The impact of the pandemic has rocked the Sheffield community and as we emerge from lockdown, there has never been a better time to make the most of our homegrown businesses. Thanks to the Make Yourself at Home initiative, local businesses have an opportunity to begin to move forward safely as we gradually edge towards a return to normal life. unLTD’s Dan Laver and Sasha Mossman spoke to a few local businesses to find out what steps they would be taking to bounce back from the effects of lockdown
Address: 78-82 The Moor, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 3LT
David Cartwright, store manager, said:
“As an independent family store, we truly care about our customers and colleagues, so we knew that temporarily closing the store was the best thing to do to keep everyone safe. We also knew it would be hugely important to stay in touch with customers and colleagues, and we did that with a weekly newsletter/update from Nicholas Atkinson (MD and fourth generation of our family store).
“Being independent and individual means that we have a personality, and we think that really showed in the communications Nicholas created during lockdown. Nothing was contrived, Nicholas and we as a store, had a genuine interest in staying in touch with everyone – so whether it was news about Nicholas’s daughters home hen party or latest updates from the garden, it all went down really well with our loyal customer base – to us it’s a personality and personability that you just do not find elsewhere. Atkinsons loves Sheffield, Sheffield loves Atkinsons, there’s the synergy.
“Even during lockdown, we saw some of the ‘Blitz spirit’ again that took us through the difficult war years. We had many customers calling and emailing us to ask to pay their balance on accounts, even though we’d frozen payments and interest, as we wanted to do our bit to help people through the period.
“As we came out of lockdown the support we received via phone, email, social media and the website, has been overwhelming. So many good wishes and people stating that we were going to be their first stop on re-opening. We wanted to reward them for that support, and we’ve done that by making reductions across our departments. Importantly, as well, we have put in place all the measures to make for a safe and pleasurable shopping experience. If people haven’t visited yet, they’ll be surprised by how much of the ‘Atkinsons Experience’ we’ve been able to maintain whilst keeping social distancing in place for everyone’s safety. That includes the opening of the car park, Caffe Massarella, and first floor facilities, for the convenience and enjoyment of our customers.
“In terms of the big sellers, we’ve seen lots of people buying for home – guess those few month’s indoors have made everyone long for something fresh and new – whether that’s bedding and linens, garden furniture, new appliances or furniture and beds. Now that we’re starting to see relaxation for the hospitality industry, sales on fashions, footwear and fragrances are also starting to increase – it’s always a lovely feeling to go out in something new. Aside from this we’ve seen plenty of gifts and cards purchased too, people wanting to say ‘thank you’ to those helping them through this time – or maybe a belated present for someone who had a lockdown birthday.
“We’re so glad to be back, and our 75,000 sq ft store over two floors on The Moor is packed full of bargains for the people of Sheffield, and beyond, to grab. It’s certainly a time to be shopping independent and shopping local, and we’ve been really pleased by the support we’ve received. We’d like to say again a big thank you to all our supporters and to our colleagues for all their hard work during this time.”
Address: 26 Trippet Lane, Sheffield, S1 4EL
Social media @foodfusion2015 @foodfusionnutrition (Instagram/ Facebook/ Twitter)
Dan Stevens, director, said:
“Our meal prep service was popular before lockdown, but being able to have nutritious, fresh, low calorie meals has definitely taken the headache out of eating healthily for our new customers. We offer nationwide delivery too, so we have been reaching people right across the country.
“We haven’t been neglecting Sheffield though, and since re-opening our new store on Trippet Lane, we’ve refurbished to make it easier for our customers to grab and go, adding more fridges so our customers can self-serve. We’ve been really proud to keep serving our customers, especially key workers.
“During lockdown, a lot of us have taken the chance to think about a healthy lifestyle and there’s no shortcut, unfortunately. However, by making small changes you can start to make lasting changes. It’s been great to be able to help so many new people, and to help them take the strain out of the first step!
“Our team are all passionate about food, nutrition and building a healthy community. Aside from preparing hundreds of meals each week for our loyal customers, they are regularly coming up with new combinations to keep our menu fresh and doing all of the work behind the scenes.
“As the saying goes, not all superheroes wear capes!”
Twinkl Educational Publishing
Address: Wards Exchange, 197 Ecclesall Rd, Sheffield S11 8HW
David Angrave, chief operating officer, said:
“Twinkl has been fortunate to be able to deliver the same service to our members throughout the pandemic. Recognising that our online resources could help teachers, parents and carers, we made the decision to make all our resources free to anyone in the world for a number of months. We have been able to achieve all of this working from home.
