Shaftesbury House

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

Shaftesbury House is a RMBC sheltered housing complex close to Rotherham town centre. It is predominantly for people who are over the age of 50 or have a disability.

Back in May 2016 a couple of residents from Shaftesbury House contacted Rotherham Federation to see if we could help support them to start a group. We helped them write a constitution and open a bank account. The group started with three members and now three years on has over twenty members.

They now hold monthly meetings, weekly bingo sessions and weekly film nights. They have several day trips and hold regular parties for Easter, Halloween and Christmas in the communal lounge. They also have a party outside in the Summer. During the Summer they also get together on nice evenings to have food and a couple of drinks.

The group have had a couple of small grants from Rotherham Federation, but don’t receive any regular funding, they raise money themselves from either doing raffles, having bric a brac sales or one resident will bake and the other residents purchase the buns and cakes made. The residents hold Macmillan coffee mornings every September to raise money for cancer, last year they raised £430.55 which is amazing.

Many people living in Shaftesbury House don’t leave the building so these activities are really important to them. They are a great group of people who have gone from strength to strength over the past three years and I hope this will continue for the next three.

More Sporting Activities for Dinnington

By Ian Huddleston, Community Organiser

Following on from listenings with the young people at JADE, the information back was that they wanted more sports activities to do.

I arranged to meet with David Robinson who has run fitness and boxing sessions previously at a gym, to see if he would like to get involved and run some sessions at JADE with the young people. David is from Dinnington, and all his family are from the area. He talked about the area when he was a child and the community spirit that seems to have been lost, and how he would love to get involved in putting something back into the community.

We spoke about the possibility of setting up a community group and getting some ideas together to start running fitness/boxing group for the young people of the area. I gave David all the information for him to look into starting a constituted community group.

David also mentioned he would like to volunteer, and get involved with the community, so I arranged for him to attend the “introduction to community organising” course in June and has now signed up as a Rotherham Federation volunteer and has already started helping by doing listenings with myself at Dinnington carnival.

The project will benefit the local community as there is a big issue with ASB in Dinnington, so this will give a lot of the young people something to do. It will benefit the young people, improve fitness, give them focus, meet new friends, and bring old and young people together.

Sam Oldroyd from JADE was very keen on the idea and explained what JADE have been doing over the last few years. The idea would definitely fit in with their work and invited us back to the youth club to speak with Lisa – who is a youth worker at JADE – about setting this up. It was talked about potentially starting to run sessions at the youth club on a Tuesday evening (david has experience in working with Autism Spectrum Disorder & children with special educational needs), then see how it goes and if this is popular, or if some of their young people want to take it further, then other sessions could be run and would look at funding it, this has been now finalised and will start on 9th July.

We have also looked at the High Nook centre and will be putting sessions on there for all the family, tailored to the needs of the people wanting to go. This will also bring the centre back into use and connect residents to the TARA group, family fitness sessions will now start on the 16th July.

Green Hill Gets the Go Ahead!

By Sarah Bingham, Community Organiser

Through listenings carried out in the first year of organising in Rawmarsh and Parkgate, I began to find out what was important to people living there, what issues were affecting them and what change they wanted to see where they lived. It became apparent that a lot of the residents I spoke to were passionate about the area’s green spaces and that there were concerns some of them were under threat, in particular, council-owned Green Hill in Parkgate.

Green Hill was under multiple threats: excavation, arson, ASB and fly-tipping/ littering. The people I listened to were passionate about the area and the wildlife that lived there and were worried that the threats facing the area were going to have a significant (if not irreversible) effect on the wildlife there. So much so, the residents living in the area surrounding Green Hill had started a petition against the proposed exploratory works. As an organiser, I tried to get people together for a community meeting to talk about possible solutions and future action to protect the green space. However, I found out a lot of people weren’t at the stage in organising where they were ready for a community meeting, so I carried on listening to residents and to ask what ideas they had for potential action.

The community decided that they needed to raise awareness of Green Hill and the issues it faced in order to gain the support to take action. I began working with a team of twelve volunteer residents (including our now volunteer community organiser Rob) who were willing to plan a community event on the green space. Through listening and talking to the volunteers about ideas for the event, it was decided the group would hold a Christmas-themed lantern walk on Green Hill.

The group of twelve began to plan a project that would engage with the community of Rawmarsh and Parkgate and raise awareness of Green Hill, working alongside local charity Rawmarsh and Parkgate Friends of Green Spaces. The project consisted of two free lantern-making workshops at local community hub The High Street Centre, a community litter pick at the site and Christmas-themed lantern walk on Green Hill. Both the workshops and litter pick were really well attended. The lantern walk itself exceed expectations, attracting over 80 local people. The petition was signed by an additional 40 people, and the group created an information pack about the hill and efforts to save it, which was taken by all those who came.

