The heart-warming reasons why people in this Sheffield suburb stay instead of flying the nest

There are plenty of good reasons why people born and bred in Hackenthorpe often end up staying rather than flying the nest to pastures new.

By Lee Peace
Friday, 28th June 2019, 9:13 am
Updated Friday, 28th June 2019, 9:26 am
Centre manager Sue Smith and lunch club manager Nicola Hodson. Picture Scott Merrylees
Centre manager Sue Smith and lunch club manager Nicola Hodson. Picture Scott Merrylees

That's the view of those who live and work in this village, six miles from the city centre that was until the 1950s in Derbyshire but is now firmly part of the Steel City.

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Centre manager Sue Smith and lunch club manager Nicola Hodson. Picture Scott Merrylees

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The area has undergone a large expansion in recent decades and though it is still regarded as a village it boasts nearly 5000 homes.

'Community spirit' is a well trotted out term, but it really does apply to Hackenthorpe.

And this tight-nit community feel to the place is why people who grew up here often stay.

Karen McGowan and Denise Fox, both of which have been councillors representing the ward for a number of years, have a good insight into this.

The popular lunch club. Picture Scott Merrylees

Coun McGowan said: “There are a lot of people who are born here, grow up here and never leave.

“Everyone knows each other and looks out for each other. People are passionate about the area.”

Coun Fox added: “I think people stay here because of all of the community activities that are going on.

Sue Smith. Picture Scott Merrylees

“It is a very active area for that and it helps to make people have pride in where they live.”

You dont have to scratch far beneath the surface to find examples of this community pride.

There was an outcry when a lunch club that had been popular with older people for about 20 years closed down a couple of years ago.

People in the community made their voices heard and through sheer will the club was back on within a matter of months. 

Steven Dixon in the kitchen. Picture Scott Merrylees

Twice a week about 50 elderly people gather for food, drinks, music and even a spot of dancing at Hackenthorpe Community Centre.

Sue Smith, aged 65, manager of the Hackenthorpe Community Centre, said: "It has gone brilliant since the re-launch and we have 60 members now.

"It has gone from strength to strength, everyone is loving it.

"We have got people who used to come returning back. And we also have new people coming too.

"There was a survey done recently about why people come to lunch clubs and the last thing they said they come for is for the food.

"They said first and foremost they enjoy the socialising aspect and the different activities we have put on, such as a singer and chair exercises.

Visitors to the lunch club. Picture Scott Merrylees

"People are really happy that the club is up and running again. "

Coun Fox said: “As soon as it went people in the community were calling for it to come back.

“So we helped the volunteers to get it back up and running again.  

“It re-launched just before Christmas and it was a great success. They had music on, people were dancing, it was great.

“We also gave them a bit of money to buy a new cooker.

“As a population Hackenthorpe has quite a large elderly population, it has the second most elderly population in the whole of the south east of the city.

“Events like this really help to tackle social isolation. It gets people out of the house and socialising.”

There is a similar event held at Spa View Community Church, in which families are encouraged to cook and then eat together each week.

Coun McGowan said: “This is something that has perhaps gone out of modern society a little so it is great to see that there is something to encourage that again.”

There are also plans to improve two play areas that have been serving the community for a long time but are in need of an upgrade.

Former councillor Ian Saunders said the area is set to receive something in the region of £36, 000 from the Community Infrastructure Levy, money set aside to improve the neighbourhood that filters down from big commercial and housing projects.

There are plans to use this to make improvements to Rainbow Park and Dyke Vale Park for families to enjoy for generations to come.

Mr Saunders said: “Rainbow Park has been there for about 25 years. It is in need of some TLC.

“The area is built on a lot of springs and is hilly so it was getting water logged so a few years ago we did some work to improve the drainage and touch wood that is still working.

“Dyke Vale Park has been there for 40-odd years, I've been a councillor for 33 years and it has always been there while I have.

“There used to be a friends group who ran this park but they finished about 18 months ago.

“It was run by a lot of retired people who wanted to step aside, which sometimes happens. They did a great job for a long time, but now the park needs a bit of help.

“They have swings, slides, the usual stuff but we will be looking at where we need to get new equipment in, and where we need to make repairs.”

He added: “We would love to launch another friends group who could perhaps look after both parks, or two for the individual parks.

“There are huge benefits to having friends groups. It means people take ownership of something and can have more of a say on what they want in the park, it is essentially community ownership.

“There is another park in Sothall which has a friends group and it works great so it would be nice to see that in this area.”  

Denise Fox and Karen McGowan. Picture: Steve Ellis
Bingo time. Picture Scott Merrylees
Margaret King, Sylvia Smith and Kath Shaw at the centre. Picture Scott Merrylees