Cohesion Sheffield Conference

A packed council chamber in Sheffield Town Hall saw the first annual Cohesion Sheffield conference with Council leader and cabinet members’ seats occupied by young people from Parkwood Academy and Firvale School. Business owners, community groups, statutory service officers and school children sat side by side to listen to moving personal stories of future leaders of Sheffield including secondary school students Mia Rushton and Travis Baranowski, along with Mubarak Hassan and Huda Ahmed. Guest speaker Jacqui Broadhead, Senior Researcher at Oxford University on Migration and Diversity emphasised the importance of personal story in creating the language needed to affect cohesion.

So what is cohesion? Simply put, it’s about living and working alongside one another harmoniously. Cohesion Sheffield was set up to help organisations to create action plans to make this happen.

Workshops gave delegates the opportunity to discuss Sheffield’s achievements and challenges in creating a cohesive city in line with inclusive growth exemplified by the recent State of Sheffield report launch. The pre-lunch panel chaired by Maddy Desforges – VAS CEO; with John Mothersole – Chief Executive Sheffield City Council; Sughra Begum – Director of ESOL at Sheffield College & South Yorkshire Deputy Lieutenant; Professor Mark Gamsu – Public Health Consultant; Dr. Alan Billings – SY Police & Crime Commissioner and Debbie Mathews – Chief Executive of Manor and Castle Development Trust, promoted a call to challenge racism, a living wage for all and valuing those who hold the expertise on cohesion often from the most financially deprived communities.

Panni Loh, Development Coordinator summed up the day: ‘Spring is time for us to take action to make our city more cohesive. It was great to see young people here today – we all need to be good role models for them. To quote a former refugee: Sheffield is a unique place – it is a welcoming place but more needs to be done.’

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