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'Next generation needed' to secure long-term future of Sheffield's vital TARA groups

Mick Daniels.
Mick Daniels.

Concern has been raised that vital tenant and resident associations that serve communities across Sheffield could die out - unless the next generation steps up to take them on.

Mick Daniels, who has been chair of Brushes TARA in Firth Park for about 20 years, is concerned that dwindling interest in the groups, which serve an important role in tackling neighbourhood issues, could lead to them being fazed out.

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There are fears an erosion of community spirit coupled with a move in society towards increasing use of mobile phones and social media has contributed to the closure of up to 15 TARA groups in the city in the last decade or so.

Mr Daniels, aged 69, said many groups are now led by older people and urged the younger generation to take them on and ensure their long-term survival.

He said: "I don't like saying it because I don't want the TARAs to go, but yes there is a little danger. Many TARA members are of a certain age and you have to wonder how long can we go on for.

"I would love the younger generation to come forward and get involved. We would still be there to advise them, but that would mean TARAs have a future."

He claimed there used to be more than 60 TARAs a decade ago in Sheffield and that could have fallen to around 50.

Mick said Brushes TARA has tried many different thing to try and get younger people involved - who might one day take on stewardship of the group.

This includes a youth group which organised craft activities but this closed last year after about 10 years due to dwindling numbers.

They also used to get more residents attending weekly meetings, along with more police officers and council representatives, but now capacity at meetings is "hit-and-miss."

Mick said: "Community spirit has gone is some cases, which is very sad.

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"I think petty crime is on the rise too. You used to leave your door open but now people get home and you can hear five locks clicking. People are more shut away.

"Cuts to services has also hit in recent years, you simply don't see as many police officers out as you used to.

"And we used to have more community engagement officers from the council, who used to work with TARAs, than we do now.

"We could do with a bit more promotion of TARAs from the council."

He also highlighted how TARAs are very worthy of their place in society, should not be taken for granted and every effort should be made to save them.

He said: "I got involved over 20 years ago because I was concerned about why some council homes were getting improvements before others.

"I went along and got an explanation, and then I just kept going.

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At the moment we are working hard trying to sort out a lot of issues such as anti-social behaviour, cutting grass on verges and litter."

He added: "It is a good place to debate and discuss how to improve the area. But we have a committee of six, representing 497 residents.

"You get more done if you work together instead of being apart. The more people involved the better."

For advice on how to set up a TARA visit https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/council-housing/tenants-residents-associations.html