Author Archives: Ruth Durkin

What’s on at Sheffield Futures?

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Have you left School or College? are aged 16-18 years old and Not in Education, Employment or Training?

  • Duty Service for Young People 16-18

Sheffield Futures can help you by providing information and advice on:

  • Employability support i.e. application forms, CV’s and  interview techniques
  • Apprenticeships
  • Work-Based Learning opportunities
  • Vacancies
  • Benefits  Advice for Under 18’s

We offer a drop-in service at Star House:

When:             Monday – Friday – 11.00am – 3.00pm

Where:            Ground Floor, Star House, 43 Division St, S1 4GE.



  • Door43 Wellbeing Cafe

Door43 is a Youth Information, Advice & Counselling Service (YIACS) based at Sheffield Futures. We offer holistic emotional wellbeing support for young people aged 13-25 in Sheffield.

When:             Tuesday: 5pm – 7pm

Where:            Ground Floor, Star House, 43 Division St, S1 4GE.

10 ways to destress for exams

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1. Get a change of scene

We all know the feeling of sitting at your desk, staring at the same page of revision for an hour, with none of it sinking in. Go for a 10-minute walk! Physical exercise releases endorphins in your brain, which cheers you up. Drinking in some nature can take your mind off work for a while, allowing you to reflect on what you have to do away from the pile of paper.

2. Turn off your computer screen

It’s all too tempting to scroll through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram when you’re having a break from revision, but staring at a screen all day is scientifically proven to increase stress in some people, and makes it difficult to sleep. Try giving someone a call – old friends, family, partners, anyone to take your mind off revision without the need for a screen!

3. Listen to some music

Cranking up the volume on a feel-good classic can really brighten up your day, and turn the same dingy revision den into a daytime disco!

4. Eat some fruit

Chocolate may be tempting, but the guilt might stress you out more! Instead, why not go for the natural goodness of fruit? They have plenty of sugars to give you energy. Bananas are particularly good; the potassium helps to keep your blood pressure down.

5. Meditate

Meditation doesn’t mean sitting cross-legged on top of a mountain, chanting ‘Ommm’… but spending 10 minutes with your lights off in bed practising Mindfulness can be a great way to clear your head and get a healthy dose of perspective on your workload. There are plenty of apps and online tools that can help guide you through meditation – just Google ‘Mindfulness’!

6. Sleep

This one sounds obvious, but the number of people who don’t sleep properly is astounding. You may think you don’t have time to get a solid kip, but your brain will take in a lot more information after a proper rest, so it can actually increase your revision productivity. Make sure you turn screens off (computer and phone) an hour before bed, as the blueish light stops you from getting to sleep.

7. Write a list of things you’re happy about

Sometimes, in the depths of a tough study session, it’s hard to remember what it’s like to be happy. Write a list of all the things that cheer you up, and have a look when you feel like it’s all getting a bit too much. It could be anything from football in the park to a hot bath – climbing trees to cuddling puppies.

8. Say no, politely!

Don’t forget about your friends and family and make time to see them when you can. However, some people might not understand that you need to focus on your studies and, for the time-being, you may need to see people less frequently than usual. Explain to your nearest and dearest that you’d love to see them when your exams are over, or even better, to celebrate when you receive your results! Don’t take on too much or you might feel overwhelmed.

9. Smile!

Even fake smiles are proven to improve your mood. We’re not sure why, they just do! Time yourself for one minute of grinning, and you’ll probably feel a lot better after it!

10. Open a window

If you really don’t have time to go for a walk, even cracking a window open can be a great way to feel better. A cold breeze can be very invigorating, and the fresh air benefits your body, making you mentally and physically prepared for work.

9 ways to improve your concentration

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  1. Clear the room

 Try to find somewhere quiet and relaxed – too many people around will inevitably distract you. It’s also important to clear your workspace – a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind!

  1. Get rid of online distractions

The internet is a weird, wonderful and wide-reaching place – brilliant for many things, including procrastination. It’s so easy to get carried away checking Twitter, and it can be a real spanner in the works for your train of thought. There are heaps of browser extensions that block out specific websites for an hour or two – Search Google for ‘Blocksite’, a popular one.

  1. Clear your head

You know that feeling when you’re in the zone, and 2 hours later you’re staring at an entire essay but you’re not quite sure how it all happened?

