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A Magazine for Sheffield

SOAR: Community regeneration

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It feels like the world has turned full circle. SOAR, a community regeneration charity based in Sheffield, was born out of activists getting stuff done to improve the neighbourhoods they live in. This activity led to a Single Regeneration Programme, managed by the newly-formed SOAR, which ran from 1999 to 2007. One of the core elements of this programme related to community development. Investment in community buildings, lead projects, services and small grants made up 38% of the money spent.

So why the full circle reference? This year, £39,774 was spent on 46 small grants and £120,457 was subcontracted to different community and voluntary organisations for service delivery. We've also provided development support to Shiregreen Neighbourhood Centre, Foxhill and District Community Association, High Green Development Trust, Longley 4 Greens Community Centre, Green City Action and Dementia Groups at The Furnival, Wincobank Village Hall, Methodist Church Chapeltown and Parson Cross Development Forum.

This is part of a model called social prescribing

Next year this work will carry on. So what's happening? There's a real recognition that the provision of local services and activities, delivered in communities by neighbourhood-based groups, is an excellent way of improving the health and wellbeing of residents. The services are local, people can influence and shape the activities on offer, they're able to make new friends that live locally and they can find out more about what's happening in their communities.

This is part of a model called social prescribing. In a nutshell, this says that there's not a pill for every ill, and that poor health can be related to social factors. The classic example is around mental health. Attendance at a Social Cafe can reconnect people who are lonely and socially isolated, thereby improving their emotional wellbeing. Being in debt can lead to anxiety, poor mental health, and even depression. Antidepressants don't solve the underlying cause, but sorting out a debt can enable that person to feel like they can look up and see that there's a positive way forward.

Find out more about SOAR here.

Rose Batty

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