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Wired City Reconnected launches in Sheffield

Image by The Circle

Summer’s flown by without a break in the world of stellamedia. Hence the radio silence here on our blog!

But now we’re back with a snippet of news about what we’ve been up to behind the scenes…

As well as recently moving to our new professional home at Sheffield’s creative & digital hub, Electric Works, which we’re rather excited about, we’ve been helping to get the first of what we hope will be many proactive networking events off the ground in Sheffield.

Wired City Reconnected [WCR] Events, solely aimed at freelancers or businesses in the Digital, Creative & ICT [Information & Communications Technologies] sectors, are experiences I’d wholeheartedly recommend because they are relaxed and informal in feel, while at the same time they foster a practical and simple approach to helping businesses in these sectors extend their professional reach & collaborative opportunities.

Likened to TV’s ‘Blind Date’ for such folk, WCR events attract businesses from these specific sectors across Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, North Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire and operate a ‘match-making’ format which works in a focused and friendly way.

Sheffield Wired City Reconnected will take place on Wednesday 5th October, 6pm-8pm, at The Circle, Rockingham Lane, S1 and, like other WCR Events is organised by Alba Associates, in collaboration with Network Hub [the networking group I run with illustrator Richard Smith] – plus stellamedia is officially supporting this launch night, along with a number of other local digital/creative businesses such as Made by Pi, Sponduly, & Moogaloo.

If you book onto WCR Sheffield before 30th Sept, you’ll pay £12.50, which includes your choice of liquid refreshments plus buffet. If you book after this date, the cost to attend per delegate, which also includes food & drink, is £17.50.

Just click here to book. You might also like to connect with WCR via their LinkedIn groups -

Wired City Reconnected North West

Wired City Reconnected Yorkshire and North East

Wired City Reconnected Lincs

Hope to see you at The Circle!

Sheffield Wellbeing Festival set to help the city feel great!

Ahead of Sheffield Mental Health Week, which begins with World Mental Health Day on 10 October, the Sheffield Wellbeing Festival, is being held this Friday 29 July 2011 on Fargate, in the City Centre.

From 10am there will be a variety of stalls, activities and even stilt walkers all coming together in celebration of wellbeing and the wide range of wonderful services the city has to offer those experiencing mental health issues and their carers.

A collaboration between Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust (SHSC), NHS Sheffield, Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Sheffield Mind, the day will see Fargate filled with stalls from organisations offering information on their services, volunteering opportunities and much, much more. There will be facepainting for the young (and young at heart!), as well as music and poetry.

The focus of the day will be on emphasising the steps we can each take to promote and look after our own mental wellbeing, as well as celebrating the services available in the city. Taster sessions will be on offer from 11am to 3pm, to help people find and maintain that wellbeing for themselves, and will include dance, zumba, boxercise and parachute games.

Janet Southworth, Public Health lead for mental health, NHS Sheffield, said: “Sheffield Wellbeing Festival is a chance for everyone to discover how they can take positive steps to improve their health and wellbeing. Looking after our mental health is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and the event is a great way for people to find out more and take some positive steps to feeling good.”

Speakers from Sheffield City Council will be present for the official opening at 1pm; Richard Webb, Executive Director, Communities, Miranda Plowden, Director of Commissioning, Communities and Cllr Mary Lea, Cabinet Member, who will also be starting off the ‘Walk a Mile for Wellbeing’ event at 1:30pm.

The walk is free to sign up to – plus the first 50 people to register their place will get a free water bottle and all participants will be entered into a free prize draw. Registrations will be taken from 10am at the Get Walking Keep Walking stall.

