The Sheffield Together event celebrated civic and social engagement at the University of Sheffield, and was organised by Brendan Stone and David Forrest of Storying Sheffield. This University-wide event highlighted a wide range of projects in which the University works with and alongside communities and organisations in the city, with a particular focus on projects in which students are centrally involved, generally as part of their curriculum. The hundreds of guests included a diverse range of Sheffield residents. Over twenty University projects were exhibited, and many of these were showcased on stage using multimedia.
The University of Sheffield celebrated their involvement in the local community last night (Wednesday 16 May 2012) with a showcase of projects and initiatives designed to strengthen existing links with the city.
Entitled Sheffield Together, the event showed how different University projects are reaching out and making a difference to lives across Sheffield through talks, demonstrations and displays from several areas within the University.
Being Unique project, Fir Vale School
One such project is We Are Here, which, in collaboration with pupils, teachers and academics, seeks to engage with and raise the aspirations of majority black and minority ethnic school groups in Sheffield. The project supports a writing group at Fir Vale School and a Year 9 Black Pupils Achievement Programme at King Edward VII School.
Postdoctoral researcher Ingrid Hanson and PhD student Ruksana Majid have co-ordinated a series of creative workshops around the idea of identity with a group of young writers at Fir Vale School, drawing in MA students from the English Literature and Creative Writing programmes to help.
As part of We Are Here, a project named Being Unique by the Year 7 to 10 students involved in the writing group, has included creative and critical writing, a poetry slam and film-making, based around five themes: ‘I am’, ‘I feel’, ‘I like’, ‘I hope’, ‘I belong’.
Fir Vale student Mubeenah Waheed said the workshops have opened “a whole new world of knowledge. We had the experience to ‘think outside the box’. We also learnt how authors use their own experience to influence their writing.”
Janine Bradbury, who is undertaking a PhD in African American women’s writing and also works in the University’s Outreach and Access team has developed a series of collaborative workshops with a Year 9 cohort of the Black Pupils’ Achievement Programme at King Edward VII School.
Year 9 pupil, Yousif Hassan, said of the project “I realise now that it doesn’t really matter what background you are from, or who you are, you can still go to University and achieve the job that you want and lead the life you want.”
The University’s Institute for Lifelong Learning (TILL) used the showcase as a chance to demonstrate how members of the community who have studied through TILL are now making a difference to the city. Abdi Ahmed is a community development worker in Broomhall and Sharrow who studied Community Policy and Practice through TILL.
Abdi said: “As a community development worker, I am concerned about all the problematic issues and factors which can hinder the development of the community and therefore community education is an important aspect of my job.
“The flexibility of TILL programmes make it convenient for working people to access training.
The key to the empowerment of people is through education and training and so my intended goal is to work along with the local education department to facilitate training at all levels.”
Dr Brendan Stone, organiser of the Sheffield Together event, said: “These projects provide crucial links between the University and the local community, enabling all of us to help and learn from each other. In all kinds of areas, from music to engineering, poetry to science, there are inspiring examples of the University and community working together to achieve amazing things and change lives.”
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK´s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.