With awareness starting to be raised and interest in the green space rising amongst the residents of Rawmarsh and Parkgate, the group decided to hold a second community event, an Easter Eggstravaganza! Again, the event was the end of a community engagement project consisting of two free workshops where attendees could make decorations for the event and a site litter pick in partnership with Rawmarsh and Parkgate Friends of Green Spaces. The event attracted even more community members than the lantern walk, with around 150 people coming on the day. A lot of the attendees spoke about how beautiful the space was and the fact they had never heard of it before the group started holding events there. The group also embedded community organising techniques into the Easter project, carrying out listenings throughout the project and over 35 on the day of the event.

Following the Easter Eggstravaganza, the group decided it was time to start taking direct action in protecting the space. The group thought the best course of action was to ask local charity Rawmarsh and Parkgate Friends of Green Spaces if they could work as a sub-group of them as their aims were similar. Rather than dilute the efforts of green activists in the area, they thought it would be better for the community if everyone with the same aims worked together. Community leader Rob put forward the idea of a series of conservation projects to help protect the space as well as encouraging more wildlife to the area.

The series starts with smaller projects (low budget, short time period) and ends in more complex projects which will need funding and people-power. The first project in the series is a community engagement and education project to install bird and bat boxes in the woodlands of Green Hill. The project was proposed to Rawmarsh and Parkgate Friends of Green Spaces and the group was enthusiastic for it to go ahead, so much so they proposed that the group extend the project to two further sites in Rawmarsh and Parkgate. This will entail community engagement and education working with three local schools, the scouts and other community groups.

Before any project could go ahead, the group needed to get the OK from the council. They were apprehensive about whether RMBC would support any conservation work in the area due to ownership and the threat of excavation in 2018. However, myself and volunteer community organiser Rob emailed the councils green spaces to enquire about the possibility of installing bird and boxes, and to our surprise Donna at the department said she ‘would support anything that encourages wildlife’ on Green Hill. The group were elated. If birds and bats inhabit the boxes, it gives an extra layer of protection to the woodlands of Green Hill as it is illegal under UK law to damage or destroy bat roosts. By engaging and involving the community in the conservation projects in the area, the group hope the people of Rawmarsh and Parkgate will become as passionate as they are about protecting and celebrating this beloved green space.

Employment – Engagement Officer

By Louise Johnson, Employment Coach

A new client attended our job club on a Monday and said she has recently been let go from her job as a recruiter due to personal circumstance.

After a loss in her family, she was only allowed 5 days off work for bereavement and so went back to her job as a recruiter but couldn’t handle the pressure and stress she was under. It was a mutual decision between her and her employer to leave the job.

She said she needed to find work ASAP and would consider going back to working in a call centre. We talked through her career options, and the strengths she had gained working as a recruiter and her salary expectations might not be met working back in a call centre. I suggested she look at more specialised work e.g. employment advisor, engagement officer etc.

The next week the client attended the job club and said she had an interview the next day for an Engagement Officer. We ran through interview questions and had a mock interview which she performed quite well. I gave her a few tips and advised her to ask about whether a particular direct competitor of theirs would have a negative effect on their business. She took lots of notes and said that she was feeling much more confident about going into the interview.

I called the client after the interview and she said it went well and they were partially impressed that she knew about the competitor. She was offered the job and started on Monday 19th June 2019. She has contacted me a few times regarding what to do for references, ID documents etc I was able to guide and reassure her, so she can succeed in her new job. I will continue to support her while she is in work.

East Herringthorpe Group Becomes Constituted

By Penny Thompson, Community Organiser

Following from the success of the Easter Extravaganza and recognising and confirming the skills capacity with the residents who hosted the event. The group has now decided to formalise themselves as a constituted group.

I have supported the group with skills audit, which allowed the group to reflect on their own individual and group skills, such as creative writing which can be utilised for promotional activities as well as writing donation letters to local organisations and companies. This will also be useful for when the group begins to apply for funding. I also recognised the group is very effective at strategical timelines so I have supported and encouraged the group to assess a timeline of the short, medium and long term objectives and how to measure the impacts of the type of activities they would like to deliver.

In order for the group to recognise and put on events/activities I have recommended that some participants from the group attend the introduction to community organising training and listening training. The group have decided that the chairperson from the group will attend training as well as taking part in peer mentoring support, this was received very well by the group. This will ensure that the group will learn around listening and taking action but more importantly giving the group the power to make their own decisions.