“From Monday August 10, we will be reopening the doors to our Sheffield offices, where with extensive hygiene and distancing measures in place, we will enable team members who want to return to the office to do so safely using a phased model. However, we are also continuing to embrace home working and flexibility for the team, because whether we are in the office, at home in Sheffield, or working in South Korea, we are all Team Twinkl. Our message to Sheffield is that with great challenges come great opportunities for innovation. That adaptability and a focus on doing the right thing for team members, customers and the community, are fundamental for survival and ultimately success. We have an incredible team, phenomenal customers, and are lucky to call Sheffield home, and are really excited for the future. “
Address: Blend Kitchen, Wards Exchange, 197 Ecclesall Rd, Sheffield S11 8HW
Justin Rowntree, Blend Kitchen project manager, said:
“We are in a wonderfully unique position as – with the support of Twinkl – we are building a purpose-built restaurant that will be open and ‘Covid-ready’ this autumn.
“Right now, we are working with two amazing local design agencies to create a beautiful, non-clinical and natural interior design and layout that will keep staff and customers safe, with integral social distancing measures that can be reduced as the threat decreases. There will also be thoughtful and fun signage and messaging, so that everyone knows how to use the space safely and comfortably.
“Ahead of the opening, we’ve been gaining the support of some incredible people, including our new Patron, Sheffield music legend Richard Hawley, leading Sheffield restaurateurs Richard Smith (Thyme Cafe, Graze Inn, etc) and David Moore (founder of 1 Michelin Star Pied à Terre) who is a new ‘Blend Ambassador’.
“We still have £150,000 to raise and are seeking opportunities to speak to potential corporate sponsors and we also launched a Crowdfunder page, which went live in July – www.crowdfunder.co.uk/blend-kitchen-sheffield
Roots & Bloom
Gina O’Connor, director, said:
“Our first flowers bloomed at the beginning of lockdown but despite the pandemic we’ve been incredibly busy and can’t grow enough flowers to keep up with demand!
“We’ve been delivering bouquets, along with peoples messages of love and hope to their loved ones when they couldn’t be together in person – it’s a privilege to help people stay connected and to deliver some smiles during this tough time. Now restrictions are easing, we’re looking to expand beyond our small growing space and are looking for businesses that would like to stock our flowers so we can bring some happiness to even more people’s lives!
“We’re in the process of moving to a bigger plot in a local park where we plan to run our flower farming sessions for people under 65 who have dementia. Social isolation is a real risk after someone is diagnosed so it’s our goal to provide a space where people can make new friends and carry on contributing to their community.
“We’ll invite people to come to these weekly sessions to help us grow, harvest and arrange the flowers and by doing so, aim to improve people’s mental and physical wellbeing through the joys of working with nature.”
Rspca Sheffield Animal Centre
Address: 2 Stadium Way, Sheffield S9 3HN
Dianna Radford, operations director, said:
“We are currently undertaking a phased reopening of our charity shops across Sheffield and Animal Centre. We have opened our shops and are trialling new hours and days in Broomhill, Woodseats, Chapeltown and on eBay.
“We plan to get to some level of normality, which enables our key income streams to grow and, in-turn, supports the vital animal welfare work we do as a self-funding charity. We will be conducting a significant push to increase foster caring of vulnerable animals in people’s homes across Sheffield, and to grow an army of volunteers to help our operations back on our feet.
“We believe Sheffield has been at its best when it’s been faced with the adversity of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, local SMEs have been coming forward to support us. This has included Goodman Sparks who have supplied us with free washing and drying. Skip companies including Bradwell’s, KCM Skip Hire and Mr Rubble when we were victims of fly-tipping. Dalton Roofing have also helped us with a leaking roof.
“We might be significantly poorer financially, but we are richer for how people have pulled together in Sheffield, particularly the business community. However, we still have a long way to go and we need help.”
Address: 54 Staniforth Road, Sheffield, S9 3HB
Peter Moulam, director, said:
“With our event business disappearing overnight, we have worked through the lockdown with a very different approach. We’ve been back to our roots by serving individual customers and households in Sheffield, rather than businesses and larger events like weddings. This included direct deliveries of Afternoon Teas and Dine at Home meals, along with a full service with City grab of deli treats/groceries/local beers and spirits on your doorstep within the hour! This is now also available as a click and collect option.
“Our online gifts, handmade chocolates and local hampers have also given us a UK-wide reach for people wanting to treat a loved one.
“It’s been challenging but rewarding to innovate, keep cooking and develop new recipes. In addition to this we have been able to maintain a core team in work.
“We have prepared – through training of our whole team – to be safe and ready when the event and wedding market is ready to emerge again, but as a business we feel stronger and more committed to our core values of creative, local catering than ever.”
Wosskow Brown Solicitors
Address: The John Banner Centre, 620 Attercliffe Road, Sheffield, S9 3QS
Ian Brown, managing partner, said:
“In late June, we worked hard to ensure that our offices in Attercliffe, Hillsborough and Barnsley could reopen for clients to pop in. The reception areas at each of these offices are key to allowing clients to communicate with us and we realise that not everyone wants to video call. For some people, face-to-face is the only way to do business.
