Council pledges support to Sheffield TARAs amid concern for their future

Mick Daniels.
Mick Daniels.
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Council chiefs have reiterated their commitment to keeping tenant and residents' associations alive amid concern that they could die out after a fall in numbers across Sheffield.

Mick Daniels, who has been chair of Brushes TARA in Firth Park for about 20 years, raised concern that dwindling interest in the groups, which serve an important role in tackling neighbourhood issues, could lead to them being fazed out.

Councillor Jim Steinke.

Councillor Jim Steinke.

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He expressed fears that an erosion of community spirit coupled with a move in society towards increasing use of mobile phones and social media has contributed to the closure of up to 15 TARA groups in the city in the last decade or so.

The 69-year-old also put the decline down to dwindling numbers of community engagement officers from the council and called on the next generation to get involved in TARAs or they could ultimately face extinction.

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Sheffield Council has now responded to his call for action and outlined how a number of measures are in place to ensure the groups remain at the heart of communities.

Councillor Jim Steinke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety at the authority, said: “TARAs rely on volunteers to take on the responsibility of forming committees, organising events for their members and commit a considerable amount of their own time to running the TARA.

"As demands on people’s time increase, then the number of volunteers fluctuate and often decline. However, we do still have more than 50 active TARAs across the city.

“Our commitment to TARAs is as strong as ever and we are working with them to make sure that they get the support they need.

"We have just consulted on and plan to introduce a number of governance changes to reduce the administrative burden on TARAs and give them some increased flexibilities that they have been asking for - for example, freedom to pay for TARA expenditure / purchases by debit card, and more flexibility around when the TARA chooses to hold its AGM.

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“We are always looking for success stories to share with the TARA network, tenants and the media and we continue to work with struggling TARAs to support their volunteers.”

For advice on how to set up a TARA visit https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/council-housing/tenants-residents-associations.html