On the 26th March SADACCA celebrates its 20th anniversary. The starting point for the centre was in the 50s and 60s when the WICA (West Indian Community Association) was created.
In those days people had nowhere to socialise outside their own homes, feeling unwelcome in pubs and even some churches. WICA members wanted to establish a community centre so a request was made to the City Council for a meeting place which resulted in the allocation of three prefab buildings on the Ponderosa in Crookesmoor (one of them famously known as ‘the bug hut’). However two of these were burnt down on Bonfire Night in 1979 and, although housed temporarily in the Philadelphia Centre on West Don Street, the group began to put a plan together to find a building they could turn into a centre of their own.
“We wanted somewhere, not only to meet and socialise in on Saturday nights,” two prominent members of WICA told me, “but also a space that would provide educational and employment opportunities for people from our community. We formed a small working party to realise our ambitions. At first we weren’t taken very seriously by some of the officers in the City Council. However George Caborn and David Blunkett (then leader of the Council) lent their support and things began to move forward.”
Guy Lambert described how they looked at several buildings before finally finding the old Samuel Osborn Steel Works on The Wicker. “It was in need of renovation, however since it’s a listed building, the council were keen to see it reoccupied and offered us 50% of the funding. In 1984 we approached the Manpower Services Commission and took on a team of people to work on the building. I had to be really strict with the trainees – they had to get the job done!”
When it opened in March 1986, there were facilities for all ages: a crèche for working mothers, a luncheon club for Caribbean elders, the Bob Marley recording studio, advice workers, community and youth workers, space for small business start-up and social events, even for church meetings. “We employed 73 people in the building!” Guy said. “In fact, at that time, we were running the largest community owned project in Europe! We had visitors from Doncaster, London and even Europe and America, all wanting to learn how we had set this up.”
Looking back on the last twenty years, what have been the main achievements? “We wanted to do something that would help people to start small businesses or move into higher education,” said Guy, “and that’s our biggest achievement. SADACCA has been a stepping stone for other projects such as the ACE Centre, SYAC and the Mary Seacole daycare centre. It has given lots of people the skills and confidence to do their own thing and has been a real hub for community projects! Whilst we still need to look ahead to the future, we can be proud that we have all contributed towards this, never mind creating a community centre from a derelict building!”
Thanks to Guy Lambert, Hector and Carmen Franklin, Cora Gordon and Lyn Bent for their time and enthusiasm in telling this story.This is also a tribute to all the people who were involved in the creation of SADACCA, including Ishmail Walters, Joslyn Allen and his wife, Stuart and Isilda Brown, Mr Maxwell, Mrs Buckley-Greaves, Mike and Sue Atkins, Basil Griffiths, Lionel Lambert, Delroy Malcolm, Ken Anderson and so many more whose names are not listed but are not forgotten!
by Nikky Wilson
Burngreave Voices is a Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust project in partnership with Sheffield Libraries. Supported by the Council and New Deal.