celebrate 40 volunteers and groups for their hard work to towards environmental community projects. Volunteers were able to understand how services are trying to work with volunteers, improve the service delivery to make Rotherham residents better and learn that there are services like Rotherfed that can support volunteers and community groups should they need it in future.  

Feedback from volunteers who attended the event:

“It was good to know how many other concerned residents are taking part in the various types of litter picks.” 

“It was very informative and gives hope that Rotherham will be cleaner and greener borough.” 

“Enjoyed the meeting today. Great to feel part of a wider team working together.” 

“Thanks again for today. It was good finding out the various things/initiatives happening within the Borough and to meet up with other “like minded” people and have a natter.” 

“I would just like to say thank you to all involved in this morning’s presentation. It was so interesting and informative. I hope the local press were there.” 

“It’s great to hear about everything else that is going on behind the scenes -the community.  

schemes, the surveillance enforcement and the wider RMBC team action! As a lone litter picker – it did make me feel connected to a wider goal!” 

“What happens as a result of bringing people together and building strong relationships in and across communities?” 

S61 Litter pickers  “Great morning at the Love Where You Live Rotherham Meeting this morning at Clifton Park. It was nice to meet other like minded volunteers who do some amazing work across our town. It was also nice to be thanked by the leader of our Council for the work that we do as well as other Council members from various departments. The meeting was very informative, but we have questions left still unanswered which we will be asking post meeting to the relevant people”. 

Heart of the Community and other RotherFed projects are often involved in more strategic community-based meetings which help workers to have a greater understanding of the needs of certain aspects of the community. This partnership also helps decision makers to understand how RotherFed can directly support residents and groups. To have a strong working relationship with our partners in Rotherham and to be recognised as part of a go to service for our communities is fantastic. It is shown by the increasing number of volunteers were able to engage with in Rotherham communities. 

Another example of RotherFed working closely with partners is the work that we do with Voluntary Action Rotherham (VAR). VAR have a specific remit to promote and offers support to the VCS across Rotherham. Heart of the community linked with VAR this year summer to support and celebrate volunteers through a number of events. In June we collaborated with VAR to support their annual Volunteer walk, which celebrates and highlights the positive impact of volunteers across the borough.  

Kerry McGrath – Volunteering and Group Support Manager at Voluntary Action Rotherham: 

‘We’ve worked together with Rotherfed on a number of events and workshops over the last few years and they’ve been a real partnership effort.   It’s been great to pool experience and expertise to deliver events and training for local residents.   Dan and Sam in particular have been involved from the planning stages through to the delivery on the day and are always positive and bring fresh ideas. We look forward to working with them on future initiatives.    

At the Rotherham Show the Heart of the Community chose to promote the project with the partner organisation as it was an opportunity to get the best engagement from volunteers involved at all levels of the VCS. We engaged with over 400 community members who shared with us their opinions on how a community works together as well as their own personal stories of volunteering.  

For the second year in a row Heart of the Community and VAR co-delivered a workshop for 12 volunteers that want to start their own community groups. The workshops had a clear aim of delivering information that would give volunteers the knowledge and skills required to create their own community group. This years’ workshop saw volunteers from 5 different groups come together to learn and share their own experiences from some very varied communities. 

By working so closely with VAR we have had the opportunity to celebrate volunteers, promote community cohesion and empowered individuals to take proactive steps towards building a stronger Rotherham. 

Open Arms

By the Open Arms Team

Originally, Samuel had come along to Dalton to enquire about renting the Parish Hall for his nephew’s upcoming birthday party. However, there was no staff on duty that day and instead of turning him away, the Open Arms team invited him inside and offered a comforting hot drink.

Once Samuel settled in, the Open Arms team spoke to him about the project and the help available. It turned out that Samuel had a range of concerns and issues for which he was seeking guidance. Samuel, along with his wife and children, had recently made a significant move from London to Rotherham, primarily due to family ties in the area. Their transition to a new life had proven challenging, with struggles related to mental health and isolation becoming apparent.

During their conversation, Samuel opened up about a variety of pressing matters that had been weighing on his mind. These included concerns about water & energy prices, for which Morgan the Citizen Advice Rotherham & District Energy Advisor helped him with.

Samuel had been trying to find an NHS dentist led to a referral to Rotherham Health Watch, which could offer guidance in finding suitable dental care. The conversation also turned towards improving his mental health, with a list of local social groups provided to help him and his wife connect with others in their new community.

As the discussion unfolded, it became evident that Samuel was facing housing issues related to his last flat based in London. The team suggested that he reach out to the Citizen Advice housing team for expert assistance.

