Summer 2015 newsletter

SAGE launches new phase

Securing grants from the Big Lottery and the Lloyds Bank Foundation has enabled SAGE to move into a new 5 year phase where we aim to:

  • Build on our successful Social & Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) work on Grimesthorpe allotments
  • Develop many more arts activities that meet clients’ needs;
  • Support other organisations in developing STH projects.

Being busy getting all this under way has prevented us from getting a newsletter out for sometime.  But here – 6 months in – is a summary of the wonderful progress so far.


As well as supporting members ourselves we are always delighted when people develop the confidence to move on to new things.  Recent examples include Kal who has taken on his own allotment and has been up there from 5am clearing new beds for 3 hours before coming down to us later risers to help on SAGE sites.  Long-standing member Mick has joined Abbeyfield Bowling Club; 2 women members have completed an IT course run by the Together Women Project.   All this amazing progression is made possible through the input of a team of over 15 volunteers who can support one-to-one work on site and escort members to new activities.

Allotment news

The long cold Spring has meant seedlings were slow off the mark but now everything is blooming beautiful! New projects include a wild flower entrance to Plot 66; dye growing on the main site and square metre beds where members  grow an individual “pick and mix” selection of plants that they can take home or share with others.  With our 4 groups almost at capacity we anticipate we’ll struggle for sheltered space when it comes to winter so we’ve consulted with members about replacing our current shed with one that can accommodate up to 20 people.  A local company has drawn up inspirational plans of a shed twice the size, with a green roof and retaining the arbour area that provides outdoor shelter all the year round.  Now we keep fingers crossed that funding applications are successful so that we can get it up and ready before winter sets in!

Bringing horticultural therapy to others

Knowing there’s a limit to how many people we can support on our allotment sites, SAGE is now supporting other organisations to set up their own STH sites.  This started with setting up a weekly gardening group at an SYHA residence for adults with mental health needs.  After 6 months the group is thriving, being supported by regular volunteers and SYHA staff; a trip to the SAGE site for more ideas is planned in mid-August.

Since early May we’ve been helping set up a gardening project with Assist, a local charity supporting destitute asylum seekers.  They’ve secured a house in Firth Park that accommodates up to 4 women at a time for up to a year as their asylum seeking claims are processed.  We’ve supported residents growing fruit, vegetable and flowers in the front and back garden whilst simultaneously training Assist volunteers in supporting the group in the long term.  Not only is this providing fresh food for adults with very limited cash, but it enables them to switch off temporarily from the stressful uncertainty of their lives.  The project is going so well that Assist hope we can replicate it in another house they plan to purchase.

Tuning up to sing again

The Big Lottery funds have enabled us to restart Singing through the Seasons workshops again.  The first series brought 15 women together in Abbeyfield Park House to make gorgeous harmonies and have many a laugh.  The overall mood was captured by a volunteer who composed a song from women’s testimonies of outrageous things they plan for their latter years.  The group had fun performing it in style on a trip to Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet.  We plan to run the workshops again from September, with taster workshops during the summer to bring in more participants.

Knit and Natter workshops

In a further diversification into the Arts we have started supporting a Knit and Natter group that meets on Spital Hill each Friday.  So many are now attending that there’s scarcely elbow room for knitting; but that doesn’t stop the nattering!  The group had its first ever trip – also to The Hamlet – and linked up with a group of haberdashers.  A couple of our members may now join this group regularly.

Theatre with a difference

For the 3rd consecutive year the travelling theatre company, Mikron, were keen to perform on our site again in May.  We were lucky with the weather and crammed over 200 people onto the central container space to witness a musical romp through the history of the WI.  At least 15 of our members joined an audience from near and far and we made nearly £300 from selling tea and cakes.  Not bad for such a fun evening!

SAGE at the seaside!

At least once a year we like to support our members in “getting away from it all” via a trip outside Sheffield.  This year we chose Cleethorpes and were blessed with 2 great surprises:

  • It didn’t rain (much), and
  • The tide was in (on arrival, for 30 mins!)

This prompted some members and volunteers to take the plunge and many to paddle.  Many highlights have to include the sight of Jonathon sprinting past us to splash into the waves and helping fasting members harvest wild cherries to be eaten after sunset with cold fish and chips back at home!  Such fun was had by all that there’s a move to return next year.

New funds and new faces

The start of a new funding phase has enabled us to bring 3 fresh faces to our support worker team.  These are Emma Msigiti, also supporting volunteers, Spike Steadman who also overseen allotment planning; and Miriam who also support the Arts work.  They join Helen Lyle, with a focus on progression and for 3 months we’ve had additional support from Charlie Wilson who’s enjoyed her stint so much that she plans to come back as a volunteer in the summer.

Dates for Diaries

We’d be delighted to see you at any or all of the following:

Wed 29th July: Sheffield Wellbeing Day on Fargate

Tues 8th September 11 – 2pm: SAGE Open Day on Grimesthorpe allotments

Mon 5th October: World Mental Health Day, Winter Gardens

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