Make Yourself at Home is not all about the big high-profile businesses and corporates often associated with driving the local and national economy. The campaign is very much keen to showcase and support the city’s charitable, community and third sector, too.
Here Jill Theobald takes a closer look at the work of the community sector to find out what these vital organisations have been up to during COVID – and their part in the re-opening of the city post-lockdown
Lending support – and learning lots – at Cathedral Archer Project
Help Us Help is a Sheffield campaign aimed at encouraging and showing members of the public how to get involved helping people who beg and sleep rough in Sheffield.
Run by local charities, the city council, a residents’ group and other services, the campaign promotes services including access to accommodation, healthcare and day-to-day support.
Phil Isaac is a security guard, formerly head doorman at TANK. Having recently worked at the Nightingale hospitals and at Heathrow protecting vital PPE stock, his next assignment was in Sheffield, supporting the Cathedral Archer Project with ensuring social distancing among clients accessing their service during the pandemic.
He said: “I’m a South London boy born and bred, and have been working in security for 30 years now, all over the country but settled up north with my family for the past six years. Recently I’ve been thinking about what to do next, maybe step away from security, and this experience has given me lots to think about. The people I’ve met, the stories I’ve heard.”
At present the Archer Project is supplying 200 meals a day plus lunches and breakfasts to homeless and vulnerable people in the city, and the team is working on how to open their premises for breakfasts whilst adhering to government guidelines, rather than passing food through their gates.
Phil actively engages the clients in conversation, listens to their stories and has learned a lot.
“I’ve got huge empathy with them. Some of their stories are heartbreaking. Their families may be in another country, they may have lost everything. Working at the Project in the way I am, it’s helping in a small way. I’m enjoying it and it’s making me think this could be my new direction.”
Mums In Need strengthens team and support during COVID
Laura Riley, founder and CEO of Mums In Need, said: “The work of Mums In Need has increased during the pandemic, given the rising incidence of domestic abuse. We have needed to be creative, moving to work virtually in order to continue to support our Mums in Need (Mins) at a time when they are experiencing increased levels of isolation and stress.
“We have also taken the opportunity to develop the organisation. We have recruited two new trustees and strengthened our team of media and marketing volunteers. We have also worked to secure COVID-19 related funding, and have been grateful for financial awards from the National Lottery (Awards for All), South Yorkshire Community Foundation, the Talbot Trust, South Yorkshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Sheffield Town Trust, Greggs Foundation, AF Blakemore, Gripple Charities, and the Company Of Cutlers.
“With the funds awarded, we have been able to appoint a new part-time caseworker. This has enabled us to extend the work with Mins. It has also freed up some of my time as CEO to attend networking events to raise more awareness about our support for Mums who have escaped abusive relationships, and – with one of our volunteers – to make presentations about our work to, for example, a local Women’s Institute group and a Women Entrepreneurs group.
“Our team has pulled together during this time and I am so proud of each and every one of them.”
RSPCA helps animals feel at home during COVID
RSPCA Sheffield Animal Centre operations director Diana Radford said: “As a charity responsible for raising all of its own running costs we feel a real affinity for the support of the business community.
“During the pandemic, nearly all our dogs and cats have been looked after in the homes of people either working from home or furloughed – and unLTD’s own Dan Laver and Phil Turner both fostered dogs from us!
“As the lockdown eases many of our furry friends have not made their way back to the centre and have been adopted by the same people. The sad fact is the spaces these lucky animals leave will be filled up again and again particularly by those that are unwanted, neglected and have been subject to cruelty and we expect demand to go up.
“The business community, particularly SMEs, have rallied in support, and it’s a two-way street – we work with our business supporters closely so that we both reap the rewards.
“It could be a team event to raise employee morale and encourage teamwork, or fundraising to become a corporate hero by making a regular donation and in turn, the business getting meaningful exposure.
“We offer cat and dog cuddling but there is so much more to do at a branch including charity shops, admin, grounds maintenance, events and cleaning, which all contributes to the animals in our care.”
