Lottery scheme pledges £1m to transform Sheffield’s ‘pocket of poverty’

Westfield Centre Shoping Area
Westfield Centre Shoping Area
Have your say

A ‘FORGOTTEN’ area of Sheffield plagued by poverty and unemployment is to be transformed with £1million of funding.

Westfield, in the south east of the city, is one of 50 areas of England being given a share of £200million by The Big Lottery scheme. The cash is for areas ‘typically overlooked’ by external funders.

Already 100 areas have been allocated at least £1million each in the Big Local initiative, and another 50 have now been announced, including Westfield and Goldthorpe in Barnsley.

Residents can use their £1million on anything from training and employment to tackling anti-social behaviour, creating new community facilities, or providing more activities for young people.

Shirley Frost, secretary of the Westfield and Halfway Tenants and Residents Association, said today: “I’m ecstatic. We deserve it, we welcome it and it has been a long time coming.

“Westfield is officially an area of multiple deprivation. We are socially and geographically isolated and a lot of people have really suffered from that.”

Ms Frost said Westfield was a ‘pocket of poverty’ which didn’t attract funding because it fell within the better-off Mosborough ward.

She said money needed to be spent on training and employment.

“We don’t just need to keep people going, we want to lift them up,” she said.

“People don’t want to be on the dole all their lives and we have got a lot of young people who are finding it hard to find work. That fuels crime which in turn attracts drug dealers to the estate.

“People are in despair really. I just hope now we can put Westfield on the map.”

Residents in Westfield today said the money should be focused on improving things for children.

“I’d like to see a park for the little ones, with working CCTV, so it doesn’t just get vandalised and wrecked,” said Jade Wilkinson, aged 16. “My little brother is six and there’s nothing around here for kids his age to do.

“I do like Westfield, but I think it needs some practical investment.”

Caitlin Hodson, also 16, agreed: “I think a lot of the problems we have with anti-social behaviour are a result of kids with nothing to do.

“There’s nowhere for young families to go together, where parents can talk to each other while their kids play. That’s where I’d like to see the money go.”

Mum-of-two Carla Mellor, 28, moved to Westfield recently and hopes the money will help boost what she feels is a flagging sense of community spirit.

“I don’t really like the place to be honest,” said Carla. “There are too many kids hanging around, bored, in all the public places and it’s really intimidating.

“I think we need to use this money to give them something to focus on and keep them out of trouble.”

Steven Pearson, 48, agreed young people need attention, but hoped the adults will not be overlooked.

“Ever since our only pub was turned into the local community centre, there’s nowhere for local adults to get together,” said Steve. “It’s important to have somewhere everyone can come to socialise and feel they’re a part of a community - we’re missing that.”

As well as funding for improvement, each area will receive training and support from Local Trust - an organisation set up to deliver Big Local.

The trust will help residents spend the funding and increase their confidence, skills and know-how, so they are better able to ‘come together to make positive changes’ in their areas in future.

The areas picked have been pinpointed as facing issues including the decline of industry to high levels of unemployment and crime, or a pressing need for new support services or activities.

The project is the Lottery’s largest ever community-led investment programme with organisers claiming over a million people will benefit.

Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund’s England chair, said: “These areas have for many years been overlooked and have missed out on vital funding and resources - they have people who are high on aspiration but low on opportunity.

“Through our long-term funding, commitment, training and support over at least the next 10 years, we will redress that balance, giving them the power, confidence and ability to spend this funding in the ways that matter most to their community.”

Two North Derbyshire communities will also benefit - Elmton and Creswell in Bolsover, and Grassmoor and Hasland in Chesterfield.

Bolsover Council leader, Coun Eion Watts, said: “This is great news and something which has been long overdue. What’s good about this scheme is it will be completely resident led so it will be entirely up to people living in the area to use the money on the things that matter to them, and on projects and services that will have the biggest impact on their needs.”