Union StUnion St

By Hannah Clugston

5 Minutes with… Rosie Huzzard of Campaign Bootcamp

Rosie is not just an activist, she is passionate about making you an activist! She is also a co-worker at Union St, and we chatted to her to find out more.

Q. What is Campaign Bootcamp?
A. Campaign Bootcamp is a charity that runs some amazing, life changing residential training courses for people who want to become better at campaigning. But, we recently realised the residential nature of the training was a barrier to certain marginalised groups. So, Campaign Bootcamp has launched Everyday Activism, which is what I work on, and South Yorkshire is lucky enough to be the pilot region. In Everyday Activism we take the same, radical, experiential approach to training into the community and work around people’s needs and work patterns.

Q. How can you help my organisation?
A. In Everyday Activism, we wanted to respond to some research we had done, which showed that if you are from a marginalised community, are on a lower income or are a recent immigrant you are significantly less likely to vote, be engaged with politics, sign a petition, start a campaign or meet your MP. This matters because the people who are marginalised are those that directly feel the effects of injustice and inequality. So, if you have a problem that you want to solve locally, we can offer up to 24 hours of training and support and follow on coaching, to get your campaign off the ground.

Q. Tell me about a really exciting campaign you have been part of.
A. In 2014 I organised a protest against the demolition of the Devonshire Street shops at three days’ notice and about 700 people turned up and we flooded the Council meeting! The shops are still marked for demolition, but the whole thing was exciting.

Q. Are there campaigns currently in Sheffield that you think are doing really great work?
A. I’m really excited about the new groups I’m working with in Sheffield. One of them is a group of refugee and asylum seeker women, who want to campaign about the lack of training and understanding Home Office officials have on women’s experiences of trauma and sexual violence. This lack of understanding negatively affects the interview process and the outcome of asylum claims (http://www.asylumaid.org.uk/protectiongap).

Q. Can you name three quick tips to get a campaign off the ground?
A. 1. Ensure your group has a strong desire to make change, and work on strengthening the group – campaigning can be hard! Use self-care and think about how you can draw on everyone’s strengths.
2. Identify the right target – so many campaigns are aimed at the wrong source of power, so do your research.
3. Identify your allies – who will support you? Get them on board. You’ll need them to maximise public pressure.

Find out more about Everyday Activism at www.campaignbootcamp.org/everyday-activism/ And if you’ve got a campaign you’d like to get off the ground email rosie@campaignbootcamp.org. Twitter: @rosiebootcamp

Image courtesy of Brett Chapman brettinthecity.com

By Hannah Clugston

Freelancing amongst Friends

Katy Carlisle, founder of Freelance Folk, gives us some motivational freelancing tips.

If you’re a freelancer, you’re probably familiar with the following scenario: it’s Monday afternoon and Monday morning has proved to be quite unproductive, you decide to head out to a coffee shop to get out of the house and refocus, on arriving at said coffee shop you notice a whole host of other individuals on their laptops presumably doing the same thing.

This was something Katy Carlisle kept noticing on her freelancing travels, and she started wondering if there was a way to unite these solitary workers into a supportive community where ideas would flow and friendships would be made. This thought eventually turned into Freelance Folk, pop-up co-working sessions and socials where freelancers can work together, make connections and share advice.

Katy explains how the monthly meet-ups at Union St work: “We’ve got a wide range of business types represented by our attendees, including copywriters, editors, web designers, illustrators, graphic designers and coaches. People bring their laptops (or the tools of their trade) and it’s best if you’re not trying to meet a deadline by lunchtime as we can be quite chatty – that’s part of the point of the sessions. Around 1pm, we then descend on Jack from Pie Eyed for lunch, and continue the conversation over some tasty pie.”

Now that Freelance Folk has been running for two years, Katy has quite a few tips for freelancers. She says: “A big challenge for freelancers is having a lack of confidence in themselves. After the initial high of setting up your own business, most people tend to have a bit of an ‘Oh what have I done…’ moment. This is often accompanied by feeling a bit like a fraud, that you’ll get found out at any moment and you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s such a common experience, and it’s even got a name: Imposter Syndrome. Just know that basically everyone else has felt like this, and they are winging it too.”

