Shiregreen Community Homes with Sanctuary Housing

the Shiregreen Neighbourhood Challenge

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Shiregreen is cooking!

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When we first started collecting feedback from our short skills and talents survey, it became clear that there was a great number of people interested in cooking in Shiregreen. This has continued to be a major theme for the Shiregreen Neighbourhood Challenge and we’ve got lots to report back on! 

At our Let’s Celebrate Shiregreen event on 20th August, the Hub at Hartley Brook hosted the very first Made in Shiregreen Banquet. With support from Milestone and Ministry of Food, the community sampled some tasty treats and got involved sharing their favourite cooking tips and recipes.

Here’s the recipe for the chicken dish that Milestone prepared – for anyone who wants to try it at home!   Milestone recipe 20th Aug

The Made in Shiregreen competition was a big hit on the day – with the chance to win a £60 voucher for a family meal at the Milestone restaurant.

We asked:

1. What’s your favourite main meal or food?

2. What’s the best dish that you cook?

3. Is there an ingredient or way in which you cook it that makes it special?

After we had collated all the responses (all 166 entries!) we were able to look at what people in Shiregreen like to cook and eat. It was clear that for many people the favourite food to cook and eat is Sunday dinner – a British classic loved by all! Cooking crispie cakes with cornflakes/rice crispies and chocolate was a firm favourite with children.

All the entries were placed in a hat and we are proud to announce that our winner is Jade Vaughan-Roe from Hartley Brook Avenue – congratulations!

Jade’s entry was fantastic and displayed a real passion for food and cooking. Her favourite meal is homemade Thai style rice with stir-fried prawns and vegetables. Jade likes to keep her cooking simple but add a new twist every time she makes it – sometimes she follows a recipe to make an Italian tomato sauce with pasta and chicken but throws in fresh herbs to give it more flavour.

We met with Jade in the Hub to present her £60 voucher and talk more about her enthusiasm for cooking and what she thought of the Let’s Celebrate event.


“I take inspiration for dishes from recipes in cookbooks and magazines as well as sharing cooking tips with friends and family – I’m meeting up with my auntie shortly to get a good apple cake recipe from her! My daughter loves baking and we enjoy doing it together, it’s a good way for kids to help out in the kitchen. I actually find cooking really relaxing as well. I’d love to start a class in cake decorating to refine my baking to perhaps turn it into a career path”

“I though Let’s Celebrate Shiregreen was a great event, especially for kids. We went to the Hub first and grabbed some food that had been rustled up by the Milestone chefs – it tasted good! We also watched the greenhouse made from recycled bottles being build which the kids found fun and was really creative and useful. We managed to get across to Beck Field which had lots to offer too – I think the children were spoilt for choice!”

The theme of families cooking together is continuing in Shiregreen, with a new cooking class at the Hub. The 10 week programme is being supported by the Ministry of Food (Rotherham) and parents and children can learn new skills and work together to prepare a meal – that can then be taken home for the whole family to enjoy.

We dropped in during the third week when the class were cooking sizzling chicken fajitas.

We spoke to some families to find out how the classes were going. From what we were told, many parents decided to attend after their children worked hard to persuade them – perhaps a new generation of chefs is on its way?!

One mum admitted that usually she is in complete control of the kitchen, but the classes provide an opportunity for her children to have a go as well as allowing them all to learn some new dishes they wouldn’t usually have at home.




Sarah Leather, and her daughter Rachael (9) were enjoying the chance to learn some new recipes. Sarah has always enjoyed cooking but hasn’t tackled cooking with Rachael together at home – but hopes she will feel confident to do this following completion of the 10 weeks.

For Natalie, fajita week was her first time at the MoF event and she was looking forward to sampling the meal. She bakes with her children from time to time but us hoping that they will be able to get more involved when the course is over as they are always eager to help. Natalie was looking forward to making curry in week 4: “It’ll be great to be able to prepare and cook food I usually get from a takeaway”.

The Ministry of Food staff are pleased with how the programme is going and have a lot of experience running these classes. It’s a fantastic way to get people cooking, to learn new habits and stay healthy.

Shiregreen is definitely home to many cooking fanatics and we plan to have more cooking and food events in the future. Watch this space! 


Written by sophiecbell

October 12, 2011 at 9:51 am

Let’s Celebrate – Photo Gallery

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Here is a selection of photos from last Saturday’s fantastic Let’s Celebrate Shiregreen fun day, with over 1000 people from the local community getting involved in a huge range of activities.

