Rotary Club of Rochdale

Past Projects

This page shows some of the projects that our club has either initiated or concluded.

Befriending Scheme

Winner of District 1280 The Keith Hoskinson Care in the Community Trophy 2010

The trophy is aimed at a unique Rotary club / individual project that has in some way impacted on the local community in care in a dynamic way.

Rotarian Mike Tomkinson is a Community Mental Health Worker with the national charity "Together" which is the oldest mental health charity in the country.
Mike is also the Convenor of the Community Service Committee of the Rotary Club of Rochdale and has identified an area of service where we can make a real difference to the lives of a few members of the community
Mike and his colleagues at “Together” are training and vetting some of the members of our Rotary Club and other volunteers so that they are qualified to befriend people with mental health problems who otherwise feel isolated and lonely.

Qualified Participants will commit themselves to befriend a client for about an hour once every two weeks. Not an onerous commitment but valuable support to help the recovery of someone who is struggling to make meaningful contact with friends in the community and who needs to increase their feelings of confidence, self-esteem and well-being. 

It is hoped that it can be widened to recruit participants in Rochdale from outside Rotary and that it can be duplicated by other Rotary Clubs across the North West and beyond

Donations to this scheme can be made on

Please read the updates below to see how the scheme is growing


The Befriending scheme is now approaching its first anniversary and has been making good measurable progress in supporting its clients. We have given three Befriender training schemes to eleven Volunteers and feedback from befriended clients has been very encouraging.

Now that Befrienders from the Rotary Club of Rochdale have helped set the scheme up, we at Together are working hard to recruit more Volunteers from the community as there is a considerable demand for this service.

After a great deal of work we have submitted an application for Approved Provider Status to the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation and they are in the process of auditing our work. Achieving this standard will positively validate our procedures and methods of working, giving confidence to all those involved.

On the last weekend in September Rotarians and members of Together staff will be displaying information about the befriending project in the exhibition area at the Rotary Conference in Llandudno. We wish to inform other Rotary clubs about the value of this work in the hope that they will consider setting up a similar project in their own areas in partnership with a local mental health charity. Staff from Together will be able to advise on all aspects of the scheme as well as how to make contact with local partners.

October 2009
We are delighted to announce that the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation has awarded the Approved Provider Standard to the FriendsTogether Befriending project. This National Award recognises the overall quality standard that the project has achieved and particularly the work of the Befrienders. As well as checking the project policies and procedures, the auditors paid particular attention to the feedback from clients about their experiences of befriending.

Together set up a Project stall in Rochdale Centre on Mental Health Day and received applications from 14 members of the public who expressed an interest in befriending. We will present the first training course for these applicants on Saturday 7th November. This represents substantial progress in the development of the project and will help to provide Befrienders for the large number of clients who are anxious to take advantage of this service

May 2012 update.

The Friends Together befriending scheme has been running successfully now for almost four years.
The project is registered on the Rochdale CVS website and recently this has resulted in 9 enquiries from people who are interested in volunteering with the befriending service. Additionally a Rotary Befriender has been involved with the training of new community volunteers to help give them first-hand knowledge of what is involved in working with clients.
Feedback from clients continues to be positive and shows how much they value the relationship they have with their Befrienders.
The project is due to be audited again by The Mentoring and Befriending Foundation in September and a successful outcome will ensure that the Befriending scheme will retain its validation approval by the Foundation.
A presentation was made to the Rotary District Assembly at Salford University on May 12th to inform other Rotary clubs about befriending in the hope that we can support them to start their own schemes locally.

Sand Dams

Rochdale Rotary Club has helped with water conservation in an arid area of Kenya. Through the Sand Dams Charity a club donation from the club charity fund of £6,500 has enabled a concrete wall to be built across a seasonal sandy river bed in Kibwezi district. This allows the build up of a mixture of sand and water during the rainy season which is much more resistant to evaporation in the Kenyan dry season. Villagers themselves were involved with the building of the dam .Now when rain water fills it up the local people can draw off water either through scoop holes in the sand or via infiltration galleries leading to pipes or taps Infiltration galleries can also be linked to sealed shallow wells with hand pumps. (See photo of dam, it’s structure and Commemorative plaque)
17 Community members(Wikwatyo Wa Kiambani Self Help Group) helped to build the Dam .Apart from drinking water they will also be using it for their tree nursery, for vegetable and other plant growing and it will help to maintain seed banks for future planting.
The water will fill three water school tanks ensuring children can access clean water at school.
The Wikwato wa Kiambani Group secretary Mr. Mwanthi Nuvi said the group intend to plant trees in their farms “to make their surroundings green and breathe fresh air. ”Very few trees survive in such an arid area without water being available. Water from the sand dam enables tree seedlings to be germinated and grown in nurseries, meaning that they are strong enough to be planted in fields successfully when the rains arrive.
Survival rate for trees near Sand dams is between 65 and 90%, whereas overall in Kenya, the survival rate is just 2%. Trees will provide farmers with food, fodder, fertilizer, fuel, lumber and a source of income, as well as assisting soil and water conservation.
On the completion of the dam in November 2013 the local people sent a very appreciative thank you to President Neil Helliwell , International Convenor Bob Chadwick, Past President David Smithard and all members of the Rotary club (see pics of local people and children).

Gracie Fields

Sebastian Lassandro, President of the Gracie Fields Appreciation Society, has unveiled a new display about Rochdale’s famous singer, Gracie Fields, outside Committee Room 4 on the ground floor in Rochdale Town Hall.

This display is available for anyone to see, without charge, by asking at the Town Hall Reception Desk. It was erected by Julian Jefferson, Head of Arts and Heritage at Touchstones Museum who also have a display of memorabilia about “Our Gracie” and will be mounting a further exhibition called “Legacy” in May 2014 which will feature Gracie Fields

The Rotary Clubs of Rochdale and Rochdale East have projects to raise the appreciation of Gracie Fields in Rochdale. They hope to erect a memorial to her in the memorial gardens opposite the Town Hall and also hope that the public who have letters, papers and artefacts relating to Gracie will donate these to our Charitable Trust Company. When we have sufficient exhibits we hope to create a permanent exhibition in memory of this great singer within the Town Hall where she appeared and sang for her public many years ago.

We are also seeking any Rochdale people who would like to be involved in this endeavour to form a “Gracie Fields Group”. Members of this group will be “Friends of the Rotary Club of Rochdale” with specials interest in Gracie Fields. It is open to men and women of all ages. If you want to join then please contact Rotarian John F Kay either by email to or telephone him on 01706-767409. Further information can be found on the Rotary Club’s website


Contact Information

Rotary Club of Rochdale

Masonic Buildings
Richard Street
OL11 1DU

Tel: 01706 767409

Where we are

(click to zoom)