And what if you’re thinking about giving up? “I’d say remind yourself of why you started freelancing in the first place. It can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, so it really helps to remember what motivates you. For me, that’s flexibility, so even if I’ve just done a long day to meet a deadline, I know that maybe tomorrow morning I’ll go for a run with my friend or work on a side project.”

Freelance Folk is the last Thursday of every month at Union St, 10:30am-1:30pm www.freelancefolk.co.uk Twitter: @FreelanceFolk

By Hannah Clugston

Come Sing a New Song

If you ever fancied singing but didn’t think you had the voice for it, Gina Walters has a solution.

Neighbourhood Voices is a “new kind of choir” according to founder Gina Walters. As a singing teacher, Gina started noticing a trend in conversations with students: “For so long I’ve heard people say that they’d love to sing more but they felt that the singing opportunities in the city didn’t speak to them. I wanted to create a choir that could bring different experiences to its members, for example, I want this choir to be singing on stage in Sheffield’s venues and collaborating with other bands and artists.”

Gina’s choir isn’t just different because of this collaborative element, but also because of the songs she hopes to sing, including songs by Amy Winehouse, Everything Everything and Kate Bush. She says “Neighbourhood Voices aims to be a safe space to explore your voice and do it by singing arrangements of pop, alternative, indie, slightly left-field music. As much as I love and value what other choirs are doing in the city, we’ll be singing different music, talking about the voice in a slightly different way and creating a less polished but exciting sound.”

And this is another unique element of Neighbourhood Voices; attendees don’t need to do an audition or have any previous singing experience. “I understand that singing can be scary, your voice isn’t a piano or a clarinet, this instrument is part of your body and anything that comes out of your mouth suddenly reflects on you as a person. But mistakes are encouraged here, how else will you learn? Don’t deny yourself life experiences because you’ve placed limitations on yourself. Plus I’m not scary. Promise.”

For Gina, there’s something special about singing in a group, and she’d hate for people to be blocked from accessing that due to a lack of confidence, she notes: “There’s something magical about singing with other people. Whether you’re making layers and layers of harmony, melody or rhythm or singing a line in unison, the fact that each voice is integral to the whole sound is really special. You’re part of something much bigger than just you, but that something wouldn’t be the same without you.”

Neighbourhood Voices launches Tuesday 10 October and every week from Tuesday 7 November, 7:30-9:00pm, One Space at Union St. First session is free and £5 afterwards.
Twitter: @GinaBreakfast

Image courtesy of Against the Grain Photography.

By Matt

Fanfare

FANFARE

As we wash our hands of 2016 and welcome the new year with excitement, hope and resolutions aplenty, it seems to be the perfect time for trying new things and embracing fresh opportunities. From signing up to gym classes to ticking off calendar days in the pursuit of a Dry January, it’s a time for implementing change… whether or not we make it to the end of the month is a different matter!

At Union Street there’s always something exciting happening, but it seems especially fitting to be welcoming new plant-based food project FANFARE to the Pop-Up Café line-up this month. There has surely never been a better time to be vegan in Sheffield, with a whole host of events, restaurants, cafés and festivals exploding across South Yorkshire in recent years.

FANFARE’s four-person team comprises Mikk, Ben, Carolyn and Rheanna, and is run as a workers’ co-operative, so the four founders are all on an equal footing when it comes to decision-making. While the quartet certainly share an interest in plant-based diets and wellbeing in general, their different backgrounds and various passions have allowed for each to put their own stamp on the project.

Ben created the initial outline for FANFARE a year ago and for him it was all about creating really exciting plant-based food that packs a punch – food so tasty and healthy that it deserves to be celebrated and served up with a little bit of pizzazz.

First onboard was Mikk, a keen runner and artist. Mikk has his finger on the pulse when it comes to the vegan food scene in the city and even runs his own vegan and vegetarian network on social media.