July Progress in Shiregreen

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What has gone well in July? I guess the relevant strapline is “Just do it!”. July has been highly active, with many new volunteers pulling on the Shiregreen Neighbourhood Challenge T shirts and getting stuck in!

Our completed talent surveys have been boosted significantly through participation in two local festivals this month. The first was at Firth Park Community Arts College Festival where we launched our new method of identifying talent. For a fuller account and pictures, see the post “Who is good at doing what in Shiregreen”. The learning from this was that it is best to use local talent to design locally appropriate communication strategies.

The second was a storming success (literally!) where we teamed up with the Rotherham branch of Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food. The picture below is of the team setting up prior to the biggest downpour of the year. Nevertheless the stall was packed with people who were happy to share their talents for a pancake. We are finding many people who are interested in food and cooking with other stalls displaying the talents of local cake makers and gardeners.

We also had a boost to our web development progress. We held three evening meetings in July to agree structure of the website, review changes and start training sessions on how to populate it. The volunteers are now busy entering news articles and ringing round centres and business to promote the opportunity of advertising their events, places and spaces on the site.

This web-site intiative is running tandem to the neighbourhood news enterprise – entirely led by members of the neighbourhood. Meetings and training have started, with a view to developing a newspaper to promote the website and reach people who are not yet online.

The editorial panel members are obtaining quotes for printing, software, hardware etc to create a budget and income plan for the newsletter. This initiative is supported by members of Sanctuary’s PR team, who have substantial experience in developing newsletters. They have offered the neighbourhood news team training and support.

We believe it is not enough to have a website simply for local news – we want to use the site to initiate action and to link young people with new opportunities for enjoying their neighbourhood. We are really pleased therefore that, as a result of an invite to hold a workshop at Sheffield City’s Collabojam ( where we brought together experts with experience in online gaming, we have made a new partnership with a local business which is going to create our own Shiregreen “mission explore” online game. This will link online activity with outdoor missions and be plugged into our reward initiatives. We have moved swiftly on this. As I write there are young volunteers roaming round Shiregreen devising missions in our streets and open spaces. I’m not allowed to go as it’s all very top secret and apparently I’m too old.

(Photo credit: Engaging neighbourhood communities through games and play, by Jagusti, from Flickr.)

As indicated last month, the challenge of engaging people has been lessened by asking “What are you good at and do you want to show this off?” This is more effective than “Do you want to volunteer”. This has resulted in interest groups starting to form as described below. Therefore managing to pool people together and get things done has not been too heavy a challenge.

Last month I reported that the space on which the scout hut was sited was one of our targets for improving outdoor spaces. We had a host of challenges to overcome. We did overcome these and had a great day (see below). However, this was not without some element of risking things going wrong. We mitigated risk by taking sensible measures; a health and safety briefing, securing professional volunteering support as well as neighbourhood volunteers, ensuring people had the right equipment and were the right age for particular tasks, that neighbours had been made aware of the day and were invited, that the burgers were cooked through properly…

This did take some co-ordination, time and relied on empathetic professional partners who gave up their time and resources. No cash changed hands and people were willing to flout usual ways of doing things to make the day work. The result was extraordinary and inspiring. The challenge will be to see how far such an approach can go – how far people’s generosity will stretch and also what sort of incentives work where people need a nudge to get involved.

Promotion is always a challenge, we held the Dragon’s Den support workshop last week and while we were successful in recruiting four candidates for the den, this was after press, flyer, newsletter, poster and web promotion. We have spent a great deal of time on general promotion products this month designing and producing Neighbourhood Challenge bunting, flyers, balloons, T shirts, banners and posters. For our major Let’s Celebrate Shiregreen event in August we even have a promotional Estates Services Van! We are hosting events in conjunction with Think Public next week to get even more creative in raising awareness and promoting engagement.

Involving people

In relation to involving people this month – I will let the pictures do the talking…

Our biggest engagement success in terms of numbers of volunteers and impact of their collective efforts was the scout hut clear up day. The pictures  illustrate the spirit of the day. Massive thanks is due to all the volunteers which included; local people, parents and young people from the scouts, beavers and Shiregreen cricket club; Sanctuary Estates Services, Green Estate, NEAT team including volunteers from Future Jobs Fund and British Conservation Trust Society, Frank Haslam Milan, Sheffield Wednesday Football club including National Citizenship Service volunteers; Police Community Support Officers.

The most summery engagement  was experienced at the  Shiregreen United Reformed Church barbecue, were we talked to parents and children who are bursting with talent including sewing, design, entertaining, caring, felt making, and even raising chickens…..

