Have your say on the Council Housing Strategy Consultation

Rotherham Council has been delivering against the commitments in its Housing Strategy for 2019-22, now the Housing Strategy is being refreshed to set out the key priorities for 2022-25, and Rotherham Council are asking for your help in shaping this.

Please complete the electronic survey by 21st January 2022.

Warreners Drive Neighbourhood Centre

I first visited Warreners Drive, Thrybergh in October 2021 when a group of residents contacted me to say they were interested in forming a constituted group to run from the Centre. The Centre had recently been redecorated and has now had new curtains and blinds fitted. I worked with this group, who called themselves UNIT (Uniting Neighbours in Thrybergh) for the next few months we helped to get them a constitution, bank account, etc.  In January 2022 we carried out a door knock around the area to find out if there was any interest from people who wanted to use the Centre and what activities they would like to see held there. A coffee morning was arranged for a couple of weeks later and since then things have gone from strength to strength.  A weekly coffee morning now takes place every Wednesday where the residents get together and have a cuppa, cake, and a chat.  As well as the coffee morning, we are working with RNN (Rotherham College) who have put on flower arranging sessions, which the ladies are loving, and some light exercise and mindfulness classes, these classes have been funded through the Councillor’s CLF funding. The group are also holding their first ‘real’ event on Friday 3 June, an afternoon tea for the Queen’s Jubilee. Over 30 people have already booked to attend this. 

Unfortunately, the group UNIT group decided in March that they no longer wished to continue, therefore, Friends of Dalton, East Herringthorpe & Thrybergh Green Spaces have kindly taken this new group under their wing and will support them until the group feels ready to be their own constituted group. One member of the Friends of Dalton group who has been learning flower arranging, recently applied for funding through Arnold Clark and was successful in getting £500. With this money she is making flower arrangements for the graves in the cemetery which are not tendered anymore, using the skills she has learnt at the flower class. Amazing!

The “previous” council warden who lives above the Centre said how nice it is that the Centre is being used again on a regular basis, she says it’s brought the life back into it.  She did say when we first did the door knocking that she hoped we could make a difference, but she doubted we would as people have tried before. It’s really nice to know that a difference has been made and the residents are once again enjoying the Centre and what it has to offer, and we hope this continues. I will continue to support the groups where needed and required.

Winterhill Engine Pond Project

The Engine Project has been a school led project that has been active for the last 7 years. The advertiser published a piece from them in the Young Tizer section of the paper in 2015.

We formed the Year 10 student council earlier this year and we were all eager to find a project to get stuck into. The Old Engine Pond in front of the school was brought to our attention due to concerns from the community, and we wanted to make a positive change. Everyone within the local community knows the Engine Pond and at some point will have played around it and in some cases, weather permitting, played in it! However, over the last three years it has become extremely polluted, overgrown and dangerous, not to mention the big impact on innocent wildlife that live there.We immediately wanted to get down there and clean it ourselves but thought that we may have little impact just on our own. Therefore, we contacted Kevin Burke who works for RMBC and is head of green spaces.We needed his help and support in order for us to get this project under way. Of course, for him to take us seriously, we wanted to make sure we had a thorough plan of action, a clear set of objectives, and the right team. Also, we wanted to be a lead on this project and to personally contact all the necessary people that we would need for this project to progress. As a result, the Winterhill Year 11 school prefect events team and Year 11 environment prefect helped us organise a meeting for us all to meet. To ensure we did the right thing with the pond, we also contacted the science, history and geography departments to research the area so we can create information to put around the pond.We had one more meeting so that we could set a date and decide exactly what we were going to do. We decided on November 21 and 28 that it would run over the both Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. We realised the more people that knew about this project, the more people would come and help us, and obviously we would get more vital work done to support the community. To promote the project, we went and spoke in all the school’s assemblies to invite Winterhill students to join us as well as local councillors, Rother FM and the Rotherham Advertiser to further get the message out there.The whole of the Winterhill student council took an active part in this too. Some contacted the councillors, some contacted the radio station and some asked the questions in the meetings. It was my job, as head of the student council, to ensure that it was organised and done professionally. Overall, the team have learnt so much from this experience and it’s not even started yet! We would also like to rename the pond to something a little more appealing to show off all our hard work.We want to make it a place that primary schools can visit and learn from.  But ultimately, we want to create something that we can all access and enjoy, something that was created by Winterhill students for the community. Our aim is simple – to make a difference in the community.