Timetable for the day:
10am – opens
11am – Dance taster session facilitated by Activity Sheffield
11:30am – Zumba taster session facilitated by Healthworks
12pm – Boxercise taster session facilitated by Manor and Castle Development Trust
12:30pm Presentation by Right Here Service User group
1pm – Official Opening
1:30pm – Walk a Mile for Wellbeing, organised by ‘Get Walking Keep Walking’ Sheffield Ramblers
2pm – Parachute Games facilitated by Manor and Castle Development Trust
2:30pm – Zumba taster session facilitated by Sheffield Mind and Body Project and Manor and Castle Development Trust
3pm – Music and poetry

For more information contact Sara Hill by calling 0114 2216174 or emailing: mentalhealthweek@sheffieldmind.co.uk

SOURCES OF HELP AND INFORMATION:

If you are experiencing mental health problems you can contact your GP or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. For more information please visit: www.sheffieldmentalhealth.org.uk Some of the myths about mental illness can be frightening. Get the facts, visit www.time-to-change.org.uk

Food review: Bar & Grill, Sheffield

MissieCindz at Bar & Grill, Sheffield

Dining out for a proper grown-up midweek lunch isn’t something I often have the pleasure of doing so when I was invited to sample the recently-launched Summer menu at Bar & Grill Sheffield, in the city centre’s Leopold Square, I wasn’t exactly backwards in coming forwards.

Having already enjoyed one of the famed Bar & Grill steaks, during a slap-up birthday dinner night out earlier this year, [as the name suggests it’s an eaterie which has largely built its menu on quality meat, meat and more meat], I decided to go for a dish that was both lighter and a taster of the more diverse offering now available on Bar & Grill’s new menu – brixton roast hake, served with salsa verde, new potatoes and green beans. I wasn’t disappointed – the dish showcased a succulent & hearty portion of fish, with delicately-seasoned veg.

My dining companions, two Twitter pals, social media consultant Mark Longbottom of Design 58 (@design58) and Cindy Cheung, AKA local food blogger & champion @MissieCindz, both opted for no-fuss carnivore options, steak and pork chop – and there were soon clean plates all round.

For dessert, I plumped for chocolate hazelnut tart, with cream anglaise – a rich, dense pudding which stayed on the right side of stodginess and captured a lovely balance between sweet nuttiness and bitter dark chocolate.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart at the Bar & Grill

I wanted to blog about my meal this week as we’re in the middle of a rather special seven days for Sheffield’s food scene, as the city is holding its second Sheffield Food & Drink Festival.

As a result there’s a staggering level of waist-expanding events, deals, and offers taking place all over the city – and my fellow diner at Bar & Grill, MissieCindz, has set herself a unique foodie challenge over this period; to only eat food produced or sourced in Sheffield during the festival. As she says, she’s eating herself to a size Sheffield!

To find out more about MissieCindz’s food challenge click here

For more on the Sheffield Food and Drink Festival 2011, visit: http://www.welcometosheffield.co.uk/foodfestival

Social enterprise collaboration brings results for old & young

Image provided by Justine Gaubert

Three new Sheffield social enterprises have recently celebrated the success of a digitally-focused collaboration project, which brought together young volunteers to train older people how to use the internet, in Maltby, South Yorkshire.

The project aimed to bring together the old and the young generation to reduce isolation and increase independence amongst older people, by teaching them how to use the internet.  The three social enterprises: Neighbours Can Help Ltd, Silent Cities Ltd, and SilenceBreakers found another partner in Maltby Academy, who generously welcomed the older people into their school and provided the young volunteers.

“Older people are a group who have a lot to gain from technology and yet they are one of the groups least likely to have either the equipment or the skills to use it,” said John Pickin from Neighbours Can Help. “We felt we could bring even greater value to the project by recruiting young volunteers to deliver the training to older people, so there would be the intergenerational benefits too,” said Justine Gaubert, Founder of Silent Cities who delivered the training element of the programme, along with Steve Hatherley, a teacher at the Academy. “Learning the IT skills isn’t the end of the story,” added Jay Baker from SilenceBreakers, the third partner in the project. “People also need access to the technology in their own home.”

The training ran from November 2010 to March 2011 and led to many successful results, including: 20 young 11-16 year olds volunteering their time after school for this project, nine refurbished computers being installed into older people homes for free as part of the project, and because they are refurbished, over half a tonne of waste being saved, 83% of the older people in the project now feel less socially-isolated.