Our happiest revelation was the success of bringing an interest group together drawn from our talent questionnaire. We have a host of foodies who shared ideas and trade secrets including their own fantastic signature dishes… next month prepare for a mouth-watering account…


We had a welcome visit from Tris Dyson, Strategic Director of Spice: The Time banking project, which has a focus on Housing. Spice has done much of its work in Wales but is broadening out its reach significantly and the community group, which met with Tris, were surprised at how simple time banking can be. Informed by previous community reward meetings and debates, we had lots of questions for Tris and want to make connections with other projects to see if this is another method of reward which would work for people in Shiregreen.

We also announced last month a competition to find an aspiring, young guitarist. The scheme, run by a local music business and sponsored by Joe Bonamassa, promises lessons up until someone’s 16th birthday. The idea is to sponsor a new guitar talent and help them into a life or career in music. We have had some strong applications – the short-listing process will be a difficult one I am told! It is a wonderful surprise to find that there is such ambition in this area – and all from girls so far!

Just today I was knocked off my feet by building progress at the neighbourhood centre. Short of carpets, painting and the installation of some nice spot-lights we are almost there. This again is due to strong partnerships with organisations that have a strong relationship with Shiregreen and with whom we do business.

Throughout the regeneration of the area Frank Haslam Milan have collaborated with us on many projects in the community: The swap of skills in this case is  – please can you do up our neighbourhood centre within our tight budget and complete 3 weeks in time for our festival? And in exchange we will send our neighbourhood volunteer the intrepid Tony Blackbourn to dress up as Frank the Builder! Good swap?!…

May Days in Shiregreen

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The assets we identified in April, blossomed in May and one of our challenges is how to keep track of the buds that are blooming! Indeed with so many of our partners becoming active, one of our risks is keeping account of the many things growing from Neighbourhood Challenge. Forgive the shift from floral analogy to bullet point list – but it will help us capture what has been growing well in May.

Rathbone: are on the streets discovering talent, by use of concealed and short questionnaire shoved in a duffle bag and delivered by Andrea of Rathbone (outreach guru of South Yorkshire!) and two inspiring young volunteers Alisha and Nadia. In a nutshell we are asking “What are you good at? Would you share it with others?

Sheffield Wednesday Community Team: have developed a summer programme, which starts next week with “Shiregreen’s Got Talent” for its newly formed youth group. They have a whole host of other events going on and through working with children we are reaching many new parents and families.

The University of Sheffield: Is quiet as the students complete exams and head home for the summer, but plans and foundations have been laid to pick up support for the community in developing the website and newsletter. University of Sheffield students drew up prototypes for a web-design project and we have a new partner to develop the site itself GIST who the University put us in touch with. They are also undertaking a scoping study of how digitally aware and connected Shiregreen is right now.

The Neighbourhood Centre Committee: Have developed adverts for getting groups using the space, are co-ordinating events for the 20th August Festival, have approved plans for the capital development of the space and joy of joys – we have a drafted lease agreement on the building and are hoping for handover 3rd June.

Firth Park Community Art College: We have chosen a winner of the competition to name a new housing development and are going to reward all participants with one of our pilot electronic reward systems – we have designed an on-line “Shiregreen Neighbourhood Challenge Club” with partners Get Hooked on Life.

Get Hooked On Life are busy putting the finishing touches on our club and linking activities to youth workers so we can offer the young people who participate in our competitions the chance of team reward days in local parks. The young people will get a choice of activity, which will include sports, arts, food and music. Shiregreen has been chosen as a pilot for this new innovative scheme so we are getting special attention from the team.

Hartley Brook and Hatfield federated Schools have finished the building of the new kitchen and are now putting in kitchen equipment to the Hub community facility. It is all shiny, new steel! I didn’t check whether we had used Sheffield Steel though….

Hinde House Secondary and Primary Schools are now firmly in our loop of partners. We learnt a lot this month about the school and its particular ambitions about linking with the community. Some great ideas are being developed around family days and holding events to inspire young people about working in communities and in social housing.

Beck School have kindly offered their field for our multi-site celebration event – this is fantastic of them as it is in the school holidays. Also over 40 of their wonderful children submitted designs for a poster campaign – judging is underway!

Ideas on the boil:

• Shiregreen Snooker challenge
• Music Scholarship for an undiscovered Shiregreen musical talent
• Shop less – share more
• Festival Zumba

The Challenge of Communication, Confidence and Cost!

Communication remains a challenge and despite flyers and web advertising we are yet to be widely known across the estate. There are big plans afoot however, which involve volunteers outside shops, (they are now demanding settees after one of them attended the Manchester Neighbourhood Challenge partners event and heard about another project doing a similar thing in comfort and style!)

