Bloom or bust for Sheffield neighbourhood

Dennis Hanna and Coun Ben Miskell
Dennis Hanna and Coun Ben Miskell
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Could planting flowers in a Sheffield neighbourhood help local residents bloom?

That’s the theory of Dennis Hanna, a businessman who has launched a new community group to brighten the streets and lives of people living in Gleadless Townend.

Mr Hanna, who is 60, has created the Gleadless Townenders group - the “ers” at the end of Townenders stands for environmental regeneration scheme.

He wants to improve the area with planters and flowers but says the greenery will also encourage the community to come together and combat loneliness.

Dennis grew up on Charnock then moved to Killamarsh for 25 years and came back to Gleadless Townend 10 years ago.

“I’ve seen the area change quite a bit and I’m anxious to get back to the old Gleadless which used to be a village on the outskirts of Sheffield,” he said. “It’s lost its identity and has been amalgamated into other areas now.

“I was talking to some of the traders and they said delivery people don’t know where Gleadless Townend is. There’s no signage so I’m keen to get back that little village feel.

“Townend is an area around the shops but can go on to Charnock, Base Green and Hollins End. A lot of people associate the area with Gleadless Valley, they don’t realise it’s two different places.”

Mr Hanna says the new group’s first aim is to get some planters with flowers in key areas to brighten up patches of grass.

“I was inspired by Killamarsh main shopping area which has about a dozen large planters which look beautiful and a lot of the traders have put up their own hanging baskets and planters.

“It shows how a few plants can lift an area and make it nice to shop and walk around. People get out of the habit of shopping locally but this can bring in trade.”

Dennis says the project is more than just gardening. “I’m keen to get members of the community, involved particularly people who are isolated.

“Charnock has a lot of older people who live alone or are retired. It’s completely voluntary and if they just want to come and have a chat that’s fine or they can come and help with the planting.

“It’s amazing how many people come and talk to you when you are doing something outside. There’s a huge problem with social isolation. Even young people who work all day can be lonely.”

Gleadless Townenders Facebook page has had a great response and Dennis is already looking to expand his ideas.

“I ran my own telecoms business for 30 years so I’m used to organising and being in charge - I have to stop myself from being too bossy!

“It’s been started by the community for the community. You could use this as a template for other areas and we’re working with the council to look at adopting green spaces which we can plant and maintain.”

The project is being supported by local councillor Ben Miskell. He said: “The council doesn’t have very much money with austerity measures so it’s great to see the community come together to fill in the gaps and improve the general amenities of the area.

“As a local councillor we have suffered from a lack of civic society and groups to engage with so we’re keen to see more local residents getting involved.”