In South Yorkshire Awards 2013

Barnsley Beacon is a unique project which supports the relatives, friends, and carers of drug and alcohol abusers, not the abusers themselves. The aim is to enable them to realise it is the abuser who is responsible for the problem not themselves and then learn to cope with the situation. The Stepping Stones programme allows people to talk through the complex practical and emotional problems they face on a confidential one-to-one basis. The driving force is to move on from an often lonely, self-help situation and to become part of the mutual support system. This spirit of co-operation is obvious throughout the whole organisation.

The Friends of Martinwell Lakes in Edlington, Doncaster, have turned a notorious no-go area into a tranquil and welcoming leisure area. The enthusiasm and energy of the Friends has garnered community engagement and support in kind from local people and local businesses and organisations. So after four years hard work a dumping ground for stolen cars and outpost for the sale and use of illegal drugs is now a much loved and attractive community asset and a previously disenfranchised community can now walk, picnic and fish in beautiful surroundings.

The Friends of Sandall Park in Doncaster is a hard working bunch of volunteers who have regenerated an urban park. In effect the local community stepped in when the local authority gave up on the park. They transformed a dismal and neglected facility into a safe and attractive place for families to visit and a safe environment for birds and wildlife. In doing so, this hands-on direct action group challenged and then saw off some pretty nasty criminal and disruptive behaviour.

Sparkles of Hoyland Common near Barnsley is quite simply a group of people who get together on a Tuesday. Originally an over 50s Club, it’s now a drop-in meeting place for all ages with members from 19 to 84. [The 19-year-old has just set up a Sparkles Facebook page.] Sparkles has a home-made but effective air about it which reflects its origins and its place in this small community. Members say: “it’s not at all cliquey, everyone is welcome.” Sparkles also manages to support local charities by the simple stratagem of “cutting its coat”.