Conversion therapy is ‘abhorrent, harmful and unethical’. So why is it not banned yet?
Plus, the grand reopening of Fagan’s
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
The big news today in Sheffield is the report into the street tree fiasco, and it doesn’t make pleasant reading for the council. The 227 page report is currently receiving wall-to-wall coverage in both local and national media, but is going to take us some time to digest. Instead, today we return to a subject we covered last year. This week Sheffield will take its first steps to combat so-called “conversion therapy”, a range of practices aimed at changing someone’s sexuality or gender identity. The council hopes to raise awareness of the issue by encouraging organisations to sign up to a new “position statement”. But when we know how harmful these abhorrent practices are, is a voluntary code of conduct enough?
As well as that we have a beautiful new photography booklet about Park Hill flats, a stunning apartment in a converted factory in Kelham Island, and a talk about Victorian rabble-rouser Samuel Holberry.
Also, please forgive us for blowing our own trumpet but we got a lovely mention in a piece in The Guardian yesterday about the future of local journalism. The Tribune (and its sister titles in Manchester and Liverpool) were, they said, bright points in an otherwise fairly bleak picture for the local news industry. “Run on a shoestring, they provide a valuable service, but to relatively niche audiences,” they wrote. Thanks to all 15,000 of you for being part of ours!
Catch up and coming up
For our weekend story, I went to an anti-Clean Air Zone protest in Sheffield to find out why some people are so worried about 15-minute neighbourhoods. You can read that piece here.
Last week we sent out two great newsletters to our 1,222 paying members. The first included a piece by me about a bold (or foolish) attempt to build a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge in Kelham Island, and the second included a piece by Sarah Crabtree about the plans to turn King Edward VII School into an academy. An extract from that first piece is below.
How does Ogden feel about it now? I tell him the idea has always sounded like a bit of a folly: a pub idea that maybe should have stayed there. He takes my point but says the daring vision did provide a solution to a real world problem and effectively linked the 21st century Kelham Island to its 19th century past, and as such shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. “It was quite right to celebrate that trading link,” he tells me. “And I am all in favour of vision.”
This week we’ll send out two more including a piece by me about a repair cafe at Harland Works and another by Lucy Brownson about the history of women and trade unions in Sheffield. To help fund a new way of doing journalism in Sheffield focused on local readers rather than shareholders, please consider subscribing using the button below. It costs £1.34 a week if you pay for 12 months up front.
Editor’s note: February was one of our best months for new members since we launched our paid service in July 2021. 132 new subscribers joined The Tribune last month, with stories like mine about the tragedy of Jared O’Mara and David Bocking’s about Heeley Trust bringing in 50 new members between them. Our goal for this year is to reach our break even level, which our sister title The Mill in Manchester achieved when they got to 1,500 members last year. To help us get there, and secure our long term future, please join as a member today.
The big picture: The people of Park Hill 🏢
A new photography booklet featuring people who live at Sheffield’s Park Hill flats has been created by two award-winning artists. People of Park Hill is the latest creation by duo Isy and Leigh Anderson, who won the BJP Portrait Of Britain award in 2020. The booklet is designed by Emily Macaulay of Stanley James Press and also features the poetry of former Sheffield poet laureate Warda Yassin.
This week’s weather 🥶
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say low pressure dives down the North Sea bringing cold, Arctic air over the UK and a change to our stagnant cloudy pattern.
Monday 🌦️❄️ Showery to start, with a cold front passing through and introducing colder air. Any showers later will be of snow, though infrequent. Frost and ice overnight. Highs of 7°C.
Tuesday 🌤️ A cold but largely dry and sunny day with snow showers isolating to coasts. A CT hard frost overnight as temperatures plummet. Highs of 4°C.
Wednesday 🌥️ Further spells of sunshine turn hazy as high cloud moves in from the south. Mainly dry and cold again with frost early and late. Highs of 4°C.
Thursday ❄️ A lot of uncertainty here — keep up to date with forecasts as weather fronts try to break down the cold, possibly leading to a period of snow. Highs of 4°C.
Friday ☔ Form horse is for milder air to mix out the cold and ease the transition back to rain as winds back to the west. Highs of 7°C.
Outlook: There is much lower confidence than usual due to the uncertainty surrounding Thursday/Friday's low pressure to the south west.
The big story: Conversion therapy is ‘abhorrent, harmful and unethical’. So why is it not banned yet?
Top line: Sheffield City Council will this week begin the process of adopting a “position statement” on so-called conversion therapy. Will a voluntary code of practice be enough?
Abhorrent practices: “Conversion therapy” covers a range of practices aimed at changing someone's sexual orientation or gender identity. While all UK medical organisations agree that such conversion is not possible, in 2017, 5% of LGBT young people in the UK said they had experienced it. A full UK-wide ban was proposed in 2021 but this is yet to be enacted.
‘Harmful and unethical’: The council’s education, children and families policy committee will this week ask council members and wider organisations to sign up to a position statement condemning the “harmful and unethical” practice. The statement calls for awareness raising among council staff and the public of the signs of conversion practices. It also says more support should be offered to people who have experienced conversion practices and that new ways for people to report concerns should be developed.
