Thurcroft residents are dreaming up ways to spend £1m over the next ten years to make their village a “place where people want to bring their children up in the future.”
Thurcroft was awarded the money under the Big Local scheme back in February 2012, which is lottery money allocated to small communities previously overlooked for regeneration. It aims to enable local people to improve where they live.
Thurcroft is one of 150 areas awarded funding since the scheme began in 2010.
A public meeting was held back then for local people to find out what Big Local was all about. One interested resident was 71-year-old Alan Bucknall.
“I went because I was secretary of the bowling club, to see whether there was any funding for things that the council no longer did for us.
“I very quickly realised that wasn’t what it was all about.
“It wasn’t just spending £1m. It was getting people involved and raising public spirit and getting more of a friendly feeling around the place.”
He and 20 other keen volunteers formed the Thurcroft Big Local steering group, which has spent the last year talking to Thurcroft residents about what they want the village to be like in the future.
An initial £20,000 of ‘Getting Started’ funding enabled them to help revive the Thurcroft gala, a community festival held on August bank holiday, which had not taken place for many years.
They even held a ‘onesie party’ to attract ideas.
The group then wrote a community profile in July this year, which identified three main priorities for the £1m. These are restoration of community pride, regeneration of the whole community and greater involvement of young people in services and activities.
The steering group has recently become a more formal local partnership, made up of 15 resident members with Alan as chair. They are now beginning to write their Big Local plan which will identify specific projects to spend money on.
Rotherham Federation of Tenants and Residents (RotherFed) is the trusted organisation which holds access to the money and guides the partnership through its discussions.
Steve Ruffle, Development Manager for RotherFed said: “The nature of Big Local is that it’s very flexible. It’s resident-led and there’s no push to spend all this money in the next year or two.
“It’s very early stages and the next 4-5 months will be focusing on exactly what we’re trying to do.”
But Alan believes big changes have already been made.
“We’ve already started getting young people trained up as full-time youth leaders. We’ll have a youth club we’ve not had for four or five years.
“We’ve already got a summer play scheme which we’d never had before in Thurcroft.”
The group has also pledged to run the gala for the next two years.
Although Thurcroft’s community profile stressed the pride people have in their village, it also made clear the problems it faces. Thurcroft Colliery closed in 1992, and now a quarter of working-age residents receive benefits, with 27% of children living in poverty.
But despite this, those involved in Thurcroft Big Local are optimistic about the future.
Steve Ruffle said: “My feeling is that it comes at the right time. People are wanting to start saying ‘there have been a lot of negative things that have happened to this community but we want to start doing something new’.”
Alan Bucknall also has high hopes about what Thurcroft may look like in ten years’ time after the £1m is spent.
“If we’ve listened to what people have said I would think we would have a better community spirit.
“Instead of people saying look what Dinnington has got, or what Maltby has got, they’ll be saying look what we’ve got.
“We want it to be a place where people want to bring their children up in the future.”