A major research project designed to improve the lives of people across South Yorkshire has been launched by the region’s largest local grant giving charity.

The Vital Signs survey has been developed by South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF), with the support of South Yorkshire Mayor, Oliver Coppard, and his office.

Members of the public can provide responses about their local area linked to ten key themes. These include Stronger Communities, Work and the Local Economy, Education and Learning, Disadvantage and Inequality, Housing and Homelessness, Crime and Safety, Arts and Heritage, Natural Environment, Healthy Living and Mental Health.

The survey results will feed into SYCF’s Vital Signs research - a ‘health-check’ which identifies the hidden needs and priorities of local communities across Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster.

Responses will also be collated through a series of special community consultations and existing statistical data.

Ruth Willis, CEO of South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation, said: 

Understanding the needs of a community and the issues it faces is the first step to being able to solve them.

Our Vital Signs survey is aimed at taking the pulse of South Yorkshire communities.  The results give us an accurate view on where our funds should be directed and support us to provide targeted interventions to tackle critical issues affecting our communities.

We want the report to be thought-provoking and, not just guide our funds, but enable us to develop collaborative working amongst funders within the region to address community needs. Participation in the research is vital in creating, shaping, and implementing community-driven change.


Since 1986, South Yorkshire's Community Foundation has made grants of more than £36 million to local groups, individuals, charities and organisations across the region.

Professor Chris Booth-Mayblin, chair of South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation, said:

We support community groups across South Yorkshire by giving grants to help build thriving communities.

To do this we need the public’s help to identify key priorities and hidden needs. So, we’re encouraging as many people as possible to help their community by filling in the Vital Signs survey. Their voice is important to us.

By supporting and sharing Vital Signs, they will help us create a positive impact in the local community. Together, we can work towards identifying areas that require attention and develop strategies to enhance the quality of life for everyone in our region.


Vital Signs is carried out by South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation every three years. The results from the 2021 project specifically highlighted issues facing young people getting into work or training.

From this, SYCF funded projects which helping vulnerable, underrepresented and marginalised young people into employment. This included the hugely successful ‘Moving on Up’ grants programme which has awarded £158,000 over three years to organisations addressing unemployment for young people aged 14-30 in South Yorkshire.

Some of the projects funded through Moving on Up included Roundabout, The Suits Works, Serenity and Work Wise Foundation.

To complete the 2024 Vital Signs survey online, click on this link: https://forms.gle/r4Tch1TyiCWhFrhNA.

Meet Rachael

Rachael coordinates the delivery of philanthropic activities, working collaboratively within different teams, community groups and donors to bring about exciting new opportunities. She is also head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) for the Foundation as well as overseeing South Yorkshire’s Giving Network. Her working days are Monday to Friday.

Rachael Farrell

Philanthropy Coordinator

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Rachael Farrell