By Leoni Hill (age 14), Year 10 Winterhill School, head of the student council

Dan and I have met with Simon Jeffrey, the safeguarding lead from Winterhill, to discuss how we can work together on our project. Simon explained that the Engine Pond project has been running for 7 years as part of the school’s project that snowballed. This project became the bedrock of the school prefects that take on extra responsibilities. Simon has explained that they have received funding in the form of grants from RMBC and The Rotherham Advertiser. These funds were able to provide the new pavement at engine pond, £300 food parcels that were distributed to those in need and loneliness visits to care homes. The school has a team of 50 prefects that the lead the extracurricular activities that the school undertakes throughout the year. They specifically have a community team that we could work with to enhance what they already aim to achieve.

Simon is excited about the prospect at working together and believes that it’s a perfect time to begin engaging with a new batch of students to carry on the prefects. Simon wants to continue to engage in with the community and is also keen about connecting with residents. We have spoken about how a potential committee would work in the form of an official representative of the school on the committee as well as other community leaders.

I supported the community engagement on the Engine Pond. There were more than 10 young people from the school helping as well as representatives from school, local councilors, RMBC Green Spaces workers and local residents. It was amazing to see the how much enthusiasm and hard work is going into the area to establish the site as a place where nature can thrive without the threat of pollution and litter.

I am looking forward to seeing how the relationship between the school and residents develops, and how we can work together to make a more cohesive community in the area.

Building Confidence

Wafaa has been living in England about 10 years as she moved here from Saudi. Her first language is Arabic and when she came into this country, she couldn’t speak any English. Wafaa has got three young children and was invited to the Eid party. When she was invited, she was very excited but equally very worried about if there were going to be any men there. I did reassure her that if there were they would be sat to one side.

Wafaa has little confidence and is socially isolated as she doesn’t have any friends or family living in her surrounding area. Before coming Wafaa contacted me and said to me that if she feels anxious that she will be leaving the Eid party. I did check on Wafaa a few times throughout the event and she was happy to have been part of the Eid party. she commented saying that she was happy with the respect that was given to her and the rest of the ladies who attended were very friendly towards her.

Wafaa is also a council tenant, and the project outcomes were shared with her. She is very interested and is now wanting to be involved in the tenant meetings. With Wafaa coming to the Eid party she has also put her name down to do an ESOL class at Mowbray Gardens Library as one of the professionals who was invited to the Eid party currently tutors sessions there. Wafaa thanked me for looking out for her and has asked if she can attend any further events that are put on at RotherFed

Elizabeth Parkin TARA

When we were doing the engagement work around neighbourhood centres, we discovered that the group that used to run out of the centre had stopped pre covid and a lot of residents had missed the sessions that were happening there

Following on from the Neighbourhood centre engagement work Neelam has been doing the residents have started holding regular coffee mornings, bingo sessions and chair exercise classes. To build on this engagement I have started to attend some of the sessions and gotten to know the committee, as the sessions continue to grow the group have started to look at getting a constitution and bank account to expand on the activities they run. The group consists of around 12 regular members so far and three committee members but is growing slowly as news spreads.

The first draft of the constitution was made this month and the group are currently making alterations to this document ready for it being adopted. When the group have this and the bank account, they would like to investigate funding to hold luncheon clubs and day trips to expand on their regular activity and hopefully attract more members from the community.

Friendship Calls Participant – Vera

Vera has been on the service for a short while. She is a lovely lady who suffers from COPD so is unable to get out and about. She has the support of a family but with them not living local she gets lonely. On a recent call log from one of our volunteers there was a note from Vera herself asking the volunteer to pass on a message. Its simply said can you ask your manager to give me a call as I would like to provide feedback on the service. We gladly obliged, we called Vera and although she wasn’t feeling well, she really wanted to let us know how the service has changed her life and how the volunteer was a lifeline for her. She said the volunteer was like a tonic and she always felt better after speaking with her, said she really looks forward to the conversations because the volunteer is so positive.

Friendship Calls Volunteer – Christine

Christine is a telephone befriending volunteer who had to stop volunteering with us due to ill health, she promised that as soon as she was better, she would return. True to her work after an 8-month break Christine contacted us out of the blue saying she would like to return to making the calls. Naturally we were over the moon, when we asked what made her decide to come back, she said “There is nothing more rewarding than giving back and making a difference in the lives of people in the Rotherham community” she then went on to explain that talking to a stranger can help both the caller and the recipient and that it had a positive impact and improved her own mental health.

