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Start Up

Start Up is a project managed by Ignite Imaginations from 2015-21 as part of the Age Better in Sheffield programme which aims to reduce isolation amongst people aged 50 and above in Sheffield. Start Up gave an opportunity for local people aged 50 and over in Sheffield to start up something new or develop something they are already involved in. The idea was to use small-scale support to spark new ideas, strengthen existing provision and create new and interesting opportunities for older people in the area.

Ignite’s Start Up Project Coordinator worked closely with individuals and groups all over Sheffield, supporting them throughout the process of starting up, and getting activities up and running. The programme offered micro grants of up to £200 to support group costs in getting up and running.

The programme has been busy over the years, supporting a wide range of groups, including some one-off and short term activities as well as establishing groups that have now successfully been running and supporting people in their neighbourhoods and communities for several years. There are at least 150 people regularly attending groups established through Start Up as well as more than 600 people attending one-off events. The key to it all has been providing the space and the support for people to shape the activities they want and to connect and build friendships with one another.

Groups and activities supported by Start Up have included:

  • Shirebrook Conservation Group

  • Ladies writing group in Woodseats

  • Sheffield Organic Growers

  • ‘Have a doodle’ craft sessions

  • Firth Park Culture Day

  • Dementia Cafe in Broomhall

  • Martial Arts groups in Woodhouse and Hansworth

  • Mosborough History Group

  • Day trips with a group of Yemeni men

  • Oral History Group

  • Keep fit for Somali Women.

  • Pagan Women's group

We are most pleased to see the ongoing legacy for the project, where people and groups supported by Start Up have gone on to become support hubs for their communities, offering the benefit of their experience and expertise to help new groups to develop. For example, the High Five social club in Beauchief offered a weekly coffee and conversation club for over 50s who were isolated and lonely. As that group became more popular and established, members began to feel more confident to think about other activities and ideas they might want to develop, and the High Five Club Coordinator was able to help support them in turn.


The Start Up projects were also able to stay in touch with one another across the city and take inspiration from friends in other groups. For examples, this led to a new Chairobics group inspired by another Start Up Project somewhere else in the city.


Start Up has been a significant project for Ignite Imaginations, and really helped us develop our practice, in using creative methods for encouraging grassroots participation through supporting connection and friendship. Though the Lottery funding through the Age Better in Sheffield programme ended in 2021, Ignite will look to sustain the legacy of this project and develop programmes that keep the spirit of Start Up alive.

“We look after each other, we look out for each other. If somebody doesn’t turn up then we want to know why. If it’s snowed then somebody will knock on everybody’s door and say, ‘do you want any milk’, and it’s just got everybody together as a community, which didn’t happen before.”


Please enjoy these videos from our Start Up project

Summer 2019

Sheffield Tuneless Choir

Men's Social Group

Ladies Zumba

Community Gardening Group in Woodhouse

Chair Aerobics

Mosborough History Meeting Group

Social Chin Wag

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