The encounter at Dalton Parish Hall Open Arms was a testament to the power of community support and the positive impact it can have on individuals facing various challenges in life. Samuel’s visit, initially driven by a simple enquiry, turned into a moment of compassion and empowerment that could help him navigate the complexities of his new chapter in Rotherham.

S62 Community Together Rotherham

By the Making Our Money Go Further team

Luke Brailswood set up the S62 Community Together Rotherham (Men’s Mental Health Group) Men’s Mental Health 4 years ago. He describes himself as a person who feels fulfilled in helping people.  When he came across a lady who had lost her son to poor mental health leading to his death, he realised he had to help. He decided to set up a group that was solely for men who could find a safe space in talking about their feelings and problems instead of bottling them up and not sharing. Luke believes groups like this prevent people getting into bad situations. It also helps people who have just come out of a bad situation which affected their mental health in order to keep their mental health on track.  He also feels the group relieves the NHS of some work due to the nature of the group being a prevention method for men wanting to harm themselves. It gives men a chance to not be lonely and form good friendships.

Luke said when he first set the group up in 2019, he would sit in a Costa every Thursday waiting for men to come and no one did until someone finally came after 3 months. Lukes’s determination has paid off as the group since grew and branched out with the help of RotherFed.  There is also a Women’s Supporting Women’s group on Thursdays. 

The group had a clear idea from the start about the sessions they wanted to do which they still deliver 3 years on. RotherFed started supporting the group more than 3 years ago and helped with a lot of emotional support, time, training, and networking opportunities.  Before the group had its general meeting, RotherFed helped them in finding a venue and helped the group get constituted so they were able to apply for their own funding direct which RotherFed helped them to apply for.  As well as this, RotherFed also helped fund them.

Credit has to be given to the founder members for identifying the need for this kind of support in their community and taking on the responsibility to deliver it. Their enthusiasm has led to more volunteers getting involved and offering their support to the group too.

This case study shows how people can deliver their vision with the help that is available from organisations such as RotherFed. 

Manvers Residents Association

By Rachel Cole, Senior Project Officer

Rachel first started to support the Manvers Residents Association, Wath group in Summer 2021, when they wanted to set up a resident’s association for their estate. The initially attended training through RotherFed and RMBC on how to set up a group, organising events, first aid and safeguarding, they then became constituted. The group originally wanted to set up to try and challenge Manvers Lake Trust about the annual fees all the residents are required to pay to help towards the upkeep of the lake. Whilst the group continue to raise funds to do this, they also now focus on making a difference in the community by putting on events/activities etc. The group have just held their 2nd Annual General Meeting. 

Over the past year, they have held an event for the King’s Coronation, they secured funding through RMBC to help towards this, they have held a community picnic, hold regular community litter picks throughout the estate, held a Christmas elf hunt, an Easter bunny hunt and have set up a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme which now has 168 members signed up to. Future plans, include raising money for the Royal British Legion with Manvers Poppy week, signage for the duck crossing, a community noticeboard, the group are working with RMBC to secure this. The group are also planning a Scarecrow festival in 2024. 

The group also produces a quarterly newsletter which is distributed via email on their Facebook page. 

This group has gone from strength to strength and are achieving so much for their community, they should be really proud. I will continue to support this group as and when required, however, they’re a very capable group and require little input from myself/others, which is fantastic. 

ARCH Community Champion Award

By Rob Gooding, Community Engagement Officer

RotherFed recently nominated Tasha, for the prestigious Arch (Association of retained council housing) Community Champion Award. This award recognizes the dedication, willingness, inspiration, and devotion that our tenants freely give to the community, and Tasha’s commitment to Rotherham made her the perfect candidate for this honour.

One of Tasha’s standout achievements has been her work with local youth. She started a youth football team with mentorship programs, workshops, and extracurricular activities that have positively impacted the lives of countless young people in Ferham, Tasha has started actively participating in tenant forums and meetings, Tasha aims to provide a voice for underrepresented tenants and help to influence policies and initiatives that can positively impact the wider area. Tasha takes first-hand knowledge of the challenges faced by children and families in their community and articulates their needs and the needs of disabled people too.

I am pleased to announce that on the 14th of September 2023, Tasha was awarded an ARCH Community Champion award at the ARCH conference in Stevenage. Tasha said;

When I found out that I had been nominated for the Arch Community Champion Award 2023 it made me feel like I had been recognised and appreciated for all the work I do in the community.