Great spurts of working energy don’t just come from nowhere. You have to start out with a clear mind, with no distractions knocking around. Try downloading a ‘meditation’ app, they’re brilliant 10 minute exercises to help you clear your thoughts.

  1. Write down your goals

You’re never going to achieve much with your day if you don’t know what you’re setting out to achieve. Writing down your goals for the day makes it ten times more likely that you’ll conquer them. Seeing them laid out, ink on paper, is almost like having a written contract with yourself – and ticking them off is all the more satisfying when you get to stage 7.

  1. Set Deadlines

Having written down your goals, put a time frame on them! And not just “today I’ll do X Y and Z” – think “9:00-11:00 finish X, 12:00-2:00- finish task Y”. Breaking apart your time means you won’t get overwhelmed by all the bits and bobs you have to do, and you can focus fully on one task at a time.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to cram a year’s worth of work into one day either, be realistic!

  1. Break apart tasks

So you’ve followed the above steps, and now you’re getting to a whopper of a task. Take 5 minutes to brainstorm a plan of how you will do it from the very first steps – anything you’ll need to research, to the first steps of actually doing it


This is the most important step, the one to pay attention to if you forget all the others: JUST DO IT. It’s all well and good faffing around with step 1-6 all day but it’s not going to get anything done. Try and get those out of the way quickly.

  1. Short, Regular breaks

Once you’re on a roll, don’t let it burn you out – try and take a short break once an hour. Don’t get sucked in to the internet or social media – try to do something a little more invigorating. Go for a walk, make a cup of tea, dunk a biscuit for a dangerous amount of time – whatever gets you pumped.

  1. Live healthily

A healthy diet and regular sleeping pattern makes all the difference to how long your concentration holds out. You’d be surprised at how much more you get done with 8 hours kip and some form of granola-yoghurty brain food combination for breakfast!

Elliot’s Running Blog – March 2016

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Elliot Walker is our Volunteer Coordinator and is running the Yorkshire Half Marathon on 10th April 2016 to raise funds for Sheffield Futures. He’s invited us to follow his journey as he trains for the big day. You can read the first instalment here!

I’m not a natural long-distance runner. At the start of 2016, the furthest I had ever dragged my legs anywhere was during the Sheffield 10K a few months earlier. This had taken me an hour and was something of an achievement. One whole hour of running was a milestone. I had just run the equivalent of three entire episodes of The Simpsons! This personal triumph led me to believe that if you’ve done 10k, you can do 21k and I swiftly (and somewhat naively) signed up to the Yorkshire Half Marathon. What I didn’t stop to think about was that 21k is actually 13.1miles. That’s the distance of a Half Marathon and it’s a lot further than 10k!

Once you’ve signed up, though, you’re committed, especially if you’ve also decided to fundraise. So, at the start of 2016, I decided to move on from my one-hour-of-running victory and make that my starting point.

I managed 5k in 45 minutes the first time I laced up my trainers. It wasn’t my finest 45 minutes and I’m sure all the drivers passing by could tell I was new to this; face glowing, legs shuffling and my body panting. That’s okay though, I thought. This is just the beginning. The next time I went out I managed 8k in the same time frame and the run after that I broke my one-hour barrier!

Confidence in mind, the next hurdle to challenge was the route itself. The Yorkshire Half Marathon is hilly. In fact, in my head, its one long, giant hill and it’s something I felt I needed to conquer during my training. Discussing with family, friends and colleagues who are also undertaking the Half Marathon helped here. If they can do it, so can I and so I set off up the lengthy slope. Once again, the first time I didn’t quite manage it, but persistence helps.

The Yorkshire Half Marathon is now only four weeks away and, at present, my training has allowed me to get as far as 10 miles before my legs become jelly and I start looking for the nearest sofa, but 10 miles isn’t bad. I can run for almost two hours and I’m happy with my progress and confident I’ll make it through the Yorkshire Half Marathon on the day. It’s not always easy, however, and I have discovered that the key to motivation is fundraising!

I have also discovered that running becomes more than just running. When you’re not training you’re thinking about when you can train next, you’re talking to colleagues about the routes you’ve run and who’s gone the furthest. How awful was running in the wind and rain on Saturday! Running suddenly takes even more of your time, energy and effort and it becomes a big part of your life and the reason it’s all worth it is because, when you’re fundraising, you’re making a difference.

