Community Organiser Regional Meet Up

Community Organisers Regional Meet Up hosted by Co-Collaborative Ltd. Building on the one-day Introduction to Community Organising training, community listening’s and previous network gatherings, this is an opportunity to ask ourselves;

  • What we can do together that we cannot do on our own?
  • How can we use the power of the Yorkshire network to strengthen what we are doing, support each other and to take-action on the things that together we care about most?

The national network is already mobilising around the issue of benefits sanctioning and Universal Credit – is this an issue you care about? Find out how you can get involved in our national campaign.

A buffet lunch will be supplied.

Who can attend?
Anyone who is a member of Community Organisers
Anyone who has completed the one day Introduction to Community Organising workshop
Individuals in your communities that would benefit from the one day Introduction to Community Organising workshop

Get your tickets here

Board Elections 2019

2 positions on the Trustees Board are open to election and one co-optee position will be reviewed. Elections are up for representatives from  Wentworth North (presently Sue Fox) and one Community of Interest position (presently Kim Addy).

Nomination forms out                                  Week Beginning 3rd December 2018

Nomination forms returned                        Friday 25th January 2019

Candidate Interviews                                  Week Beginning 28th January 2019

Ballot papers out                                          4th February  2019

Ballot papers returned                                15th March 2019

Election Results Announced at AGM       26th March 2019

Rotherham Federation is a charitable company support communities to grow and develop, working with them to build their sense of belonging, community pride and spirit. We work with and through grass roots community groups that are committed to bringing communities together, giving all communities a voice and creating local solutions to local issues.

Trustee Nomination Form 2019 (word file)

Please speak to Steve Ruffle the Chief Executive Officer if you want more information about being a trustee – either by phone on 01709 368515 or by email at

Final Response to Social Housing Green Paper

32 people attended the workshop held on Thursday 11th October 2018 at Springwell Gardens Community Centre. This complemented the consultation by Federation volunteers at Rotherham Show in September 2018 and an online consultation by RMBC in September and October 2018.

Rotherham tenants from the Federation have also been involved in discussions on the Green Paper at the ARCH (Association of Retained Council Housing) Conference in Kettering on Tuesday 18th September 2018 and  the North East Tenants Alliance meeting in Barnsley on 24th September and as well as Board meetings in August 2018 and October 2018.

Rotherham Federation is pleased tenants for whom social housing is their home are being widely consulted on their views. We also welcome the changed language from Government that recognizes social housing tenants as equals in society. However, we do believe there are too many questions, too much jargon and feel many tenants found it difficult to engage with such a document.

Though the number of questions was overwhelming, Rotherham Federation wish to highlight 4 particular issues in their response to the Green PaperThese are:

Green Paper Workshop 11th October 2018

Question 20: Effective Engagement and Scrutiny

   Whilst tenant engagement and scrutiny is of high quality in Rotherham with the recognition by RMBC as landlord of the important role of an independent tenant organisation locally (Rotherham Federation) unfortunately the important role of tenant involvement and scrutiny is not universally recognised  by all social housing  landlords in England. We believe mechanisms to ensure all social housing tenants have effective means to independently engage and scrutinise their own  landlord services is critical.

Question 21: A National Tenant Voice

The Federation believes that the national tenant voice  should be recognised as powerful and heard, influencing government policy in all areas affecting communities. It should be an organisation that is involved in potential housing legislation, overseeing the condition of housing, increases in affordable housing, promoting the right to rent and encourage renting as a tenure of choice. It needs to be a key route into government, influencing and shaping government policy

Key would be recognition of the importance of an independent and active tenant movement supporting active tenants and TARAs to have a say. We see that social landlords have a role to support the tenant movement locally which would feed into regional networks like the North East Tenants Alliance. We would expect national government to resource the national tenant voice.

The national tenants voice should be unifying and representing tenants, taking up their concerns with a view of empowering all parties in the aspirations of their quality of life. It will unify tenants federations, regional tenants organisations, supporting good practice and ensuring effective collaboration. It needs to be one voice representing all tenants but recognising the specific local needs of tenants and the different needs in each area and of different individuals.

Representing and providing support to tenants needs to be core to the work of the National Tenant Voice. It will ensure tenants rights are maintained. A key task needs to be communication – both ensuring tenants receive information and their views reach government and key agencies. Tenants need to be told of what is happening. It needs to involve itself and help tenants become meaningfully involved in major consultation activities.

