Memorandum by South Yorkshire Churches
Together for Economic and Social Regeneration (GRI 39)
Please find enclosed a submission regarding
the Urban Affairs Sub-Committee of the House of Commons Select
Committee on ODPM into the effectiveness of Government Regeneration
South Yorkshire Churches Together for Economic
and Social Regeneration (TfR) was established in partnership with
Industrial Mission in South Yorkshire, as a department of the
Sheffield Diocesan Board of Finance in 1999. Its aim was to support
church groups from all Christian denominations, within the most
disadvantaged areas of South Yorkshire, to play a significant
role in the economic and social regeneration of their communities.
TfR is a capacity building project, which enables
local people to make a difference to their lives. Significant
achievements have already occurred with churches across South
Yorkshire. However, many church groups have just begun to make
an impact and could contribute so much more to the regeneration
of their communities. Others have yet to become involved. TfR
Phase Two will learn from previous experience and ensure that,
by 2006, churches across the most disadvantaged areas of South
Yorkshire will have played, and will continue to play, a key role
in community regeneration. TfR is funded in part by Objective
One to support Community Action Planning processes in Priority
I recently invited some key practitioners to
respond out of their experience of regeneration to the questions
being asked by your Sub-Committee. The following pages are what
they wrote. Although I have not sought to edit or amend their
words and do not present them as a collective view, representative
of TfR as an organisation, their reflections carry the weight
of many years of working with people in some of the region's most
An Anglican Priest grapples with the questions
posed by the Urban Affairs Sub Committee of the House of Commons
on ODPM based on many years of engaging with "Regeneration
Initiatives" in his Urban Priority Area Parish . . .
Some questions about "Regeneration . .
Doesn't it depend on the area? Can you really
"regenerate" "deprived" areas without addressing
the larger contextlike those who hold power there, political,
This calls into question the whole nature of
"regeneration" as it is currently understood. Is it
really something "done" to people (the whole thing about
"capacity building" them)? You really can't empower
people unless they want empowering!
To expect local communities suddenly to engage
with a process they've been excluded from for so long is daft.
And "democratic accountability" is a myth a large part
of the electorate has ceased to believe in. (And to a large degree
have ceased to believe in the elected, and the system that is
perpetuated, where power is actually held by professional officers
. . .)
Most "regeneration" has much too short
a time scale. It doesn't take into account how disengaged people
are when they begin, or how slow the journey is. "Arrangements"
gives the clueit's what is done to people, not something
they are encouraged to have any responsibility for, any stake
I could go on, but all I would say is more of
I believe that it's the whole question of what
"regeneration" iswhom it involves, who controls
it, whose agenda it follows etc.,that needs to be looked
What does "effectiveness" mean? Effective
for whom and in doing what?
I don't apologise for this. It is cynicism born
of sad experience. Yes, some initiatives are making a difference.
But it's too little, for too short a time, and without making
the real connections that are the only source of the sort of change
that will really "regenerate" our cities.
Rev Mike Fudger
Darnall Church of Christ LEP
. . . a Methodist Minister comments on the difficulties
and injustices that she continues to face because of the competitive
nature of area based initiatives and the development of the LSP
which has not so far delivered real improvements in people's quality
of life . . .
I work as a Methodist minister in Sheffield
serving two areas eligible for regeneration schemes. The two are
very different, one is mixed in ethnicity and religion, terrace
housing in the shadow of a football ground. The other is a largely
white social housing estate still in council control. The schemes
they have been eligible for have also been different, the former
benefiting from SRB the latter only coming into Objective Two
schemes and now both under Objective 1 Priority 4a although the
latter missed out on pioneer status narrowly.
The last sentence introduces one of my major
problems with such schemesthey are competitive. Pioneer
status communities were set alongside each other with enormous
cash inputs and development worker time available as a prize.
No sane person could deny that each community would benefit from
this but they had to compete, we lost to our neighbouring estate.
We cannot deny their need but nor can we deny ours. In four years
since the council's community work service was discontinued we
have had no development workers in health, in community work,
in youth work, in any area until in the last six months the community
forum has succeeded in gaining funding for a development worker.
How can area based working succeed if there is no on-going development
work to help areas like this estate produce evidence to compete
for funding. We are told you get development workers by proving
the need but who is to do this; professionals holding case loads
in health above average, social workers who we never see and who
do not participate in meetings to gain evidence with other professionals?
Mostly we have found it is a combination of over-worked highly
committed professionals, a few local people and the churches.
Then we compete with areas which have already been playing the
game for years, have development workers in every field, can raise
cash relatively easily and have large community trusts, led by
professionals who have often lost contact with the real local
Regeneration will never be a level playing field
and choices always have to be made, but account needs to be taken
of the professionals available to submit bids not just of the
glossy bid itself.
