Game-changing New Fund Delivers Community Pride

19th July 2022

An innovative £2m fund to help communities in the wake of Covid-19 has been hailed as a game-changer by business leaders.

Sheffield City Council set up the Economic Recovery Fund in March 2021 to help get communities back on their feet and overcome the impact of trading restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

Communities, businesses, and traders were asked directly about their priorities, and as a result, with the guidance of Sheffield Chamber, funds were allocated to 26 projects across the city, 15 of which were led by businesses in district centres.

Taking the lead from those living in the heart of communities has enabled Sheffield City Council to direct funds with laser precision, says Sheffield Chamber.

“This new approach to funding in collaboration with community groups and private businesses is a real game-changer,” said Sheffield Chamber Interim Chief Executive, Louisa Harrison-Walker.

“It’s meant communities have funds to tackle barriers to trade or issues preventing an area from reaching its true potential.

“Working in this way has allowed fresh ideas to emerge, and Sheffield Chamber has been there to share specialist knowledge of the local economic picture and what works best for businesses.

“The projects coming to life across the city are a legacy of this collaboration and are improving the places where we live and work.”

Louisa Harrison-Walker and Chamber Board member Emma Marshall joined a steering group of councillors to make funding decisions.

Firth Park is one of the areas to have benefited from the Economic Recovery Fund, which distributed £50,000 for smaller projects and up to £200,000 for larger projects. 

“The business community, Firth Park Community Forum, and councillors were keen to share the message that the area is family-friendly and packed with things to do” explained Emma Marshall.

“They used the funding for new picnic tables and benches near the shops and they’ve filled the area with flower beds and planters. New public art is also being developed in consultation with the community. They are also using some of the funding to support a programme of community events which are bringing people to the neighbourhood.

“Firth Park is a great example of what can be achieved when we work together and a reminder that Sheffield is one of the best places to build and grow a business in the country.”

Councillor Ben Miskell, Deputy Chair of the Economic Development and Skills Policy Committee, said: “Our district centres needed a helping hand as we came out of multiple lockdowns and the Economic Recovery Fund has given them a real buzz.

“Businesses and communities are best placed to come up with initiatives that help customers and visitors return. The Economic Recovery Fund was an opportunity to do things differently, and I’m pleased that this dynamic relationship is proving successful and building pride in local communities.”

Funded projects across Sheffield include a new parklet and festival on Abbeydale Road; cycle parking, planting and greenery in Hillsborough; new seating, noticeboards, and signage in Chapeltown and a promotional campaign to attract visitors to Spital Hill. For full details of areas to receive funding visit ERF-project-summaries-spring-2022.pdf (sheffield.gov.uk)

Image caption (L-R): Fiseha Tesfaldet, Eldana Tesfaldet, Selamawit Tesfaldet

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