Posted by: North Officer | 15/10/2012

Sheffield Speaks

Members of the public are to be invited to join the Council Leader, Cllr Julie Dore, and representatives of some of the 15 local organisations and community groups behind the Sheffield Speaks initiative when it is launched at an open air event in the city centre on Monday 15 October (10.45 am – 2.00 pm).

They will have the opportunity to address their fellow citizens for 60 seconds on subjects close to their hearts from a platform at the Town Hall Steps on Pinstone Street as a central feature of a programme of debate and discussion to mark Local Democracy Week which runs from 15 to 21 October.

Sheffield Hallam’s Student Union will also be setting up a Speakers’ Corner in Hallam Square on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday lunchtimes and some 20 events will be taking place in different venues throughout the city. They will range from a debate on Sheffield Past, Present and Future organised by Sheffield 50+ and Sheffield Futures to explore how young and older people can make their voices heard to a hustings organised by Sheffield Third Sector Assembly and Voluntary Action Sheffield to allow voluntary groups to quiz candidates standing in next month’s elections for South Yorkshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner.

Events open to the general public include a discussion organised by the Workers’ Educational Association about why people do or don’t participate in the democratic process, a meeting organised by Sheffield for Democracy to explore how community assemblies might develop and a discussion led by John Steel, lecturer in Journalism Studies at Sheffield University, on the roles of free speech and a free press in our democracy.

The Sheffield Speaks programme is the first step in a longer term plan to create a permanent Speakers’ Corner in Sheffield’s city centre and a programme designed to provide opportunities for Sheffield people to express their ideas and opinions and get involved in debate about the issues which matter to them. Leader of Sheffield City Council, Cllr Julie Dore, who will launch the event, said: “I think it is important we support and encourage people to speak out about issues and subjects that matter to them. We have such a diverse city and it’s fantastic when we can all come together and listen to each other and share our thoughts, interests and issues. It gives us all an insight into the different communities and the lives of people we wouldn’t always necessary know about.”

Sheffield Speaks Joint Chair Howard Duffy, the Democracy and Communications Officer at Sheffield Hallam University Students’ Union, said: “Local democracy is about local people of all ages and backgrounds and we want to give them the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions right from the start of our programme and to celebrate all the wit and wisdom Sheffield people have to offer. “Now more than ever it’s vital that people get the chance to speak out and be heard and we hope the 60 second format will not only encourage people who haven’t spoken in public before but also ensure that everyone gets a chance to air their views.”

Joint Chair Vicky Seddon of Sheffield for Democracy, added: “This initiative really is owned by and run for the people of Sheffield. The enthusiasm and goodwill of the growing number of groups and organisations which make up our partnership is extraordinary.

“We want to create a platform for all of Sheffield’s communities, right in the heart of our city centre. It’s difficult to know what to expect at our Speakers’ Corner but I’m sure there’ll be humour as well as serious contributions. What’s important is that people have the opportunity to speak their minds.”

Sheffield Speaks is the brainchild of Speakers’ Corner Trust (SCT), a registered charity which promotes free expression, public debate and active citizenship and which has been working with the partnership on the development of the initiative.

SCT Director Peter Bradley added: “Sheffield Speaks aims to get people literally to come back down their garden paths to exchange ideas and opinions about the issues that matter to them face to face with their friends and neighbours as well as with the decisions makers among them.

“The idea may originally have been SCT’s but it’s grown into something much bigger and better than we envisaged. What the partnership is doing is extraordinary and something Sheffield should be very proud of.”

For further information, please contact

  • Howard Duffy on 07545 523487
  • Vicky Seddon on 07729 327353
  • Peter Bradley on 07801 105260

 

Advertisements

Categories

%d bloggers like this: