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Cohesion Sheffield: Working towards a cohesive city

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Cohesion Sheffield is the infrastructure body set up deliver the Citywide Cohesion Strategic Framework for Action. It was developed and exists as a collaboration between partners. Taking the lead are the Sheffield Cohesion Advisory Group and Sheffield City Council but, importantly, it applies to and is supported across all sectors: private, public, voluntary and faith.

We had a chat with Development Coordinator Panni Loh to find out more about the work they're doing.

What have you done this year?

We've drawn in more and better funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to support us from April 2019 to March 2021. We held a Cohesion Collaboration seminar in April 2019 with 40 delegates. We connected with 50 partners across sectors including the community sector, faith sector, South Yorkshire Police and Sheffield City Council, as well as social enterprises and businesses covering children and young people, sports, the outdoor environment and more. We held a Cohesion Conference in October 2019 with over 140 diverse delegates. We celebrated our Firvale collaboration in October 2019 with 200 local people. We presented at the Cohesion & Integration Network Belong conference with follow-up interest from Wales and Bristol. We presented at Bridging Northern Communities conference in Leeds, and we surveyed and reported on diversity in leadership in Sheffield.

What impact has your work had in 2019?

We've enabled a wide range of organisations to collaborate with one another by introducing and supporting them. For example, the Centre for Mindful Living Enhancement worked with the Peak District National Park and Voluntary Action Sheffield to deliver mindfulness walks in the Peaks to refugees, and the RUBIC project collaborated with MESH and Who is Your Neighbour? to support young people in the city. Presenting at national and regional conferences has meant Cohesion Sheffield has been able to share its cross-sectoral model with interest from as far away as Wales and Bristol.

What are you most proud of?

The Cohesion Conference in October not only brought 140 delegates together to discuss what works well cohesion-wise, and what the cohesion challenges are in their communities of interest, but there were many comments celebrating the diversity of people attending the conference, plus the diversity of the presenters and facilitators. This also continued the research that Cohesion Sheffield is doing to increase the diversity in leadership in the city, alongside a survey and interim report.

We're proud to have begun work on ensuring that positive cohesion stories are published in collaboration with Opus Independents. We're also proud to collaborate with Firvale Community Hub and Hope Not Hate to deliver a Celebrating Our Firvale event, where over 200 members of the community were able to meet together following the request of the community at the Festival of Debate earlier in the year.

What are your challenges for 2020, and how could your work in Sheffield be better supported?

As with most funded projects our challenge is longer-term funding, and the time it takes away from development and business as usual to apply for funding to continue or increase the scope of our work.

Find out more about Cohesion Sheffield here.

Flick Jackson

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