Sheffield: City of Sanctuary

Plus, the rest of our weekly briefing

Good afternoon readers — and welcome to the Tribune's weekly briefing.

Today we take a look at how Sheffield’s City of Sanctuary status could help it welcome refugees fleeing violence in Afghanistan. We also have a news and Covid-19 update as well as recommendations including a newly refurbished country house and some much-loved outdoor theatre.

Thanks to everyone who shared our weekend read about Sheffield’s new politics. If you haven't read that piece you can still do so here.

Last week we sent out two great stories to our members including one about the dark side of adoption and another about the Pretty Little Thing warehouse in Tinsley. This week we’ll be sending out two more stories to our growing members list. To get those subscribe now.

This week’s weather

The big story: City of sanctuary

Top line: The rapid deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan shocked the world and put renewed focus on the UK’s responsibilities to those caught up in the chaos. 

Background: Last week the Government announced that 5,000 Afghan refugees would be allowed to settle in the UK, with a long term goal of 20,000. This is in addition to those coming under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy for interpreters and other staff.

Sheffield response: A joint statement from cooperative executive members Paul Wood and Alison Teal said the situation was developing rapidly and the council was coordinating with the Home Office, Migration Yorkshire and other councils in the region. They said:

"We are seeing terrible scenes in Afghanistan and as a city we will not simply stand by when people are in crisis. Sheffield is a City of Sanctuary and we are supporting the Home Office’s Relocation Scheme for those who have supported UK troops in Afghanistan and now find their lives at risk.”

A proud history: From Belgian refugees in the First World War and Jewish children in the 1930s all the way up to Chilean dissidents in the 1970s and people fleeing Myanmar in the 2000s, Sheffield has a long tradition of providing sanctuary for those in need.

In 2005, Sheffield was praised by the UN Refugee Agency for taking 50 Myanmarese refugees (out of a total of 200 accepted by the UK). One of those refugees — Hser Kue — is now a biomedical scientist in the haematology department at Sheffield Children's Hospital.

City of Sanctuary: In September 2007, with the support of the council and over 70 local community organisations, Sheffield became the first City of Sanctuary in the UK. There are now more than 80 groups in cities, towns and even villages all over the UK and Ireland.

Afghan community: There are thought to be 600-800 Afghans in Sheffield. Interpreter Zabi Burdabar from the Sheffield Afghan Community Association said only a few families had arrived so far, but the community had been collecting clothes and other supplies for them to be given on their arrival.

What you can do to help: City of Sanctuary Sheffield are currently running an appeal to improve the facilities at their Chapel Walk base. You can support the “Supercharge the Sanctuary'' appeal here. Sheffield-based charity Baby Basics are also planning an appeal.

Restaurant accolade

Congratulations to Joro restaurant at Krynkl on Shalesmoor which has been named one of the 100 best places to eat in the UK in the National Restaurant Awards. Joro placed number 32 in the annual list, which also included Moor Hall in Aughton and L’Enclume in Cartmel. A review of Joro in the Guardian from 2017 said some of the dishes were “merely extremely good” while others were “downright extraordinary”.

Covid-19 update

Cases: Sheffield’s Covid case rate — the number of positive cases per 100,000 people over seven days — continues to fall. It currently stands at 345.9, down 17.8% or 440 cases on the previous week. The England average is currently 320.5, up 4.6% on the previous week.

Hospitals: 81 people are currently being treated in hospital for Covid-19, a fall of two from last week. 11 of these patients are on ventilation, a fall of three from last week. Five deaths linked to the virus have taken place in Sheffield over the last seven days.

Vaccines: 711,461 vaccine doses have now been given out in Sheffield, including 385,423 first doses and 326,038 second doses. Sheffield City Council say vaccination levels in the city are good but the rate at which people are getting vaccinated is slowing down.

News update

  • The tragic story of the five-year-old Afghan boy who died after falling out of a Sheffield hotel window took another disturbing turn after a woman was arrested for allegedly posting racist abuse on a South Yorkshire Police Facebook page. The 42-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of malicious communications and racially aggravated public order offences.

  • Three people — one of whom was a 17-year-old boy — have been arrested after a man was shot on Samuel Road in Arbourthorne on Friday (August 20). The 44-year-old man was found with injuries consistent with a shotgun discharge but has since been released from hospital. The three who were arrested have since been released pending further enquiries.

