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Network Hub 5 : Google Maps 0

Last week, I discovered just how many of us rely on Google Maps when we’re getting ourselves from A to B, when our fifth Network Hub – the relaxed, evening business social events I co-organise with Richard Smith Illustration – rolled around again at a newly-opened coffee bistro-cum-bar, Brezza.

To answer the above question: it’s a lot! The first inkling I got that the good folk of Google had their co-ordinates for Brezza slightly astray was when I got my first phone call from my co-organiser, Richard, who’d never visited the venue before. ‘I followed Google Maps and I’m lost!’ After I directed him to the right spot, the texts & calls then started rolling in thick and fast from more confused and disorientated guests, who’d been relying on their virtual maps to get to the bar [which in case you're wondering is round the back of Henry's Bar, on Wellington Street, Sheffield.

After lots of apologies on my part [on behalf of Google!] my slightly panicked state subsided as Brezza started filling up with our guests and the chat started flowing just like on our previous nights…

From my twitter feed, here’s a flavour of some of the feedback I received from our guests about the event:

From @TOSSsheffield: Thanks @stellamedia for a lovely evening at #networkhub

From @moorscreative: Good night tonight network hub 5. I can highly recommend. Thanks @stellamedia. See you at the next one.

From @komoonko: Had the most wonderful time at #networkhub lovely inspiring people @stellamedia @missiecindz Jennifer Booth, Stephen Saville, Richard Smith

From @missiecindz: thanks for a lovely evening – it’s always great seeing you and meeting new people. See u at the next #networkhub gathering

To follow Brezza on Twitter click here

One last word relating to the Google Maps mini saga – well done to Patrick Jackson, who successfully found us thanks to writing down address details on a trusty PostIt note.

Sometimes the old ways are still the best ;-)

Electric Works win national Innovation Award

Photo by Tracey Welch: http://www.traceywelch.co.uk/

How much does your environment affect your well-being, both professionally and personally? It’s a question that’s been at the forefront of my mind recently and I’ve concluded the space I’m in, really makes a massive difference to my outlook and frame of mind.

Over the last month, my reasoning about this has been put to the test and proved absolutely right, because I’ve already felt the incredibly positive benefits of working from a new professional base – the dynamic, state-of-the-art hub for creative and digital industries and arguably one of the most prestigious business addresses in Sheffield, Electric Works, at Sheffield Digital Campus.

As a Club Member at Electric Works, I enjoy 24 hour, 7-day access to the open-plan and wonderfully-quirky plug-in-and-work facilities, hot desking Club Lounge, as well as free use of the uber-smart meeting rooms weekday evenings and weekends. It’s a space to work, interact with other creative professionals, meet clients and business associates, all right from the heart of the city.

This week, I was thrilled to hear the news that Electric Works had scooped a coveted accolade, when it was named winner of the British Council for Offices [BCO] national Innovation Award.

It’s the first time this award has been won in Sheffield and the BCO commended Electric Works not only for its impressive architectural designs, but also for its programmes of interaction between its occupiers.

On top of this, the BCO commented on the growth of Sheffield’s creative, digital and technology sectors, praising Electric Works for being at the centre of these developments, and for the wide variety of flexible services it offers to freelancers, sole traders and larger businesses.

Since working here, I’ve made no secret of the fact I’m relishing my new surroundings. So when Electric Works set about promoting their win, I was asked to represent the Club Members in a publicity photo shoot with Tim Cooper, of Team Cooper, also stepping up to the PR plate, as one of the resident businesses here.

Here I am pictured above, in the Coconut Lounge area of the building [I’m second left] with:

Tim Cooper [second right], Toby Hyam, Joint Founder and Managing Director of Creative Space Management, who manage Electric Works, [far right] Paul Taylor, Joint Founder and Managing Director of Creative Space Management [far left], Electric Works Centre Manager, Louise Jamieson [third left] and, from Sheffield City Council, Cllr. Helen Mirfin-Boukouris [third right].

Congratulations EW for your well-deserved win!

To read more about this BCO awards win click here

Or check out the full story on the Electric Works blog here

Putting your heart into networking

Regular readers of my blog, or those who know me in person through the business network circuit in and around South Yorkshire, won’t be surprised to learn I found myself at another opportunity to meet some new professional contacts earlier this month.

What might be an eye-opener though, is that this all-female group not only announced a new name change, but also ended up being lined up for a completely impromptu photo shoot!