I have given group information on the different roles required within a formal group, also giving them the opportunity and time to think about what the ultimate aim of the group and the objectives they would need to deliver to meet their needs. I have motivated and supported the group to make informed decisions for themselves.

The group has now decided on and identified the natural leaders and have voted on who will take particular roles within the committee. The group is also beginning to identify what community resources are available and any gaps within the resources they require. First event they are looking to organise is a family fun sports day working in partnership with the local school in the East Herringthorpe area. They are also assessing how financial sustainable the group can be so will be requesting a minimum booking fee from participants. The group will also look to apply for local council funding for their public liability and to purchase resources. From purchasing resources group has decided to advertise them for donation hire i.e. sumo suits, bouncy castle, tug of war etc for their future financial sustainability.

I have also supported the group with their constitution which not only describes aims for events but also for the members to have personal social and professional development. Group will try to source training that will assist on building their capacity in a variety of areas.

I have discussed with the group the benefits of becoming Rotherham Federation members. I will now support the group with the application. Groups next step is to become members and apply for their DBS checks. They will also be promoting for volunteers and members.

The group is also looking to run a young people group once a week for 6-17 year olds they are deciding upon which venue will be best suited from the asset map that has been completed, the group is also advertising to recruitment more volunteers for the weekly activity. I have signposted the group to RMBC online training for them to complete Introduction to safeguarding, health & safety and professional boundaries. I have discussed Jade youth club and the group will be making contact to go and review to see if the similar set up will work in the East Herringthorpe area.

Canklow Kidz

By Jess Clarke, Project Manager

As a community Organiser I worked in Canklow for 2 years, in this time I supported a team of community leaders and volunteers in forming the community group ‘Canklow Rainbow Kids Club’. In 2018 the group developed and became self sustainable and needed only minimal support from me.

Over the last year the group have found the need in Canklow to be extremely high but with little engagement from other community members. Because of this and personal circumstances /opposing ideas two group members left this group in order to form a new group which focuses on younger children and the older generation. This new group is called ‘Canklow Kidz’.

the last few months I have supported Canklow Kidz to form and develop their ideas into action. This has included forming a committee, opening a bank account, insurance, fundraising, listening to their community and developing new ideas.

Most recently, the group members have carried out their training in food hygiene, first aid and our community organiser courses. They have already made links with the school and other organisations and are currently working on an after school project with Casting Innovations, allowing younger children to attend tin recycling workshops to create art of their choice.

They have held several children’s art sessions during the last 3 months with Castings as shown here:

The group is slowly fundraising for their ideas by holding online raffles, prizes and activities on Facebook. They have so far managed to pay for their planned Christmas event including room hire, costume hire, and DJ which is a great achievement in only 4 months, around £400 has been raised.

The group have been very proactive in ensuring they have good governance in place to run the group correctly, they have just recently created paperwork for activities themselves, including media consent, accident slips, and sign in sheets. Recently I sat down with the Chair to fill out a funding bid and saw a massive change in the ideas and confidence the group members have now from when I first met them. Initially I would have to guide the group in writing the funding bids, but at the last meeting I was able to just type as they spoke to me in order to submit the form. The planning and organisation the group are carrying out is a great improvement, and I feel this is a massive achievement from the heavy support firstly needed when I met them as volunteers in their community.

Thurcroft Luncheon Club

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

In 2017 we applied and received a grant from Coalfields Regeneration for £10,000. This grant was to be used for the Thurcroft residents who were over 50 years of age to promote health and welling being. Part of the grant was used to set up a Lucheon Club for the over 50’s. A part time worker was employed to set up this up and run it every Wednesday from 11am until 2pm. This was run over a ten-week period and was free of charge to the residents. Numbers started low but by the end of the ten-week period they had almost doubled.

It was never the intention to continue the luncheon club once the grant had run out, however, residents didn’t want it to end and said they would pay each week if it meant it could keep running. It was agreed that to make the luncheon club more sustainable it would have to be run by volunteers and not have a paid member of staff.

I approached three ladies who attended the luncheon and asked if they would be willing to form a committee and become constituted to enable them to open a bank account, manage the funds and in time to apply for their own funding. At first they were very reluctant to do this as felt it was too much responsibility and commitment. However, they did agree to give it a try once I said I would support them throughout.

I wrote a constitution for them and went with them to open a bank account. Since then the luncheon club has gone from strength to strength and is ran completely by volunteers. Residents pay £5.00 a week and for this get a hot two course meal, two games of bingo and a raffle ticket for the weekly raffle. The committee have also raised over £900 from raffles in attending local galas, fayres etc for the group.

A trip to Skegness has been booked for July and this will be subsidised through the money raised. Approximately 50 people now attend every week and thoroughly enjoy it. The luncheon club is really important as it helps to stop isolation in the local community.