“It’s an exciting time to be vegan in Sheffield,” he says, “and in the wider society it’s being promoted by all types of people from Hollywood celebrities to elite athletes. People are choosing a vegan lifestyle for all sorts of reasons, whether it’s health or ethics or something else.”

Carolyn has been cooking plant-based food for over 20 years and has travelled the length and breadth of the country visiting vegan shops, restaurants and events. She is a fount of plant-based knowledge and knows exactly what works and what doesn’t in vegan eateries! Over time she has seen the change in availability of ingredients, and loves how accessible it is to follow a plant-based diet today. Ingredients are readily available, chefs are becoming inventive with meat- and dairy-free dishes, and plant-based diets are moving happily into the mainstream.

Rheanna – who came back to her home-town of Sheffield having completed a degree in Culinary Arts and worked in some renowned London kitchens – has a special interest in sugar-free baking and creates divine treats using natural sweeteners instead of refined sugars. She has managed to win over the others with the magical properties of dates in recipes – even self-confessed cake addict Mikk!

The first event for the new team was in Barnsley in October 2016 and they hit the ground running. People loved their vibrant flavour combinations inspired by cuisines all over the world. They were blown away by the reaction from customers, and from this moment on, FANFARE became a reality.

“We’d heard so much about Union Street,” explains Ben, “and we were really keen to get involved here. We had looked at places who might accommodate our pop-up, but Union Street doesn’t just accommodate start-ups, it makes things happen.”

For Mikk, the collaborative atmosphere was a real eye-opener and pleasant surprise: “Other places just want to rent you some space, Union Street want to be involved and provide support in whatever way they can.”

So what is on the menu for FANFARE? The first thing for certain is that it’s going to be filling, dispelling any rabbit food myths, and secondly it will absolutely get your taste buds tingling. The plan is to offer three different bases – rice, tacos or salad – each to be served with a colourful, flavourful, vibrant topping that will be a joy to the eye as much as to the palate. Think along the lines of beer-battered aubergine, smokey pulled jackfruit and pol sambol (a Sri Lankan dish made from lime, coconut and curry leaves), so we’re looking at sizzle, smoke and spice galore. Almost everything on the menu will be gluten-free, too.

Whether you’re a long-standing vegan, getting on board with ‘Veganuary’ or, more importantly, just someone who loves a good plate of tasty, healthy food, then this new pop-up is going to be well worth sampling… let the fanfare commence as they arrive at Union Street on Friday January 27th.

Follow them on social media @fanfareproject to keep up to date with the menu.

By Rohan Kon

Tackling the Tampon Tax: Football for #FreePeriods

Tackling the Tampon Tax: Football for #FreePeriods

 

Tea break with Jane Watkinson, Co-Founder of AFC Unity

 

Years of campaigning for #FreePeriods culminated on Period Pride Day 2016, a national day of action in February when many organisations around the UK simultaneously lobbied the government to remove the so-called “tampon tax”. In reply to this mass activism, the government agreed to scrap the luxury tax on menstrual care products. However, the tax still stands.

 

Paying for menstrual care products, especially with an added luxury tax, contributes to gendered financial inequality. Furthermore, the “tampon tax” is also an intersectional issue because additional difficulties arise if, for example, you are in prison, disabled, a person of colour, trans* and/or homeless. Menstrual care products are often withheld and rationed in prisons, leading to cruel stigmatisation and low self-esteem. Certain disabilities can make menstruating extremely painful and negatively affect people’s mental health. Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women earn less than white women, meaning that extra financial inequality hits them harder. Menstruation is consistently discussed in cisnormative terms, actively excluding some people who have periods such as trans men and people with other gender identities. These are just a few matters to consider when contextualising the effects of paying for menstrual care products on the whole population.

 

Another important consideration is that, while being on your period can be uncomfortable for anyone, being on your period while homeless can be a nightmare. Homeless shelters frequently complain that they are in short supply of menstrual care products and the reasons for this are probably threefold. Firstly, people don’t consider the implications of homeless periods. Secondly, people are (perhaps unconsciously) embarrassed to donate menstrual care products due to the stigma which tells us periods are taboo, private and dirty. And finally, they are expensive!!!

