Wincobank groups rally to restore community spirit in their Sheffield suburb

Volunteers from a Sheffield suburb are banding together, sharing funding and experience to increase the community spirit in their historic part of the city.
Penny Rea and Rosemary Francis are spearheading a regeneration in WincobankPenny Rea and Rosemary Francis are spearheading a regeneration in Wincobank
Penny Rea and Rosemary Francis are spearheading a regeneration in Wincobank

Representatives of four Wincobank community groups - the chapel, village hall, tenants and residents association, and the Grimesthorpe Family Centre - are getting the suburb back on the map.

They want to see their venues used by the public, but the campaign, called Wincobank Champions, also aims to bring together residents at more community events, boosting the spirit among locals.

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They are sharing £10,000 in lottery funding, but the groups are also pooling their experience in the project.

It centres on Wincobank Hill, the steep slope above the River Don on which the iron-age fort which gives the suburb its name sits.

The idea of the campaign is to connect the urban villages around it together.

Village Hall trustee and booking secretary Anne Crompton said it was, slowly but surely, becoming a success.

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She and husband Alan opened the hall up on June 23 last year, the day of the Brexit vote.

With two polling centres nearby, they were sure people would flock to the hall for a coffee.

"They didn't," Mrs Crompton said.

Since then though, the hall has gone from strength to strength.

There's something on there, from youth club meetings and dance classes to coffee afternoons.

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"It's about getting the community to mix more and get to know each other," Mrs Compton said.

The benefits, especially for the older, and often lonely, residents, were obvious.

"Some of them don't want to leave when we have to lock up," Mrs Crompton said.

"They just want to get out and have a chat."

Grimesthorpe Family Centre staved off closure fears to host the first community day in many years earlier this month.

About 100 people turned up at the centre on Wansfell Road.

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The organisation of the day was down, mostly, to one family.

June Luxon has been a youth worker at the centre since 1988.

She and husband Tony, and daughter Jane, are still involved at the centre.

Mrs Luxon said she wasn't sure how long it had been since a community day had been put on.

"I think about 10 years," she said.

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Lucky attendees had a free lunch, and there were stills to peruse.

The centre has come a long way in recent months, Mrs Luxon said.

"We didn't know whether we were going to survive at one point," she said.

"But we've pulled it around, and hopefully we'll make a good go of it."

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Penny Rea, who's the chair of the youth group at Upper Wincobank Chapel, said the project wanted to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible.

"We are trying to put on a broad range of programmes," she said.

"We want to see these different venues used.

"We just want to share with people that it's a lovely place to live."

She thanked the Big Lottery Fund for its grant, and those who contributed to it.

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"We want to thank everyone who bought a lottery ticket, and made that possible," Ms Rea said.

The campaign's highlight, literally, will be in October for the annual Light Up the Hill lantern parade.

It takes place on October 3 at 6pm.