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International Women’s Day with our CEO Gail Gibbons

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On International Women’s Day, 8th March, we wanted to introduce you to our Chief Executive Officer, Gail Gibbons. Gail became CEO of Sheffield Futures in 2014 after over twenty years working in the public sector in both children and young people’s services, and mental health. She qualified as a social worker in 1995 and since then has worked in a range of social work positions in local government, before taking up roles across strategy, policy and commissioning in both local government and health.

Gail says: “The best thing about my job is the variety. Every day is different and you never know what’s going to happen. Although I would say that even better than that, is that even though I have been doing this job for many years, I still feel passionately about the making a positive difference to the people who use our services. It’s great to hear about when young people have gone on to do something really positive or that Sheffield Futures have made a real difference to someone’s life.”

Gail is involved in a wide range of local and regional partnerships, and is passionate about improving outcomes for young people and ensuring the voice of young people is heard. This commitment to a better future for the city’s young people extends to chairing the Sheffield Inclusion Centre’s Management Committee as she feels strongly about effectively meeting the needs of excluded pupils and sits on a wide range of multi-agency partnership boards – including the Safer and Sustainable Communities Partnership Board as the third sector rep, and the Sheffield Safeguarding Children Board..

In addition to this, Gail is also a Board Member of the Sheffield Business Improvement District (BID). This is a role she is excited about, as it is very different from her other board commitments. The BID’s objectives are to work together for a busier, cleaner, safer city centre that is easier to access and navigate for the benefit of us all. Gail says: “Increasingly I think it’s important that Sheffield Futures, statutory services and private business work together to achieve common aims.”

Under Gail’s leadership, Sheffield Futures is evolving and all services are designed to meet our four goals:

  • Improving social skills, life skills and independence
  • Enabling community participation and belonging
  • Meaningful progression in to education, employment and training
  • Improving health and wellbeing

Gail says: “Over the next five years, everything we do will be to achieve one of those goals, We recognise that young people’s needs are changing and we need to be ever changing too to meet that demand.

We are still Sheffield focussed, but increasingly we are working regionally and sometimes nationally, and we want to continue and strengthen this work”

This brings us to our final question. It wouldn’t be a blog for International Women’s Day if we didn’t ask which females inspire Gail the most and why? See if you can identify the theme between them all!

Gail says: “Maxine Peake is definitely someone I really admire because she’s a fantastic actor but she’s also very committed to particular causes. Her life has been interesting, from growing up with political left-leaning parents to taking on interesting acting projects that are not necessarily big blockbusters. She speaks a lot of sense about many things, not to mention the fact that she’s a fantastic actor.

“The other person that springs to mind is Vivienne Westwood. I don’t like everything she says but I like her because she speaks her mind and I love her clothes. She has backed causes I feel strongly about, including anti-plastic and other environmental issues. I really admire her.

“I’m fascinated by Wayne and Geraldine Hemmingway. They both live through feminist and ethical principles and together they have done some amazing things, not only in the fashion world (with Red or Dead) but now they have moved in to sustainable housing and sustainable living with the Festival of Thrift and Festival of Making.

“I’m currently reading a biography about Eleanor Marx, who is absolutely fascinating in terms of being one of the first political feminists. She lived a hugely interesting life and was very influential in lots of strike action and political change, particularly in connecting women’s issues with worker’s issues. She was not afraid to speak out despite criticism… Again, she was a very strong and principled woman. What a fantastic collection, wouldn’t it be great to have a dinner party with them?”

National Careers Week 5-9 March!

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At Sheffield Futures, we never miss an opportunity to help you to get to where you want to be. On National Careers Week, we’re hosting four events to help you get your CV in shape, look at your options, find out more about local employers and the fantastic opportunities in Sheffield and the chance to think about your future.

Please join us at Sheffield Futures, Star House, 43 Division St, S1 4GE on National Careers Week!


CV Clinic on Monday 5th March 2pm – 4pm

Call in to find out what makes a great CV that’s going to get you the job and career you need. An Advisor will be on hand to give help, advice and prompts to improve your CV or help you to start to create on.


National Careers Week Wellbeing Cafe on Tuesday 6th March 5pm – 7pm

Door43 are hosting a special Wellbeing Cafe with Sheffield Futures Ambassador, sports journalist Liz Byrnes and Really NEET Project’s Sophie Maxwell. These two inspirational women will be talking about their careers and running a short workshop afterwards.


Options Drop-In on Wednesday 7th March 2pm – 4pm

Call into Sheffield Futures to find out what’s hot and what’s not in terms of local jobs. Find out what employers are looking for and what jobs are on offer in your local area.