I have recently applied for up to £3000 from Tesco Bags for Help and hopefully this will be successful.

Swinburne Social Club

By Jess Clarke, Project Manager

In October 2018 a local group was supported to form under the name of Swinburne Social Club.

They originally set out as a social club whom met weekly for a ‘cuppa and a chat’- every Tuesdays and Thursdays and from this they have been working on raising funds weekly, to go towards future activities.

The group originally liaised with RMBC in regards to getting their centre updated- this was discussed in January and in March they were able to get a new working cooker and fridge in the centre for them to use. They also have a date set in middle May 2019 for the centre to be re-painted.

The Treasurer has undergone support from our accountant here at Rotherham Federation in order to allow them to keep track of their records easily.

I supported the group in planning their first event, this was a mothers day lunch on 31st March 2019. Group members were signposted in attending our training on ‘First Aid’ and ‘Food hygiene’ beforehand to ensure they could safely run the event. Rotherham Federation was also able to gift the group a ‘buffet warmer’ which would support this and future cooking events.

The mothers day meal was a huge success (pictured below) and brought new people into using the centre with them. Following this they planned an Easter raffle. I supported the group in forming their own logo, and letter heads to write and ask local stores for donations for their activities. They put together a hamper and raised a huge £170 from it.

Their next steps is to hold a jumble sale of all items from the centre after their re-vamp. They are also trying to draw down some funding for a day trip to The Yorkshire Wildlife Park for the community. They are currently having issues with the building and need RMBC input into this, I have liaised with the relevant staff and will be meeting soon to support the group in developing further. The group has faced a lot of barriers so far but have perused on and are still dedicated to bringing something to the local people of Swinburne Place!

Springwell TARA

By Dan Barron, Community Organiser

Sarah and I were preparing for a day of engaging with the community in Springwell. As we approach our first resident’s door, I was standing their waiting for the answer on my first day of training.

The resident opened the door and enthusiastically prompted us to come inside for a chat. This resident expressed her views on the estate and highlighted the history of her involvement in a previous project that saw £36 million transform Oak meadows flats into Springwell Gardens in 1994-1999 through the Single regeneration Budget 2. The next thing we know 3 hours have passed and we were hooked on the resident’s passion for her community.

During the following weeks an informal group was formed with other residents regarding local community issues and now within 1 month of first meeting this resident, a constituted group called the Springwell TARA has formed. The group has already engaged with over 30 Springwell residents to complete Public Spaces Protection Orders consultations and have made plans to engage with the local ward councillors, RMBC, the Guinness housing association and other local authorities.

They are already building relationships within the community and they have the POWER to create positive change with the 20th anniversary of Springwell Gardens arriving August there could be more than one reason to celebrate this summer.

Volunteer – Rob Gooding

By Sarah Bingham, Community Organiser

I met Rob whilst working with Green Hill volunteers on their Lantern Walk project in December 2018 through door knocking in the area. I found out from listening that he was passionate about the green space and the wildlife that lived there. When listening to Rob, I found out that he was over 6 months into a severe depressive episode brought on by personal circumstances.

He had already been working towards the same goal as Green Hill volunteers, creating and getting local people to sign a petition against proposed exploratory drilling on Green Hill. Rob quickly became involved in the Lantern Walk project, supplying photos of wildlife, helping to create a public leaflet about the project, and volunteering as a steward on the day. Following the lantern walk, Rob joined Green Hill Volunteers and worked alongside them on their second event, Green Hills Easter Eggstravaganza, as part of the wider project to save the green space.

Following the initial planning meeting for the Easter event, Rob asked if he could volunteer as a community organiser with Rotherham Federation. Rob has been coming into Springwell Gardens to volunteer as an organiser in East Dene and Eastwood Middle every Tuesday since the 12th of March, learning about the principles and processes of community organising and shadowing myself.

Since then Rob’s confidence and knowledge has grown every week. The first week whilst leafleting Rob said how much of strange experience it was for him. When I asked why, he replied ‘I’m not used to leaving the house.’ So far we’ve covered a lot of the documentation needed for organising and a lot the process of organising from the beginning, working with Springwell TARA. Rob has attended two meetings with local decision makers, attended training courses, done research outside of his volunteering hours for Springwell TARA and even requested to come out door-knocking in East Dene, all at the same time as leading his own organising project in Parkgate.

He is now talking about looking for work, something that three months ago would not have been an option for him. He’s attending the community organisers national meet-up in June alongside Penny and some of Springwell TARA. Three months ago, Rob struggled to attend the Introduction to Community Organisers training, feeling sick and worrying before going in. To think he’ll be attending a national meet-up in a month is really amazing.