“While many things have changed over the last few months, we’re happy that we have returned a level of normality.
“We have taken our time to ensure we put the right protections in place for our staff and our clients. It is our belief that expectations will be changed for the long term.
“We have elected to install permanent screens on all our reception areas. We think the result looks great, keeps everyone safe and doesn’t get in the way of a conversation.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming our clients back, but if anyone has reservations about popping in, we’re still more than happy to chat on the phone or even link up on a video call. Some things have to change though, and we’re also really sorry that we can’t make you a cuppa while you are here!”
Age UK Sheffield
Address: Age UK Sheffield, First Floor, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, 197 Eyre Street, Sheffield, S1 3FG.
Age UK Sheffield CEO Steve Chu said:
“We are absolutely thrilled that our Coach House project has been given the green light to go ahead! This means Hillsborough Park will have a new community café and activity centre for older people thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund who have announced their support for our exciting project.
“The National Lottery Heritage Fund have awarded £581,500 to restore the derelict Grade II Listed Old Coach House building, next to Hillsborough Library. The nearby Potting Shed will be renovated as a creative Makers’ Shed, whilst Age UK Sheffield will also manage community facilities at the park’s Bowling Pavilion.
“I am so grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and everyone who buys Lottery tickets. This project could not have developed without National Lottery funding.
“We are going to create a beautiful new café and develop an exciting range of activities which will be targeted at older people, accessible to people with long-term health conditions such as dementia, and available to the entire community.
“The project will revitalise Hillsborough Park, and enhance other improvements planned by Sheffield City Council, which include a new wheels park and exciting developments for the playground.
“We are hoping to begin construction work in the autumn, with the aim of opening the café during summer 2021.”
Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park
Address: Legacy Park Ltd, The Old Library, 10 Leeds Road, Sheffield, S9 3TY
David Hobson, project director, said:
“At Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park we’ve been focusing on the positives of recent months, such as people finding a new and improved work/life balance and realising the importance of good physical and mental health and the significant link between the two.
“Part of our vision is to create an environment of high quality sport and physical activity venues, facilities and events, and to provide green open spaces for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to enjoy whilst improving their health and wellbeing.
“Recently, we’ve seen run groups returning, cricket matches taking place, families walking and cycling around the park, and people enjoying views from the hills and the peace and quiet of the canal moorings.
“We expect visitor numbers to increase over the summer, as Sheffield has found a new love of all the wonderful parks throughout The Outdoor City, and again in September, when hundreds of staff and students return to Oasis Academy Don Valley and UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.
“We know things will be different as we move forward but a lot has been learnt in lockdown and we want to take this as an opportunity to make the future better for the benefit of everyone.”
The Rutland Hotel
Address: 452 Glossop Road, Sheffield, S10 2PY
Jon Steers, operations manager said:
“We’re excited to be able to ask our clients to ‘Make Yourself at Home’ once again after being closed for three months. Of course, the safety of our team, clients and community is always at the heart of everything we do here at The Rutland and we have been working hard to ensure we welcome everyone back safely through a series of measures, including increased cleaning regimes, placing hand sanitiser stations throughout the hotel and implementing social distancing measures, to name but a few, leaving our guests to enjoy their stay with us, worry free, safe in the knowledge that we are committed to our cleanliness and our standards will be even higher than before.
We have some fantastic rates throughout July and August for all the ‘Staycationers’ wanting to come and explore our fantastic city and surrounding area! We are amazingly well situated to explore both the city and beyond, with the Peaks, Ladybower and Chatsworth all on our doorstep.
“There is no denying how tough these last few months have been on everyone, but we know that Sheffield is made of strong stuff and we will get through these times.
“We look forward to welcoming you back!”
Address: 289 Main Road, Sheffield, S9 4QD
Fran Ruiz Partida, co-founder and CMO, said:
“During the lockdown period, we were working from home – but in July we were welcoming the team to the new office, and where able to recruit more incredible and talented people to take on the services we provide while following the social distancing guidelines.
“The new office will allow us to receive visitors and clients to study the best way to help them grow their businesses online. We have successfully helped local independent retailers grow their businesses during lockdown by bringing them online and allowing them to offer efficient delivery service. This was the result of the brilliant social media content creation and branding to amplify their message and reach more people.
“During lockdown, we have had the opportunity to grow our network and partnerships tremendously and this is something we are planning to do more of. Our team is now ready and equipped to help more independent businesses with the online marketing solutions that we have been doing for our partners on the 3Miles marketplace.
“We are now at a stage where we are ready to raise investment to help us scale 3Miles and implement our plan to be in five cities across the north by the end of 2021.”