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A Magazine for Sheffield

Now Then in 2021: An end-of-year review

As we sign off for 2021, the Now Then team share our favourites articles, features and interviews from another 12 tumultuous months. Jump in to see what you might have missed.

As another year on Plague Island draws to a close, the Now Then team are taking our annual Christmas break. But before signing off, we wanted to take the opportunity to share some of the magazine's best bits from this year.

After finding our feet with the new website, we redoubled our efforts to write about the friendly, radical, flawed but magical city that Sheffield is. We also welcomed two new Community Correspondents: Philippa covering the LGBTQ+ and disability communities, and Shahed shining a light on the city's marginalised and racialised communities.

The five-strong team who bring you Now Then got together and picked out the pieces below as our highlights of 2021. We're really chuffed with what our small but mighty crew has achieved this year. To everyone who has been involved on every level - thank you.

Next year we're going to come back bigger and better, with more innovative solutions journalism, beautiful art and in-depth features.

Want to write for us? Or tip us off?

Helen Mort

Poet and author Helen Mort.

Emma Ledwith


We interviewed acclaimed author Helen Mort about her experiences of 'deepfakes' and how to combat the epidemic of violence against women.

Kieran Walker wrote about how an "innovative new model pioneered in the North" could help us keep more money in our local economy.


Nick Plumb of Power to Change explored community ownership of high streets, "the solution to our high streets puzzle," in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.


We talked to artist-blacksmith Sam Sherborne about melding traditional metalworking techniques with a creative flair –and showcased some of his dazzling work.

We explored the fragile truce between the Council and street tree campaigners ahead of crucial elections in May.

Anna MacNair Hawkins interviewed up-and-coming Sheffield-Welsh quartet Sister Wives about their "songcraft hewn from the land and offered up in ritualistic respect for creative forces of women and nature."

Lepping Stones 2

Art by Sheffield-based blacksmith Sam Sherborne.


We found that raw sewage had been dumped into the Sheaf and Porter rivers for thousands of hours in 2020.

John Baker wrote for us about his father Eric, the Sheffield son who co-founded Amnesty International and helped define the concept of human rights.


We reported on the local elections in Sheffield alongside a groundbreaking referendum result, which means Sheffield Council will move to a 'modern committee' system of governance in 2022.

We also covered a decision by councillors to block a developer's plans to demolish the historic site of much-loved bookshop Rare & Racy.

Sheffield-based artist Bluebell Smith told Ellie Townson about her quest to spread body positivity and self-love through her work.


We revealed that Sheffield is now the UK's biggest city without any electric buses.

As part of our Radical Roots series, Maryam Jameela spoke to three Sheffield changemakers about how "communities of colour made – and will remake – Sheffield."

Black Lives Matter protest Devonshire Green Shef Archives

Black Lives Matter protest at Devonshire Green, June 2020.

Pete Evans (© Sheffield City Council).


We published an in-depth investigation into allegations made against Cllr Mazher Iqbal by a former senior council officer, and the effects of political inaction for the regeneration of the former Sheffield Castle site.

KLF co-founder Jimmy Cauty brought his Estate project to Sheffield, which hid a dystopian world inside a shipping container outside Theatre Deli. Our exclusive interview shed more light on the installation.

We found that trans people in Sheffield were waiting an average of two years for their first gender clinic appointment, a situation one trans interviewee called "unnecessarily brutal".

A long-read piece by local film archivist Alex Wilson about Sheffield's short-lived municipal cinema caught our readers' imaginations.


Sheffield Council released a report about the city's statues, but our reporter Shahed revealed it didn't tell the full story about Sheffield's colonial legacy.

We reviewed the best trans-friendly barbers and hairdressers in the city.

We dug deep into land, revealing the ancient families, secret companies and overseas interests that own the land beneath our city.

Writer, poet and beekeeper Rachel Bower told us to "listen to the bees and let them guide you" in a lovely and illuminating write up.


As part of the Bureau Local's collaborative #ClosedDoors project, we found that Sheffield tenants were facing eviction from their homes over as little as £292.

We interviewed Jonathan Butterell, Director and Choreographer on the big-screen adaptation of Everybody's Talking About Jamie, about the "love letter to Sheffield" produced by Warp Films.

We featured stunningly intricate black and white drawings by Sheffield's Euklidean.

Local campaign Minesh Parekh said that a much-needed transport revolution in Sheffield is "a matter of political will".

We threw a spotlight on the impossible choices made by Sheffield parents in the pandemic.

Everybodys Talking About Jamie DF 07405 R2

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

Warp Films


Our exclusive investigation found that twice as many female staff at the University of Sheffield were employed on zero-hours contracts than men.

We revealed that Sheffield Hallam University generated 190 pages of records on a student rent strike organiser.

Sheffield Archives writer-in-residence Désirée Reynolds showcased her project, Dig Where You Stand, through Now Then, including a fascinating and heart-rending piece about her processes for uncovering the lost histories of Black and Brown people in Sheffield.

Sheffield-based comedian and regular Now Then contributor Sean Morley warned us: never meet your heroes.

Steve Hunting penned a series about the impact of Brexit and Covid on the UK music industry.


We revealed the hopefuls looking to become Labour's candidate for the next Mayor of South Yorkshire before any other publication did. The list has since shortened to Rachael Blake, Lewis Blake Dagnall, Oliver Coppard and Jayne Dunn.

Food writer Ros Ayres found out more about Sheffield Fruit Trees, the local project "with strong priorities around food sovereignty, growing skills and widening access to fruit in public and communal spaces."


Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake wrote an op-ed for Now Then about the Nationalities and Borders Bill, through which "the Government is doubling down on the approach that led to the Windrush scandal."

We looked at whether plans for the future of the city centre risk making disabled people in Sheffield second-class citizens.

We asked whether a hugely popular Facebook page divides Sheffield's communities, and whether South Yorkshire Police are complicit in the process.


Before the pandemic, since 2008 in fact, we produced a print magazine nine times a year, which was distributed to over 700 public locations around Sheffield.

We believe Covid has shown our previous income model - adverts from local independent businesses - to be fundamentally unsuitable for sustaining the work we want to do as a publication and as a company. We're working hard to replace that with something that is more based around partnership and finding common purpose with the many organisations we work with.

We miss the look and feel of the hard copy Now Then and we are reviewing whether we can re-launch in 2022. But having moved to an online-only format, we publish more articles per week than ever before, reporting on arts and culture, current affairs, holding power to account and putting solutions to the problems of the day front and foremost in our work. So building our online offer will be a big part of 2022 for us as well.

Happy holidays and see you on the other side!

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