By Dan Barron & Sam Dixon, Project Workers

Dayle Hill is the lead of the newly formed Canklow based group The Community Tree. In only our second meeting she came to us with the idea of creating a community picnic, a “world picnic”, where residents come together to share food that is important to them. The idea is that no matter who you are we all have a connection to food. Dayle wanted to work with this idea to help people recognize that we are all connected. We talked about how people could bring food that they could have a cultural connection to, their favourite dish, or even their signature dish, the one that must be at every family get together.

During further discussions Dayle said she would like the picnic to be the start of a whole week of events to improve and bring together the whole community in Canklow. Her aims were to Celebrate the diversity of the area, support families and help people to feel safer. The idea of having a community clean-up day and an event to round things off were also brought up. May quickly arrived and Dayle had formed a plan of exactly what she wanted to see from the week.  Monday to open the week with the World Picnic. Dayle also had the idea to create Acts of Kindness bingo cards for residents and young people. Those wanting to be involved would fill out the card over the week and return at the final event to be entered into a prize draw.

Wednesday was to be a crafting day working with local social enterprise Casting Innovations. Residents could create their own heart out of Fimo that would then be cast into aluminium and then added to a giant heart, that will be displayed in Canklow. Residents also can work with Castings to make the heart themselves.

The community clean-up day was going to be on Thursday. This is planned to be a Litter Pick by the Friends of Canklow Open Spaces, a group that is part of the community tree, and a community skip that will be provided by RMBC housing.

Finally, the week would be rounded off with a community sports day. Delivered by partner organization Rotherham United Community Sports Trust, they will be delivering football-based activities as well as health and fitness advise in a fun event for everyone to get involved with.

During the planning for the event the local school were also engaged with. They not only promoted the event within their school but also had the young people create flags for bunting that will be displayed for the whole week of the events. The hope is then the young people will feel some ownership towards the event and encourage their family to attend.

The week came, AND WHAT A WEEK IT WAS!!! Every event had engagement from different aspects of the community. From a community that is known locally to struggle with anti-social behavior and has little engagement with services, everyone involved commented on how well they felt it went. The picnic was a mix of curry, sandwiches, pasta and sunshine, everyone who attended got the opportunity to sit, relax and engage with other residents.

On Wednesday we saw a dozen people drop into Casting Innovations to create the FIMO hearts.

On Thursday a skip was delivered for the community to be able to get rid of their excess waste thanks to funding from the local housing authority. Alongside that Friends of Canklow Open Spaces went out on a litter pick around with other volunteers from the area, more than 10 bags were collected, and several piles of fly-tipping were also removed.

A typical wet summer Sunday was the day for the Sports day. Despite the weather, plenty of people came down to the event. With an inflatable penalty shoot-out, small football pitches set up and skipping ropes, families had the chance turn burn off energy whilst being out in the open spaces the area has to offer.

Over the week we all took the opportunity to build up new relationships with residents and reconnect with those who are already aware of what we are trying to achieve for the community. Planning will be starting soon for next year, and no doubt Dayle already has in mind what she wants to achieve and will work hard to make it bigger and better.