Members of the ‘Help for Healthcare Workers – Sheffield’ sewing group put their sewing machines to good use earlier this year to make face masks, mask adaptors and scrubs to support the NHS.
Since making their initial donation, the ‘Help for Healthcare Workers – Sheffield’ sewing group had donated an additional 600 masks to the charity. The donation was possible thanks to funding for material and other resources from the Sitwell Rotary Club.
A foodbank project manager has praised supermarkets, Rotary Clubs and others for how they have pulled together to combat hunger in the town. But, warns Stephen Prosser of Rotherham Foodbank, the real crisis is only just beginning.
Since April, first-time users represent over 50% of the clients presenting vouchers for food at Rotherham Foodbank’s Hope Centre on Grove Road. That, says Steve, should sound a warning about how tough times will get as the post-covid recession bites.
“Had it not been for the generosity of supermarkets like Morrisons and Tesco, and the superb efforts of our local Rotherham Sitwell Rotary Club and Rotary4foodbanks, we would be facing a real dilemma. Because of their donations of vital supplies our shelves are reasonably stocked to see us through the summer. But it will be in the autumn, as furloughs end and redundancies kick in, as the homeless are no longer housed in hotels, that the real scale of the hunger issue will hit home.”
During 2012 when the foodbank first opened its doors, it fed just 124 people. In 2015 the number had increased to 2338. By 2019 it had more than doubled again to 4869 with over 42 tonnes of food distributed to support some of the most vulnerable in the Rotherham community.
Since April this year, when Rotherham Sitwell Rotary stepped in to help, the club has provided over five tonnes of the 19 tonnes of food in stock or distributed by the foodbank. Club members are donating between £500 and £1000 every week to buy supplies, and supermarket giant Morrisons is more than matching that contribution.
To help meet the growing demand the South Yorkshire and East Midlands Rotary Clubs have added a new tier of support – Rotary4foodbanks. Pooling resources, Rotary4foodbanks bulk buys staple food supplies – tea, coffee, tinned fruit, cereals – at wholesale prices which it distributes by the pallet-load to around 50 foodbanks across the region. By the end of August it will have distributed food with a wholesale value of around £100,000 and has plans to extend the scheme as demands on foodbanks continue to rise.
“For us it is the perfect combination,” says Steve. “While Rotary4foodbanks supplies good shelf-life stocks of those in-demand items, we can write a shopping list of our specific needs to the local Rotary Club and, working with Morrisons, we know they will provide it.
“It is heart-warming to see local charities like Rotary, together with businesses and individuals, pull together to support those who might otherwise fall through the net. It says so much about the true spirit of Rotherham in times of crisis.”
That spirit stretches even further, explains Rotherham Sitwell Rotary’s Roger Green:
“Club members have been fantastically generous. But to transport the stocks, we needed a vehicle big enough to do it. Rotherham business Universal Vehicle Suppliers stepped in straight away. They have lent us a 17-seater minibus for as long as we need it. Now we can both transport goods and socially distance the team travelling to load and unload at each end!”
Local MP Sarah Champion has praised the work of Rotary4foodbanks. She says:
“I am aware of the R4FB scheme and am really impressed by the speed at which this was put together and the generosity of not only Rotary Club members but retailers and distributors. The scale that R4FB has been able to reach is quite incredible. Behind each of those parcels was a family or individual who, without their help may have gone hungry.
“The generous spirit of Rotherham people has really come to the fore in the last few months, with people pulling together to help friends, family and strangers. It is one of the reasons that I am so proud to represent Rotherham in Parliament.”
Steve Prosser and his team of up to 12 volunteers are always looking for cash and food donations to support their work in the town.
Rotary4foodbanks is planning to double its work in the next three months and has set up a just giving page for those wanting to donate.
Rotherham Sitwell Rotary Club, together with Rotherham Round Table, have been able to support the family of seven year old Liam Allen who tragically died unexpectedly last November. Our Clubs funded an oak tree which the family planted on the Longshaw Estate in the Peak District National Park as a lasting tribute to him.