I am running the Yorkshire Half Marathon on behalf of Sheffield Futures in order to transform lives and create positive futures. Every time someone kindly donates to me on behalf of this cause I am both proud and that bit more energised to continue pushing. I’m hoping to defeat the Yorkshire Half Marathon in under 2 hours and, while that might not definitely happen, fundraising is certainly inspiring me to try!

Click here to sponsor Elliot now!

Together with Festival of Debate, we are hosting Young People’s Question Time

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When: Tuesday 5th April at 6-8pm

Where: At Star House, 43 Division Street, S1 4GE

The theme of the Question Time is youth unemployment, so we’ll be talking about work experience, local opportunities, whether preparing for the world of work should be in the curriculum and more.

This is a fantastic enrichment opportunity for young people to join the debate, have their say and find out what the people in the know think about youth unemployment in Sheffield. The event will be chaired by Deputy Member of Youth Parliament, Eleri Kirkpatrick and the panel is: MP Louise Haigh, Jon Maiden (entrepreneur,) Liz Wallis (MD of Sero,) and Hassun El Zafar (Education Officer at Sheffield Hallam University.)

This event is public and we would like a strong show of young people from the whole organisation. Please promote this event at every opportunity and encourage the young people you work with to attend. You can register to attend here: 

There are leaflets available and posters too – these will be up in all CYT youth clubs and are up around Star House. If you would like any more, please let me know. We will be sending out posts about this on all of our social media, using the hashtag: #ypquestiontime

Young people with special educational needs win trip to the British Science Museum

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Sheffield Futures has secured a £500 grant to take 33 young people with special educational needs and disabilities to the British Science Museum as part of British Science Week.

Competition was tough with the British Science Week 2016 Community Grant Scheme receiving 218 applications for just 50 grants.

The trip took place on Saturday 19th March and was the final activity as part of a month-long project, which started in February, to raise awareness of careers and study opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

We run three specialist youth clubs for young people aged 13-25 with special educational needs and disabilities who meet weekly and engage in learning activities.

One of the main aims of the groups is to focus on the young people’s futures and potential education, employment and training opportunities. This unique project will offer them the chance to think about a career in scientific subjects. The trip will also be a valuable social experience for the group and for many will be their first visit to London.

The trip will be evaluated to find out what the young people have learned and to inform planning for similar future activities for this group.

Louise Ellison, Community Youth Team Manager for the West of Sheffield, will be travelling to London with the group. She said: “The group of young people will have an opportunity for informal learning in an engaging and fun environment with the support of peers and trusted, experienced youth workers. This is an exciting opportunity for young people who would not normally get the opportunity to visit our nation’s capital.”

Young man lands dream career in Engineering with support from Sheffield Futures

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Mikias Misganew, a 17-year-old Engineering student, accessed our Job Club when he was unable to progress in his studies due to his level of English.

Mikias was disappointed that improving his English skills was going to delay the completion of his Engineering qualifications. He was keen to stay on track with his studies, which would ultimately lead to his ideal job.

Paul Spencer, a Targeted Youth Support Assistant, worked with Mikias to explore his options but explained to him how important a good use of English would be for his future. He helped Mikias to look for engineering training providers who would allow him to continue with his studies alongside studying English.

Paul contacted several training providers to see if this would be possible for Mikias and managed to find somewhere for him to complete his Level 2 Engineering course at the same time as an English course.

Mikias was appreciative of the support he received from Paul at the Job Club, and is currently applying for apprenticeships for when he has completed the Level 2 qualification. He said: “I want to thank Paul so much for everything he’s done for me. I am enjoying my course; I am getting the hang of it and it seems to be going fine. I appreciate everything Paul has done for me from the bottom of my heart.”

Paul feels great job satisfaction in being able to help young people such as Mikias. He said: “Mikias is now coming on in leaps and bounds. I kept in touch with him when he started his qualification to ensure he was coping. He was so grateful for the support and advice we gave him, but I’m only doing my job. I could see he was interested and keen to carry on in Engineering so I wanted to help him get sorted.”

