In July 1999 the first issue of the Burngreave Messenger was put together by volunteers, who were “determined that it would be the property of local people and reflect their views.”
The voice of the community
On the front page of the first issue was “Marching for Justice” in support of Anthony Green, who had been knocked off this bike by a police car driven by plain-clothes officers and then run over again. Supporting local people’s campaigns has been a key part of the Messenger ever since. Anthony’s case led to greater openness in the police complaints process
Reporting on New Deal
In March 2000 we first heard the news that Burngreave was in line for over £50 million from the New Deal for Communities programme. “We are only just starting out organising the ‘Partnership’ but we have been given 9 months to sort this out and start the serious debate: what do we want to do with this opportunity?” It didn’t take long for people to realise that, along with all the things it could achieve, the money could cause a lot of trouble and disappointment.
It’s all happening
There’s always tons going on in Burngreave; that’s one of the reasons the Messenger was needed – to let people know what is happening and to celebrate all the great activities local residents are involved in. Abbeyfield Festival is just one example, here from the July 2001 issue.
Supporting residents to get their voices heard
When Woodside’s demolition was confirmed in March 2002, residents were already suffering from the serious neglect of the estate. We would later feature a successful campaign to keep some of the “wavy-roofed” houses and report on new problems for the remaining residents, who were forced to live with rubble, dust and rats for months.
Stop the violence
Violent crime has featured in the Messenger too often in its 10 year history. In 2003, the death of Lester Divers and Gerald Smith sparked calls for action to prevent another generation facing violent deaths. The tragic deaths of young people in the years that followed have shown that action is needed more than ever.
A lot to be proud of
Young, old and in-between, many have shared their achievements in the community with the Messenger. From success in sport such as completing the Mile Run or competing in the local football team. To writing the best poem or gaining a degree. To receiveing a New Year honour from the Area Panel for work in the community.
Demolition has been a recurring theme in the last 10 years. In 2005 the Masterplan threatened to clear a lot of Page Hall of housing as well as businesses on Kilton Hill and Spital Hill. We were proud to support residents who fought and won the battle to save their homes and businesses.
Business as usual
The Messenger has supported local businesses to promote their services throughout our 10 years. In February 2006 Spital Hill shops were battling with road closures because of the Ring Road – our guide to Spital Hill said loud and clear that it was business as usual on the Hill.
News and views
As a monthly or bimonthly newspaper, we don’t get to respond instantly to unfolding events, but our website has opened up a new world. When the Wicker flooded in June 2007, cutting Burngreave off from the rest of the city, we reported the flooding with photos and updates on the situation as it developed. Later we gathered views and experiences from residents and businesses for the printed edition.
Listening to young people
Young people have always been a key part of the Messenger. In recent years they have taken on the reporting for the Messenger themselves – making sure the voices of young people are heard, and also showing their skills as writers and photographers. In June 2008, the local Youth Council made the front page reporting on their campaign to get their voices heard.
Into the future remembering the past
Burngreave has a rich past. Even in the recent past, there is a lot to be discovered and remembered. With the help of residents’ memories, we have documented the changes the area has seen and the important moments in people’s lives. In June 2009, Ken Riley, a World War 2 veteran, showed us that the past should never be forgotten as he campaigned to stop fascists for a second time in the Euro-elections.