Question 38: Tackling Stigma 

Irresponsible reporting in the media unfairly promotes the perception that social housing tenants are troublesome. Some high profile politicians occasionally reinforce this misconception by stereotyping tenants.

The allocation of social housing on the basis of need leads to few homes being let to those without significant needs. The Decent Homes Standard, unaffordable house prices and high quality landlords offering a level of security, means social housing is the tenure of choice for renters.

While social housing is principally used to house those in acute need, social housing tenants will continue to be stigmatised- this  will increase as the number of social housing homes decreases and the number of people in acute need increases.

Only a significant increase in social housing number and the accompanying opportunity to house more than just those in acute need, will destigmatize social housing tenants.

Question 45: Extending Supply

Rotherham Federation recognises increased supply of housing is critical to resolving our present housing crisis and must be taken forward developing housing of mixed tenure and ultimately mixed and thriving  communities.

Getting Peoples Views 11th October 2018

Link to Housing Green Paper

Put Your Views Here

Getting Online Small Grants Distributed

Rotherham Federation are pleased to announce that, with funding from Rotherham Borough Council, a total of 16 Applications for the “Getting Online” Grant were successful and have received grants for their Group to help residents “get online”.

Treeton Community Centre – £300 towards start up of a Digital Cyber Café

Aspire Community Hub – Running Digital Sessions to users – £300

Friends of Rosehill Park – £300 to turn knit and natter sessions into Digital Sessions

Crafty Talk – £288 for MiFi units/tablets to get online

Bakersfield Court – £300 towards Tutor for computer course sessions

Action Housing – Run Digital Drop in Sessions for users – £300

MVNA – Digital Sessions run at the library – £300

UMMEED – £300 to do digital sessions for service users

Rotherham District Explorer Scouts – £300 for MiFi units across the borough

Rotherham Drop in Community Centre – £250 for MiFi and Digital Sessions to users

Hellaby Community Project – £300 towards WIFI and Tutor Sessions

Harley Village Mission Room Trust – £300 for Tablets to offer Digital Sessions

Asian Ladies Society – £280 towards tutor costs for Computer Course

Swinton Community Focus Group – £300 towards running digital sessions to users

Fitzwilliam Association – £300 for MiFi and tablets to run digital sessions

Leverton Way TARA Group – £274.99 for WIFI and Digital Sessions to users

Learning from our Reaching Communities Project

An interim evaluation of our  ‘Voices and Choices’ project has been undetaken using community organising to engage and empower residents  in some of our poorest communities in Rotherham.

The evaluation was undertaken in Winter 2017 by an independent consultant Judith Courts.

Full Report

Some of the learning that came out of this work included:


  • Listenings offer a great way to start work in an area and provide the basis for early activity. However, they should not be a one off activity but should form the backbone of work being continually updated
  • The contributions Listenings make to becoming known, sharing ideas and building trust should be viewed as positively as the issues they identify
  • People need time to develop their ideas about what they want. Your listening may be the first time anyone has ever asked them
  • In fragmented areas with hard to reach communities particularly from different ethnic backgrounds local people may be very reluctant to engage in Listenings and this may force a different approach early on. However, they must not be forgotten


  • It’s a large ask to expect people who have little belief in community life to stand up and create it.  Delivering activities directly that gives people the opportunities to engage and see the benefit is fine, but they must be accompanied by the messages that if you want more you have to do it for yourself and we are here to help you. Children events, summer parties etc. give natural opportunities for people to step up and join in.
  • Early activity should focus on giving volunteers positive experiences and involve minimal bureaucracy. Engagement should inspire people’s self-belief and build confidence to do more.
  • You need to avoid failure as disadvantaged communities give up easily, start small with things you can succeed at.
  • Disadvantaged communities find it easier to initially engage in volunteering that gives them opportunities to deliver activities to communities rather than challenge authority. Experience says that campaigning work to change services, facilities and the local environment will follow but unless there is an existing current issue that people are strongly motivated to challenge, campaigning work early in engagement is likely to be less successful and will be demotivating.
  • Expect early progress to be slow in very deprived and fragmented areas. Keep in mind the number of times they have been given failed promises. Your role is to be consistent and give them time to join you.  Don’t remove support too soon.
  • Work with communities as they define themselves and accept that it’s unrealistic to expect communities to mix across cultural boundaries before they are ready.
  • Promote yourselves through trusted groups and use high quality marketing materials.

