Sheffield stands with Ukraine: ‘I am shocked to see so many people here’
Plus, why the city centre was full of morris dancers on Saturday
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
Today we have a look at how Sheffield is supporting the people of Ukraine after 300 demonstrators gathered outside the Town Hall on Sunday. We also feature a great piece about urban food growing and make film-lovers an offer they can’t refuse at the Showroom Cinema.
Catch up and coming up
We hope you all enjoyed our weekend read, an evocative, funny and poignant look at the Sheffield of the 1960s by acclaimed author Robert Edric. You can still read that piece here and readers of The Tribune can still get the book it came from (My Own Worst Enemy: Scenes of a Childhood) for just £12 (RRP £14.99) from Ecclesall Road bookshop Rhyme and Reason.
Last week we sent two great newsletters to our now almost 600 paying members. The first was a superb piece by Jack Walton about a Sheffield samurai in Japan and the second was a magazine-style email with pieces about parking problems in Kelham Island and a project which brought together two city photographers who share a love of all things concrete.
This week we’ll be sending out two more. The first is a fascinating data-led analysis of how working from home might benefit some neighbourhoods in our city and hurt other areas. And the second is about the man described by some as “Sheffield’s best artist”, H.E. Allen. To get both of those, please consider subscribing below. It costs less than £1.40 a week if you pay for the year.
This week’s weather
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say this week will see high pressure try to influence conditions, but that weather fronts will occasionally interfere.
Monday ☔️ Turning increasingly mild and unsettled from the west as cloud increases. Outbreaks of rain will turn persistent by the afternoon, lasting well into the evening.
Tuesday ⛅️ March comes in like a lamb with brighter and cooler weather and a chilly breeze from the northeast negating the brighter skies somewhat. Dry for all with variable cloud.
Wednesday ☂️ A disturbance to the south, led by a warm front, will nudge our high pressure off to the northeast bringing thicker cloud and some patchy rain northwards.
Thursday ☁️ A shallow area of low pressure takes over with a weak occluded front bringing the risk of patchy rain later in the day.
Friday ⛅️ Likely to be a brighter day overall, perhaps similar to Tuesday with variable cloud and some bright or sunny spells.
Outlook: High pressure looks set to reassert itself with a cool but largely settled and calm weekend in the offing. Perhaps not quite as blue as the one just gone, but pretty decent.
The big story: Sheffield stands with Ukraine
Top line: Hundreds of people demonstrated in Sheffield city centre yesterday in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Around 300 people gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall on Sunday afternoon, transforming the area into a sea of yellow and blue flags and placards.
Background: Since Russia launched its unprovoked attack on Ukraine on Thursday, protests have taken place around the world.
A small demonstration took place on Friday evening at Sheffield Town Hall attended by around “six or seven people” from the city’s tiny Ukrainian community.
Earlier the same day University of Sheffield health researcher Dr Lena Mandrik set up the Facebook group Stand with Ukraine Sheffield to publicise Sunday’s event.
Steel City Support: Speaking after Sunday’s rally, Dr Mandrik, who has lived in Sheffield for three years, told The Tribune that before last week they had no idea how many Ukrainians were living here. She added that she was amazed that so many people had come. She said:
“We didn't think we needed to count ourselves in Sheffield before Thursday. I only knew of two families but we thought let’s see if there is anyone else and through Facebook one by one we tried to make contact with people. I am shocked to see so many people here but in a positive way. I was in Manchester yesterday and the crowd was maybe 90% Ukrainian but here 90% of the people are non-Ukrainians. That shows how nice people in Sheffield are, how supportive they are, how anti-war they are, how peaceful they are.”
Concerns for family: Many of the Ukrainians living in Sheffield have family members who are trapped in the war-torn country. Student Maria Radova told me her parents were currently hiding in the countryside outside Kyiv. She said:
My mother refused to leave Ukraine because my dad cannot leave. No men aged 18-60 can leave at the moment and my mother says she will follow him to the war. It’s really nice to have this emotional support from people in Sheffield.
City of sanctuary: Sheffield has a proud tradition of providing sanctuary to people fleeing conflicts around the world, from Belgium in the First World War to Myanmar and Afghanistan in the last decade.
Addressing the crowd, Lib Dem leader Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed said he wanted to tell the government that Sheffield was willing to accept refugees.
A joint letter from leaders Terry Fox, Douglas Johnson and Councillor Mohammed said Sheffield was “open to those who need a safe place in their time of need”.