Inspiring the Future’s Engineers on Thursday 8th March 11am

An interactive workshop with Tom Reynolds, Design Engineer at Gripple

Think like a design engineer. Bringing design engineering to life. Discover the career possibilities. What problems could you solve?


Choose Your Future on Friday 9th March 2pm – 4pm

Come along to speak with staff around your career options and your career choices. We have plenty of information on offer around any area of work or career you fancy.

A love letter to yourself

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I have been working with a young woman for two months at Door43. When she first came to the service she was feeling very low in self confidence and would quite often say things to put herself down. I could see that she is a fantastic person and has many assets, but instead of reminding her about her achievements I wanted her to recognise them herself. She asked me if there was anything she could be doing over Christmas to practice self-care, and I set her a challenge of writing a love letter to herself.

At first she laughed at me and said this is “way too cheesy”, but eventually I convinced her to give it a go and even if she came back to see me in January with one point, it would be a great achievement.

She came back after the Christmas break with the following list and said it was really difficult, and at times she struggled to write the points down, but that now she has done it, she is proud. She plans to use the letter every time she is having a rubbish day or feeling a bit off, when she re-reads it she can remind herself of how amazing she is and the best bit is that these points have all come from her.


Dear you, I love you because:

You are amazing. Even if you don’t believe that, it is true. You need to believe in the people around you and trust them on this fact.

You are helpful when your friends are down. You always put your friends first. You’re always there to talk to and always happy to help them.

You are confident. Stop hiding behind this shy person and show people who you really are.

You never give up on yourself. You try as many times as you need to to succeed. Keep going.

You don’t let your mental health define you. Instead, you make it a part of your life and you now want to work with teenagers who have mental health issues, which is great!

You are brave. You have gone through so much in 2017. You were in hospital with no idea what to do and you became this brave person and got through it.

You are funny. You always make people laugh; no matter what mood they’re in.

You are determined. You have dreams that you will never give up on.

You are good company; you are always lovely to be around. You keep everyone in good mood and spirits, even when you are down.

You are the most organised person I know – this is a good thing. You have everything you need at all times – this is not a bad thing!

You are always early and if you were ever late you would panic like mad.

You are friendly and kind to everyone even if you don’t know them. You take the time to talk to everyone around you even if they are the opposite of you.

You are a hard worker. You always give 100% to any work you get given, if even if you don’t really feel like it.

You are creative, you knit, create and enjoy arts and crafts and you need to carry being creative as it’s a part of you.

You are a whizz at jigsaws, you love doing them to music.

You are beautiful with or without make up. You always wear make up to hide who you are when really you are beautiful like a rainbow.

You set your heart on something and you do it.

You are a star, you’re a star in lots of people’s eyes for different reasons (mainly good, so keep being the star you are).

You are you and that’s fine.

“Today is going to be a good day and here’s why. Because today, no matter what else, today, at least you’re you. No hiding, no lying, just you. And that’s enough.”

Love, me. x

Star House Christmas Opening Times

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To everyone who accesses services at Star House, we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Our opening times over the Christmas week will be:

Friday 22nd December; 8.30am – 2pm

Saturday 23rd December; CLOSED

Monday 25th December; CLOSED

Tuesday 26th December; CLOSED

Wednesday 27th December; 9am – 5pm

Thursday 28th December; 9am – 5pm

Friday 29th December; 9am – 5pm

Saturday 30th December; CLOSED

Monday 1st January; CLOSED

…then we’re back to our normal opening hours.


Call: 0114 201 2800 or Email: enquiries@sheffieldfutures.org.uk

Tweet: @SheffFutures

Facebook: @sheffieldfutures

Instagram: @sheffieldfutures 

My journey as a youth worker #YWW17

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First and foremost let me introduce myself, my name is Nazmin Jahan and I am a youth worker based in Community Youth Teams West.

Let me answer a question I’ve been asked a numerous amount of times in the past: “how did you end up working with young people and why youth work?” 

Well, it all started on that fateful day I decided to walk into Star House by myself, after seeing a vacancy on the Sheffield Futures website for Youth Work Apprentices. At this point in my life I was an 18 year old young person, from a Bengali-Muslim background, who had just finished a long two years at sixth-form. I was not a very confident person to say the least, I was nervous about the littlest things for example, making phone calls, meeting new people and attending appointments.

