Union StUnion St

By Matt

Jed Richards

What will you be doing at Union St?

I’ll be specialising in large, complex web and native app builds mainly using JavaScript, React and Node.

How did you get into this area of work?

After an MSc in Internet Technology and ten years working in the London tech industry I’ve built up a network of trusted contacts which has enabled to me go 100% remote freelance.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy collaboration with team members, learning new technologies and helping to develop product ideas.

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

Not too bothered really. Anyone nice and friendly team or individual doing interesting or innovative work where my skills are relevant!

For fellow start-ups, could you offer an entry-level discount or price? If so, what would that be?

My normal day rate is around £400/day, but I’d be happy to accommodate low budgets, especially if it meant working with someone from Union St or local to Sheffield. Discount would depend on how appealing the project was and my level of availability.

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

Another space to work aside from home. A chilled-out friendly atmosphere with the opportunity for social contact should I feel the need.

 

You can follow Jed on Twitter here and check out his website here.

 

By Matt

Chris Brown

Christopher Brown is a HPC cloud engineer working on the world’s fastest computers.

What will you be doing at Union St?

I’m a cloud engineer working on supercomputers around the UK.

How did you get into this area of work?

I joined my employer in 2015 after wanting to work more with open source technologies.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Solving problems. The rapidly changing environment. The culture.

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

I’d like to work with people who have the same “upstream first” mentality and work on exciting collaborative projects solving the many problems the world currently has.

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

My main aim is to be able to focus on my work and to create a separation between home and business. I’d like to meet a wide range of people and enjoy some of the social aspects of a co-work space too.

You can follow Chris on Twitter here and read his blog at https://chruz.wordpress.com/

By Hannah Clugston

Event Three

Held on the 4th Thursday of the month at Union St, Freelance Folk bring freelancers and self employed people together in a way that people can get on with their own work whilst in the company of others, to allow people to make useful connections, ask advice or for a second opinion, and just have a chat about any issues that they were dealing with around being self employed. For more info you can read The Guardian’s article featuring founder Katy Carlisle talking about about why she started Freelance Folk here, and see details of the next event here

By Hannah Clugston

How to find meaning as life rushes by?

If you’ve been to Union St recently, you might have spotted flyers with intriguing headlines like “kindness when times are tough”, “how to find meaning as life rushes by…” and “happiness without buying lots of stuff”. All of these topics will be addressed at the upcoming Introducing Buddhism & Meditation Course – a free six week class at the One Space in Union St where you’ll be able to explore basic Buddhist tools for living well. We chatted to workshop leader Bodhinaga about his first encounter with Buddhism and what sort of things will be covered in the course…

Q. What happens in a typical workshop?
A.
We usually split the evening into two parts; one half focuses on meditation practices and the other half looks at the Buddhist tools and techniques to help you transform your life and get the most out of the meditations. We teach mindfulness meditation, which helps people develop clarity, peace of mind, focus and awareness, and we also teach a loving kindness meditation, which helps people to develop positive emotions in their relationships. The Buddhist wisdom teachings go hand-in-hand with the meditation, as you might meditate for 30 minutes every day, but you really need to be working on your mind throughout the day too.

Q. What sort of benefits have people gained from this course?
A.
At the end of the course, we usually ask people what they’ve got out of it, and very often people will say they feel calm and more at peace. But the benefits I am most excited by are when people feel like they’ve begun to change their life in a positive way. People will come on the course and start to realise that they are not stuck with how they are. Over the course of six weeks, you see people get excited about the prospect of changing their lives and working on habits that they’ve had for many years. Participants also say they get a sense of community, which is very important at the Buddhist centre. We always try to create positive friendships and connections, and people often start to feel like they’ve had an experience of a positive community, which I think is really good.

Q. Can you tell me a little bit about how you got into Buddhism?
A.
I was first taught to meditate when I was at school in Sheffield. I went to a Catholic school and unusually the R.E. teacher took us to the chapel and lead us through a meditation. It was a kind of visualisation and mindfulness meditation and it had a really strong impact on me. I remember coming out into the playground at playtime and thinking the playground looked different, and what I didn’t realise was that my mind had been changed by meditation and everything seemed more vivid and more alive. I tried to meditate after that on my own and it really helped me through some difficult times when I was at school. I was also looking for a purpose in life, asking questions like what is life about? and what is the meaning of life? The famous question. I started to become interested in what other religions had to say about how to be happy and kind of stumbled across Buddhism. I went to follow up my early interest in meditation and I saw the advert for the six week course – the same six week course we are doing at Union St – and it changed my life. Meditation and mindfulness has transformed my life, I used to be very anxious but I learnt through mindfulness and awareness that I could start to clock situations where I was starting to become anxious and I could start to control it and learn to relax. I am much more confident and relaxed. I think I have learnt to like myself more too.

Q. Do people need any experience to attend the course?
A.
You don’t need any experience at all to come on this course, it is aimed at all levels of experience. All the meditations are lead as if you’ve got no previous experience, teaching you how to comfortably meditate. We’ll explain the teachings of Buddhism, so you don’t need to know anything about it or meditation – just come along and try it out.

Introducing Buddhism & Meditation Course, 7.30-10pm, starts Monday 21 August, One Space, Union St, 18-20 Union Street, Sheffield, S1 2JP, www.sheffieldbuddhistcentre.org

Sign up at info@sheffieldbuddhistcentre.org or 0114 2349994

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

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.

By Matt

Tony Gibbs

What will you be doing at Union St?

I plan on making Union St my main base of operations – working on designs for clients, self-initiated projects and everything in between. While I’m at it’d be nice to meet new people and the opportunity to do a little networking is a bonus.

How did you get into this area of work?

Through lots of learning. I studied Graphic Design throughout School, College and University, and with each step upwards discovered more inspirations and more to like. These days my appreciation for both print & digital media keep me excited and enthusiastic about Design.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

There’s nothing quite like seeing something you’ve made out there in the big wide world.

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

Photographers/ Website Designers/ Illustrators and many others.

For fellow start-ups, could you offer an entry-level discount / price? If so, what would that be?

I would certainly consider it! I’m friendly and approachable so please do say hello.

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

A place to work, a place to meet and a place to eat. The odd new contact/ friendly face would be great too.

 

Follow Tony on Twitter via https://twitter.com/madebytone and on Instagram via www.instagram.com/madebytone/

 

 

By Matt

Amy Benson

What will you be doing at Union St?

I’ve just started a new job working remotely as a Front End Developer (I build the parts of website you see and interact with) for the UN. Only a couple of days in so far, but will mostly be working on helping improve their websites and apps, as well as getting confused by which time zones my colleagues are in.

How did you get into this area of work?

I kind of fell into web development while in an admin job for the NHS years ago, but it’s worked out ok and I’ve been a web developer for several years now, working mostly for digital agencies in Sheffield.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy lots of aspects of web development, but mostly I like to see that what I’ve been working on actually has a useful purpose and is helping people, even if it’s in a small way.

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

A good co-working environment with friendly people (and without my cat trying to hit me in the face).

Follow Amy at https://twitter.com/amyvbenson

1 2 3 5
Jed Richards
Chris Brown
Event Three
How to find meaning as life rushes by?
Tackling the Tampon Tax: Football for #FreePeriods
Lucy Owens
Jane Shields
Keeping Up the Momentum
Tony Gibbs
Amy Benson