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.