Paces’ virtual event shares vision
David Hall, corporate partnerships manager, said: “In July Paces hosted their very own virtual event to share with people the vision for their new home. With attendees including Lord-lieutenant Mr Andrew Coombe, Dame Julie Kenny and businesses such as Nike and Converse, it’s clear to see the support for the incredible work Paces carry out is on the rise.
“Supporting children and adults with neurological conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, MS, stroke, Parkinson’s and brain injury, Paces help their children and adults learn life-changing skills such as walking, eating, talking, standing and so much more all in an environment they can have fun and feel like they belong.
“Paces’ current home is in a state of disrepair and in March we launched a capital appeal to raise £3.5 million to build a state of the art, brand new home by the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) on the Waverley Estate.
“The new home will become a centre of excellence right here in South Yorkshire and will allow Paces to support three times as many children and adults living with neurological conditions.”
SCCCC continues vital work during pandemic
Ericka Hill, fundraising, communications and marketing officer, said: “Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care (SCCCC) – one of the city’s leading older persons’ charities – continued its vital work during the pandemic.
“For the Hospital to Home team, it has been business as usual – collecting older people from hospital upon discharge, taking them home, and ensuring they’re integrated back into their routines.
“Where the charity has had to adapt its services is within its flagship Good Neighbour Scheme, which is a lifeline for many lonely older people. Friendly visiting was forced to be put on hold, but SCCCC adjusted by implementing a telephone service so its service users still had volunteer support.
“The charity also launched a Penpal scheme, which has been enormously successful. The charity so far has received more than 400 letters, from as far afield as Worcester and Wiltshire, Bristol and Oldham, and even Milwaukee in America.
“The letters and ‘thinking of you’ cards have brightened up the day of many older people who have felt alone during lockdown. The scheme has been so successful, that SCCCC hope to carry on the scheme for years to come.
“We are proud to be a Sheffield charity making a difference to the lives of our older communities.”
Forging ahead at ShefFood
ShefFood communications lead Stella Bolam said: “ShefFood is our city’s sustainable food partnership, the local member of the Sustainable Food Places (Food Cities) national food partnership programme. Our founding partners are Regather, Heeley City Farm, Food Works, The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam.
“We exist as a partnership to help facilitate, develop, and campaign for the environmental, societal, health and economic benefits of a more resilient and sustainable food system across the Sheffield City Region.
“During COVID-19 lockdown, we launched a weekly e-bulletin, sent to more than 150 food sector connections, to share useful resources and news to support our local food sector.
“We’re forging new relationships, thanks to group Zoom meets organised by Voluntary Action Sheffield and Together Sheffield, which connect numerous food organisations, enabling them to share mutual challenges and solutions to ease emergency food access.
“On behalf of the city, ShefFood is also applying for a Bronze Award from Sustainable Food Places. This involves gathering examples of the many brilliant joined-up, approaches to positive change in our local food system.
“We’d really appreciate input from the sector for the city’s award application, so if you’d like to share details about your work or project, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re right behind the Make Yourself At Home message because we believe it’s vital to showcase our independent hospitality sector, as well as our traders and growers to help sustain our local food system.”
Tickets for Good breaks down barriers
Founder and CEO Steve Rimmer said: “At Tickets for Good and The Ticket Bank, we know that attending arts events is beneficial to mental health and emotional wellbeing. That’s why we give away free event tickets to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to attend, or who have other barriers which make getting out and about difficult.
“For the past few years we’ve been working with charities to get free tickets to their beneficiaries, more recently via our spare ticket
“COVID-19 has created barriers for everyone but these are compounded for people who already face disadvantage and social exclusion. The new challenges it presents, mixed with self-isolation, trauma, and a persistent threat to our physical health, really shows us just how vital it is to feel part of a community.
“Although we have seen all our live events cancelled during lockdown, we haven’t let this stop us trying to break down these barriers. We’ve created a digital event platform to ensure that we can still provide access to events for our ticket recipients, to try and keep them busy and well during this difficult time.
“We’ve also been working on a project to give our NHS and social care staff access to free tickets to say thank you for all their hard work and sacrifice during this period.”