Something I will always remember vividly is the careers interview I had the day I walked into Star House. I was a nervous wreck! It was my first time attending something I found on my own accord and something no one had spoon fed me. So, I’m waiting in the reception area, looking very lost, when a women approaches me and asks me if I am Nazmin, to which I respond yes. I am then led down the hall way (which felt like a very long walk). I am sat down and asked questions like what my grades are like and why I’m interested in the vacancy, I answer each question with a lot of thought.

After all the questions and my very thought-out answers, I am told to come in next week where I will start my ‘Step into Youth Work’ introduction at YASY. I am delighted, but I’ll admit Googling ‘what does a youth worker do?’ when I got home, and I don’t think I would still be able to answer that question and have a definitive definition nearly 7 years on.

That’s how it all started. I worked hard to overcome my anxieties: catching buses, working out where to go, breaking down barriers with young people so on and so forth (whilst also being a young person myself.)

I would not be where I am without the help of my colleagues. When I started I was astonished about the passion youth workers had, and how much experience others had. I was fully supported in all the areas of work I did. If I wanted to deliver a group work activity I was allowed, if I wanted to support a young person face to face I was given guidance and help. Without that support and encouragement I don’t think I would have made it to where I am today, or even be a part of this service.

Youth workers have amazing tool kits – it may differ from one to another but everyone will bring something different to the table. For me, interpersonal skills and being able to break down barriers is essential. It’s like carrying a tool kit with you wherever you go, but you are that toolkit. You use that when you want to; you use it when there is trouble in the youth club or to diffuse conflict, when you approach a group of young people for the first time on detached youth work.

Youth Work is something that will never age, it’s much needed. Working with young people of all ages, from different backgrounds and experiencing different things. You are that support mechanism and that one thing they may look forward to, even if it is one day a week.

Looking back at myself as an 18 year old, I am appreciative of everyone who encouraged and supported me and yes, youth worked me.

From Talent Match clients to Sheffield Futures employees: Our new involvement workers’ video diaries launched

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Our new involvement workers have kicked off their new jobs and will be documenting their experiences including the highs and lows of their first few weeks as a video diary.

As ex Talent Match clients who were successful in securing employment in these posts we are really keen to track the realities of their experiences coming into new employment to inspire other young people to have confidence and achieve their education, employment or training ambitions and ultimately shape positive futures for themselves.

Jennifer Upperdine, Talent Match Young People’s Involvement Team Leader said: “These roles were specifically for young people who have participated in the Talent Match programme and this will be their first job in their professional careers, which is very exciting for us all!”

‘The road ahead can sometimes seem daunting but it’s always surprising what you can actually do when you put your mind to it. I wanted to share my experiences to show that even if something seems really daunting, there is always a way through and people are there to support you.’ Says Mabz Beet, Talent Match Involvement Support Worker.

For the next few weeks our new involvement workers will post their latest diary which will document their experiences in the new role.

You can watch the videos here and check them out and share with other young people and supporters via social media.

The workers will form a new team who will be responsible for ensuring involvement of young people within the Talent Match programme as well as becoming mentors to provide additional support for Talent Match clients. The team will be based on the first floor in the Participation Development Team for two days a week and the rest of the week will be spent working across the Sheffield City Region supporting the Talent Match coaching organisations.

World Suicide Prevention Day

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This post was written by Kate, Sue and Dave from the charity SToRMS.

SToRMS stands for Strategies To Reduce Male Suicide.

SToRMS is a small organisation based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and set up in July 2015. It is a fund within the South Yorkshire Community Foundation, a registered charity. SToRMS was set up in memory of Dan McAllister who unexpectedly took his own life in May 2015 aged nineteen.

Recent ONS statistics showed that in 2016, 5,668 people died by suicide in Great Britain. This represents a fall from over 6,000 across the last 6 years, however there is still work to be done. Of these deaths, 24% were women and 76% were men.

As many of you will know, SToRMS was set up in July 2015, after we lost Dan McAllister to suicide. Over the two years since that day, we have heard from many other families and loved ones who have lost their son, daughter, or friend in the same way. Although each person has their own unique story, one thing is constant: every single death was preventable.

The societal shifts we need to see are not simple. It is not just a case of increased funding to ensure that access to mental health services is faster, or more effective. We also cannot just focus on suicide prevention training for medical professionals, university lecturers or other staff regularly dealing with “High Risk” groups. Moreover, anti-stigma campaigns will not make a difference without other changes. All of these things cannot happen in isolation. The problem is far bigger than that.

Today, we want to talk about something that our initiatives have not really covered thus far. This is the impact of a death by suicide on family and friends. This aspect of suicide prevention tends to go unacknowledged, but in fact the people immediately affected by suicide are at significant risk of taking their own lives themselves.

