FEATURE: City family's wishes for former home
It's been 35 years since Grace Morrison last set foot in this house.
A small smile tugs at the corner of her mouth as she gazes around the rooms, recalling memories of family weddings and Sunday dinners.
Inside, the 200-year-old house is almost unrecognisable from the family home it once was. 96-year-old Grace, and her husband Jack, were the last people to live in the three-storey property, on Psalter Lane, before it was sold in the early 80s and converted into offices.
“That used to be the kitchen, it was a huge room,” Grace recalls as daughter Julie guides her wheelchair along the ground floor corridor, which is peppered with bits of plaster that have fallen off the walls. The property is in the process of being remodelled, but - even with the flaking walls and through a dusting of cobwebs - the beautiful bones of the house are still clear to see.
“...and this was the sitting room. It all looks so different now,” comments Julie, aged 68.
Julie’s daughter Katie, 45, adds: “I remember having Auntie Vicky’s wedding pictures taken in front of that big window at the top of the stairs, and I remember that the bedrooms upstairs, where we’d sleep when we stayed over, had a really slanted floor.”
“It still does,” confirms Hannah Butler, fundraising and finance assistant of Golddigger Trust, the Sheffield youth work charity that has just taken over the lease on the house. The charity plans to launch their brand new youth centre here early next month. In fact, it was during a fundraising event for the charity that one of its supporters, Katie Bennett, recognised the photo of the charity’s new proposed centre as that of her grandparent’s former house.
Hannah adds: “As soon as we realised Katie knew the house, we invited her to bring her mum and grandmother along to see it.”
And the ties between the charity and the family don’t end there. Katie’s 18-year-old daughter Millie has previously attended courses hosted by Golddigger, and she’s also joined the family today for the impromptu visit - four generations under one roof.
“It’s so lovely to see this house again,” says Katie.
“And it’s exciting to come and let the whole family hear the wonderful things Golddigger has planned for it. Our family are big supporters of this charity and the work it does so it’s nice to think that our links have roots going back to my grandparents.”
Golddigger was established in Sheffield 11 years ago and, like most good ideas, it was dreamed up over a cup of coffee.
“It started with three women, all friends, who felt they wanted to make a difference in the lives of young girls,” says Hannah.
“They were seeing young women growing up with anxiety, body issues, self esteem issues and unhealthy relationships and so they formed a band which went into schools and sang positive songs. That branched out into hosting courses, one of which we still run today in schools and youth clubs, called I’m The Girl I Want To Be.
“By 2007, it was a registered charity and, in the years since, we’ve grown to a staff of ten that has worked with tens of thousands of young people in the city - aged between 11 and 18 - and seen real, lasting change. We also now hold a course for young men, called Made Of More, in which we guide them through the same issues of healthy relationships and self-esteem.
“We’re striving to empower young people to make informed choices and live a full and positive life. As our name suggests, we want to ‘dig out the gold’ in each person and help them to realise their own value.”
The charity took its biggest step earlier this year when they acquired the Psalter Lane house and began to plan their Golddigger Trust Centre for Young People.
Hannah adds: “We’ve wanted a long term base for a while; somewhere young people in this city can feel at home. We are so excited about the possibilities that this new building will give us in reaching hundreds more young people, both here in Sheffield and across the UK.”
The charity has been fundraising hard, to raise the additional £500 per month it will need to run the centre - a goal they’re about halfway to.
“We still have a way to go, but we’ve been supported so well by the community and local businesses who’ve donated materials and supplies to get us ready for our September opening,” says Hannah.
“Our dream is that this building will become more than just bricks and mortar, and it means a lot to have its previous family here today to wish it well and see it off into its next chapter.”
“To make the Golddigger Trust Centre for Young People sustainable long term, we need regular donors,” says Hannah.
“We’ve raised about half of the additional £500 per month in regular giving we need, so we’re still looking for people that can donate £5, £10, or whatever they can afford on a monthly basis.
“This will help up to carry on the important work we’re doing in this city with Sheffield’s young people.
Visit Golddigger Trust for details on the charity, its upcoming activities and how you can get involved as a regular, or one-off, donor.
Alternatively, call the charity on 0114 32711991 to chat to a member of the team.