Social action project at Stocksbridge Community Leisure

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Sheffield Futures’ social action project Sheffieldr enlisted young volunteers to brighten up Stocksbridge Community Leisure Centre. The group gave the disabled entrance to the freshly opened swimming pool a much-needed lick of paint.

The Sheffieldr volunteering projects aim to make public spaces, youth clubs and other venues welcoming and attractive. Other projects have included giving a facelift to two community gardens, and helping to redecorate SHINE Health Academy, a charity for young people with weight and self-confidence issues.

Sarah Stevens, Involvement and Enrichment Manager at Sheffield Futures said: “We are so pleased to be able to offer social action projects to communities in Sheffield. Young people predominantly receive negative press, but we want to show that young people in our city have a lot to offer. We want to promote volunteering to young people and would encourage them to get involved with any future one-off volunteering days we have. There are so many benefits to volunteering, from team building and partnership working through to DIY skills!”

Young volunteer Isaac Hanson said: “I feel that it is really important, especially as a Member of Sheffield Youth Council, to give back to the communities that we live in. I feel very glad to have been able to help!”

Anita Grafton, volunteer at Stocksbridge Community Leisure Centre said: “The team have made a vast difference by helping us! Everyone has done very well and we enjoyed having them. They’ve all cracked on and the work has been outstanding. It will really help us with re-opening and bringing young people to Stocksbridge Community Leisure Centre.

Ella Johnson, a Member of Sheffield Youth Parliament, who helped to paint the leisure centre, said: “I originally had plans to do something else in half term but I changed them so that I could help to renovate Stocksbridge Community Leisure Centre, I’m glad I did because it’s been a really great experience!”

Lee Hible, Sports Development Officer at Stocksbridge Community Leisure Centre said: “It’s important to build community spirit and work in partnerships as we have been doing with Sheffield Futures. We hope that by getting Sheffield Futures volunteers helping at the centre, this will encourage more people to participate in our activities or help to run activities here!”

The Sheffieldr team are currently looking for opportunities to renovate community spaces and would love to hear from you. If you know of any community gardens that could do with tidying up, or a venue that needs a lick of paint, get in touch: [email protected] or call: 0114 201 2754

Sheffield Futures launches young people’s guide to life

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Sheffield Futures has released the third edition of their Mi Book which helps young people to live a safe and healthy life.

The content of the book was decided by young people from local schools and members of the Sheffield Young Advisors; trained 16-19 year olds who offer consultation services to services and businesses to make them youth-appropriate.

The young people agreed that their peers needed information around drugs and alcohol, pregnancy, mental health, sexual health, housing, sexual exploitation and bullying amongst many other important issues.

The small, pocket guide has been distributed to schools within Sheffield and is also available from the charity’s city centre premises at Star House on Division Street. Young people are encouraged to call in to collect a copy.

An app to accompany the guide is coming soon which will contain additional information, advice and guidance content including managing personal finances, family break-ups and step families, bereavement and leaving home.

Gail Gibbons, Chief Executive Officer of Sheffield Futures said: We’re really proud to present our latest edition of Mi Book; a pocket guide to life in Sheffield. We hope young people will find this useful.”

Young people’s events and activities guide – pick yours up today!

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Sheffield Futures are proud to launch their young people’s guide to local activities in January to March.

Every three months, Sheffield Futures produce the up-to-date Things To Do guide which can be found online: and in youth clubs, leisure centres, libraries, doctors surgeries and various venues across the city, including Sheffield Futures head office on Division Street.

Included in the guide are the 26 Sheffield Futures youth clubs in our city, holding over 40 activities per week. The Community Youth Teams also host additional activities and trips during the school holidays for club members. Several evenings per week, youth workers are out and about in neighbourhoods across the city, engaging with young people in the community.

Sheffield Futures Chief Executive Officer, Gail Gibbons said: “We are very pleased to launch our latest edition of the Things To Do guide. There are so many great activities and events in the next couple of months, whether you’re looking for a new hobby, one off activity, or a regular youth club, we cover it all.”

If you run a youth activity in Sheffield and would like to be included in the next guide, please contact: [email protected] or call: 0114 201 2754


How you can help

Our charity is dedicated to helping Sheffield's young people to reach their full potential and achieve the best out of life, whatever their starting point. To help us to do more to support young people and communities we need your help. Just remember, every penny you donate will make a difference.