How Firth Park community leaders are joining forces to make a difference

It is clear that when something is not right, people in Firth Park take action to sort it out.

Saturday, 26th January 2019, 12:53 pm
Updated Saturday, 26th January 2019, 12:58 pm
Gill Furniss MP.

Community leaders told how they have become frustrated at a lack of action from the powers that be.

They are now joining forces in a bid to get things done in their own neighbourhood.

Sarah Hardy on a recent litter pick.

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Members of three tenant and residents' associations and other community groups are backing the creation of a Firth Park Community Forum to give them a 'bigger voice' when lobbying the authorities to tackle issues. 

It is also believed this will give them more weight when applying for funding grants. 

There are also hopes of organising more community activities as the forum develops over time.

Abtisam Mohamed at the Fir Vale Centre:

Sarah Hardy, who grew up in Firth Park, is one such community leader who is trying to get the organisation up and running. 

The 45-year-old said: “There is a lot of community activism in this part of Sheffield but we just want to have more cohesion between the different groups.

“There is that adage that if you try and get something done individually then there is a perception that nothing, or very little, gets done.

Mick Daniels in Firth Park.

“We hope that if we can work together, then this will give us a bit of weight when trying to take action.”

Those backing the creation of the forum include the Brushes, Flower and Stubbin TARAs, along with Friends of Firth Park, Hope Community Allotments and residents.

Mick Daniels, aged 69, who has been involved with Brushes TARA for 30 years, said: “The number of times we attend meetings and raise the same issues over and over and we just get told by the police and council that they are 'looking into it'.

“But if there is enough of us then they won't be able to ignore us.”

Firth Park. Picture Scott Merrylees

Forum supporters have held a number of meetings and created their own Facebook page.

Eventually they would like to take over a community space and host activities and events, but this is a long way off just yet.

Ms Hardy said: “Forming a committee and finding a base is long, long term. In the immediate future we are just trying to get people interested and involved.”

Mr Daniels added: “Some of the other forums in Sheffield have paid officers whose job it is to put applications in for funding grants. Further down the line, if we could be in that position that would be great as it would enable us to do more.”

He added top of the list at the moment is to sort out problem parkers, fly-tipping and litter bugs that are plaquing Firth Park. 

Said Mr Daniels: “You get people parking on double yellows and the litter issue has been there for a couple of years. People are always complaining about rats.

“This is what I mean about trying to get stuff sorted but not getting anywhere as a small group.

“If we got funding in we could have more 'bring your rubbish' days where people leave stuff for the tip at the end of their path and the council takes it away.

“We had one in October and removed about 15 tonnes of rubbish. But it costs the council money to do this and you are often asked to match fund it.

“If we have a bigger group, there will be more in the pot and so we could have more things like this. “

Ms Hardy said: “In the future we might look at doing a survey asking people how they would like the area to be improved. This could give us a few bullet points to focus on.”

All three ward councillors have supported the creation of the forum.

Coun Abtisam Mohamed said: “We can understand their frustration as for a long time Firth Park had been forgotten and we have supported the development of the forum.

“The forum has been a strong voice of grass-root activists and has started to put Firth Park on the map. They have met with council officers and cabinet members to address issues of concern to the local community.”

Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough MP Gill Furniss said constituents often raise concern about litter and antisocial behaviour – but there is also plenty of reasons for Firth Park residents to be cheerful.

She added: “I frequently hear about lots of positive things happening in Firth Park.

“For example, recently, we’ve had memorial trees planted in Firth Park and the council have secured more resource to tackle local issues with community stewards in the area.

“I am immensely proud of being brought up in the area and I always enjoy working or visiting Firth Park. 

“The area is blessed with wonderful parks and I have campaigned recently to raise the issues with maintaining high quality parks in our part of Sheffield.”

Councillor Jim Steinke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety at Sheffield Council, said: “We are aware of the issues raised by local people in Firth Park and we want to work with them to improve things for everyone in the area.

“We really value input and feedback from residents and are holding meetings with the Firth Park Community Forum so that we can work together towards a thriving and integrated community.

“We encourage the input from the three local TARAs, other local agencies and residents and are happy to meet and discuss local issues with them.”

*Residents are welcome to attend a forum meeting at Henry's Cafe on Firth Park Road on Wednesday, February 6, at 5pm.