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Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Darnall in Bloom

There are some of the new 'barrier troughs' full of "blooms" which have been paid for by the Working Neighbourhoods Fund, Forward Investment, who own many of the shop premises in Darnall Centre, and the Open Gate Trust. Together they have kindly agreed to sponsor this year's 'Darnall in Bloom' programme, which is the first of its kind.

The Working Neighbourhoods Fund for Darnall has been allocated by the local councillors for Darnall Ward, Cllr Harry Harpham, Cllr Mary Lea and Cllr Mazher Iqbal. They have asked Darnall Forum to work with Street Force to provide the blooms on Darnall's streets this summer.

If you would like to get involved in helping Darnall to bloom, please contact Anne.

Conversation Club

By popular demand the Darnall Women's Conversation Club will be returning in the Autumn. The Club is a group for women in Darnall who want to make friends and need to practise their English.

It happens at Darnall Forum on Thursday mornings at 10am and the Autumn sessions will begin on 18 September. Free on-site childcare is available but you must book a place in advance.

Activities include word games, learning about different religious festivals and about Bonfire Night, cooking food for Eid, and picking apples and learning how to make a traditional English apple pie.

For more information please contact Anne or Shabana.

Telling it how it is!

As we fight for the funding to continue our current range of activities, this is the question, and the background information, which our Chair - Sylvia Hamilton - recently presented to the Cabinet of Sheffield City Council.

Given our current funding gap, does the Council see community organisations like the Darnall and Tinsley Forums playing a key role in the development of community assemblies and continuing to be key players in the economic regeneration of priority neighbourhoods such as Darnall and Tinsley?

Background Information for Cabinet Members

The Darnall Forum Board has Somali, Pakistani and White members and is majority BME.

Some of the trustees have worked for ten years to get this point.

We have carried out a community consultation, drawn up a community action plan and developed a robust business plan for future sustainability.

For the last two years we have employed a team of seven people, funded by ERDF and the Single Pot.

During that time they have made a real impact on Darnall

More than 840 local residents have received information and advice
More than 275 residents have been helped to get jobs
More than 250 have received informal training
More than 100 have accessed e-learning at our centre
More than 80 new volunteers have been recruited
More than 25 community groups have been supported

This means that Darnall Forum has out-performed all of its targets for economic regeneration.

The team has been working with us to find secure ways of sustaining the project in the future.

These are largely dependent on social enterprise, at which they already have some expertise.

They have already secured £230,000 of grants plus contracts worth £240,000 over the next 3 years.

Our expenditure over the same period will be around £935,000, if we continue to work at our current capacity.

We are already halfway to securing the total income we need, and we expect more contracts and commissions to be awarded to us in the coming months.

The Council has, in principle, agreed with Yorkshire Forward a programme of contracts and commissions ring-fenced for services that will be delivered by voluntary and community sector organisations in the City’s “priority” wards.

Darnall neighbourhood comes out No. 1 in the Sheffield Neighbourhood Information System when seven measures of disadvantage are averaged across the City.

Yorkshire Forward has already made an offer to the City Council to allow flexibility of additional resources for Darnall Forum, (letter from Thea Stein to John Mothersole, 2/07/08).

Council officers know already, from past performance and the new contracts already secured, that we are almost certain to emerge as the right people to deliver the work that is needed in Darnall.

We have a professionally managed, highly competent and experienced team in place to deliver the work.

We know the local community and are trusted by it.

As things stand, we do not need to borrow any actual funds from the City Council.

We are for the time being in a position to lend money to the City Council, instead!

However, because we are a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee, we do not have the freedom to use our reserves in this way without firm guarantees in writing from the Council that contracts will eventually be awarded to us and back-dated.

This means that any money which we continue spending now would need to be treated as if it were a loan from the Council.

If the Council does NOT feel able to help us, you will need to ask yourselves:

How will the Council fill the gap left behind when our services are cut back?

Will it cost you more money in the longterm to put in place a team of people with a similar level of competence and experience?

Will there be any volunteers left in Darnall who are prepared to help and support you?

Carnival 2008

The Darnall Carnival on 5 July wasn't a washout but it was affected by rain. After an overcast morning, with scattered showers, the event got off to a slow start and attendances were down on last year, with about 3,000 people estimated to have visited the event compared with 5,000 visitors in 2007. The picture (by "React Multimedia") shows a heavy shower in progress in the middle of the afternoon, but otherwise the sun shone!

There were all the usual attractions at this year's Carnival - information marquees, stalls, rides and live performers. This year we had a live installation about life in a beehive, and local artists taking part in our very own "Darnall's Got Talent".

One of the highlights, as ever, were the sets performed by the visiting artists, among them the Shaan Punjabi Dancers, Tariq Khan from Legacy and the inimitable "Juggy D". Two of our staff, Nazia (left) and Sidrah (in the centre) are pictured joining in the spirit of the dance!

Celebration Event

On Thursday 26 June about 40 people came together to celebrate the achievements of Darnall
Forum over the past two years.

The Forum has been funded by Objective 1 and Yorkshire Forward since 2006 and has:
• involved 70 volunteers
• given advice and information to over 800 people
• helped more than 250 people to access training
• helped over 230 people towards finding a job
• and helped 25 community groups to develop.

The event was attended by members of the community, funders and organisations that the Forum has worked with over the past two years.

Sylvia Hamilton, chair of Darnall Forum said, “It’s been wonderful to watch the Forum develop into a place where all the community feel welcome. During our recent matrix assessment a number of people even said that they felt the forum was their family in a strange country.”

Neil Bishop from the Darnall Forum added “It is a privilege to work for Darnall Forum. The trustees have been really supportive and helpful and the staff are a fantastic bunch of people. Not only are they really good at what they do but they’ve been totally committed to their work.”

The picture shows some of the people who attended.

(First published in the Darnall Area Panel Newsletter)