New Minister for Rawmarsh welcomes development as she takes up her new role


A Rotherham charity’s plans to further improve its services for local people of all ages have received an additional boost with the announcement of funding totalling more than £300,000 from national, regional and local church organisations.

Building work has already started on an extension to the High Street Centre in Rawmarsh, which provides a range of community, training and childcare services for  people of all ages living in and around Rawmarsh and Parkgate.

Alongside other grants and fundraising, the money will be used to develop a welcoming reception area, additional meeting space and disabled facilities at the centre, which has continued to support  the local community with services and activities, both virtually and in a Covid-safe environment on site, during the pandemic.

Progress on the development has been welcomed by the Rev Jo Archer-Siddall, Superintendent for the Methodist Church Rotherham and Dearne Valley Circuit, and newly-appointed Minister responsible for Rawmarsh Methodist Church.

Mother-of-three Jo, whose husband Ed is a Lay Pastor in the Circuit, has also joined the High Street Centre Board of Trustees, which comprises representatives of the local community, the Methodist Church and other members co-opted for their particular experience or skills.

The charity’s Board of Trustees gave the go ahead for the extension in 2019, and agreed a plan for the further fundraising needed to complete the project. Work started on site during the summer and it is hoped that the building will be completed early in 2021.

“I’m delighted to have joined the Board at such an exciting time for the High Street Centre,” said Jo. “The work of the team has been even more valuable over the past few months, and the support they have continued to give by working creatively during the pandemic has been greatly appreciated by local families.”

Jo, from Sheffield, has served in Sheffield North (as a Student Minister) and Huddersfield, and moved to Rotherham in 2013. She took over as Superintendent of the Circuit three years ago. She is also Chaplain to the Girls’ Brigade; Volunteer Chaplain at Rotherham Hospice, and keeps parrots – which often make an appearance at church events.

“I’m passionate about the need for the 21st Century Church to be bold, taking with it the treasures of the past, but with open arms to grasp the treasures of the present,” said Jo. “The church needs to be at the very heart of the community, and it’s clear that here in Rawmarsh and Parkgate, the High Street Centre is playing that role too. I look forward to being a part of it.”

Church funding for the development project  includes allocations from:

Allchurches Trust

Rawmarsh Methodist Church

Rotherham and Dearne Valley Circuit of the Methodist Church

Sheffield Methodist District        Methodist Connexion

Trustees, Methodist Church Purposes

in addition to funding from other funders across the country.

High Street Centre Development Manager Caroline Langston believes the extension will make a huge difference to people living in the area. “The development will help us to extend an even warmer welcome to Rawmarsh and Parkgate families in the months and years to come,” she said. “It’s fantastic that so many different parts of the Methodist Church are getting behind the project, and the grants are a real boost.

“We will be announcing further funding over the coming months, and also opportunities for local people and groups who already feel at home in the High Street Centre to raise money for specific items of equipment or furniture. Watch this space!”

Paul Playford, Grants Officer for Allchurches Trust, said: “We’re delighted to support this exciting new development for High Street Centre. The centre and Rawmarsh Methodist do a wonderful job of reaching out to the community and this new extension will offer even more opportunities for them to connect with local people and support them.”