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Sheffield strength shines through during unprecedented changes

Young boy looks out of a window decorated with a rainbow

Whilst our city adapts to the changes brought about by Covid-19, positivity and community spirit are stronger than ever before as people go above and beyond to ensure those most at risk are looked after and aspects of normality can continue.

Despite many businesses, including restaurants and pubs, having to close their doors to the public last Friday, many quick-thinking business owners had already switched their services to cater for Sheffield folk during this period of social distancing and isolation.

Most food outlets across the city managed to stay open last week until the government’s announcement on Friday, with some already promoting alternatives for customers to continue enjoying their produce, either online or through delivery.

Unsurprisingly, we all responded with nothing but gratitude.

Amongst the many food spots exploring other means of getting local produce delivered to people’s doorsteps were Kelham Island- based Sardinian restaurant, Domo, Castle Gate dining spot, Kommune as well as coffee shops Steam Yard and Marmadukes.

Sheffield-based coffee shop and eatery, Marmadukes, who recently opened a second café in the Heart of the City II development, are taking full advantage of the closure period by concentrating on their new premises on Ecclesall Road, supporting staff and looking at new ways of communicating with their customers.

Tim Nye, Owner of Marmadukes said:

“It’s been an incredibly challenging few weeks but I am overwhelmed by the support and love we’ve received from our loyal customers and staff members, who enabled us to stay open as long as possible.

“Last week, we adapted our usual ways of operating to encourage cash free transactions, the use of non-reusable cups and over the weekend, we switched to take out only.

“Whilst our venues are now all closed, it’s important for us to use this time wisely, which for us means putting our efforts into progressing our new premises on Ecclesall Road.

“None of what we’ve already achieved would be possible without my dedicated group of baristas which is why we’ve committed to supporting them through this difficult time by investing in online training courses, encouraging them to get creative with online coffee-making content as well as asking them to support the creation of a newsletter.

“These are uncertain times for everyone, but I know together we can adapt and figure out a way forward, allowing us to come out the other side stronger than ever before.”

Social media is awash with people coming out to support or thank members of the community for stepping up during difficult times.

Leader of Sheffield City Council, Councillor Julie Dore said:

“In times like these, Sheffield always shows its true colours and strength. In the last week alone, there have been some amazing acts of kindness and support from people right across our city.

“Community spirit and positivity is what guides us all through the tough times, proving that together, as a city, we can overcome anything.

“And whilst we remain distanced physically, the support our citizens are offering one another during this time means we continue to feel connected through positivity.

“I am incredibly proud of how Sheffield has responded to this outbreak and continues to adapt to the changing situation. Now, more than ever, we need to recognise the good that is prevailing in our communities.”

And it’s not just restaurants who have been leading the way, local non-for-profit organisation, Food Works, dedicated much of last week to helping provide home-cooked meals for those who needed it the most, including NHS workers and the elderly.

Rene Meijer, the CEO at Food Works said:

“In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, our staff and army of dedicated volunteers have been working around the clock to provide people in Sheffield with affordable access to food parcels and cooked meals during this time of growing need.

“So far, we’ve provided almost 400 boxes of food to families in Sheffield, and have sign-ups for over a thousand cooked meals. We've also been working with many businesses in Sheffield to redistribute the food that they can no longer use.

“We've revamped our market to a box collection, enabling people to get food when they need it, but keep interaction and crowds to an absolute minimum to keep everyone safe. There has been a huge surge in demand and we're doing all we can to keep up.

“The response we’ve received from members of the public has been quite overwhelming, and we are currently in discussion with several organisations to offer further support to the elderly, people in poverty and other groups to provide them with a steady supply of meals.

“If people want to help, the best thing that can do is to contribute to our fundraiser at https://www.gofundme.com/f/foodworks to allow us to do more for the people of Sheffield, and do it for longer.”

Children across Sheffield have also been joining in with a national initiative by placing rainbows in the windows of their houses to help keep others entertained during the coronavirus outbreak.

The idea, which has been named ‘The Rainbow Trail’ has been helping lift the spirits of youngsters as they go on walks with their parents across the city.



To support the campaign, children can draw and colour in their very own rainbows before putting them on display for others to enjoy.

And whilst the majority of us of stay safe at home, front-line staff members continue to look after our most vulnerable and care for children of parents who are key workers.

Deputy Headteacher at St Patrick’s Catholic Voluntary Academy, Ela Barnes said:

“We are currently supporting children of key workers and have between 12-17 children coming in this week. In terms of teaching, we have three teachers and three Teaching Assistants working on a rota basis. Remaining teaching staff are working remotely and are regularly communicating and setting online activities for the children.

“It’s good to be able to help parents who need to be at work at this time by providing a safe learning environment locally for their children.”

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