I originally set up a community football club for youth in our area as I saw a need for a safe space with fun engaging activities to help the youth of the area thrive. In doing so, I very quickly realised the potential and need for so much more. The journey I have personally been on in the last few years has not been easy. It’s been stressful, exhausting but also very rewarding to see the impact that I have had on developing a “forgotten” and underprivileged part of Rotherham. One of the biggest supports I have had was from RotherFed who have been with me every step along the way and even having them nominate me for this award.

When I was told I had been shortlisted for one of the awards I was shocked. I know there are so many people out there who do fantastic things in the community but couldn’t quite believe that I had made it to the shortlist! When it came to awards time and my name was called out for the “Highly Commended Community Champion 2023”, I was astonished that it was really for me. Upon hearing what was read out in front of everyone about my journey and what I do and why I do it and going up to collect my award I felt so pleased that I had overcome everything I have done and created an amazing thing for so many people in our area. Being nominated for an award is one thing but being awarded it is another. I honestly never expected to even be nominated but I am so thankful to Rob (& Dan) at RotherFed for nominating me. It has made me feel so blessed to have been recognised, appreciated, and seen.

This has made me feel so much more confident in everything I do and has given me a mega boost to be able to go out there and try to achieve even more. I have joined on extra tenant panels, engaged more in different ways to get more tenants involved, linked up with more organisations to help get more changes made and generally want to achieve more in my everyday life as well as helping improve others’ lives too. Going forward I want to make it my goal to help create more community champions who want to make positive impacts for everyone to have a safe and welcoming community for everyone to learn and grow together.

Thank you so much RotherFed. I really appreciate it and hope it shows other people just what they can achieve if they set their minds to it, just like I always teach the children (and parents/families) who come to my football club

Uniform Swop

Neelam Rhuksar, Project Officer

Over the summer months MOMGF have collected school uniforms in Canklow and organised a couple of days of swapping, the incentive behind this is to work in partnership with families and ease the burden and stress that can be caused when having to provide uniforms every term.

We are hoping this will have an all-round benefit for the Canklow schools’ community, there are several benefits to uniform swap whether that be saving money to recycling and helping the environment. People have been extremely generous in donating and swapping uniforms, some families are struggling with increasing costs and in some circumstances find it difficult to provide new uniforms, with this project families have had the opportunity to source uniforms, re use uniforms and support the community.

2/08/23 – Neelam attended Canklow Pavilion today to be there for any uniform donations. We had 2 big bag full dropped off, which gave a good head start for Uniforms to be available on the day. The Uniforms were clean and usable which were requested on the leaflets which were given to the local primary school in Canklow.

03/08/23 – Neelam along with Julie did leaflet drops to the local businesses in Canklow. They managed to get 6 different places to keep leaflets one including KFC which was an accomplishment in itself as they were allowed to be displayed right on the counter beside the menu.

15/08/23 – Neelam went and picked up uniforms from houses in Canklow who had called for their uniforms to be collected. There were collections done from 3 houses. It gave us a lot more uniform to start the Uniform swap with tomorrow. They also had donations of coats and other school supplies which was also very helpful.

16/08/23 – For the Uniform Swap they engaged with around 20 people and managed to help a few people for their kids’ uniforms. One lady was very chuffed and said she had ‘saved a fortune because of this’ and was happy with the condition of the clothes.

There were a lot of donations, so another uniform swap was held on the 30th of August which helped another 12 families.

Feedback from the swap was very positive, families have felt empowered by being part of a community project and have asked them to return in October half term.

Open Arms

Janet Malsch, Community Engagement Officer

*Tina has consistently participated in our Springwell Gardens – Community Get Together Sessions over the course of the summer break, along with her three children and her mother. During her initial attendance, Tina primarily focused on caring for her children and engaging in the various activities provided. It was during this first session that Janet had an opportunity to engage with her, providing refreshments for her family while also imparting information about our services.

As the summer progressed and the second Community Get Together took place, Tina actively engaged with Janet again. During their conversation, Tina shared insights into her domestic life and the challenges of keeping her children entertained during the extended holiday period. Janet was able to offer advice on accessing free activities and events in the Rotherham area.

At the recent Teddy Bear Picnic session, Tina once again attended, where Janet caught up with her. Tina had used some of the information provided last time and been on inexpensive days out with her family, which they had all enjoyed.

The conversation got round to money worries, and budgeting for birthdays & Christmas on top of all the regular bills to pay. They discussed the Loan and Savings opportunities offered by Laser Credit Union, which Tina found useful, and something she will consider in the run up to Christmas.

*name changed.