Tenant Voice Group – Facebook and Virtual Coffee Mornings

The Tenant Voice group has continued to grow since it was started in January reaching 32 members all of whom are council tenants in the Rotherham area. This offers a community page for tenants to discuss meetings, mentor new tenants and grow relationships making tenants meetings more sociable and hopefully this will increase the uptake of tenants at these meetings it also allows people that cannot attend the meetings a chance to add their input and find out what has happened.

We are currently holding virtual coffee mornings once a month for the group to meet and as restrictions ease we will explore getting the group constituted and having meetings in person. The tenant voice group are a mix of existing tenant voice members who attend the tenant scrutiny and hip (housing involvement panel) meetings as well as new people who are interested in getting involved.

Most of the new tenants have previously been supported by RotherFed to put in Housing Hub Suggestion forms for projects that would improve the estates they live on. This has also offered a platform for our youngest Tenant Voice Volunteer to get involved. Ebony is a 17-year-old living in council housing, she is very eager to get involved in anything community based, she has already asked that when she turns 18 if she can start to attend meetings. We are currently supporting Ebony and other volunteers to gain the skills they need to attend virtual meetings and get more involved with RMBC services moving forward. We hope that as this group continues to grow, we can identify more tenants that are interested in making positive changes in the areas they live in and continue to support these going forward.

Rawmarsh & Parkgate Friends of Green Spaces

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

As I now cover the Rawmarsh area this group now falls in my HRA work. A couple of weeks ago I had a walkabout in Rawmarsh and met a couple of people from the group. I’ve also met the two local councillors who are involved in this group and regularly attend the litter picks put on. This group have their own Facebook page with nearly 400 members.

The group holds weekly litter picks, however, due to Covid-19 these were put on hold. The group did however go out on an individual basis to help to keep the community as clean and tidy as possible.

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Henley Resident Association

By Rob Gooding, Community Organiser

This month I have had the pleasure of mentoring the newly formed Henley Residents Association. The group have formed due to the old group dissolving last month. Since then, they have organised proactive community members who want to pick up the gauntlet of supporting their local community.

The HRA plan is to reignite the community spirit through activities to improve their neighbourhood by hosting coffee mornings with board games, weekly bingo at community centre and garden projects for those who want to leave their mark on the community centre garden on Oates close. The group also want to be able to put on away days for the residents like the good old days.

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Eggy The Eggsellent Eggsplorer

By Sam Dixon, Community Organiser

Easter was around the corner and our project wanted a fun activity for families to engage with. We came up with the idea of having an Easter character joining the Rotherham Federation team, who would go out on an adventure during the Easter holidays.

We decided that the first part of our project would be a design competition, young people were given the incentive of receiving a free prize for submitting a design to us. We had 19 entries for our design competition.

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Swinton Mobile Farm Visit

Rotherfed worked with Councillor Wyatt, Councillor Sansome and Brookfield Junior Academy in Swinton to fund a Mobile Farm Visit, which was provided by Ian’s Mobile Farm (www.iansfarm.com). The aim was to provide a fun activity in what has been a difficult year for the pupils.

Lauren Moore, the Inclusion Manager at the school said ‘I just wanted to write to say a huge thank you on behalf of the whole Brookfield Junior Academy family – staff, pupils and their families for funding the mobile farm visit. The mobile farm visit yesterday and was a huge success. Thank you for making happy memories and experiences for our pupils.’

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Mindfulness and Health & Wellbeing

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

The last 11 months have been very different and difficult for many people and for different reasons. The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession have negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness. To try and help Thurcroft investigated doing something to help towards mindfulness and health & wellbeing.

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Jo Workman

By Rob Gooding, Community Organiser

Rob nominated Jo for the volunteer of the month award in Wickersley Ward in December 2020.

This is a project run by RMBC staff and local councillors Jo is has run the local SEND youth club for children with additional needs for the last two years and was looking to expand this to other areas of Rotherham until Covid struck.

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Rotherham Federation Covid-19 Response

RotherFed have been part of the overall community support programme targeting those most in need in our communities, initially through the Rotherham Heroes campaign and Community Hub, but also through providing support to our network of TARA’s and community groups. Our CEO has been involved in the multi-agency response and the Rotherham Tactical Group that work together to respond to community needs. As part of our involvement in the Rotherham Heroes campaign, we took a lead role in helping to shape and organise Friendship Calls to the most isolated and lonely people across the borough, culminating in the creation of a Befriending Providers Network that is Chaired by our CEO and meet monthly to improve outcomes for local people who are lonely and isolated.

Read our full Covid Response below:

Sheila From Swinton Crafty Ladies

Shelia has been involved with Rotherham Federation for many years now and although I have heard Shelia mentioned in passing until recently, I have not had any direct contact with her.  Since moving to the North of the Borough at the end of October 2020 I have spoken to Shelia on many occasions and have now got to know her much better.

Shelia is a very active member and volunteer who is part of both Swinton Community Focus group and Crafty Ladies. She does a great deal for others despite sometimes suffering with her own health. Shelia has just re-engaged with the Housing Involvement Panel meetings and has expressed an interest in becoming involved in the Housing Hubs and with coffee mornings.

During the summer months of lockdown Shelia started chair aerobics outside in the street for people to join in with her, this was very successful, and everyone enjoyed it.  Shelia is now working with Active Dearne to deliver the chair aerobics online. RMBC are running a piece on wellness in the next edition of Home Matters and Shelia will feature in this.

Swinton Community Focus Group ran a Christmas Give A Gift for the underprivileged children in the area and not only were they overwhelmed by gifts, they also received over £1000 in donations. As all this money wasn’t used, they will now do a Easter egg hunt at Easter and purchase Easter eggs with the leftover money to give out as prizes.

Shelia also has weekly contact with other members of both groups where they do crafts/play games etc online, making sure everyone is well and keeping in touch with each other where possible.

I am looking forward to working more closely with Shelia and getting involved in her area, especially when the lockdown has eased more.

Friendship Call Participant – Jack

Jack was referred to the service in November, he was a little unsure about engaging with the service. He is partially sighted and lives on his own. Jack has lived a colourful life working down the pit for 35 years before living in Cyprus for many years. A cheeky chap that would suit a local volunteer as he enjoys talking about local monuments etc.

Jack was allocated to one of our new volunteers Gill, following the first call we received feedback from Gill who was over the moon and asked if she could contact Jack again. I spoke with Jack who was equally enthusiastic about speaking again with Gill, he said “an hour passed in a blink of the eye and the dreaded Covid was not mentioned once, which was a blessing, was nice to just talk to someone normally” he added, “the conversation just flowed as we moved from topic to topic.” Jack may have been sceptical, but he is certainly enjoying the calls now.