The move to LSP ought to simplify my work as
both communities come under one LSP, which proclaims itself as
inclusive. Unfortunately as a member of the faith community I
fail to see where I can link and input to it. I am told "through
the local community forum" but it does not communicate with
the faith communities unless forced to. I am told there is a real
place for faith communities in this process by national government
but fail to find it in the LSP although at local level in our
community we are active and real partners involved in many of
the newest initiatives. The LSP's seem to be doing the opposite
of what we had hoped and creating a new level of bureaucracy,
which is un-elected and unaccountable. Local people have not heard
of them and even the Community Fora seem unsure of how they work.
Regeneration is about people not structures, the process ought
to change people's lives and life experience in local situations,
allow experiment and failurenot tie any active community
members into committees and discussions for which decisions already
seem to have been made by an executive, appointed by whom?
Regeneration should be exciting, risky and begin
in local experiences. All too often local experience is twisted
to fit the policy initiative in order to win the money. This does
not improve the quality of life in a communityit addresses
what we can get money for not what local people really need.
Rev Louise Carr
Gleadless Valley Methodist & Highfield Trinity
. . . a Baptist Minister of an LEP in one of
Sheffield's most deprived neighbourhoods perceives a gap between
the rhetoric and the reality of regeneration . . .
The focus of our concern is the perceived `gap'
between the expressed strategy and the reality experienced at
ground level by those committed to relational regeneration.
Burngreave, as you are aware, is one of the
284 "poverty wards" (out of a total 9000) featuring
in the top 5 per cent of the most deprived wards in the country,
with the highest incidence of social exclusion and poverty measured
across a range of indicators.
Burngreave is one of 12 such wards selected
for special study by the Economic and Social Research Council
(ESRC) Centre For Analysis Of Social Exclusion (CASE).
Burngreave, out of the 12 studied poverty wards, uniquely qualifies
for six regeneration initiatives and special funding programmes.
|New Deal for Communities
||SRB Round 4|
|Sure Start||Health Action Zone
|Education Action Zone||Excellence in Cities
In addition the area could also be included in Sheffield's
funding through the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund and qualifies for
Objective 1. With the exception of Sure Start and New Deal for
Communities these programmes have largely been determined by existing
Tony Blair writes in the introduction to Preventing Social
Government has made a start on a big programme of change. Preventing
exclusion where we can, reintegrating those who have become excluded,
and investing in basic minimum standards for all. And we have
worked in a new waydeveloping partnerships around common
goals with the public services, communities and charities, businesses
and church organisations that have been struggling with the causes
and symptoms of poverty for so long."
Regeneration minister Hilary Armstrong has said that the
urban white paper provides a regeneration "toolkit"
for local communities and that community involvement was "key
to the whole process".
On the ground: the Government's "new way" fails
to listen clearly and carefully to the voices of people on the
edge, choosing instead to listen to those who have louder voices
and support existing statutory service providers to deliver a
bit more of the "old deal". Dick Atkinson, chief executive
of the Balsall Heath Forum and a member of the "Urban Sounding
the government and partner agencies had "talked the talk"
of resident-led regeneration and "must now walk the walk".
Dr Atkinson said. "Too often, with the best will in the world,
people who represent larger agencies will feel that they can helpand
too often they unintentionally hinder."
It has been our experience that the machinery of the major
funding mechanisms, even at local level remains inaccessible and
remote from people on the edge and those walking with them at
their pace as they bravely take first steps into new possibilities.
It is also our experience that the current trend for insisting
on sub regional strategies becomes a further barrier to the development
of relational community development initiatives engaging in bottom
up regeneration around the needs of people in deprived neighbourhoods.
Sub regional strategies should energise and invigorate local activity
by encouraging the development of local partnership working between
statutory and voluntary sector groups. Instead small initiatives
are handcuffed to regional agendas and the process becomes a drain
on its resources and human capacity.
The Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, being targeted chiefly at
core services, risks underwriting statutory agencies to provide
more of the same that ends up pushing more people to the edge.
Government rhetoric as well as the details of many government
reports and strategies for implementation of neighbourhood renewal
point to the positive impact of faith communities, like ours,
who engage with community needs for renewal and regeneration.
A key recommendation of the Social Exclusion Unit's Policy
Action Team PAT 9 is that "Central and local government and
other funders should recognise the vital role of faith communities
in regeneration and involve them at all levels".
Faith Communities and voluntary organisations are listed
as potential participants in the Government's vision for Local
The Prime Minister addressed an interfaith meeting organised
by the Christian Socialist Movement, along with Ms Armstrong.
