The worst estate in Britain

Green Estate CIC is a not for profit organisation which has been working to improve the quality of life in the Manor Ward of Sheffield since 1998.

This neighbourhood, home to some 10,000 households, faced serious problems following the collapse of Sheffield’s major manufacturing industries, on which most families were dependent financially. The consequence was a rapid decline, from it being a relatively wealthy working area to an estate with a high dependency on benefits and the resulting poverty.

This was compounded by a contemporaneous deterioration in the housing stock, the inevitable result being social decline: increased crime; poor educational attainment; high unemployment; poor health and a significantly degraded environment.

At the height of its decline, the area suffered the smear of being labelled ‘the Worst Estate in Britain’. But what this actually did was galvanise local people into taking action.

Out of this first emerged the Manor and Castle Development Trust who amongst many other things became the accountable body for, what seemed at the time, a substantive amount of SRB 3 grant funding.

In doing so the Trust created a new model for neighbourhood change. Rooted in community development, but accepting a need for long-term stewardship, seeking to establish local assets and longer term programmes that would address well-being and inclusion for all. 1998 then saw the start of the embryonic Green Estate as part of this wider programme.

Originally an 18 month funded project with 2 staff, the Environment and Heritage programme quickly established itself as a major element of the overall regeneration approach, and was incorporated as a separate legal entity in 2003 and has traded without grant funding as a successful social enterprise since that time.

20 years on, the substantial legacy is evident to everyone. Much of the community partnership remains as strong and aligned as it did at the start and a highly impressive local asset base has been developed and is thriving today.

Green Estate’s success is impossible to separate entirely from this collaborative network of like minded organisations and council departments, but has taken the leadership role for management of a suite of now exceptional local parks, green-spaces and the historic Sheffield Manor Lodge site.

With a turnover of over £2,000,000 generated from a mix of innovative green business and site-based assets and designed to sustain these now beautiful places whilst delivering much greater and wider local social and economic benefit, Green Estate pride themselves on demonstrating what the third sector can bring to an inclusive city.

Looking forward we suspect that our neighbourhood will always (unfortunately) be defined by poverty, so we are taking a fresh look at our structure now to see how we can be resilient in ‘perpetuity’ and see more return back to some more ambitious local programmes. This requires us to consider expanding our trading activities into a more global sphere whilst retaining the very local benefit focus that we actually espouse.

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