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A Magazine for Sheffield

The Sheffield Pioneers The Learning Marathon

Social enterprise will launch 'collaborative learning journey' in May and is inviting Sheffielders to join.

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There is fervent discussion about the need for positive change being paramount at a time when the social, political and environmental landscapes are constantly shifting.

Stella McKenna and Enrol Yourself are launching their Learning Marathon, called The Sheffield Pioneers, in May, and they're on the lookout for people with big ideas, hopes and dreams to participate. I chatted to Stella to find out more.

First things first, tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved with The Sheffield Pioneers.

I wear many hats - don’t we all? - but in a sentence, I am a community builder and facilitator.

I first heard about Enrol Yourself, the social enterprise behind The Sheffield Pioneers, when I got chatting to the founder at an event. She told me about the Learning Marathon, where a group of peers go on a learning journey together. I was immediately intrigued by the concept and decided to join the next group in late 2018.

My experience was nothing short of life-changing and I jumped at the chance to bring this innovative programme to Sheffield. I trained as a host last year and will be launching The Sheffield Pioneers, the first Learning Marathon in Sheffield, in May 2021.

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Your work centres around the Learning Marathon. What does this involve and who is it for?

The Learning Marathon is a new way of learning that is cooperative, creative and purposeful. Over six months, 12 peers pool their skills, resources and networks to multiply their professional and personal development. Together the group journeys through a scaffold of meet-ups, intensive weekends, a showcase event and more. Each participant is guided by a learning question, a short, open question that frames your goals, challenges or curiosities and helps you to explore a subject deeply during the programme.

The Sheffield Pioneers is for anyone who calls Sheffield home, from the newest arrivals to the born and bred. We will be a diverse group and you do not need any particular education, skills or experience to join. The Learning Marathon might be for you if you have an idea, a desire and a commitment to be part of the change we all need.


Stella McKenna

What will be your role within the Learning Marathon?

I will be the host for The Sheffield Pioneers. This means I’ve been trained in the Enrol Yourself philosophy and approaches, there to guide the group through the process. I will participate alongside the rest of the group. As your host I will be your cheerleader, as well as your critical friend, journeying with you as we uncover our individual and collective power.

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Where do you think the work of The Sheffield Pioneers sits within the context of Sheffield emerging from the pandemic?

I think we would all agree that the pandemic has brought into focus the need for collaboration and cooperation within our communities.

We need to build our capacity and resilience to recover from this crisis and to face the multiple crises on the horizon - from the climate emergency, to racial injustice, inequality and the mental health crisis. The Sheffield Pioneers will be an opportunity for a group of citizens to actively take action towards the change they want to see, whilst growing their skill sets, side hustles, ventures or idea babies in support of a better city, and a better world, for all.

How can people get involved in the upcoming Learning Marathon?

The best way to find out more is to visit our website. I’m also hosting two Open House events on 30 March and 19 April for anyone who is excited to learn more. Applications are open now and we have full and part bursaries, as well as payment plans available. We don’t want finances to be a barrier for anyone to participate if they’d like to.

by Felicity Jackson (she/her)
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