The project came about through collaboration, not competition…

When three emerging Sheffield social entrepreneurs met at the School for Social Entrepreneurs, they had more in common than just their names beginning with the letter ‘J’.  Justine Gaubert (Silent Cities Ltd), John Pickin (Neighbours Can Help Ltd) and Jay Baker (SilenceBreakers) were about to launch their own social enterprises, each with a focus for bringing communities together using technology.

“When we met, people assumed we’d be in competition with each other because we shared such similar aims,” said Justine. “Thankfully, we opted for collaboration instead!” “There was cross over between each of our businesses, and as we were all starting out, we thought it would be great to pilot small parts of our business in a joint project” explained Jay.

“My business is about bringing a voice to the voiceless, and part of my project is to refurbish unwanted computers and supply them to community projects. Part of Justine’s project was to supply technology training to disadvantaged communities, and Neighbours Can Help is about bringing individuals together online so they can help each other.”

“So Neighbours Can Help applied to Rotherham Council for some funding for our collaboration, and we were very proud to be selected from a shortlist of 20 others,” said David Child of Neighbours Can Help.

Councillor Doyle, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care said of the project at a recent celebration event: “What makes this project special is that it was selected from over 20 others by a panel of customers, carers and Council Officers. The panel was able to see, from speaking to the project leads, what I see today; the potential to bring a community together. This project has started to bridge the gap between generations, facilitated the transfer of important skills between residents, and brought the local community and statutory services together.”

View video footage of project here

Join Silent Cities on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/silentcities

Follow Silent Cities on Twitter (PR/news/board views):

http://twitter.com/silent_cities

Follow Silent Cities founder Juastine Gaubert on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/silentshe

Join Silencebreakers on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/silencebreakers

Follow Silencebreakers on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SilenceBreakers

Saying it with cheese(cake) challenge in aid of Weston Park

Some of the best ideas or events happen by pure accident. And so, what started off as a simple off-the-cuff Twitter foodie remark has escalated into a major charity fundraising event, involving over 30 professional chefs and countless other amateur passionate bakers, to be held at Sheffield’s rather swish Copthorne Hotel.

Cheesecake is the order of the day – or rather how to make the perfect one….

Calling all you Sheffield foodies, if you think you’ve got what it takes to make the perfect cheesecake, then why not pit your sweet sensation against the rest at this special fundraising event coming soon in aid of Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity?

The Firm’s Cheesecake Challenge is taking place at the Copthorne Hotel, Bramall Lane, Sheffield 2pm-4.30pm on 20 May. Arranged by two catering-focused members of local emerging business networking group, The Firm, all proceeds of this contest, will be donated to the charity and the competition is separated into two categories – amateur and professional.

Three mystery ‘foodie’ judges will be declaring the winners. All entries welcome, fee per contestant is £10, to be paid in advance by cheque, made payable to Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity.

Entrant cheques are being collected by The Firm members and organisers Fiona Morgan, of Rotherham-based catering company, Very Delicious, and Mick Fox, of knife-sharpening specialists UltraSharp.  Fiona can be contacted on 07709 189907 and Mick on 07500 015257. Charity raffle prizes will be on offer and visitors will pay £10 entry fee, every penny of which will be donated to the cause, for their tea or coffee – and a slice of delicious cheesecake of course!

Bookings can also be made by clicking the following link: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/1541349217

So how did what’s ended up being one big challenge begin life with a cheeky little ‘tweet’ on social networking site Twitter? ‘I was chatting to Mick one day and he reckoned he could make a better cheesecake than me, and that was it – the challenge was set!’ says Fiona. ‘We’re aiming to raise at least £2,000 for Weston Park and are seeking more prizes to be donated in our raffle, so if anyone would like to help us with this please contact myself or Mick.’

