The Great British Spring Clean Grant

Keep Britain Tidy are running “The Great British Spring Clean” from 22nd March 2019 to 23rd April 2019. Litter picking is needed for all areas and communities are coming together to clear up rubbish as well as building community pride/spirit. Rotherham Federation of Communities are offering £200 per group to help bring the community together and clean up your local area.

For an application form please contact Sarah Fletcher on 01709 368515 or email sarah.fletcher@rotherfed.org. Closing date for application is Friday 8th March 2019

A Vision for Social Housing

Shelter has produced a comprehensive report on  ‘Building for our Future- A Vision for Social Housing’ in January 2019. 

Amongst a number of recommendations to improve social housing, the report calls for a stronger voice for tenants including support for independent tenants organisations like Rotherham Federation. A key recommendation of the report is that “residents of social housing must have a voice with national, regional, and local government. Government should support the establishment of an independent tenants’ voice organisation or tenants’ union, to represent the views of tenants in social housing within national and local government. It should involve as wide a range of tenants as possible.

Rotherham Federation of Community fully endorses this report and supports the recommendations made within  it. 

The Full Report – A Vision for Social Housing

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

  • 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

Activities

  • 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.

Trainees

  • 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

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 grants@thurcroftbiglocal.org.uk.

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.

Private Tenant Representative Sought

Are you a private tenant living is Masborough, Eastwood Village, South East Maltby or Dinnington Central?

Rotherham Federation are seeking 2 private tenant representatives to sit on the Selective Licensing Steering Group. The Selective Licensing Steering Group aims to ensure licensing of all applicable properties within the above areas are licensed, contribute to reductions in the rates of anti-social behaviour, empty properties and occupier turnover and to improve private rented property and management standards across the licensed areas.

More information about selective licensing here

This is a great opportunity in working with us and the Council to improve some of our local communities and the properties many tenants live in. Rotherham Federation will support anyone interested in taking on this role. For more details contact Steve by email or phone 01709 368515

Congratulations to Enid Watson

Congratulations to Enid Watson who has been elected by secret ballot of members attending our general meeting on 26th January 2018 onto the Repairs and Maintenance Contract Re-Tender Steering Group. The purpose of the group is to provide governance to ensure a compliant re-tender of the housing repairs and maintenance contract for Rotherham Council tenants. These contracts, currently with Fortem and Mears, are due to renew 1st April 2020.