Finding and using volunteers

  • Use Listenings to identify people who want to make things different and match them with your own or other organisations activities
  • Use your own staff if you have them to meet minimum safeguarding requirements e.g. for children’s activities so that things can start. But remember to explain that volunteers will need to go on the necessary courses at some point
  • Keep bureaucracy and form filling down to an absolute minimum while making sure people do take on important safeguarding messages
  • Create a flexible group of volunteers, not everyone needs to be involved in everything.  An informal group of people who will help out on the day is just as important as those regular volunteers who help every week
  • Even if you are delivering elements of the planning make sure volunteers are engaged in the decisions and understand that they will have to do things themselves if the activity is to happen
  • Where possible use existing local community organisations to help you present yourself as a trusted friend to new communities. This will help get things going much more quickly
  • Invest in quality marketing. Poor quality promotional material does not help you  say your are serious about investing in local change

New and existing groups

  • Don’t rush volunteers into forming constituted groups unless their activities or need for independent funding requires it. Instead give volunteers time to build their practical skills and confidence, ensuring they are ready to accept and take on board the more formal learning and responsibilities that come with constituted groups.
  • When groups are considering becoming constituted make sure they take up relevant training and skills development so they are ready for the more formal roles required.
  • Work to support groups to avoid the traps of becoming territorial, encouraging them to see collaboration as a way to deliver more for their community.
  • Support groups to be confident to say no to statutory partners when this delivery would either push group volunteers beyond their capacity or take the group into areas of delivery they either are not yet ready for or simply don’t want to do.

Community led plans

  • Don’t move into delivering formal community led plans too quickly. Recognise that communities need early successes before they will participate in these more formal ways of working.
  • Recognise that the delivery of community plans need confident and skilled community leaders. Where no such individuals or organisations exist the delivery of plans may fail. In deprived communities where few individuals have the necessary skills and confidence it may be better to support the delivery of such groups/individuals first.
  • If given the time they need to develop at their own pace, the Community Organiser approach will deliver the skilled leaders and community vision needed to develop realistic plans for community led change.  But change makers need to avoid a one size fits all approach and continually tailor delivery to the needs and capacity of the communities it is working with.


  • When taking on trainees it’s important to plan early activities in a way that gives trainees time to gain practical experience as well as add value to communities. Without this, trainees’ confidence will be undermined and their development slowed
  • For the same reason it’s also important to provide the trainees with appropriate levels of supervision and practical mentoring. The process of delivering needs to incorporate steps of approval and checking to ensure planned deliveries are viable and well-executed
  • Using learning from practical activities, particularly where mistakes have happened can be a really valuable way for the whole team to learn how to make improvements
  • Managers need to recognise that any trainee scheme will have people who fail but when taking on trainees who also face life challenges they need to be willing to offer additional support and supervision
  • When matching Organisers with local hosts care needs to be taken to make sure hosts are seen as accessible by the whole community and able to appropriately use and support Organisers. Otherwise, some sections of the community may come to see Organisers as unavailable to them

£2161 of community engagement grants released

Keen to get the communities of Rotherham engaging with one another, Rotherham Federation offered grants to Community Groups/Tenants and Residents Associations, up to £200 for a project in their local area.

After a fantastic response we are delighted to announce that £2161.97 was issued to 11 TARAS/Community Groups around Rotherham, all of which will be used to bring their local community together.

Community Groups/TARAs who applied and were successful are:

  • Aston Carnival £200
  • Canklow Rainbow Kids Club £200
  • Hellaby Community Project £200
  • High Nook TARA £200
  • Friends of the Rotherham African Drummers £200
  • Bakersfield Court TARA £200
  • The Lings Monday Club £200
  • Friends of Turner Close £175
  • Greenside Residents Association £200
  • Oaktrees TARA £200
  • Rotherham Pride £186.97

Rotherham Federation’s Company Secretary  Mr Terry Adair said “Without these grants the smaller groups wouldn’t be able to flourish or deliver their projects, this is so important to them by creating & building community spirit.  Giving them their own autonomy & recognition to achieve their target”

AGM Report

Rotherham Federation Annual General Meeting was attended by 95 people on the afternoon of Tuesday 27th March 2018 at Rotherham Trades Club.
The meeting was opened by Jane Davies, Strategic Housing and Development Manager at RMBC. Both Jane and Lilian Shears the chair of the meeting thanked Pat Cahill for all his work leading the work of the Federation during the last few years. As Chair, Pat has implemented major improvements to the charity ensuring it has become more professional in the way its charitable services have been delivered.