Twitter Links

Fiona: http://twitter.com/VeryDeliciousFi

Mick: http://twitter.com/The_Knifeman

The Firm: http://twitter.com/TheFirmNetworks

Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity: http://twitter.com/WPCancerCharity

Copthorne Hotel: http://twitter.com/copthornehotel

Websites

Copthorne Hotel: http://www.millenniumhotels.co.uk/copthornesheffield/index.html

Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity: http://www.wphcancercharity.org.uk/

2Weeks 2MakeIt 2011 is open for applications

2Weeks 2MakeIt 2011, a ground-breaking music video competition taking place in Sheffield which randomly matches filmmakers with musicians to collaborate to create a music video, from start to finish, in just two weeks, is now open for applications.

Organised by the South Yorkshire Filmmakers Network (SYFN), the competition – in its fifth year – invites competitors to make their new films, in preparation for a Gala Competition Screening of all the work in late May/early June 2011 at the Showroom Cinema.

Dr Rob Speranza, 2Weeks 2MakeIt Coordinator and Producer/Head of Operations at SYFN says: ‘There are great prizes in this year’s competition, including a cash prize, a record distribution contract, some development awards for musicians and fantastic ‘2Weeks 2Make It’ beer from Peak Ales.’

Those who are selected as competitors will be invited to a launch event taking place at the Sensoria Festival of Music and Film in Sheffield on 5 May 2011, at the Showroom/Workstation, Paternoster Row, S1 2BX.

‘During the daytime on the 5 May, we’ll merge our 2W2MI Industry Day with the Sensoria PRO Day,’ explains Dr Speranza. ‘There will be some great training sessions and masterclasses aimed at both filmmakers and musicians, providing guidance about making music videos, getting the most out of your budget, what clichés to avoid and much more!’.

That evening all the competitors will be randomly matched. ‘That’s when we say, ‘GOOD LUCK! You’ve got 2WEEKS 2MAKE IT!!’’ says Dr Speranza. The deadline to complete the videos will be exactly two weeks from the launch, on 19 May.

For more information about 2Weeks 2MakeIt check out SYFN’s short film about the competition on their website: http://www.syfn.org/2weeks.html

2Weeks 2MakeIt 2011 application forms are available on http://www.syfn.org/2weeks.html, or by emailing Dr Rob Speranza directly on Rob@syfn.org or speranza@btconnect.com.

For more information about Sensoria visit: www.sensoria.org.uk.

http://www.syfn.org/2weeks.html
www.sensoria.org.uk
http://www.showroomworkstation.org.uk/

Social media and events taking centre stage for new Culture Forum

Silversmith Owen Waterhouse with candlestick, at Culture Strategy Launch Event. Photo supplied by Sheffield City Council

Sheffield City Council’s recently-launched culture strategy is to be supported by three special cultural events and a dedicated social media online presence, over the next 12 months.

Funded by the Council, these exclusive events and digital channels are designed to enable individuals and organisations within the grassroots cultural community of Sheffield to stay connected with each other, under the banner of a Culture Forum for the city.

Two Sheffield-based businesses have been appointed on a freelance basis by the Council to support the Culture Forum. Ben Duong, founder of The North marketing agency, is co-ordinating the three events, under the banner of The North Culture Club. While Stella Eleftheriades, director of copywriting and social media specialists, stellamedia, is taking charge of the social media and blogging accounts.

Amy Carter, Head of Arts, Museums and Cultural Promotion at Sheffield City Council says: ‘The three events will be themed around the main objectives of the cultural strategy with the first being ‘Economic Impact’ on 12th May, and will be held in conjunction with the Site Gallery. We will be showcasing a diverse range of Sheffield based creative individuals/businesses that have done some amazing work outside of the city, not just in the UK, but also internationally. For example, Human Studios currently have an exhibition of their work in a gallery in Tokyo; Nick Deakin created an illustration character for a Coca-Cola advertisement; and Forced Entertainment, a theatre performance group, will be going on a European tour from April.’

The other two events are set to take place on 8th September 2011 and 19th January 2012 and will be themed around ‘Excellence’ and ‘Participation’. During the events, follow live tweets on (hashtag) #sheffieldculture.