Further protests: Another demonstration is taking place tonight (Monday, February 28) outside the Town Hall at 6pm and councillors will also walk out of the full council meeting at Ponds Forge on Wednesday in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
How you can help: There are dozens of ways you can help the Ukrainian people, from providing support to their military to buying medical supplies and supporting voluntary organisations. A comprehensive list of the various ways can be found at this website.
Home of the week
This four-bedroom detached property in Woodhouse has been designed by award-winning architects AAD and is on a cul-de-sac of only eight houses. It is on the market for £339,500.
Our favourite reads
A fascinating read in The Conversation by two academics from the University of Sheffield about how growing food in cities could address our food supply problems. Research carried out in the city found that Sheffield has almost 100m² per person that could be used for growing, enough land to feed over 120% of the population.
A piece in the Yorkshire Post about the closure of Snake Pass says that the road now “belongs to cyclists” after cars were banned from driving along it due to landslides. Cyclist and author Simon Warren posted some photos of himself riding along the deserted road on Twitter on Friday urging others to enjoy it while they can.
A story in The Star about a dilapidated hunting lodge which its owners are hoping to restore to its former glory. Thornseat Lodge near Strines was built in 1855 for a steel magnate but for the last 42 years has lain empty. Developers have £4.8m plans to convert it into holiday apartments, a bunkhouse and wedding venue.
Folk dance festival celebrates ancient tradition
You heard them before you saw them. The strange and rhythmic jangling was almost imperceptible at first but soon became unmistakable. They finally came into view as I walked down Surrey Street: dozens of men all wearing braces and bells on their knees and carrying pewter tankards. In Sheffield city centre on a Saturday afternoon I had stumbled into a hoard of morris dancers.
With their tatty coats and top hats with feathers and badges attached they would have looked incongruous at pretty much any time. Among the lary lads and girls on all-dayers and bemused Chinese students it was even more striking. They were making for a windswept and bitterly cold Peace Gardens as part of the Inter-Varsity Folk Dance Festival 2022.
Three separate groups took turns to entertain a respectable crowd. A green group and a red group (Sutton Masque and Border Rivers) were both wearing the dark, almost gothic outfits which now seem more common than all-white ones. A third team (Silkstone Greens) wore what looked to me like St Trinian’s-style schoolgirl outfits complete with pigtails and straw boaters.
The dancers twirled around in circles, jingling their bells and smashing their sticks in time with the music, while the people providing their backing track stood sentry-like at the back. Accordions were the main instrument of choice, while big bass drums beat out their heartbeat rhythm. Some of the musicians broke character slightly by wearing puffer jackets (it was cold).
The whole thing made me think why the English don’t celebrate our folk traditions more. We marvel at other countries’ intangible heritage: why not ours? Self-deprecation may play a part, and there is also the thorny issue of blackface (although the only makeup I saw was green). Maybe worst of all, as I left I found myself whistling Terry Wogan’s The Floral Dance.
For lots more pictures of the festival, see Michael Hardy’s Facebook page.
Things to do
Art: Weston Park Museum is this Wednesday (March 2) hosting a lunchtime talk about Sheffield-born artist Kenneth Steel’s classic railway posters. The talk, which begins at 1pm and lasts 45 minutes, will be delivered by Ed Bartholomew, a senior curator at the National Railway Museum in York. To read our recent members’ piece about the exhibition click here.
Film: Sheffield’s Showroom cinema are this week making movie-lovers an offer they can’t refuse by showing Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather to mark the 50th anniversary of the classic film’s initial release. This five-star review of the movie in The Guardian should whet your appetite. They are showing the equally good The Godfather Part II from Friday.
Podcast: The Yorkshire Post’s Pod's Own Country show last Friday spoke to Labour’s newly-installed candidate for South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard. Host Chris Burn talks to him about taking on Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam in 2015, campaigning for Remain in the EU Referendum in 2016 and making a stand against antisemitism within his own party.
“Fantastic bit of writing and very reminiscent of my own childhood. I'm buying the book!” My mother's only pleasure: a childhood remembered in cigarettes, John Quinn
“Great to see a spread of photos featured amongst all the many good words you write. Go on, do it again sometime soon.” Kelham Island, cars and concrete, Bob
“Wow, now that is a change in lifestyle. Amazing and very interesting. Thank you.” A Sheffield-born swordsman in Kagoshima, LRoper
“Excellent background reporting regarding the new owner of the Old Town Hall. Please keep monitoring the situation.” ‘Once every Sheffield flood’, Ron Clayton