WE ARE SHEFFIELD: Mick’s ‘two penneth’ has kept tenants’ group going

We are Sheffield feature. Mick Daniels has been the chair of the Brushes estate tenants and residents association for 20 years. Picture: Chris Etchells
We are Sheffield feature. Mick Daniels has been the chair of the Brushes estate tenants and residents association for 20 years. Picture: Chris Etchells
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Mick Daniels has been involved with the tenants’ movement for 30 years.

He came to Sheffield in 1962 when he was just 11 years old after his dad took up a job as the head gardener at Northern General Hospital.

Mick Daniels has been the chair of the Brushes estate tenants and residents association for 20 years.

Mick Daniels has been the chair of the Brushes estate tenants and residents association for 20 years.

After 10 years in the army, he applied for a council house on the Brushes estate in Firth Park and has been there ever since.

He said he first got involved in his local tenants and residents association – TARA – because he was concerned about his community and wanted to put his ‘two penneth’ in.

Now, the 69-year-old former bus driver has been chair of Brushes TARA for 20 years.

But due to changes in the way that council housing is run as well as changes happening in wider society – he says it is quickly becoming a thankless task.

Mick Daniels has been the chair of the Brushes estate tenants and residents association for 20 years.

Mick Daniels has been the chair of the Brushes estate tenants and residents association for 20 years.

“It used to work but it is not working anymore,” he says.

“Before Right to Buy, the estate used to have 700 council tenants on it but now is down to less than 500.

“There are fewer tenants but the tenants that there are don’t seem that bothered anymore. We used to have a kiddies’ club and street dance but they stopped because of the lack of volunteers and funding,

“I don’t have much hope for the future but we won’t give in.”

There are currently 42,000 council tenants in Sheffield.

However, of 122 estates in the city, only 54 now have TARAs, which means well over half of the city’s council tenants have no community representation. “I am very sad about that – communities have gone,” he says.

“People don’t know their neighbours like they used to.”

“Back then, the rent collector was like god.

“He would see your hedge and say, ‘that isn’t going to be like that next week is it’?

“People don’t have the same pride in their houses as they used to.”

The TARA is kept going by levy money – 10p a week – which is paid by tenants voluntarily.

Mick says they get around £500 a quarter this way – but believes TARAs should be much better supported than they currently are.

Of all the things they do, the TARA’s trips for families to Scarborough and Whitby are their most important events of the year.

The estate is home to people from a range of backgrounds including people of Jamaican and Pakistani heritage, some of whom, he says, are unaware of what the seaside is.

“The trips are the only time some people ever get off the estate,” he says.“As soon as the dates are mentioned my phone is red hot.”

Despite the difficult situation he find himself in, Mick is still keen to combat perceptions of council tenants as troublemakers and good-for-nothings.

And he believes TARAs could restore the pride people once felt in their houses and estates.

“I suppose I am stubborn,” he says.

“You say you are going to pack it in – but you don’t because you think what will happen then.”