University of Sheffield funding supports five South Yorkshire charities to develop and support their local communities

The University of Sheffield has awarded £45,000 to five charities across South Yorkshire to provide provision and support to address need in regional communities.

Two women talking at a table with paperwork
  • The University of Sheffield has provided funding to five charities in South Yorkshire to help support local communities
  • The charities were allocated £9,000 each to support their work in areas such as mental health, disadvantage and inequality, work and the local economy and crime and safety
  • Supported by the South Yorkshire Community Foundation (SYCF), the grant is part of the University’s Made Together ‘Building Stronger Communities Fund’

The University of Sheffield has awarded £45,000 to five charities across South Yorkshire to provide provision and support to address need in regional communities. The grant is part of the University's Made Together 'Building Stronger Communities Fund' and will be split over two years, with allocation support from SYCF.

This follows an initial allocation to a larger group of 16 charities, who were each given £1,000 to work with a University of Sheffield academic to develop their project idea and conduct a feasibility study. This was then reviewed by a panel before the final five charities were selected for the second round. Initially, only four charities were to receive the £9,000 funding; however, due to the high quality of the applications, this was expanded to include a fifth organisation. The charities who have received the funding are Affinity 2020, Clifton Learning Partnership, DIAL Barnsley, Educational Learning and Support Hub and Thunder Project.

The University of Sheffield and SYCF's collaboration combines the University's work in sustainability and social inclusion with findings from SYCF's Vital Signs Report that highlights and addresses needs and priorities of local communities in the region. To support the work, Sheffield City Council, Voluntary Action, the NHS and the South Yorkshire police were also consulted ensure that anchor institution priorities were aligned with the project. The collaboration and funding are part of the University's Made Together programme’s Building Stronger Communities theme, working with partners across the region to support its long-term regeneration and to revitalise and involve all communities of South Yorkshire.

The charities that were allocated funding include:

1. Affinity 2020, Rotherham 

Dr Jessica Langston from the Department of Sociological Studies is working with Affinity 2020 to provide support to young people in Rotherham and wider South Yorkshire who have been in the care system. The project aims to understand the barriers and challenges young people who have experienced care face when getting into employment and provide education to reduce stigma.

This includes provisions such as providing resources and training, raising awareness and eradicating misconceptions about being care-experienced in the workplace. It will also look into how social care systems can affect the employment process, creating pathways to change the futures of young people who have experienced care.

2. Clifton Learning Partnership, Rotherham  

Ryan Powell and colleagues at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning are working with Clifton Learning Partnership in Eastwood, Rotherham. The partnership provides community support and services to deal with complex vulnerabilities, exploitation, unemployment, poverty, and inequality in order to build and keep a stronger community.

The project will create a monitoring and evaluation framework that will help the Partnership collect data and evidence the impact of their work. This aims to contribute to neighbourhood cohesion and foster positive community relations, as well as make their work more sustainable, such as supporting them in future access to funding.

3. DIAL Barnsley

Dr Kirsty Liddiard from the School of Education is working with DIAL Barnsley to provide support to their clients help combat poverty and disadvantage. DIAL is a user-led organisation that provides free information, advice and support to disabled people, their families and carers to address poverty and social exclusion in Barnsley. 

The project aims to develop an app-based tool to support people to complete benefit claim forms for Personal Independence Payment, including tips and guidance for making a successful claim. Through the tool, DIAL aims to reach more clients in a time of limited funding and resources, empower those they support and make an app that can be further developed to include other DWP benefits.

4. Educational Learning Support Hub, Barnsley 

Professor Majella Kilkey (Department of Sociological Studies) and Dr Sabine Little (School of Education) are supporting Barnsley’s mental health provision by working with local charity Educational Learning Support Hub (ELSH). ELSH specialise in providing asylum seekers, refugees and migrant people access to free support and learning to enable them to achieve their potential, become independent and successfully integrate into the local community. 

The project will support ELSH to develop a programme of activities which will complement the charity’s wider educational workshops and initiatives, increase the number of people that engage with programmes and communal activities and improve knowledge around diet and exercise for its clients. It also aims to increase the volunteer cohort and develop new skills in its volunteers.

5. Thunder Project, Sheffield 

Dr Will Mason from the Sheffield Methods Institute is working with Thunder Project, a Community Interest Company set up by Steel City ABC which involves a gym and club in Darnall to support people from the most disadvantaged areas of Sheffield. 

The project aims to address crime and safety need in the local community and provide access to development opportunities and youth services in Sheffield. The gym will widen access to elite coaching and sports facilities for disadvantaged teenagers in Darnall and the surrounding area, with the aim to establish itself as part of the Darnall and city-wide youth offer.

Dr Will Mason, who supported the Thunder Project, said: "It’s an absolute pleasure to be working in partnership with Steel City Gym as they extend their reach via The Thunder Project. Developing stronger links between our university and the communities it serves is a key priority of mine. It’s a privilege to be working (and learning) in dialogue with Pearce and the rest of the team" 

Pearce Gudgeon at Thunder Project said: "It's great to be working with Will utilising his expertise and experience and to receive the funds, which will make a big difference to our gym and the young people that come to the Thunder Project. Working with Will has given us a chance to learn more about how the gym can be a place to empower young people and support them to improve their health, well-being and build their confidence. You don't have to be a boxer to come here - people at all levels can come to this safe place to improve their physical and mental health and build community.” 

Michelle Dickinson and Ruth Willis, from the South Yorkshire Community Foundation, said: “It's fantastic to work on the Building Stronger Communities Fund with the University of Sheffield. The collaboration between charities and academics helps organisations strengthen their foundations for the long haul so they can keep giving back to the communities they serve. The money will go towards supporting the wonderful work that South Yorkshire's charitable organisations do to meet the wide range of needs in the region's communities, ultimately improving economic, social, and physical well-being to transform lives.”

Funding was allocated in February 2023 and projects will begin over the next year.


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