Say hello to the Women Inspiring Women group, in the photograph above by Jackie Clitheroe [Yours truly is 8th from the left].

During the meet Carol Denton, fundraiser for South Yorkshire Heart Appeal, also gave an enlightening presentation about her work and the challenges of raising awareness about heart disease in our region, especially amongst women.

Women Inspiring Women [WIW], organised by Jan Roebuck and Kay Jepson, meet the second Thursday of every month, 10am-12.30pm, at Tankersley Manor Hotel.

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

The stellamedia spotlight shines on…Mark Elliott, director of House of Logos

Whenever I bump into or think of Mark Elliott, that well-worn phrase about people who ‘wear their hearts on their sleeve’ often pops into my mind. In Mark’s case though, as he’s a director of Attercliffe-based promotional product manufacturing company, House of Logos, it’s much more apt to talk about ‘wearing your badges with pride…just about everywhere!’

Formed in 1975, House of Logos Ltd is a true Yorkshire family company run by father and son, John and Mark, which supplies all types of promotional items for businesses – from pens and pencils to conference folders.  Time for a chat with Mark…

By the sound of it the range of products you’re able to produce as a company is huge Mark. Do you specialise in any one area?

Yes, we specialise in the production of hallmarked sterling silver and 9ct gold, base metal-enamelled lapel pins, tie bars and cufflinks depicting company logos or product ideas. They’re ideal for company sales awards, anniversaries, conferences, incentives, exhibition giveaways and promotions.

What have been your proudest moments in business over the years?

One of our proudest moments was in 1991 when we were commissioned to produce items for the World Student Games held in Sheffield and were asked to produce a special lapel pin that was presented to the Princess Royal.

In more recent times, House of Logos has been involved in mentoring and charity work too. Tell us more…

As our company has gone from strength to strength, we’ve branched out into manufacturing and supplying a full range of promotional items for business, specialising in sterling silver and base metal enamel badges that are used for a variety of reasons.

House of Logos has helped many charities by creating enamel badges that are resold to the public as part of their marketing campaigns. Recently, I’ve been working within schools and colleges too, acting as a business mentor for the Big Challenge project. I’ve very keen to help young business people and develop their ideas, as I believe we should encourage a realistic can-do attitude to build the confidence they will need to succeed in business.

You not only won an award for your mentoring work, but your involvement also led to a new charity-focused project too hasn’t it?

That’s right. I’ve embarked on a new project with Sheffield NEA College student Chris Simpson. We’ve produced a website – www.yorkshirebadges.co.uk - to promote and raise money for Yorkshire Charities, by selling metal enamel and precious metal hallmarked Yorkshire Rose badges, lapel pins and cufflinks. There’s no cost to the charity and businesses can help by adding a link to their websites and nominate a Yorkshire charity they would like to support.

So if you live or have a business in Yorkshire, then we’d like you to wear the White Rose badge with pride!

House of Logos Ltd:

www.justbadges.co.uk
www.houseoflogos.co.uk
www.yorkshirebadges.co.uk

Our right Royal networking knees-up!

Madame Zucchini's Kate & Wills. Photo by Richard Bolam http://richardbolam.net/

On the eve of the recent Royal nuptials – last Thursday, 28 April 2011 – we were delighted to swing into celebration mode for an altogether different reason. That’s right, it was time to host another of our informal business socials we arrange in collaboration with Sheffield-based illustrator Richard Smith.

Back for a third round of business buzz, for Network Hub 3 we decided to choose a different location yet again – an independent bar in the heart of Leopold Square in the city’s centre, the rather swish La Foret. With a smart outside terrace area to enjoy, we also virtually had the run of the contemporary space inside, thanks to the generosity of La Foret’s owner, Sam Cooper. Cheers Sam!

Photo credit: Richard Bolam http://richardbolam.net/

From the positive feedback I had on the night – and have received since – the 70-odd strong crowd who came along not only relished the informal, relaxed atmosphere but also cemented existing connections & made fresh contacts on the night – and I’m pleased to say so did I.

Dr Rob Speranza, left, Head of Operations at South Yorkshire Filmmakers Network, with, right, crowdfunding enterprise Sponduly.com founder Jon Covey Photo credit Richard Bolam http://richardbolam.net/

While we didn’t have a strict policy of ‘no talking shop’ the pressure I think many people feel at networking events – the idea of ‘selling’ yourself – tended not to rear its pushy head at this Network Hub, or at the previous two nights we’ve hosted.

