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Community Development team takes shape

Story by Carrie Hedderwick

  

Colin Havard is our Community Development Coordinator based mostly in Page Hall Youth Centre.  As well as the Page Hall area, Colin oversees work in Fir Vale, Firth Park, Pitsmoor, Grimesthorpe, Darnall & Tinsley. He and his team have recently been successful in securing significant monies from the Department for Communities & Local Government’s fund that aims to help local authorities with high volumes of immigration by easing the pressures on local services. The funding is for two years.

Lots of great work has already been done by voluntary groups, environmental services, social workers, health visitors, the police and local community centres but some of the work has not been coordinated as effectively as it might have been. Also, as most of the council and police work has been about enforcement, neighbourhood residents have been subject to sticks rather than carrots, and some households have been besieged by one official after another, so that many newcomers are very wary of any further new ‘authority’ faces.

The approach with the new funding aims to build on existing good work to make it even more effective, and will try to ensure that there is support for the host communities. The new money will pay for two full time and two part time street wardens, a neighbourhood coordinator and six part time community development workers. There is also a budget for materials, activities, training and support for the expansion of existing education and information provision at local community centres Sheffield is a City of Sanctuary that welcomes asylum seekers but has not always got such an embracing attitude towards other migrants.

The people in the warden and community development posts will become the ‘face on the street’, ‘the go-to person’, the people who will join the dots, and hopefully will become known and trusted by local people. Members of the Community Development team will be thoroughly knowledgeable about the area, and be able to signpost residents to all the different services, courses, health provision, entertainment, sports and youth activities etc that take place locally. The team will take the lead from the on the ground professionals.

One recent successful local project is the rejuvenation of the old Grimesthorpe Family Centre, where a youth club had been hanging on in the basement for the last few years due to the persistence of one local woman. However now, with Colin’s assistance, a new lease is being negotiated, the building will undergo a revamp and several new activities are planned. In Tinsley too, the old primary school is operating under a new lease and will become a centre for small workspaces and community enterprises.

The monthly Page Hall Partners meetings hosted by the Community Development team will continue, in order to enable everyone working in the area to share current issues and approaches and to discuss how to support each other.

So take a look at the job adverts on page 16 of this issue – and no doubt the Burngreave Messenger will be around the area talking to the new wardens and development workers soon to check out how they, and the community, are getting on.

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