Focus on Stannington: A village within a city with a thriving volunteer culture

Nicola Wood and Lisa Smith at the Village Stores. Picture by Rachel Walker and Richard Ellin of Two Togs and a Dog Photography
Nicola Wood and Lisa Smith at the Village Stores. Picture by Rachel Walker and Richard Ellin of Two Togs and a Dog Photography
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It is clear from visiting Stannington that residents are extremely proud of the area.

Many choose to set up business there resulting in rows of independent retail outlets, while many more give up their time to volunteer at various organisations and groups to ensure the area continues to thrive.

Stannington Library

Stannington Library

People who move to Stannington love it so much that they never move away - and who can blame them.

It has all the amenities you would expect from a bustling suburb in Sheffield, but its location means it boasts spectacular views across the city and is just minutes from the countryside.

Lisa Smith has lived in Stannington all her life - briefly moving away, but soon returning.

“I moved away for two to three years but soon came back as I wanted my kids to grow up here,” she said.

Volunteers for Action For Stannington

Volunteers for Action For Stannington

“It has such a community feel. Everybody knows each other and everyone seems to look out for each other.

“It is nice to be able to go to the shops nearby, but there is still a village feel. Even when you go into the Co-op, which is a big national brand, you feel as though you are in a little village.”

Lisa works at the much-loved Village Stores, on Pond Road, which has provided a vital service to the community for more than 20 years.

She added: “We know all our customers on first name terms. One lady who comes in here says she comes in for the conversation.

Janette Ward, a volunteer at Stannington Library

Janette Ward, a volunteer at Stannington Library

“Many have lost their partners and don’t have anyone. We always have a chat with them and check on them.”

Village Stores was set up more than 20 years ago by local resident Tracey Cave.

Her sister Nicola Wood, who lives in nearby Rivelin and works at the convenience store, said: “We walk people to their doors if they need help and make deliveries to old peoples houses.

“There is such a nice feel around here.”

As well as the established businesses, new ones are also popping up.

Last year local couple Carrie and Martin McGrail opened up Reserved Cafe Bistro, in Stannington Park. Housed in three shipping containers it is packed with families enjoying the school Easter holidays.

Councillor Penny Baker said Stannington has a ‘great community’ with a volunteering culture from all age groups.

“This includes the work done by volunteers running our library, Action for Stannington and the many groups who use Lomas Hall,” she added.

“We have a good local shopping centre and a great park that we all love, which is the venue for our local gala, again organised and run by volunteers.”

Stannington Library was one of 16 libraries handed over to volunteers by Sheffield Council in 2014.

So far in 2017, more than 40 people have volunteered in the library - from working in the library itself, to helping with the maintenance of the building or fundraising.

Volunteer Janette Ward, who has lived in Stannington for 46 years, said: “Stannington is such a nice community. It has got quite a village feel, although there are more houses now then when I moved here.

“Even people who don’t know each other they are still quite friendly.

“People are appreciative that we kept the library open. We attract a lot of children and have many groups based here, including a friendship group and three reading groups.

“We have a trustees group who work very hard. They have attracted more children to use the library and they are doing things in schools.”

Janette believes it is the location of Stannington which makes it appealing to people.

She said: “We are like a village - we are on the outskirts of Sheffield so have great transport links. If you want to go into the city centre for the cinema or theatre then you can and you are only a short walk to the countryside.”

Fellow volunteer, Bob Mynors, said: “It’s such a close-knit community. I have lived in various parts of Sheffield that have claimed to be villages within a city, but Stannington is the closest to being that.

“People know each and families go back here for several generations.

“There is such a strong community feel and that extends into the library.”

Many residents speak fondly of Lomas Hall - a facility nestled in the heart of Stannington and home to various community groups. It is run by a charitable organisation and managed by a voluntary committee.

Committee chairman, Alan Simmons, said: “As an incomer Stannington is a great place to live and bring up your family. It’s ok for older people too.

“There’s plenty of clean, fresh air around and on the doorstep to all the beautiful countryside around the western side of Sheffield.

“There’s a good sense of community spirit in the village and the only thing that’s stopping the growth, is the almost lack of new housing.

“We’ve got two largish sites that cry out for some sensitive re-development but the local roads would need to be improved at the same time.

“There needs to be a mix too of affordable housing, for the less well-off people.

“I believe that the local schools are pretty full and attracting new families would, under present conditions, put more strain on them.”

Many residents give up their time and volunteer for Action For Stannington, a local environmental group set up in 1997.

It has encouraged residents to be among the most keen in recycling in the city - the recycling point at Stannington Library car park is one of the most popular in Sheffield - as well as the cleanest, with the Good Dog Scheme giving out 100,000 bags for dog waste a year via five outlets.

It has also helped to narrow the generation gap, with many young volunteers helping to look after Stannington Park and the war memorial and offering gardening services for older or disabled residents.

The organisations chairman, Danny Piermattei, said: “With three visits to Buckingham Palace and one to 10 Downing Street, I am particularly proud to represent an organisation which has received the highest awards available to the voluntary sector.

“Yet, we are just a humble group of residents determined to keep our neighbourhood clean, green and safe.”

He added: “Action for Stannington has never been a ‘club’ or a ‘society’; we are an umbrella organisation supporting anybody who is willing to pro-actively contribute in neighbourhood activities. Interaction between individuals and organisations is the key.

“As a result, residents are not indifferent to what happens around them, and promptly report highway issues to the local authority or get out with brush and pan to tidy up their area themselves.

“We never complain, we never criticise; we approach the local authority and fellow residents in an enthusiastic and constructive way.

“It’s a win-win situation and there is plenty to learn here when it comes to establishing good relationships between people of all ages, social backgrounds and ethnicity.”