Celebrations have taken place to mark 25 years of the county’s dedicated community charity. Richard Marsden reports on how South Yorkshire Community Foundation is making a difference.
WHEN disaster struck the county in the 2007 floods, South Yorkshire Community Foundation was at the forefront of efforts to help victims.
The organisation managed a charitable fund which was inundated with donations from members of the public, raising £1.67 million - after setting a target of £500,000.
It allowed a payment to be made to each household that was flooded and also supported the work of community groups formed to help affected areas recover.
Households all over the county were hit - but one of the worst areas was Catcliffe, between Sheffield and Rotherham.
Jean Demaine, whose home in Mappin’s Road was left under three feet of water, joined other residents to form an action group which met at St Mary’s Church, and also Catcliffe Flood Appeal, to raise money for those in need.
Jean, a retired administer who used to work for charity Action Housing, in Rotherham, said: “South Yorkshire Community Foundation was great, providing funding to all of us who were flooded and also grants to community groups set up to help.
“Pauline Grice, the chief executive, even came along to some of our meetings.”
Jean said her insurer was ‘brilliant’ arranging for repairs to her property and covering the cost - but she was grateful for the £250 cheque she received from South Yorkshire Community Foundation.
“There were other costs incurred because the insurance did not cover cleaning my home - and for eight months I was staying with my daughter, in Wath, but had to drive to my home quite regularly whilst repairs were taking place, and it helped with the fuel bill,” she added.
Jean said funding from South Yorkshire Community Foundation was given to a flood action group - set up by more than a dozen residents - helping to pay for the costs of establishing an office and buying equipment, such as wellingtons and waterproofs, which will allow members to go out and help with relief efforts if the village is flooded again.
“I hope I doesn’t happen, though,” said Jean, who ‘lost everything’ from the ground floor of her house and whose garden was also severely damaged.
The flood action group in Catcliffe received £1,919 from South Yorkshire Community Foundation, while £1,000 was given to Catcliffe Flood Appeal.
St Mary’s Church, Catcliffe, received £5,000 so it could improve its facilities to be used as a flood emergency centre in the future.
After the floods, South Yorkshire Community Foundation distributed £1.6 million to flood victims, providing money to 2,343 households and 45 community groups.
Grants from South Yorkshire Community Foundation also allow other efforts to help people at times of despair. The foundation is a key supporter of Barnsley Samaritans, based in Pitt Street, which has 70 volunteers providing emotional support via phone, email and texts, to people at times of personal crisis.
The Samaritans branch, which has recently received £1,500 from the foundation, was set up in 1963 and receives 9,000 calls each year.
Also in Barnsley, Cortonwood Comeback Community Centre is a beneficiary of SYCF’s funding - having been given £7,000.
Like SYCF, the centre, set up after the miners’ strike to provide a community hub, marks its 25th anniversary this year. It was the first organisation to receive a grant from the foundation - and the funding was also the first received by the centre to help cover its costs.
Accountancy firm Grant Thornton, which has a base in Heeley, Sheffield, is among the supporters of the foundation.
It is one of founder members of SYCF’s Grassroots Grants endowment challenge - through which companies provide donations and the funding is doubled by the Government. In the last three years, it has raised £3.5 million, £1 million more than the target.
Grant Thornton’s charities specialist Peter Edwards said: “We became involved because we wanted to support community projects in the area through an organisation which could ensure the money is given to groups which would benefit the most.
“We have contributed about £20,000 - but we’ve also been involved helping the community in other ways. For example, the foundation organised for us to work with Heeley Development Trust and create a community garden at the old St Ann’s Grove School. Our contribution was worth around £1,000.
“We also make a donation for each completed survey we receive when we carry out an annual business confidence survey around the area.”
A new project by South Yorkshire Communities Foundation has also established an ‘I Love’ campaign for each of South Yorkshire’s four districts - encouraging people from each area to ‘work together on issues that matter’.
Companies are encouraged to make donations into ‘I Love’ community funds for the four districts, which are then handed out to worthy causes.
SOUTH Yorkshire Community Foundation’s boss Pauline Grice told of her ‘delight’ to be celebrating the charity fund’s 25th anniversary.
But she added its work wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of individuals and organisations which have provided financial backing.
Pauline Grice, SYCF’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted to be celebrating 25 years of community support in South Yorkshire. Great credit should be given to the generous people in our area that have supported our work since 1986.
“The funding and support that we have provided has been instrumental for a lot of small developing groups that have grown considerably, many of which have achieved sustainability.”
Pauline spoke of future challenges for the foundation as budgets are tightened in the coming years.
“There is no doubt that money is tighter in the current climate and we are still seeing a huge demand for grant funding. We are looking at how we can be innovative in the way we provide support for local communities,” she said.
But Pauline believes the foundation’s new ‘I Love South Yorkshire’ campaign will help businesses and organisations ‘make a real difference to the area by tackling local issues at a grassroots level’.
She said: “We will encourage people to think innovatively about how they can provide assistance to communities in need. This might include a business providing a team to assist with a community project, providing spare meeting rooms for groups or assisting a group with book keeping.
“We connect the people who care to the causes that matter in our communities, a role that we are extremely proud of.”
AN ANNIVERSARY present was handed to South Yorkshire Community Foundation by students and staff from Sheffield College.
They presented a specially-baked cake for the occasion, before a celebration dinner was held at Cutler’s Hall attended by civic dignitaries from Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster.
The cake was made by volunteers from Sheffield College catering school, after SYCF had put out the call for budding cake-makers to lend a hand.
Chris Kerrigan, tutor on the college’s cake decorating course, said: “If you need a nice cake then you need a good cake decorator and that’s what we have down here in our students.
“Many of our students are doing it as a hobby, some as part of a career change and others as a sideline to their day to day jobs.
“I think it is good for the college to be making good partnerships like this, especially with local charities.
“You never know it may be that one day our students are working for groups who SYCF have supported in the future.”
The Cutler’s Hall anniversary event was attended by Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire and SYCF President David Moody, the four new ceremonial mayors of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield and the Master Cutler Bill Speirs.
Pauline Grice, chief executive of SYCF, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received such a grand gesture from Sheffield College catering school’s staff and students.
“We had put the word out that we wanted someone with the right expertise to bake us a cake fit for the occasion of celebrating our 25th anniversary.
“The cake went down a real treat at the event that was attended by the great and good in South Yorkshire – an excellent forum for showcasing the college’s talents.”