Gay exorcism: As The Tribune has reported before, Matthew Drapper was allegedly subjected to conversion therapy at St Thomas Philadelphia Church in Sheffield. He went public with his complaint in 2020, six years after being involved in a “gay exorcism” there.
Last year, Barnardos was appointed by the Diocese of Sheffield to conduct an independent investigation into Drapper’s case against St Thomas Philadelphia.
At the time the church said it would cooperate with the investigation, but Drapper told The Tribune that they are refusing to share key documents with the charity.
Evangelical Alliance: St Thomas Philadelphia is part of the Evangelical Alliance, a body which represents 3,500 churches in the UK, including several others in Sheffield. They say a ban on conversion therapy could make it impossible for them to provide spiritual care for their members. On their website they say they accept same-sex attraction and only teach against same-sex sexual relations:
"We encourage evangelical congregations to welcome and accept sexually active lesbians and gay men. However, they should do so in the expectation that they, like all of us who are living outside God’s purposes, will come in due course to see the need to be transformed and live in accordance with biblical revelation and orthodox church teaching.”
A national ban? Last month the government announced it intended to publish a draft bill to outlaw conversion practices. Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch MP told parliament earlier this month that the bill should be introduced in this parliament but gave no firm date.
The government has initially proposed that transgender conversion therapy would be left out of any such ban. However, after a group of mental health experts argued that “explorative therapies” would still be legal under the ban, it was reincluded.
There’s also some confusion over whether the proposed ban will include religious settings. Given that many of the organisations that practise conversion therapy are religious, many believe that such an exemption would render any new law useless.
Our take: The council’s position statement is certainly a positive step in the fight to combat conversion therapy, but it by no means enough. It is likely that there are still many organisations in Sheffield which practise conversion therapy under the guise of “pastoral care”, “intense prayer sessions” or “deliverance”. Only a full ban will truly protect vulnerable people from abuse.
Home of the week 🏡
This two-bedroom penthouse apartment in Kelham Island has an open plan living space and a large mezzanine level with views over the River Don. It is on the market for £200,000.
Tribune Tips: If you want to tell us about a story or give us some information, please email email@example.com. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity. Get in touch.
Our media picks 🎧
Son with designs on father’s legacy 🚦 Sheffield-born designer David Mellor is best known for his cutlery, but his industrial design work can be seen on almost every street in the UK in his traffic lights, litter bins and benches. The Yorkshire Post visits Mellor’s purpose-built factory in Hathersage to speak to David’s son Corin, who is the man tasked with keeping his father’s design legacy alive. Our piece from last year about David Mellor’s yellow bins is here.
Backyard alchemy 🖼️ A lovely piece in the Morning Star about Sheffield-born artist George Fullard, who they describe as “Britain’s finest working-class sculptor”. Fullard is currently the subject of a major exhibition at the Graves Gallery, Living in a Sculpture, which looks at both his early life in Darnall and how his art developed over the course of his life, from early sketches to Picasso inspired “assemblages”. The free exhibition is on until Saturday, 1 July.
Seeing red 🚗 A good update from our regular contributor David Bocking about the thorny issue of parking on Ecclesall and Abbeydale roads. The council’s proposals for 12-hour bus lanes and double red lines hit the headlines again this week after Labour said they no longer supported the idea. However, while many argue that the plans constitute an unjustifiable attack on small businesses, the double red lines are actually about stopping illegal parking.
‘Fellowship of Fagan’s’ 🍺
Good luck to the new owners of Fagan’s on Broad Lane ahead of their grand opening on Thursday. The much-loved pub has been run by couple Tom and Barbara Boulding for the last 37 years, but was taken over by the so-called “Fellowship of Fagan’s” last month (the nine-strong fellowship includes Sheffield entrepreneur James O’Hara and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders). Judging by the photos they have been posting on their Instagram, the pub will have a few new pictures on the wall and some fancy new bar taps, but otherwise seems to still be the Fagan’s everyone knows and loves. The Tribune can’t wait to try it out.
Things to do 📆
Beer 🍻 Sheffield Beer Week begins in earnest this with dozens of events planned across the next seven days. Highlights this year include a Tapped Brew Co. brewday and showcase at the Sheffield Tap on Wednesday, an International Women’s Day collaboration brew at Lost Industry on Thursday, and a Saint Mars of the Desert open taproom event on Friday and Saturday. For a full list of everything taking place, see the Our Favourite Places website.
History 🗣️ Samuel Holberry is one of the most controversial figures in Sheffield history. To the ruling classes, he was a dangerous revolutionary who tried to take over the city by force in 1840. But the working classes saw him as a hero and martyr. In this talk at the Showroom on Tuesday, 7 March, David Price, author of Sheffield Troublemakers: Rebels and Radicals in Sheffield History, looks at who Holberry really was. Tickets are £5 and doors open at 7pm.
Science 💧 To coincide with Sheffield Museums’ latest exhibition From Sky to Sea: Artists and Water, on Thursday, 9 March, the Millennium Gallery is hosting a special late event of artistic activities and scientific endeavours dedicated to water. Activities include knitting your own watery microbes, learning about how plants clean the air around them and finding out how gut bacteria are impacting climate change. The free event runs from 7pm-10pm.