To join the Culture Forum on Facebook search for ‘Sheffield City of Culture’, to follow on Twitter use @sheffculture and blog posts and further information will be featured on: http://www.welcometosheffield.co.uk/culture.

Listings and notifications of events, workshops and exhibitions can be sent to culture@welcometosheffield.co.uk

Sheffield City Council’s culture strategy is a direct follow-on from Sheffield’s 2010 UK City of Culture bid and is a call to action for the people of the city to get involved and participate in cultural activity.

Inspiring change in Mexico City

Guest blog by Emma Wass, who is a trainee broadcast journalist at the University of Sheffield, presenter/producer at Sheffield Live! 93.2fm and publicity officer for theatre company The Company

I had an amazing trip to Mexico last year with my friend Cecilia and completely fell in love with the country and people. During my stay I visited a friend from university, Andy, who was volunteering at a home for street children in Mexico City, Casa Alianza. Mexico City is one of the most overpopulated cities in the world, with over 20 million inhabitants.

So I got to know about Casa Alianza through Andy, and even met some of the teenage boys one day when I went with them to a football match. They were so friendly, enthusiastic and interested in me and the UK, asking dozens of questions, I was really touched. Andy had told me some of the boys’ back stories, and I suppose I had expected them to be much more introvert, unhappy and quiet. They were completely the opposite; a great credit to the charity and the work they do.

The children found on the streets are from a variety of backgrounds. Some are orphans, others have been abandoned by their families, others are victims of abuse. Casa Alianza gradually gets the children off the streets and into their residential programme, and then helps with their rehabilitation and education. Some children are reintegrated back into their families, others go back to school or find work.

I was urged to raise money for them at the end of last year because they had a fire and the home was completely destroyed. The children are all still in temporary accommodation and they have a long way to go before they have enough funds to rebuild Casa Alianza.

So I’ve organised a fun, Latin-themed night at local tapas bar and restaurant Cubana on Sunday 13th March to raise money. 50% of the ticket sales for ¡Noche Latina! will go directly to Casa Alianza. Tickets include a tapas dinner, a welcome cocktail, Salsa, Merengue and Rueda lessons (no experience required!) and a DJ for the evening. There will also be a raffle, which is included in your ticket, and we have some great prizes so far, including 2 tickets to see Sweeney Todd at the Lyceum theatre.

Tickets (£20) can be bought through my Sponduly site: www.sponduly.com/casaalianza.htm.

Any problems or queries please contact me directly on 07738 249412 or email emmawass@hotmail.co.uk.

This is a charity that is little known in the UK, and I want that to change. Casa Alianza has four homes throughout Central America which really are lifelines for hundreds, even thousands of children each year. You can find out more about the charity on their website www.casa-alianza.org.uk.

Follow Emma on Twitter: http://twitter.com/emmawass

A House of Languages? Now you’re talking…

Guest blog by Elizabeth Birks, a language professional, who is based in Sheffield, UK

It’s not exactly a new notion, but I’ve recently become interested in an idea which Professor David Crystal has been talking about since around 2000 – establishing a House of Languages in the UK. Back when the beginnings of this idea were forming – around the time of the Millennium – there seemed to be an appetite for it, the money seemed to be there and plenty of influential people were backing the idea…then BANG! The closest we’ve probably ever got to seeing a House of Languages being set up, got blown out of the way by the Millennium Dome of course!

Well it dawned on me that maybe we could create something along the same lines in South Yorkshire. We have plenty of people here who speak different languages. How many? Well according to their website, there are about 150 languages offered by SCAIS (Sheffield Community Access & Interpreting Service) so presumably there are people in the region who speak those languages. Moreover, South Yorkshire. I’m putting the idea out there and asking:  Why don’t we give this a go?

I’ve found a funding body that seems to be looking for a project like this to give some initial funding to. I can imagine the project would need some initial investment to help it get going before it can provide an income for many people, but it could be really fun and maybe in the future, lucrative as well.