Friendship Calls – Terry and Volunteer Nina

Terry is a wonderful chap that lives alone and is quite isolated as there are problems around the accommodation he lives in. When we first assessed him he said that nobody would want to talk to him because he was boring!  Terry has been matched with different volunteers but recently has struck up a friendship with Nina, Nina has helped Terry much, even getting help to him following a personal situation. She convinced him to attend a recent coffee morning, they met face to face and the volunteer also helped Terry with some documents he had brought in. Previous to this Terry had not been out of his flat, was very anxious and wouldn’t have contemplated attending if it wasn’t for Nina. Since the initial meet they have met up again at a coffee morning and wow, the difference in Terry was there for everyone to see, full off smiles, came straight into the event, no hesitation. Was happy to chat to everyone. He is now thinking of venturing to the snooker hall he used to visit pre lockdown.

Rotherham Federation of Communities (RotherFed) receives The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

RotherFed, based in Rotherham have just been awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE.

RotherFed support communities in the Rotherham Borough to grow and develop, working with them to build their sense of belonging, community pride and spirit. They work with and through grassroots community groups that are committed to bringing communities together, giving all communities a voice and creating local solutions to local issues. Their work helps create communities that work and develops new and existing community-led groups which:

  • give everyone a voice
  • make communities happier places to live and work
  • help people to create local solutions to local issues
  • work together to create shared solutions to local problems

RotherFed is one of 244 local charities, social enterprises, and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. Their work, along with others from across the UK, reminds us of all the ways in which fantastic volunteers are contributing to their local communities and working to make life better for those around them.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteer groups from across the UK, including: a rural support group for farmers in Shropshire; a community magazine addressing isolation in the Western Isles; a running club engaging all ages in County Tyrone; a film academy and community hub based in South Wales, and a food bank in Greater London feeding vulnerable individuals and providing training opportunities.

Representatives of RotherFed will receive the award crystal and certificate from Professor Dame Hilary Chapman DBE Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire later this summer.

In addition, two volunteers from RotherFed will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2023 (depending on restrictions at the time), along with other recipients of this year’s Award. Phil Hayes CEO says “how delighted I am that our group’s work has been recognised, for what our volunteers have contributed to our communities over the last couple of years and beyond. I want to pay tribute to hard work and commitment of our incredible team.”

Thurcroft Big Local’s Easter Event

This year’s Easter event in Thurcroft was another great success. The event this year was a joint event with St Simon & St Jude’s Church. The local Councillors, Zac and Thomas Collingham also donated some of their CLF fund which paid for a large part of the event. The event took place on Good Friday and started at 10am with arts and crafts in the church. There was also a raffle and refreshments. The Easter egg hunt started from the church at 12pm and there were 12 clues placed around the village for the children to follow. The hunt finished at the Thurcroft Hub where every child who took place received an Easter egg. There was also a mobile farm where the children could meet and pet the small animals. 

Around 200 children took part in the Easter Egg Hunt which is a fantastic turnout, however, we had only purchased enough eggs for 100 children. A quick trip to Morrisons to purchase another 100 eggs solved this problem though and all the children were happy. 

It is lovely to see how this community really works together and how people appreciate the events and activities that take place.

A couple of quotes from the community.

“Brilliant day starting with the crafts and then the Easter egg hunt.  Great to see so many smiley faces around the village and the lovely Easter bonnets”.

“My girls loved it. Thank you to all of you for organising it”.

Event Planning and Funding Training

RotherFed and Voluntary Action Rotherham held a joint training session on ‘Event Planning and Funding Your Event’. This event was booking only due to the amount of people that had expressed interest prior to the event. We didn’t expect the event to fill up as fast as it did, though that suggests that there is a real need for events like this in Rotherham.

The event was attended by 14 individuals from across the whole of Rotherham, this gave us a nice mix with both new groups wanting to get a taste for events and more established groups wanting a refresher after having two years where they have been unable to hold events. The event started with deciding on what your event will be, moving on to budgets, how and where to get funding from, health and safety law to cover the event, and it touched on risk assessments and insurance.

The event had interactive aspects to aid the participants in the learning experience as well as a lot of factual content and handouts that they could take back to the groups and reference later when planning any upcoming events and a reassurance that despite the training we will always be here to help community groups. The feedback received after the session seems positive with attendees feeling better prepared to hold events in the future and a greater depth of knowledge into the processes involved in hosting events, but attendees did add that they would like a more in-depth session to cover risk assessments.

 A quote from one of the attendees ‘the event planning training, I really enjoyed the morning and it was really well put together and gave a great insight into what is needed while planning an event. Hopefully you will be doing some more but I also think it could have been a full day course as there was lots of content in it and I would have loved to have gone into things further when planning events.’