When someone you love dies it is devastating. When they die by suicide however, the emotions experienced by those left behind are intense, particularly as the way their loved one died is often traumatic, or sudden. Everyone deals with grief differently. After Dan died, as a family we all hurtled between anger, devastation, guilt and numbness. There were days when we couldn’t do anything but cry if we even tried to speak. So we stayed silent. Dan died away from us whilst at University. Some universities and emergency services provide support to families who have been bereaved by suicide. We cannot speak for others, but the support we received was provided by the incredible people at CRUSE Sheffield. Apart from that, we had each other.

The recent deaths of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington sparked a social media frenzy, which ranged from messages of condolence, to diatribes about how someone could be so selfish. For the record, saying suicide is selfish completely misunderstands the mind-set of someone who is suicidal. It implies that this individual felt that they had other options, other than to take their own life. This is simply not true.

Across the world, 800,000 people die by suicide every year. The pain that the ones left behind feel is enduring. It changes people, it breaks up families, and it leaves you questioning what the point is. Then there is the stigma. From a personal perspective, we decided early on that we would choose to be open and honest about how Dan died wherever possible. We decided that the last twenty minutes of his life did not define him. But people are scared to talk about suicide. This is not malicious, but borne out of uncertainty. Talking about it is painful, yes. But not talking about it doesn’t make it go away. When someone you love dies by suicide, that knowledge is always there, in the back of your mind. In the early days, it is all consuming. It is the first thing you think about when you wake up. You think about it when you are paying for your shopping at the supermarket. Then, when you are trying to sleep, images flood into your mind. Sometimes it can be terrifying. As time goes on, that reality becomes more normal. For us, it hasn’t become less painful, however it does become less of a shock. But we never forget. When you lose a loved one to suicide, one of the most constant emotions you feel is confusion. Part of it is pure disbelief that someone you love could make that “decision”. We have slowly come to realise that what got us here was a chain of events, emotions, or actions that we will probably never truly understand. But that doesn’t stop you asking, “why?”

We set up SToRMS because we wanted to make changes within our community and in wider society which might have changed the outcome for Dan, and therefore might do the same for others. Dan had no diagnosed mental health problems, and although we knew he was stressed and occasionally unhappy, when we tried to encourage him to seek help beyond our family, he reassured us that he was okay. We believe therefore that if Dan had felt able to open up and tell us or anyone about how he was feeling, the outcome might have been different. Moreover, if we had asked the right questions and facilitated conversations, the same could be true. Often, we think that if someone is suicidal it will be obvious. Stereotypical representations of depression or anxiety encourage us to believe that if someone we knew was considering taking their own life, we would be able to recognise it, and intervene. For us, it wasn’t like that. With Dan, every statement of frustration, or self-deprecation was accompanied with a smile, or if we asked him what he meant, he would brush us off. But, with the benefit of hindsight, we are beginning to recognise the subtle signs that we missed.

This is why we place such emphasis on the community element of suicide prevention. We believe that everyone has a role to play. There is fantastic work currently being done by charities such as Papyrus, CALM, and If U Care Share. We are currently working on our contribution, which will centre on workshops which are for everyone. Inspired by the approach of MHFA training courses, our initiative, ‘Wise Talkers’, will aim to equip people with the skills to deal with difficult conversations, to be able to direct people towards further help and support if necessary, but perhaps most importantly, to practice self-care throughout this. We are excited to launch these initiatives in the coming year.

This year, the theme of World Suicide Prevention Day is:

Taking a minute can change a life.”

This core principle underwrites the work that we fund and provide across Sheffield. We believe that everyone has the capacity to offer support to someone experiencing suicidal thoughts. Here are some key things to remember:

  1. Ask the question directly: “Are you thinking about taking your own life?”. This will not make someone more likely to take their own life, in fact, it might reconnect them, and give them the opportunity to voice what they are feeling and experiencing.
  2. This is the most important thing you can do. Don’t try and jump in with answers, as this may cause them to shut down. Also, try to avoid saying that you understand. Often this comes from a good place, but the reality is that you can’t truly understand because you are not them. Instead, acknowledge and validate that what they are feeling or experiencing is difficult.
  3. Do not judge them. This is not just about avoiding saying something, but it’s also about your body language, and expression. Try and be as relaxed as possible, and don’t panic if they say something which concerns you. Respond calmly and clearly. You might also feel uncomfortable, but try not to let that show.
  4. Let them know that you are there. Making someone feel less alone is key to reducing the risk that they might take their own life. Also, don’t just say it, act on it. Text them to find out how they are, invite them to do things. Say that you are there to listen, but equally you can just be with them to watch a film, or get a takeaway. The small gestures really do make a massive difference.
  5. Look after yourself. Supporting someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts can be exhausting, and you must make sure that you have support yourself. If you feel that it is becoming overwhelming, try and encourage them to seek other help. But, don’t assume that someone else will do a better job than you. Chances are, if that person has been able to talk to you, you will be able to help them in some way. They may value your opinion and support. Have confidence in your ability. Saying something wrong is far better than saying nothing at all.

In recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day, we ask you to act according to these principles. There might be someone in your life that you haven’t spoken to for a while, but keep meaning to contact. You might know someone who is having a hard time. Start those conversations today. You really could save a life.

Also, light a candle to remember Dan, and all those beautiful, brilliant people who we have lost to suicide. We can make a difference together.

Thank you for reading,

Kate, Sue and Dave.



For anyone who has been affected by this post, and would like to talk about it more, please visit our new wellbeing service, Door43. If you are looking for help, we are here to listen.

Sheffield Youth Cabinet Elections 2017

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What is this election?

This election is an opportunity for you to vote for a candidate to become a member of the Sheffield Youth Cabinet. Each candidate has written a manifesto to explain what they hope to achieve in this role.

What do the Sheffield Youth Cabinet do?

The Sheffield Youth Cabinet aim to represent the voice of all young people aged 11-18 who live in Sheffield. As a part of their role they work on campaigns to make adults and other young people look at and listen to the issues that you want seen and heard. This work is voluntary. They are all passionate about making Sheffield and the UK a better and fairer place for young people.

Where and when can I vote?

  • A Ballot Box will be or has been delivered to your school.
  • You can vote in your school or possibly in your local youth club or at a youth group that you go to.
  • You can vote anytime from the 6th of February to the 14th of February 2017

Why should I vote?

  • You are voting for a young person who wants to make a difference for you and other young people.
  • Democracy and living in a fair and equal society is important for everyone.
  • These are not adult politicians making decisions about your future, these are young people giving you a voice now.

How do I vote?

  • Take 5 minutes to watch and listen to the Manifestos – coming soon to the Sheffield Futures website/Facebook and in your schools.
  • Decide which candidate you think would do a good job.
  • Think about the issues that they have said they will try to improve.
  • Put a cross or tick next to the candidate that you choose on your voting slip.
  • Put your voting slip in the ballot box.

If you have any questions please contactLee Raven – Youth Worker, Sheffield Futures, Star House, 43 Division Street, Sheffield, S1 4GE

Twelve Days of Sheffield Futures!

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Sheffield Futures, showed they could rock around the Christmas tree by releasing a video of staff performing the Twelve Days of Christmas, with a charity twist!

The Marketing and Communications team and re-worked the song to celebrate successful activities raising funds to give Sheffield’s young people the future they deserve. Throughout the year Sheffield Futures run activities and campaigns aimed at giving young people education and employment opportunities, whilst also helping young people at risk in Sheffield. The local charity has done lots of vital youth service work over the last 12 months, so to finish of the year on a light-hearted note, they put on their Christmas hats and sweaters and showed that although they play a positive part Sheffield’s future, they may not have a future in music.

Whilst the harmonies may be few and far between, the Christmas spirit comes in bucket loads. You can see the full version of the video on the Sheffield Futures YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4-Jj63Oa58 and the video is also being released in 12 segments on social media until Christmas Eve. The song’s lyrics detail many of the ways that Sheffield Futures help young people to succeed, “Sheffield Futures gave to me life guidance for a better me!”

Christmas Opening Times!

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If you’re coming to Star House over the festive period, make sure you check to see if we’re open!


Monday 19th December – 9am – 5pm

Tuesday 20th December – 9am – 5pm

Wednesday 21st December – 9am – 5pm

Thursday 22nd December – 9am – 5pm

Friday 23rd December – 9am – 2pm

Saturday 24th December – CLOSED


Monday 26th December – CLOSED

Tuesday 27th December – CLOSED

Wednesday 28th December – 9am – 5pm

Thursday 29th December – 9am – 5pm

Friday 30th December – 9am – 2pm

Saturday 31st December – CLOSED


Monday 2nd January – CLOSED

Tuesday 3rd January – 8.30am – 5pm

From Wednesday 4th January we will be open as normal!


Have a fantastic Christmas and a happy new year!


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.