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A Magazine for Sheffield

Our Fair City: Be A Champion

The murder of Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen, on 16 June shocked Britain. As such, the tone of this article has changed from the original intention. The people of Sheffield are known for being tolerant, big-hearted and fair-minded. We were the first City of Sanctuary, proudly offering our help and welcome to some of those in most dire need across the planet. Our city has a proud history and heritage of progressive politics and innovation. Our businesses were the spark of the industrial revolution that eventually touched every corner of the globe. But our city didn’t just produce a new way to make rich men richer. Sheffield’s ability to innovate has always gone hand in hand with our determination to help people and share prosperity, so it should not be a surprise that Sheffield is also the birthplace of the Trades Union Congress, organised labour and no fewer than six trade unions. It is that enduring commitment to equality and fairness that prompted Sheffield to establish the Fairness Commission. In a ground-breaking move that brought together the public, private and voluntary sectors, Sheffield collectively and proudly set out a compelling vision for the future and plans for action. The Fairness Commission has already led to concrete action through the setting up of organisations like Sheffield Money and through initiatives like the Fair Employer Charter. Our vision is for a Sheffield “that is eventually free from damaging disparities in living conditions and life chances, and free from stigmatising discrimination and prejudice, a place in which every citizen and community knows and feels that they will be treated fairly. We aspire to be the fairest city in the country." This vision isn’t something abstract or intangible. It is a real commitment to changing how our city is structured and how we see people as individuals. A fair city is one in which all races, religions, sexualities and abilities are equal, embraced and valued, where the personal gifts, talents, qualities and uniqueness of every person can develop and thrive. The circumstances and motives of the senseless murder of Jo Cox last month are not yet clear. However, some consequences are already clear. Jo's husband, Brendan Cox, has bravely and powerfully written that the best way to honour her memory is to "unite to fight against the hate that killed her". The immediate, instinctive reaction following senseless murder is understandably anger, fear and hatred. But we should not act out of fear. This is a time to summon the values of inclusivity, diversity, compassion and tolerance that have guided and shaped Sheffield through the centuries and which have ​helped to make our city so great. But the Council can’t do this alone. Creating the fairest city in the country will require the efforts, skills and determination of a broad range of people from right across Sheffield. Working with a range of committed partners, I’m supporting the continuing work of the Our Fair City campaign, which will help many more people to be informed, engaged and enthused in this crucial work. We are inviting people to become Fairness Champions, people who are willing to stand up for fairness in Sheffield and make a real difference for people in their local community, company or organisation in the city. For more information and to sign up, visit Warm ​words won't do justice to Jo Cox’s energy, compassion and humanity. But perhaps our city’s renewed resolve and bold actions can be a fitting tribute to this proud fighter for social justice. ​​Councillor Jack Scott is the Cabinet Member for Community Services. He represents Park and Arbourthorne Ward on Sheffield City Council. Over the next year, Now Then and its parent company, Opus, will work closely with Sheffield City Council to expand the Our Fair City campaign, bring fairness up the agenda and encourage local people to talk about inequality in Sheffield. Artist: Geo Law )

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