Just think that someone who speaks Cantonese, say, could come along and let us record their voice while they are singing a folk song, or telling a story, or even having a conversation with a friend! I think it would be fantastic if the project had a physical location so that people can actually go there to meet other participants, see/hear experiences or stories which have been collected and listen to different languages to see how they are written or watch videos of people searching for lost languages. I also envisage a House of Languages as having the potential to become a pretty big online presence.

Sheffield Community Access & Interpreting Service

What do you think about this idea? Does a House of Languages make you think, ‘now you’re talking’?

If so, or if you know of people who might like to get involved in getting this idea off the ground in some way, please get in touch with me and I’ll pass your details onto Elizabeth.

Happy talking!

Review: Andy Kirkpatrick ‘Off the Wall’

Andy climbing El Cap. Photo: Speakers From The Edge

For those who’re not familiar with Sheffield, the city has a thriving climbing and general ‘outdoors’ culture, thanks largely to its geographical make-up (built on seven hills, located a stone’s throw away from the Peak District). So last week, when I attended ‘Off the Wall’ – a talk by experienced internationally-acclaimed mountaineer and comedian Andy Kirkpatrick, at The University of Sheffield, I expected the climbing fraternity to be out in force. Yes, the weather was arctic, but I couldn’t help thinking the ‘extreme’ conditions were rather apt (I arrived in walking boots, feet buried in two pairs of thick socks).

A quick once-over of the audience revealed a wide cross-section of young and old with a healthy balanced male/female ratio, who clearly hadn’t been deterred by the cold either. Once Andy launched into his show, we were soon hit with great doses of heart-warming humour and gentle semi-confessional observations, as he took us on a journey to try to understand what lies at the bottom of his inherent urge to climb, with the aid of stunning photography revealing some of the many wild places he’s conquered.

I’m not a climber (although I’m a passionate hill-walker) but my lack of knowledge or experience, didn’t affect my enjoyment of the night, as Andy’s well-paced show has a universal appeal – it’s a stand-up show, adventure photo-mentary and motivational talk all rolled into one.

One iconic mountain Andy focuses on is El Capitan, in California’s Yosemite Park. As he tells us he’s climbed El Cap, as it’s often called, 18 times, there’s no hint of alpha male, puffed-up chest posturing. Instead Andy gave us a hilarious anecdote about the merits of using pain au chocolat as a universal, language-busting measuring system, when explaining dimensions to fellow climbers from far-flung corners of the globe.

Andy on the Reticent Wall, El Cap. Photo: Speakers From The Edge

One point in the show really struck an inspirational chord with me, when Andy spoke about the thin line between bravery and zaniness/stupidity, which can equally apply to intrepid mountaineers, as it can in other areas of life. If the crazy, madcap or maverick survive their hare-brained adventure to tell their tale, they’re hailed and remembered as heroes.

Speaking to Rebecca Varley, of Sheffield-based company Speakers From The Edge, who organised ‘Off the Wall’ and also represent the best motivational speakers from the world of adventure, exploration and human endurance, after Andy’s show, she explained how Andy tailors each show to his audience, so Sheffield’s version had a bit more ‘climber speak’ than others in the tour. Maybe I know more about climbing than I thought!

Andy’s obviously a natural climber and fantastic entertainer to (well-trodden) boot. Go see him, if you want to experience a unique night that which takes comedy & motivational speaking to new undiscovered heights.

Andy’s last date of this current tour is on Monday 14 February 2011, at the Buxton Opera House. Click the following link for more information:

http://www.speakersfromtheedge.com/node/219

Interested in buying an ‘Off the Wall’ DVD? Click the following link:

http://www.andy-kirkpatrick.com/shop/product/off_the_wall

To find out more about Speakers From The Edge visit:

http://www.speakersfromtheedge.com/

Follow them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SpeakersEdge/

Follow Andy Kirkpatrick on Twitter: http://twitter.com/psychovertical