We have also discussed plans to involve a local editorial panel in the development of an independent community publication tied to a new community website. This panel currently exists to put stories together for a Sanctuary Housing Association publication and so they have experience and desire to do more for the estate. We are arranging training and support for this group and have volunteers from Sanctuary and from the University of Sheffield to help get this going.

Maybe due to communication or maybe wrong timing a short event we put on to coincide with Spring on Line week was under-subscribed. However, local resident Berteia took maximum advantage of a two hour one-to-one with an expert Kevin Maye from UK on Line. We are looking for local talent and interest for developing local web resources and these events will help us make new links with people like Berteia.

Another challenge is building confidence of people to get involved. By considering each individual activity it is possible to do something to help people develop the confidence to get engaged. For example we have teamed up with a Sheffield based social enterprise A Mind Apart to offer training on making effective sales pitches and presentations for those who want to participate in Dragon’s Den.

Cost remains a dilemma. We are keen to use the funding we have to cause a stir this year and get people excited and involved – but out of this we want to create concrete initiatives that will endure. For example a reward initiative, that will require no or minimum £’s input, neighbourhood buildings that are cost effective to run and have income plans to support running costs. We have also been appealing to businesses and other organisations to contribute and are expecting more concrete offers in June!

Community Involvement

This month has seen an increase individuals getting involved in the community and coming forward with their ideas – the SWFC team have been particularly effective in building new relationships with parents. Matt Bray who leads this work said “I’m keen to move forward with the group we are building and identify training opportunities so they can become involved in what they enjoy – such as supporting youth work and using their own talents to pass on to young people”.

Through the neighbourhood centre we have found talent already. Check out Doreen and her wonderful array of paper craft projects. She is also volunteering to undertake community research work with ICARUS and for developing her enterprise within the neighbourhood centre. We have also had a sewing machine donated and our sewing endeavours are underway. Maybe I should join as this week I stitched my duvet to my decorative throw – oops!

Significantly, we launched a campaign with all Sanctuary Housing Staff to volunteer 1% of their time to do something they are good at, and enjoy within the community. Despite the demands of their professional roles, there was an inspiring will and enthusiasm, with staff immediately signing up and revealing their own hidden talents!


For example, Sanctuary’s new Shiregreen Estates Team is launched and the team has been making immediate impact. “In all the year’s I have lived on the Estate I have never seen the gennels [AKA: snicket, cut through, wynd, alley, ginnel, bunnyrun] look so smart and tidy” (Maureen Shipley, Board Member and Local Resident. Congratulations to Jonathan, Calum and Jordon of the new estates team who also found and rescued a threesome of abandoned kittens on some overgrown ground they were tidying. Staff had a collection and a local charity are now re-homing the kittens!

Calum and Jordan are our two new horticultural apprentices. Jordon lives on Shiregreen and knows many people on the Estate. Melvyn who leads the team is thrilled at the work done so far and says the team have offered to work weekends and support volunteers who want to get involved in environmental improvement projects or learn horticultural skills and other related skills – we will be taking them up on that offer!

How the time goes …

Our main surprise this month is how fast time is flying by. We started our challenge in mid February and we are three full months in already. This brings a flutter to the heart but I guess this is the necessary rush of adrenalin needed to achieve the challenge! Exciting times roll on! ….

April in Shiregreen

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Discovering assets amongst the bluebells
What a month to start identifying Shiregreen’s assets. The bluebells were out in Woolley Wood, wild strawberry was found near Hartley brook – it opened the eyes of those of us who thought we were familiar with Shiregreen. Walking and exploring the streets, pathways and green spaces away from the main routes of the estate led to new discoveries.

There are those whose passion for the environment are being rewarded. We met many people using the woodland paths and grassy areas for picnics and pleasure. Also, the Friends of Concord Park opened their new Multi Use Games Area for which they won funding. Sadly, there are also those who do not respect the area so much and evidence of this was found amidst the glory of the wildflowers. There were also those who warned against paddling in the brook….. Much to enjoy and much to keep people busy

Mapping Shiregreen
Our first community mapping meeting was held with the local Tenant and Residents Association. We piloted an approach of off-line mapping using a huge, detailed laminated map and stickers, we used this as an opportunity to start conversations about Shiregreen’s assets and ‘who is doing what’ in the community. There were some real surprises – such as the change to local shopping areas over the last 50 years – a marked difference to what is successful today. We were also surprised at the information from this small group about who is doing what in Shiregreen. There is more going on than first appears – in places you might not think of. This method seemed to work and will be one way that we use to engage people in mapping ‘who knows what’ and ‘who can do what’ in Shiregreen.