  • The future of the eastern leg of HS2 has once again been called into question after another anonymous leak suggested that the £40bn line would “not be built in our lifetime”. Northern metro mayors including Dan Jarvis have argued the project is essential to the “levelling up” agenda but Rotherham MP Alexander Stafford says the money could be better spent.

Mission: Possible

Peak District photographer Villager Jim managed to catch this amazing shot on Saturday of a steam train being driven into a Derbyshire quarry. The stunt was being filmed for the forthcoming Mission: Impossible 7 movie and was the culmination of months of preparation. More of Villager Jim’s superb photos can be seen at his website and Facebook page.

Our favourite reads

  1. Last week’s Sheffield Telegraph had a nice piece about Snake Pass, which celebrates its 200th anniversary today. Reporter Steven Ross speaks to author Howard Smith, whose 2014 book The Story of the Snake Road tells the history of the pass from its creation as a toll road in the 19th century to its continued use today.

  2. We’ve just found this lovely tribute to the engineering marvel that is the paternoster lift in Granta magazine from 2020. The University of Sheffield’s Arts Tower has one of the last remaining paternoster lifts in the UK. The lifts move constantly in a loop without stopping but fell out of favour due to safety concerns in the mid-1970s.

  3. The Star reports that Labour councillor Chris Rosling-Josephs has called Sheffield to scrap maximum height rules and build more skyscrapers in the city centre. Speaking at a council planning meeting, the Beighton councillor said he would like to see Sheffield beat Yorkshire neighbours Leeds to a 50-storey tower.

  4. During the Great Plague of 1665-66, the Derbyshire village of Eyam famously sacrificed itself so that others may be saved. South Yorkshire Live reporter Phoebe Fuller reports from the picturesque Peak District village where as many as 260 people died during the 14 months of the pandemic — around 75% of the population.

  5. The Yorkshire Post reports on three heritage-based housing developments in Sheffield. Phase two of the restoration of Park Hill is almost complete while the new Hallam Towers development will recreate another iconic building of the past. Most recently, a developer has been granted permission to convert Grade II listed Tapton Court into 14 apartments.

Things to do

Visit: Barnsley country house Cannon Hall has now opened again after a four-year £3.8m National Lottery funded restoration. The hall now boasts a woodland discovery trail including two miles of paths, boating on the lake for the first time in 100 years and an 18th century subterranean ice house. Local democracy reporter Danielle Andrews has all the details.

Art: The Art Social gallery in Castlegate has a new exhibition of work by Sheffield-based artists entitled Urban: The City in Flux. The venue, which is on Snig Hill next to Albie’s coffee shop, also features a bar and regularly hosts cookery courses and workshops. The gallery is open daily between 11-3. For more details check out their Instagram or Facebook pages.

Learn: Sheffield Museums’ latest Facebook Live talk focuses on items on display at the Millennium Gallery from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Asian collection including items from 19th century Iran, 18th century China and 16th century Pakistan. The talk, which takes place on Wednesday, August 25 at 1pm, wil be led by members of the V&A’s curatorial team. 

Music: The final Sheffield Music Trail takes place next Saturday, August 28, featuring eight acts playing at eight independent venues around the city. Full details on who is playing where and when are on the Leadmill website. Also taking place over the bank holiday weekend is Pop Weekender, Triple Cooked’s garden party and the Sheffield Reggae Festival.

Theatre: Pantaloons theatre company is to stage a production of the classic Kenneth Grahame book The Wind in the Willows in Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens on Friday, August 27 (7-9pm). Tickets are £14 for adults, £8.50 for children and £12 for students and pensioners. Attendees are advised to bring a picnic and something to sit on. Book here.


Eddie Healey — the man who made Meadowhall — has died aged 83. Eddie was born in Hull but in 1988 joined forces with Barnsley businessman Paul Sykes to create the UK’s largest out of town shopping centre on a former industrial site near Wincobank.

Meadowhall actually almost never happened at all. Healey’s plan had been to build a shopping centre in Rotherham but ended up partnering with rival developer Mr Sykes on the Sheffield site. When it was sold for £1.17bn in 1999, he reportedly made £420m.

Mr Healey remained on The Sunday Times rich list for the rest of his life, amassing a combined fortune with his brother Malcolm of £2.2bn. He largely shunned publicity but gave generously to charities. He is survived by his brother, his wife Carol and five children.