 

This is why AFC Unity, a radically alternative women’s football club in Sheffield, are launching their campaign initiative Football for #FreePeriods.

 

AFC Unity were founded in 2014 as an independent women’s football team with feminist politics and a grassroots approach. They are focused on returning the game to its cohesive community origins, empowering women who were historically excluded from the sport. The club run non-competitive “Solidarity Soccer” skills training sessions twice-weekly using Fairtrade balls and ethical kit as well as competing in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Women’s County Football League. Co-Founder Jane Watkinson said: “It’s important to offer an alternative to women’s teams which are dependent upon and overshadowed by their corresponding men’s team. Women’s teams are too often seen as ‘add-ons’ to men’s clubs, sometimes used as cash cows to bring funding into the club rather than being driven by a value system shaped by the interests of women and by a real desire to develop the women’s game in a positive way.”

 

There are other teams around the country embracing a similar ethos such as Easton Cowgirls in Bristol and Republica Internationale in Leeds. Jane said: “It is important for women’s teams to have a feminist identity so that we challenge concepts of what a ‘woman’ is and does and also foster an environment of empowerment and positivity through skill sharing, collectivity and helping create positive role models that will hopefully help influence girls wanting to get involved in the sport. Football can affect wider things than what happens on a pitch for 90 minutes.”

 

AFC Unity run community projects to promote their values of empowering women, tackling gender misconceptions, promoting social justice and opposing oppression. Jane said: “We started our weekly Football for Food campaign in 2015 encouraging players, fans and spectators to make donations for food banks before our home games. It was after our first season and we wanted to do something that put our ethics into practice. The increasing scale and extent of food poverty and the use of food banks drove our desire to help make a difference to our local community, making real tangible links between football and the ability to achieve social change. Not only have we collected over 800kg of food since running the campaign, but we have also raised awareness of the reasons for using food banks, challenging myths and stereotypes.”

 

In response to the “tampon tax”, AFC Unity are now developing Football for Food to incorporate the #FreePeriods movement, encouraging donations of tampons and pads for homeless shelters. They aim to fight period stigma, make a stand against the continuing tax and help people in need. Jane said: “The initiative ties in Football for Food with our unique feminist vision. It helps highlight awareness of period shame and so helps tackle this while also highlighting the expense of such necessary products.”

 

Allowing the topic of periods to be taboo leads to body shame as well as silence on the issue of the tax. Jane said: “#FreePeriods is about us being confident and happy with our bodies, embracing it, and being confident enough to talk about periods and issues associated with it – especially when historically women have faced abuse and oppression for things such as periods. For example, the stigma surrounding periods relates to the idea that women are ‘weak’ and ‘hysterical’ which is a stereotype we are dedicated to eradicating.”

 

Jane explained why people should get involved in AFC Unity, saying: “We offer something for everyone. Whether you have never kicked a ball and are wanting to give it a go, are returning from an injury or have played 11-a-side football and want to be part of a club that has an alternative, positive and inclusive coaching style and philosophy. You don’t get shouted at for making mistakes and you can be creative and enjoy your football. Also, even if you don’t like to play football, we have a range of volunteering opportunities such as with Football for #FreePeriods, sports journalism, sports psychology, sports physiotherapy and more.”

 

Jane made a final appeal that is relevant to us all. She said: “When donating to homeless shelters and food banks this winter, please remember a box of menstrual care products alongside your warm clothes and blankets. It might be just the gift someone needs this holiday season.”

 

AFC Unity founders co-work at Union St as they are hoping to expand their network to involve more women from across the city. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

By zapier

Jimmy Thwaite

What do you do?

CONVRTS is a virtual reality content agency serving businesses and the public sector throughout the north of England.

Our aim is to allow small and medium-sized businesses and organisations to benefit from all the positives VR brings, without breaking the bank. Our solution is budget-friendly and platform-friendly. We deliver excellent value for money by producing immersive spaces that capture the attention of all who view them.