Over the garden gate
The gorgeous April weather brought people outdoors so we carried on our conversations over the garden gate. We were also surprised by the willingness of many to shut themselves inside dark community centre rooms on sunny evenings and afternoons and debate a key aspect of our Neighbourhood Challenge – If we should incentivise community involvement in Shiregreen and how we might do it. There was a lot of excitement about how we might increase participation through incentivising – we also learnt about local fears of some of the options and unease about the responsibility for making them work and be truly community owned. Some of the key dilemmas:

• Creating an incentive scheme that endures and is not reliant on a pot that will run dry
• Making the most of sharing skills and swapping things within the community rather than any scheme that requires constant external feeding or that is cash reliant
• Implementing simple systems that people will understand and that are not heavily administrative
• Using existing systems such as those which incentivise youngsters at school – we can do this easily as the local schools are partners in Neighbourhood challenge.

Another key message was that door knocking was not likely to be popular. Using events, festivals and continuing the conversations over the garden gate, outside school and in shopping areas is the way to go.
There is also scepticism and critical challenge about what might be achieved from incentivising the community to participate in community life. Being resilient to challenge and unpicking the reasons behind challenge will lead to a more robust, locally relevant approach. Taking the community’s advice to tread carefully and test out a few approaches, in the knowledge that some may be popular and some may fail is in line with NESTA’s philosophy, which is reassuring. However, it does not totally mitigate the fear of failure and the need to asess risks sensibly so that trust is not undermined. Ultimately we want Shiregreen to be known for what goes right and what is increasingly good about living here – the members who have participated so far are very clear about that– it is what motivates them.
Members of the community have really got behind the Neighbourhood Challenge so far, and our partners are helping us reach people who have never previously engaged with us. Early signs are good and we look forward to seeing more of the community on board!

Shiregreen’s got talent
We have drafted a simple survey to find out what people are good at and whether people are willing to share their talents for the benefit of others. We agreed that surveys need to be as informal and short as possible and ideally delivered by residents by the estate. We have recruited Community Researchers to help with this process and to help with the NESTA Enquiry Process which will help determine the impact of our Neighbourhood Challenge year.
Our community investment partners are also making early impact in engaging with families across the estate and identifying local talent. Sheffield Wednesday Football Club (SWFC) in partnership with Hartley Brook and Hatfield Federated Primary Schools have been running many events with young people and parents – using the skills of young local people and parents to come up with ideas and facilitate activities. They are facilitating events at times when families need them to run; after school, in the evenings and at weekends! SWFC have also put together funding bids to keep activities going throughout the summer months. By using a partnership approach and developing the skills of community leaders to run things themselves we are enabling greater reach and variety and letting the community set agendas.

Buildings, as well as people, have been a focus in April. Shiregreen Community Centre has a long history and the members of its committee shared with us the secret of its success – self reliance! At a meeting with the committee and local scout group, we looked at sharing spaces and the committee generously shared their time and knowledge.
Work has also started on developing the kitchen in the Community Hub at Hartley Brook School and we also erected a fantastic new sign on the building announcing its community focus for the many who pass by. This will help us get cooking!

Securing a lease on currently empty Shiregreen Neighbourhood Centre has also been a priority this month, as has developing plans for its future alongside community members. Surveys, plans and proposals have been drawn up – nail biting times now with finalising negotiations – watch this space…

Enter the Dragon

We have done a year planner – it is so full!  At one of our main events in August we are proud to announce that David Blunkett has agreed to open it.  It will be a multi-site event connecting community sites with activities designed to get people sharing their talents and having fun too!  A Shiregreen’s dragon’s den will be held with a fabulous panel who will scrutinise local ideas and initiatives – we will be offering space, resources and support to winners.

We can’t end without congratulating Peter Wade of Shiregreen Community Centre for his award at a high-profile event at Sheffield City Hall – the North East Community Assembly Heart of the Community Awards. Peter was one of a small few to receive the reward in recognition of his commitment to the centre and the community. He puts his success down to the team at the Centre generating sufficient income and investment through their own efforts to keep essential activities and facilities running – without over-reliance on funding. Well done Peter!

In summary, so far community involvement in refining the project proposals for neighbourhood challenge has gone well, which has enabled us to develop more detailed plans for events and systems.  Our biggest challenge is probably time, given we have many strands to our strategy and are relying on partnerships and the community to make the strategy happen.  Communication across the estate is still a challenge and we are working on strategies to improve this. The willingness of people to get involved has been almost as surprising and welcomed as the sunny weather!