He focused on how faith communities could encourage people to
gain the skills and confidence to regenerate their areas.
Further to the issue of supporting faith communities another
document states: "Faith organisations often play a vital
role in leading voluntary action within their communities. Government
should recognise the potential of faith organisations to contribute
to social inclusion and that this is distinct from the promotion
of religion. A failure to understand this distinction could lead
to faith groups being incorrectly assessed as ineligible for funding."
The role of faith communities is seen as particularly significant
in reaching socially excluded groups in the Black and Minority
Ethnic Sector "as many minority communities identify themselves
as much by their faith as by their ethnicity."
From the ground: we observe that all of the above appears
to create a positive environment for the flourishing of community
led, locally owned neighbourhood regeneration strategies. However,
in view of the gap that we perceive between the stated strategies
and the process from ground level, we would value your response
to the question:
Given that locally focused initiatives,
growing out of relationships with the most disadvantaged
and excluded people,
having a proven track record, meeting many of
the criteria for neighbourhood renewal
are not able to access major Government and European regeneration
funding to sustain initiatives and to exploit new opportunities
with local people . . .
where is the vision and the mechanism by which
the resources can reach people on the edge?
Rev Jane Grinonneau
The Furnival LEP
. . . And an invitation from a URC Minister who has worked
alongside local people to develop a pioneering speech and language
initiative with Sure Start in Burngreave and Fir Vale.
Dear Urban Affairs Sub-Committee,
I am living and working in a culturally and linguistically
diverse community in inner city Sheffield. The churches I work
with are involved in a number of local regeneration initiatives.
Here's what it's been like for us:
1. Bottom up means top down
There's lots of language in regeneration about it all being
"bottom up". Mostly it isn't though. Mostly it is still
top down. Take Sure Start (we're involved in that) and the way
in which programmes have to measure speech and language development
in two-year-old children. Instead of taking local advice about
this the Sure Start unit commissions a university department in
London to propose a scheme which then doesn't work in our culturally
and linguistically diverse area. We wonder why there is talk about
"bottom up" when there is little or no intention of
actually doing it that way.
2. How many people finished the course?
Most of the outcome stuff is still dominated by numbers.
Who's concept of "course" was it we were supposed to
use: yours or the participants? For some people the first engagement
with community based education is not about "finishing the
course" whatever "course" means. Of the people
who recently engaged with our Sure Start parenting group: most
came every week; most realised that, as time went on, they could
do the other things that stopped them coming each week on other
days instead of missing the group; a lot started coming on other
days because they wanted to see each otherand at the end
four women got jobs for the first time since coming to the UK.
3. Fitting our work to national objectives
We struggle to make the two different agendas converse with
each other. The faith community is about building up individuals
and groups to share a fuller life experience. National objectives
don't reflect these things. When a home visit to measure language
development turns into the need to support someone who can't speak
English to get the water board to deal with a leaking sewerage
pipe, what objective should we put it under? We have a category
called "other" to log all the things not covered by
objectives. We wonder why the tally under this category is larger
than under all the others?
Don't get me wrong. We like Sure Start and we think it is
important. We called it "wobbly start" for a long time
because it did seem very wobbly to begin with. Now we've got used
to the wobbling and realise that it is probably just a part of
the huge vulnerability that we all engage with when we live and
work in this situation. We wonder yet what you in the Urban Affairs
Sub-Committee have learned about living and working with vulnerability
and whether it would help you to come and visit us and see what
it is like.
In anticipation of your visit,
St James' URC and Shiregreen URC
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Social Exclusion and Neighbourhood: Studying the area bases of
social exclusion. CASEpaper 22. London: London School of Economics. Back
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Social Exclusion Unit (March 2001), Preventing Social Exclusion:
Report by the Social Exclusion Unit. London: Cabinet Office. Back
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Report by the Social Exclusion Unit, Page 4, Foreword by the Prime
Minister. London: Cabinet Office. Back
There are 18 members of this Urban Sounding Board which includes
Bob Kerslake, Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council. Back
NEWSTART Magazine, page 5 "Blair puts faith in religion
to empower residents", March 30 2001. Back
Social Exclusion Unit (2000), Towards a National Strategy for
Neighbourhood Renewal: Community Self-Help, Summary of the report
by Policy Action Team 9. London: Cabinet Office. Back
Social Exclusion Unit (2001), A New Commitment To Neighbourhood
Renewal: National strategy Action Plan. London: Cabinet Office. Back
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Thursday 29 March 2001. Back
Compact on Relations Between Government and the Voluntary and
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Community Sector, Section 2, Para 8.1. London: HMSO (2000). Back