The Annual Accounts were presented by the Treasurer Val Baldwin and unanimously approved by members. Members also unanimously agreed the election of Antony Ball as the Examiner of Accounts for the next year. Terry Adair (Rother Valley West), David Ramsden (Wentworth Valley) and Mary Jacques were re-appointed to the Board and Pete Deveaux was also appointed as a new co-opted member.

The afternoon included a number of workshops on the theme of ‘strengthening communities’. Workshop 1 used photos to look at ways we can listen to our communities, the second workshop used forum theatre to explore the power of door knocking, the third workshop discussed ways the Federation can support groups and the final Workshop, Creative Communities, demonstrated the difference community arts can make.

The Easter raffle was won by Tony Simmonds the £100 proceeds from which will go to the Mayor’s Charities.

Steve Ruffle Chief Executive said “Rotherham Federation liked to thank everyone for their support during the past year, board, staff, funders but most of all our members and volunteers who are out there doing what they can within our local communities “

10th Round of Thurcroft Small Grants Allocated

12 small grants totalling £1420 were approved by the Thurcroft Big Local grants panel on Monday 5th March 2018. Amongst those grants distributed, Thurcroft Welfare Brass Band received £200 for assistance with cost of repair of some of their instruments, Hotshots Junior Theatre £200 for costumes, props and hall rental, Thurcroft Miners Welfare £200 for equipment to help maintain their grounds and Thurcroft Youth Club £180 for some room dividers.

This is the tenth set of grants allocated by the Thurcroft Big Local Partnership. All the projects support one of the three themes in the Thurcroft Big Local Plan- community pride, regeneration or children and young people. Tony Simmonds, local resident and a member of the grants panel said “though consisting of small amounts of money, these small grants help community groups and volunteers make a big difference to Thurcroft life”. 95 small  grants have now been distributed in the village.

These grants have been made possible through a Big Lottery Fund investment and managed by Local Trust supported by charitable company  Rotherham Federation of Communities Ltd (RotherFed). More information available from Steve Ruffle on 01709 368515 or email

Name of group applying What is it for?


How much allocated?
Thurcroft Infants School Books and take home bags £50
Thurcroft Bowling Club Summer/Spring and Autumn/winter fertiliser £100
Aughton Early Years Centre Disco during the Easter holidays. ‘Disco George’, Hire of venue, refreshments/prices £100
Thurcroft Welfare Brass Band Assistance with cost of repair for some of their instruments £200
The Willows School Equipment for clean up £100
Thurcroft Youth Club 2 room dividers to corner off an area were discussions can be held and young people can sit together and chat £180
Thurcroft Friday Circle To pay for speakers on various subjects to come to monthly meetings £100
Thurcroft Miners Welfare Recreational Ground Maintaining ground for sporting events. £200
The Friday Club Art materials for various activities for family craft sessions £100
Hotshots Junior Theatre Costumes, props and hall rental £200



Future of Social Housing – Meeting Report

The Future of Social Housing was the theme of a major Rotherham Federation meeting on Friday 26th January 2018, attended by over 100 people. As well as speakers, there were workshops on a number of themes including building more social housing, who is social housing for, the perception of social housing tenants and the role of tenants’ voices.

Meeting Report

As well as tenants from Rotherham there were tenants from Lincoln, Doncaster and Leeds in attendance. One of the organisers Steve Ruffle CEO of Rotherham Federation said “having a safe and secure home is important to all of us. This meeting was an important one for everyone as the future of social housing is a key issue for our time.”

Federation Becomes Social Action Hub

Rotherham Federation is now one of 20 Social Action Hubs around the country. Social action hubs are  locally rooted community organisations which support people to contribute to and create a better community and build a more democratic society.

The 20 Social Action Hubs are funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and led by Community Organisers Ltd. As a hub the Federation  will  act as a catalyst for action, training local people, members of the public sector and young people in community organising and supporting them to listen, reach out, bring people together and take collective action.

Over the next few years  the Programme will see 3500 people trained in community organising across England and supported to ignite social action. People who want to make their community stronger, their government and public services more accountable and their society fairer.

The first of these volunteer organisers in Rotherham  were presented with certificates by the Deputy Mayor at a special event on the evening of 16th December 2017. Community organising is the work of bringing people together to take action around their common concerns and overcome social injustice. Volunteer community organisers  reach out and listen, connect and motivate people to build their collective power.

Sofia Gkika and Jessica Clarke also recieved their graduation certificates at the event.