A CONVRTS 3D scan for business offers an opportunity to connect with new customers and visitors on a much more engaging level – often for less than the cost of traditional video. We take care of the entire process, producing a stunning VR experience that you can embed in your website simply and quickly.

How did you get into this area of work?

I’ve worked in branding and marketing all my adult life. I’m certain that VR will be the biggest disruption my industry has seen. The possibilities are enormous.We scan physical places, so it offers the chance to get out on the road and see new towns.We naturally align with anyone who offers a sales / marketing service to business. If you’re trying to convince a prospective client that you offer something that the opposition doesn’t, offer them VR!

Will you be looking to collaborate with people at Union St?

Absolutely – team up with like-minded individuals to offer a knock-out service to potential clients. A little bit like the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers!

See more example and details of Jimmy’s 3D imagery at www.convrts.com

 

By zapier

Richard Wright

How would you describe yourself?

Business services professional with a broad range of skills across marketing, business strategy and brand strategy. Specialties: Business development, brand strategy, brand research, brand identity, digital, shopper marketing

I have board level experience at helping clients identify opportunities and developing growth strategies to maximise those opportunities; ultimately helping them create the right brief for the right purpose and delivering against the brief.

What will you be doing at Union St?

Primarily I am focussed on my own internal project. I am available to help out with brand and digital strategy, particularly workshops at the project outset. In other words helping decide what approach it is best to take, what budgets to allocate to various service providers and how to approach the project as a whole.

How did you get into this area of work?

I have 20 years experience in solution sales within the professional services and creative industries sectors. My experience started primarily as selling and delivering large scale brand development and professional services projects. More recently I have been Managing Director of a graphic design agency, Client Services Director of a global digital agency and founded my own brand development agency.

What do you enjoy about this work?

I enjoy everything about my work, even the challenges. It provides an amazing platform to meet a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and work with some incredibly intelligent people.

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

For me Union St is a great place to work in a professional environment. Much of my time now involves working on my own so it would be great to meet fellow workers at Union St.

By zapier

Lucy Owens

What do you do?

I’m a coach and facilitator based in Sheffield. My development is all about helping people give and get the most from their working lives. The coaching work I do helps individuals to enhance skills and confidence in leadership, management, career and personal effectiveness. My training involves designing and delivering engaging, practical workshops to boost interpersonal and management skills. My facilitation enables groups to work more effectively together.

I work with a wide range of organisations, including universities, SMEs, public sector organisations and charities. And I work as an associate with the Beacon Counselling and Coaching Group, Bhayani HR and Employment Law, The Career Coach, Gradconsult and Red Vanilla.

How did you get into this area of work?

I’ve been working as a people development professional since 2001 – I started coaching and training at the BBC, after working as a BBC radio journalist. After coaching managers across the BBC, I went to work at Sheffield Hallam Uni in a learning/development role. I then set up Lucy Owens Coaching so that I could concentrate on training and coaching and work more flexibly to fit my work in with having two children. I love being able to help people thrive in their working lives. I do this by helping people build skills and confidence in doing job interviews, tackling a career crossroads, working more effectively in teams, developing leadership, management and personal effectiveness. I’d like to continue to work with individuals and teams in the public, private and third sectors. I particularly bring value through the workshops I run on team working and career development.

What do you enjoy about this work?

I enjoy working with individuals at different stages in their careers and want help with:
carving out a career path, performing effectively in job interviews, dealing with change (redundancy, retirement, returning to work after having children) and taking stock of their career and identifying a more fulfilling future career/job.

What could you offer other start-ups?

I’m happy to offer a 15% discount on individual coaching sessions and can offer reduced rates for charities/third sector organisations for workshops on team development, management and career development skills.

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

The pleasure of working in a convivial, collaborative, creative set-up. Plus the advantage of avoiding going a bit doolally from working at home!

Follow Lucy at https://twitter.com/LucyCoach

By zapier

Jane Shields

What will you be doing at Union St?