Perhaps that’s because I’m a great believer in finding out about the person behind a business, not simply the business itself.

As for Will and Kate, they weren’t entirely forgotten. Instead the couple were especially honoured on the night by Sheffield’s wonderful vegetable theatre performer, Madame Zucchini, who brought her own delectable edible version of the duo along for the networking ride.

So three cheers to Network Hub 3. Long live Network Hub!

The stellamedia spotlight..shines on Maxine Hayter, director of Bespoke Blinds & Poles

Anyone who meets Maxine Hayter – who provides informed and honest sales advice, as one half of the husband and wife director team behind leading Sheffield independent blinds specialists Bespoke Blinds & Poles Ltd – is left in no doubt about the passion and commitment herself and hubby Neil (who’s in charge of all fitting and installation) have for their business.

Launched in 2007, Bespoke Blinds & Poles Ltd have two showrooms in the city – one in Beauchief and the more spacious location in Hillsborough has just celebrated its 1st birthday. Time for a chat…

Happy Birthday to your Hillsborough showroom Maxine. What’s new?
Cheers, Stella. Loads of new stuff is going on here. The sunshine always brings our customers to us – either for blackout blinds, especially now the clocks have changed, or for advice on cutting down heat and glare in rooms, especially conservatories.
Awnings are this years’ must-have, and we’ve taken on a new supplier making our offer much broader (we get inundated with requests to open accounts with people, and it takes a while to meet them all, vet the quality of their products and make a decision!)

At this time of year we always get updated ranges in as well, so we start considering new display products. As you kindly mentioned, we’ve just completed our first year at our second showroom, and that’s been exciting for us as well. Our staff; Danielle and Emma; have really settled in, and are now an integral part of the team. As members of the BBSA (British Blinds & Shutters Association) we’re committed to raising awareness of Child Safety in the industry. One of our suppliers has brought out two new, innovative control mechanisms which sit superbly within our recommended ranges and safety product ranges, so we are busy promoting these to our customers old and new.

What’s the biggest challenge you face as an independent business?
One of the main things for us is finding time! Our customers come to us for quality products and quality advice, and our installation service is an integral part of this. This makes diary time, and appointments, very precious – luckily our customers understand and wait (and we always have a “cancellation” list on the go, although it’s rare we get any!)
Another one is footfall. The majority of our products are bespoke, and not something you would want to purchase over the internet. We try and get our presence out there in the virtual world by as many means possible so that our customer can glean as much info as possible (should they want to) before they visit us. We want our customers to see that we are worth the effort of a visit!

Here’s a magic wand. What three wishes will you make? (for business or pleasure)
Only three! Here goes…….
Business 1: I would like anyone considering dressing a window to think, before anything else “I wonder how Bespoke Blinds & Poles would handle this one?”
Business 2: I would like an eight-day week, so we can still open for six of them (as now), and have two days off work!
Pleasure: I would like more time to go hiking (our favourite pastime) especially in this lovely weather.

Pass it on. Your biggest business lesson?
Just because “experts” say it’s a great idea, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Stay focused on your core products – too much diversification will weaken your offer.

And the worst commercial mistake, you readily admit to?
Spending a fair amount of money on a marketing promotion from a cold call! This was when we first opened, and taught me very quickly to do your homework before committing to anything. I’m still mad with myself about that one!

Your favourite places in Sheffield (for business or pleasure)?
Definitely the open spaces and the pubs! We are so lucky as a city to have the space we have – most weekends were spent in Greno Woods, Longley Park (when they had the open air swimming pool – no comments on age, please ;-)) and Hillsborough Park. When I met Neil, we spent Sundays in Graves Park with his daughter Gemma.
Pubs – I love the Thornbridge Brewery atmosphere and our local is the Coach & Horses at Dronfield. There’s also a great pub at Holmesfield; the Rutland Arms; which was bought by a great couple just over a year ago. Both these pubs let dogs in, so we get to do a hike, and finish with a great, well-kept pint.
I don’t get to Sheffield City centre too much, but I enjoyed a lovely lunch in Henry’s on Cambridge Street the other week and in all three cases the staff and service is impeccable. I learnt a long time ago that service is as important as the product. It’s what we strive to provide in our business, and I am always appreciative of it when I enjoy it in other businesses.

Bespoke Blinds & Poles Ltd:
http://www.sheffieldblinds.co.uk/