Sheffield tenants and residents’ group celebrating 50 years of helping people

You would be forgiven for thinking that a mixture of the rise of social media and how busy our lives have become have led to a fall in the sense of community.

By Sam Cooper
Monday, 13 May, 2019, 14:25

The growth in the use of technology and the internet has brought us closer than ever to those who are furthest away from us but it also seems to have distanced people from their neighbours.

That certainly isn’t the case in one part of Sheffield though where the meaning of the word community seems to define everything that people do and every decision that’s made.

Greenhill Park, Lowedges.

And there is proof of that too as the Greenhill and Bradway Tenants’ and Residents’ Association prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

That’s 50 years of residents looking out for each other, half a century of the community coming together to make sure their area thrives.

Stephen Rich, of the group, said the TARA was set up in 1969 and used to hold meetings in either the church or pub before the tenants’ hall on Gresley Road, where the group still meet, was built in 1973.

Mr Rich, who has been involved with the group for around 11 or 12 years, said: “We have diversified as a TARA over the years but what we do remains the same – we help people when we can and provide for the community.

Sally Rodgers of Heeley City Farm

“10 years ago, we decided to branch our and set up the Lowedges Festival. That attracts around 15,000 people and this year’s will take place on August 11.”

The group also hold bingo sessions twice a week, dance classes and regular pie and peas suppers as well as Christmas parties every year.

Mr Rich added: “Everybody just thinks it’s about bingo but it’s not, it’s so much more. If people realise that somebody isn’t there at the bingo then we will go and check on them and make sure they’re okay and get them help if they need it.

Greenhill Library

“It’s not just about bingo – it's about helping people.”

That caring sense of community is something that runs through the veins of people in the area.

Take the Greenhill Community Library for example –  a place that was once at risk of closure.

A61 Chesterfield Road South.

After a cash-strapped Sheffield Council announced they could no longer run the library more than five years ago, it seemed the area may lose the vital facility for good.

However, it was nothing the tight-knit community couldn’t handle.

Step forward a small group of volunteers who, determined to not let it fall by the wayside, posted letters through hundreds of doors asking for help to keep the library going.

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Dozens answered the call and as they say, the rest is history.

A group of more than 120 now volunteer their time and the library continues to go from strength to strength solidifying itself as a hub for the community.

That is just one example of how the unity of the area led to a better solution for those who live there – it seems the resilience of those living there and their pure refusal to roll over has become somewhat of a theme.

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh

Back in March, campaigners, along with Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh, secured a rethink on changes to bus routes to and from the area’s GP surgeries when they relocate later this year.

Partners at the health centre said the move to relocate Meadowgreen Surgery within Jordanthorpe Health Centre were necessary as the current premises were 'becoming unfit for the purpose of providing modern day GP services'.

The move would have left elderly and disabled patients facing up to a 20-minute walk to get to the surgery until the area once the surgeries relocated.

But, once again, it was the resilience of the area and people power which led to transport bosses pledging to change the route of the M17 to serve Lowedges and the GP surgery.

This resilience is something which runs through the 50 years the TARA has existed and, as part of the anniversary celebrations, is something showcased as community leaders look back at the area’s past.

The group, together with the help of the team at Heeley City Farm aim to pull together stories from people who live or lived in Lowedges.

And the 50th anniversary will be marked in style with a special celebration event on Saturday, May 25.

There will be an exhibition of people’s memories as well as 1950s and 1960s music and children’s entertainment.

Sally Rodgers, project manager, said: “We are going to have an exhibition about the history of the TARA and the history of the estate. Ahead of that we want to talk to people who live on the estate or who have memories of it.

“We will be looking at the history and Rebecca Hearne, our project officer, will be out speaking to people and holding meetings to give people the chance to tell their stories.”

Ms Rodgers said the estate took its name from the former Lowedges Farm and she said the group would also be looking into claims that former actress and singer Diana Dors opened the estate.

She added: "TARAs are very important – they bring people together and they help people settle into their homes.”

The celebration event will take place at the Greenhill Bradway Tenants’ Hall, Gresley Road on Saturday, May 25 from noon until 4pm.

For more information or to get involved in the project email historyoflowedges@gmail.com.