I coordinate Sheffield Creative Guild, a cooperative network for anyone working within the creative sector in the city. We connect, support and promote individuals and organisations of all persuasions and aim to raise the profile and status of the sector across the city and beyond. We also run lots of events and a creative timebank scheme.

My role is to do everything from marketing and events to finance and governance as well as manage the website and individual projects.

I have always been a theatre maker and performance artist and continue to create and develop my own work as a solo artist and with companies both in the UK and internationally.

My other passion is sewing and dressmaking which I do in any spare time I get and have been known to sell my products online and at craft fairs.

How did you get involved in this area of work?

Through a rather zig-zaggy path! I come from a theatre background and worked as a freelance performer, director and facilitator but also ended up working on a lot of education and community projects. As well as freelance this led me to working for different organisations in the city. The Guild was set up with support from ACE and the Culture Consortium and I was employed in April 2015 to lead the project. We have only been open for membership since May 2016 so we are only very young!

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The variety of what I do and all the many members and partners I get to work with. I love making creative things happen and supporting others to do what they dream of doing.That list is very long but really any working in the creative sector, I’m always keen to hear other peoples ideas and form partnerships and collaborations.

What type of individuals or organisations are you looking to work with in the future?

We try to make Guild membership affordable to all by having tiered pricing depending on your income level and different payment options but I’d be happy to talk about what else we could do to be inclusive to everyone.

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

A community. Working on my own can get lonely and so I’m hoping to meet people and make my work days a bit brighter!

Follow Jane at https://twitter.com/plainjaneshield and visit the Creative Guild at https://sheffieldcreativeguild.com/

 

By Rohan Kon

Keeping Up the Momentum

Keeping Up the Momentum

Tea Break with Liam J Liburd, Founder of Momentum Sheffield

In the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory, left-wingers on both sides of The Pond are despairing at the violent swing to the right we’ve seen sweeping the Western world this year. Americans voted Trump while Brits chose Brexit. And as their Trump cosies up with our Nigel Farage, people ask in dismay: What went so wrong?

 

The answer for some Democrats is that Hillary Clinton wasn’t enough to inspire and unite the masses of disillusioned Americans. They say that posing a more genuinely radical left-wing option, in the form of Bernie Sanders perhaps, would have won them the vote. In the slow lead up to our next election, can the UK learn from America’s mistakes? If Farage is our Trump, is Jeremy Corbyn our Bernie Sanders? If the left unite to back Corbyn, do we have the opportunity to pose a credible alternative candidate to rising austerity, injustice and inequality?

 

Liam J Liburd, one of the founders of Momentum Sheffield, believes that the movement building behind Jeremy Corbyn gives us a reason to be hopeful. Momentum was set up as a Labour-left faction group in the wake of Corbyn’s election as Labour leader last year. Liam said: “Momentum’s aim is to ensure the ideas expressed on Corbyn’s platform, in his election last year and again this year, become Labour Party policy. More widely, Momentum exists to democratise the Labour Party.”

 

While Labour has seen an unprecedented rise in membership since Corbyn became leader, Liam joined a year before Corbyn’s emergence. He said:  “I joined because I thought Ed Miliband ought to win the General Election. I live in the Hallam constituency and we campaigned to try and beat Nick Clegg. Although we were unfortunately unsuccessful, it was a great local campaign. However, what I saw from Labour on a national level did not meet my local experience. I remember remarks such as that from Rachel Reeves, who was the Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions, saying that ‘the Labour Party is a party for working people’, actively excluding anyone who is not actually currently in work. Similarly, there were the ‘controls on immigration’ mugs. There were various things during the election campaign that made me think, ‘Who is making these decisions?’”

 

After the General Election, Liam helped set up a meeting of left-wing members of the Labour Party in Sheffield. By the time they met, Ed Miliband had resigned and the leadership contest had begun. Liam said: “When Jeremy Corbyn came onto the scene, quickly getting enough nominations to appear on the ballot paper, our meeting turned into a ‘How do we start a Corbyn campaign group?’ meeting. We organised Corbyn’s first rally in Sheffield in Tudor Square with an indoor event in the Crucible theatre in August 2015 which was attended by over 1,500 people. On that day I was told that an initiative was beginning to build to mobilise the passion of this movement – and that was Momentum.”

