Rawmarsh Community Allotment Group

David, one of the group volunteers, arranged for his team at HSBC to do a volunteering day at the Rawmarsh Community Allotment. Ten people in total took part. For some of them it was their first time on an allotment and while they were impressed with the plot, they did feel a bit overwhelmed by the work needing to be done! They split into groups to work on various jobs, put on some music and began to enjoy being outside for the day.

Emilio, who has a nearby plot for the Salvation Army, provided lunch and refreshments for the group of bacon and egg rolls and tea & coffee, which he cooked on his stove.

We provided water for them all and the gravel boards to build some of the vegetable beds.

By the end of the day the group had cleared and area and installed a vegetable bed which is already showing signs of a good crop.

Talking to some of the team about the experience these were some of the comments received:

“The day went so fast, and was so much fun”

“Great to see how much we actually managed to do in a few hours”

“Beats sitting inside at a desk on a day like this”

Thank you to David for organising the event and for everyone who took part on the day.

Tenant Involvement

Mrs S came to the Eid party, she was feeling anxious as she hadn’t been out since covid.  She lives at home with her children, but she was excited to be at the party. She was happy to meet the guests from other organisations and asked them for information regarding what they do. She also spoke to the Rotherfed staff, and she commented by saying “I feel privileged to be invited to the party I haven’t been out for over three years, and I don’t attend any groups or sessions as my daughter is very strict and says that I might get covid.  Therefore, she doesn’t allow me to go out. But after coming to the Eid party, I will be joining in more community events. I want to thank Yasmeen for checking on me at the party and for her inviting me. I am so happy I got the opportunity to make new friends and, I feel more comfortable in a public setting”. 

The Steadlands Neighbourhood Centre

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

I first visited this Centre in April 2022; it was one of the Centres selected by RMBC to look at the usage.  This Centre is used every single day by a group of lovely residents who hold and run regular activities and events.  They see the Centre as an extension of their homes and say they would be lost without it; this is apparent in the Centre too as it has a lot of homemade furnishings around making it feel homely.  As a lot of the residents live alone, the Centre gives them the opportunity to get together and have a chat, without having to go far.

Since then, I have visited the Centre on several occasions.  On a weekly basis they hold coffee mornings, craft sessions, book club, film afternoons etc they also hold afternoon teas or parties for special events i.e. Christmas, Easter, Queens Jubilee etc.  They are now looking at day trips for the group starting with an afternoon tea and a barge trip. The group are not a constituted group so all the money they have is raised by themselves. I am talking to them about becoming a constituted group to enable them to get and apply for funding. They do seem a little nervous about taking this step but are slowly coming around to the idea. I have passed their contact details onto John Heeley MP who has offered to support this group where he can too, as it falls in his area.   

I have also submitted two ward housing hubs proposals with this group for extra lighting around the bungalows and a dropped kerb, this will make things easier for the residents on scooters and in wheelchairs. 

Making Our Money Go Further and Energy Know How recently attended the Centre to speak to the residents and they all said afterwards how beneficial they had found the session. This was followed by a fish and chip lunch, which they loved. The residents have also been taking part in some gentle exercise classes.

This is a lovely active group of residents who I am really enjoying working with. I will continue to support the group where required. 

Eid Party

By Yasmeen Ali, Community Engagement Officer

This month we organised an Eid party. It was a good time for a celebratory event as it was the week after Eid al-Adha. After doing the outreach and talking to the ladies, it was agreed to do a one dish party which took place at RotherFed. It was a fantastic turn out, 22 ladies attended along with 4 professionals. All the ladies enjoyed themselves and were very happy to be part of RotherFed.

We received some fantastic feedback not only from the women but from the professionals who attended. All the ladies looked very comfortable. The ladies didn’t shy away at this event as they are getting familiar with the staff at RotherFed. This is great to see as at the first event in May the ladies were quiet and not as confident and sat with their backs towards the Staff. A few of ladies approached the staff and chit-chatted with them.

Some of the feedback I received:

“This party has given me confidence to attend more events and socialise more “

Mrs H

“I live in a council house and have learned that I can register enquires online as I have found that the RMBC council enquiry line is very busy, this is something I will be getting my children to do in the future for me. I am unable to do this as I have a language barrier and no digital skills.”

Mrs M

“I would like to thank Yasmeen for picking me up and dropping me off at home. I wouldn’t have been able to come otherwise. I am unable to read, write or speak English and I wouldn’t be able to walk to RotherFed because I have arthritis, I felt very happy being part of the Eid party”

Mrs W

“This is the first time I have been to RotheFed I was respected by all the members of staff there. I met Yasmeen at the Library and I am glad that she told me about the Eid party. I was very happy to be part of the party.”