We enabled his parents Paula and Dave and their four young children to stay overnight nearby where they marked what would have been Liam’s eighth birthday. This area is one of their favourite beauty spots and the young family will be able to visit ‘Liam’s Tree’ to see it grow.
The family has been greatly comforted by the support we have been able to give and send their heartfelt thanks.
Rotherham Sitwell Rotary Club is supporting Shiloh, a charity that offers support to adults who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Rotherham. Shiloh works alongside every ‘guest’ to help them to plan for and realise a better future. The club’s attention was first drawn to Shiloh’s desire to create a peace garden in June 2018 by Rtn Peter Short. After a preliminary meeting between Rtns Peter Short and Tom Knight with Steve Wylie, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Shiloh, the project was discussed by the Community and Vocation Committee (Comvoc) and it was decided to propose that it be included in the Comvoc programme for 2018/19.The club approved the project and accepted the responsibility of funding it at a then estimated cost of £3000.
Whilst there had been much discussion about what was required in the courtyard, there was no proper drawing of a scheme which could be properly priced etc. This was seen as essential if the project was to proceed in an efficient, controlled and organised way. Rtn Tom Knight used his contacts at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (RMBC) to secure the services of a landscape architect and a provisional design for the project was produced. This provisional plan was discussed with the guests at Shiloh and some minor amendments were made with a final drawing prepared in February 2019.
Negotiation of Partnership Arrangement
The vision for how the project would be delivered was that Rotherham Sitwell RC would enlist the services of a builder who would provide the expertise in the various trades required. Sitwell RC would provide or organise labour if required and would fund all the materials required for the project. Mears, who are a building contractor, were contacted initially as they carry the maintenance of half of the Council’s housing stock and they already had a relationship with Shiloh. They were immediately enthusiastic and contacted Fortem who maintain the other half of the councils housing stock and a collaborative arrangement was agreed at a meeting with Sitwell RC and Shiloh whereby:
Fortem would carry out the excavation and paving works
Mears would carry out the joinery work
Fortem, Mears and the Council would pay the cost of the labour involved
Rotherham Sitwell RC would pay for all the materials, provide the project
management and act as “Client’s agent”
In order for Sitwell RC to honour its obligations, the following arrangements were set up to ensure that the project could be properly funded:
Rtns Peter Short and Maggi Clark lobbied individual members of RMBC and asked them to donate part of their community budgets to the project. In this way £1,550 was raised
Rotherham Wheelers Cycling Club (RWCC) was already planning a 1000 mile ride along the full length of the River Rhine from its source in Switzerland, through six countries to its outfall into the North Sea at the Hook of Holland. Rtn Tom Knight persuaded RWCC to ride for Shiloh and a Just Giving page was set up with a target of £5,000. In the event and to date, £4,488.45 including Gift Aid had been raised through this source.
Rotherham Round Table and Rotherham Rotary Club were asked if they could make a donation towards the cost of the project. Both agreed and £800 was donated towards the project.
It can be seen from the above that the total amount raised to date is £6,838.45. Consequently, it was decided to extend the scope of the works to include the renewal of the main doors into the peace garden from the dining room. These cost £1,200 but the sub-contractor who carried out the joinery work generously contributed half the cost of them, leaving the £600 remaining easily fundable from the amount raised.The surplus of funds raised will be used by Shiloh for the provision of the many services they routinely provide for the homeless in Rotherham
Work on site started on 10 June and the peace garden was officially opened by the Mayor of Rotherham on 19 July 2019.
The impact of the project on the work of Shiloh is best summed up by Steve Wylie, the CEO who says: “The new garden area has transformed the way our guests use the outdoor space. It now looks and feels like a garden, a place where guests can find peace, relax and engage in activities should they wish to. The kitchen garden planters provide herbs for cooking and the signage educates guests on how to use them. The new fire doors make the garden more accessible and the glazing helps to bring the outside in. The guests really appreciate the large rain shelter & decking area, which we used recently for an outdoor music group. It’s been a wonderful project that will have a lasting impact on Shiloh guests for years to come”.