 

This summer Momentum Sheffield held a highly successful rally with Corbyn at Barker’s Pool with an estimated turnout of 3,000 people. Liam said: “I walked to the steps of the City Hall to meet other Momentum stewards and I looked out – not at Corbyn or any of the people on the stage – but at all the people. You couldn’t see a piece of ground. That crowd, awash with working-class people, middle-class people, elderly people, children, disabled people, university and sixth-form students and everyone inbetween, made me realise we could win. Rallies aren’t everything but it helps people to stop thinking of politics as something you do on the internet, alone. Our campaigning needs to reflect this excitement.”

 

Liam described his experience of Corbyn’s personality at the rally, saying: “Another highlight was trying to get Corbyn from the steps of the City Hall to his taxi. It took us 15 minutes to get him from the top to the bottom of the steps! I’ve never known a politician in recent British history who stopped and had proper conversations with everyone who wanted to talk to him. He is a genuinely good person. I feel like people usually say that as a prelude to ‘but he’s not a very good leader!’ But why have we normalised the idea that our politicians should be borderline psychopaths? If being egotistical, vicious and media savvy makes a good leader then… well there you have Donald Trump.”

 

After another Corbyn leadership victory with an increased mandate in September this year, the movement behind it all now faces various challenges. Liam said: “A challenge going forward for both Momentum and the wider Labour Party is, ‘How do we reach out and engage with our members to mobilise them?’ The banning of Labour Party meetings during this year’s leadership election has brewed a nasty atmosphere. All the debates that could have been had face-to-face have been had online which is just not a good place to have those debates. Bad attitudes between pro-Corbyners and Corbyn-sceptics haven’t been resolved. We need to work out how we’re going to sit in the same room again.”

 

But Liam thinks that unity is an issue which increasingly lies less with members and more with the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). He said: “An attitude we really need to reject is the whole ‘Corbyn can’t be Prime Minister because his MPs won’t work for him’ rhetoric. That’s blackmail, isn’t it? It dismays me that MPs were able to sit through all the Tony Blair years but they can’t stick a socialist. Even those who may have protested Blair did not do so to the same degree or with the same level of vitriolic outrage that they are doing with Corbyn. Surely the only issue that separates most of the PLP from Corbyn is their foreign policy issues; the rest I would hope they’d be in accord with! The shock at the number of socialists in the Labour Party has been odd… It is the British democratic socialist party after all.”

 

Corbyn’s following has been described as an idealistic cult which makes the Labour Party unelectable. Liam responded: “There are people who won’t hear a word said against Corbyn, I won’t deny it. But they are a minority. Accusations that a mass movement is a ‘cult’ is a very elitist, liberal critique. It’s a right-wing notion to look at lots of people supporting something and see an unthinking mob. That’s the same thing people said about the Chartists, the Suffragettes, and every mass movement for democracy ever. I wonder whether people inside the Labour Party using that criticism understand the significance of what they are saying?”

 

Liam declared an urgent call to action. He said: “We’ve got to be the flip of UKIP now. They’ve gone into forgotten communities and got them politically interested, as a result moving the Conservative Party to the right. We need to put a progressive, socialist alternative forward, rather than a reactionary, libertarian, violently capitalist one. We need people to be excited about politics again. You can be part of it. If you want a society where services work, where your train fare is logically priced, where you can get a decent secure job and education at a low cost, if you want positive communities where people are free and equal, you should get involved.”

 

Momentum Sheffield meet regularly at Union St. Like their Facebook page, join the group and follow them on Twitter for more information.

1 2 3 6
5 Minutes with… Rosie Huzzard of Campaign Bootcamp
Freelancing amongst Friends
Come Sing a New Song
Tackling the Tampon Tax: Football for #FreePeriods
Jimmy Thwaite
Richard Wright
Lucy Owens
Jane Shields
Keeping Up the Momentum