Mrs K

“Thank you, Yasmeen for organising this party I haven’t socialised or been around people since covid. I am always at home this is the first time I have come out.”

Mrs Z

Women of the World Rotherham

By Sharon Smith, Community Energy Advisor

Led by Founder Jude Kelly, WOW Festivals are the world’s most comprehensive festivals celebrating women, girls and non-binary people. Launched in 2010, WOW Festivals have now taken place in more than 30 locations in six continents, reaching more than three million people to date. WOW Rotherham was on the 16th and the 17th of July. The two-day festival was to celebrate community, culture, and entrepreneurialism with artists local, national, and international taking part in the event, the first of its kind for the town.

One of the panels that takes place at every WOW festival is ‘Urgent Conversation’. WOW Global describe this as ‘Every day, it feels like we wake up to something new to respond to, a new urgent conversation to have, a new set of injustices to carry and solutions to come up with together. With the news agenda and world events changing at such rapid speed, WOW has reserved this panel to respond to the most up to date and recent happenings that affect us, gender equality and societies around the world.’

WOW Rotherham’s Urgent Conversation was around the cost-of-living crisis. Chaired by Jude Kelly the panel included myself, Noor Salih from Energy Know How Rotherfed, Becca Stacey who is the Senior Research Officer for Money and Mental Health Policy institute and GP Hannah Barham-Brown. The panel discussed about how where you live can impact your mental health and how GPs do not have enough time to really get to know the issues that the patients have and the importance of social prescribing. The discussion was also around the energy market crisis.

There was a real buzz from the audience during Q&As, they had no knowledge of Priority Service Register or Warm Home Discount. 95% of the audience said they didn’t understand what was happening in relation to the price rises and what cost of living payments they were entitled to.

The audience was taken aback by the cost of running a prepayment meter and the importance of having a conversation with your energy provider about moving onto a tariff instead of moving energy providers. One of the audience members talked about their daughter becoming a mother and moving into her first rental property with a prepayment meter. The daughter wasn’t aware she could have it changed to a standard meter to save some money.

The audience was mostly women with just 2 men in the audience, the entire audience were parents and were not familiar about how much money they could save by making small behaviour changes in their household. More than half of the audience weren’t aware of how to access their meters to read them to ensure accurate billing.

By the end of the panel the participants were aware of:

  • Priority service register
  • Warm Home Discount
  • How to access and read their meters
  • Cost of living payments and eligibility
  • Simple energy saving tips
  • Services offered by Social Prescribers
  • What is happening in the energy market

Wickersley and Bramley Neighbourhood Watch

The Wickersley and Bramley Neighbourhood Watch have been a group for around 20 years established under the old Neighbourhood watch system and later changed to the Our Watch system, this sends alerts to all members of the watch instantly,

The group first contacted RotherFed due to dwindling membership over the last few years, the group wanted support in attracting new members and creating a new online Facebook presence in the hopes that this will entice new members from the local area. After the first meeting the group recruited a new member that would take the lead on social media, this has been a huge success attracting over 100 members to the page, the group regularly post updates on crime in the area as well as scam alerts and other useful information for community.

The group decided that to attract more new members they would need to work closer with partner agencies, to achieve this they have started working closely with both parish and RMBC councillor’s, the local PCSO’s and Neighbourhood officers getting their events and information posted in the ward bulletins, parish newsletter and even on the police alerts making the group known to more of the community.

The group didn’t want to stop there, they decided to start visiting established events in the area to promote the group even more, they have recently held their first drop in session at the Bill Chafer centre in Bramley, unfortunately this wasn’t as successful as the group would have liked but they enjoyed the experience and made new connections in the community, they are now planning on holding a monthly session there and hope that interest will grow over the next months.

Looking to the future the group would like to become RotherFed members and start applying for funding to further promote the group and make visible changes to the area, they would like to make some crime prevention goodie bags they can give away to new members containing items like shed alarms and tv simulators.

Dawsons Croft

By Neelam Rhuksar, Activities Coordinator

Rob Mellors, a man who has suffered 3 strokes in Dawsons Croft thought his life was over. He rarely met anyone and had absolute no social life.  He was often depressed and really suffered mentally as well as physically trying to manage the aftermath of his strokes.  When another resident mentioned to me how much Rob loved the coffee afternoons, I didn’t realise how much exactly. The coffee afternoons have changed his life.  When I was having discussions with the residents as to how often they thought they can genuinely commit to the coffee afternoons. Some said bi-weekly, a couple mentioned monthly, and Rob was amongst the ones that said he wanted them weekly. He now has social interaction at least once a week at the coffee afternoons if not more as a result of the coffee afternoons. Once he was going to miss a coffee afternoon due to feeling down but then came and said he would never miss one. His mental health nurse has said he has improved in leaps and bounds and the major reason for it is the coffee afternoons.  His health is also getting better because other people in the group are looking out for him. He is now being loved within his community and feels cared for. A specific resident knocks on every day to check in on him. Tuesday is essential for him. If it stopped, his health would go downhill.  This is the outcome of the difference the coffee afternoons have made to this individuals life. The residents involved in the coffee sessions have started to form stronger bonds and it’s started to feel a bit like a big family. Rob also won bingo 3 times in a row on the pyjama bingo night.  The group also organised a day out to Wentworth Gardens which Rob went too. This was the first time he went out in a long time to socialise.

Volunteer Walk with Voluntary Action Rotherham

The Volunteer Walk is an annual celebration of Rotherham’s Volunteering community hosted by Voluntary Action Rotherham. This year Heart of the Community was asked to support the event.

The event was to be a combination of hearing from speakers sharing their stories of how and why they give up their time for volunteering, followed by a walk through the town centre being led by the African Drummers. Refreshments were available for all taking part at the end of the walk.

On the day of the VAR volunteer walk we arrived at 10am to begin setting up the event as well as our own Heart of the Community stand. We themed our stall a with Luau vibe and gave a flower garland to everyone who filled out our Little Acts of Kindness pledge cards. The Luau theme stall and garlands was a big hit amongst everyone who attended, we collected 50 pledge cards, even the mayor of Rotherham himself wore a garland and shared his own little act of kindness.

The African Drummers led the crowd through the streets of central Rotherham. Shoppers, shop owners, business leaders all came out to applaud the group which added a massive sense of pride for those taking part.

We really enjoyed this event and understand how important it is recognizing the importance of volunteers working within our sector. Personally, we received some great partner feedback from Voluntary Action Rotherham. “It was a great day. Sam and Dan were awesome! I really appreciated their help from start to finish. Absolutely brill… “

We both hope to be involved in the Volunteer Walk over the remaining years of our project.

Warreners Drive Residents

By Dan Barron, Project Worker

Sam and I first met the residents of Warreners drive in February to introduce the Heart of the Community (HotC) project on a night meeting. Back then the residents were forming to become a constituted community entity named the UNIT group. Unfortunately, some of the community leaders were unhappy about the guidelines they would have to operate in, and the group stalled in progress.

A few weeks later residents were engaging with the flowering arranging sessions arranged by Neelam. Meanwhile the coffee morning was running on alternative sessions that were supported by HotC and HRA. Residents were loving the flower arranging sessions and the coffee mornings were only seeing small number of members attend. Nicola Jackson from the Friends of Dalton East Herringthorpe and Thrybergh greenspaces group had been speaking with the group for since 2021. She suggested the residents receive support from the DEHT umbrella, so they did not have to become a community group themselves due to the lack of residents wanting to lead. Since then, Nicola has attended most coffee mornings and the now have reached a peak attendance of 15 not including partners. The group are in high spirits and have really created amazing relationships. Every week we are seeing the group sitting in a circle nattering away and creating a positive social atmosphere.

The residents hosted their first community event which was a celebration of the Queens jubilee on the 3rd of June. Residents collaborated with us to plan the event. The residents and RotherFed decorated the centre from funding that Nicola Jackson has applied for and successfully achieved through RMBCs jubilee grant herself. The Jubilee was attended by a mixture of immediate residents to the centre and some from further away. A total of 44 people attended the event in total which was fantastic for their first event. Residents organising the event all took responsibilities on the day and delegated that amongst themselves.

The resident’s confidence has grown through consistent support from RotherFed over the last few months. They are regularly attending fitness sessions, have taken part in some digital support sessions, and are currently undertaking food hygiene level 2 training of which 4 have already passed out of the 8 residents taking part. Overall, the change in community activity and the residents has been amazing and we hope to continue to support a fantastic group.

Volunteer Walk

By Nicola Evans, Volunteers Coordinator

Five of our befriending volunteers joined me, Ffion, Yasmeen and Rob on the annual volunteer walk in Rotherham, this was the first one in 2 years following covid. It was arranged by Voluntary Action Rotherham and supported by Dan and Sam from RotherFed’s Heart of the Community Project. It was an amazing celebration of volunteering across the Rotherham borough. We were proud to represent Rotherham Federation and had many positive conversations with other organisations and their volunteers.

One of the volunteers said “thank you so much for all the efforts you and the RotherFed team put into everything to make what you do a success; you really do go above and beyond. I am truly thankful to have found and taken the opportunity to be a part of it all. You always thank us for what we do but without your guidance and support I certainly couldn’t have done the role, you built me up and really helped me to develop confidence, I have grown as a person and gain so much personally from volunteering you are an inspiration.”