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Young residents recognised for their BiG Community Challenges

Group of students with their certificates and medal in the town hall with wooden panelling behind them and a red carpet
Young residents who took on a BiG Community Challenge. Photo: Andy Brown Photography

A celebration event was held in the Town Hall today to recognise and showcase the BiG Community Challenges taken on by young residents from schools across Sheffield.

The BiG Community Challenge aims to ignite social and entrepreneurial spirit through citywide social action activity and teams taking on challenges are supported to come up with BiG ideas and take action around issues which are important to young residents and their communities.

The idea is to achieve 'Skills development through social action and innovation' for those taking on the challenge and today's event saw some of the teams who completed their challenge take up an invite to Sheffield Town Hall to talk with local employers and other city organisations about their experiences. The teams that entered were from secondary, special schools or alternative schools in Sheffield.

The Big Community Challenge is part of ‘See It Be It in Sheffield’, a council initiative that engages volunteers from businesses across the city and supports them to go into our schools and colleges to help raise careers awareness and aspirations.  The council has enabled 500 volunteer opportunities through this arrangement so far this academic year and the council brings businesses volunteers together 4 times a year to connect, collaborate and share good practice. 

The event incorporated a networking session at the start of the day where 50 people from SMEs and large organisations discussed good practice around what organisations are doing in relation to corporate social responsibility and giving back in the city.  The focus was around social value, what it is and how can organisations best connect their social value ambitions to our local communities.

The young residents presented their projects and talked about how they approached their challenges, what difficulties they faced, what changes they have seen in the community as a result of their BiG Challenges and why they are important to them.

Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Colin Ross, presented them with certificates and medals in the awards ceremony to recognise their achievements.

The social action challenges included creating a community garden, learning Makaton, which is like British Sign Language but uses signs in conjunction with speech at all times, devising and running a successful daily brunch event, now called ‘The Brunch Bunch’, and a project that focussed on making disability visible by designing different badges for people to purchase so that they can wear their disability openly.

The students from Seven Hills School, a special education school in the city, learned Makaton for their community and said: "We have learned how to work together as a team and are happy that we learned more Makaton sign language to support and communicate with our friends in and out of school."

Fran, the class teacher who worked on the project with them, said: "All the students put a lot of hard work into this challenge, and they showed their willingness to make a change in the community as well as at school.  They all did amazingly well, and we are super proud of the students!".

The Brunch Bunch students from Sheaf Training Centre College for young people with SEND, said: “We used to have a breakfast space, which we called the ‘Heart Space’, but we wanted somewhere to meet together for longer, eat and socialise. So, we did something ‘in the middle’ – that was neither breakfast or lunch – and our project became ‘The Brunch Bunch’.” Each of the 8 young residents who worked on the project now has a role, whether it was pricing up the goods for sale, taking the money, or buttering the toast. Everyone has an official badge with their job title, and the space plays relaxing music, with ‘DJ Connor’ taking requests…. ‘Join the hive, come and have a vibe’...

Councillor Martin Smith, Chair of Economic Development and Skills Committee, said: The imagination, ideas, and determination that the students put into their projects was impressive, with the films that they made showing how they worked together to produce some really successful projects. This is only the second year that the Council has run this initiative and there was a lot of interest again this time, both from employers and schools. We look forward to welcoming more challengers and employers back next year to see what Big Community action they’ve taken on for 2024. Congratulations again to those who received their certificates and medals today and thank you for sharing your work with us.”

Councillor Maroof Raouf, Deputy Chair of Children, Young People and Families Committee, said: “It’s very clear how much work the students put into their wonderful projects, and I’d like to add my congratulations to them too. They rose to the challenge and what they have achieved will absolutely make a difference to their school, their friends, their community. Thank you and a very well done to all concerned.”

The BiG Community Challenge is supported by The European Social Fund and Sheffield City Council’s See it Be it campaign, which ‘brings to life the world of work by linking up local businesses and employers with schools and colleges, providing young residents with meaningful encounters with employers and experiences of the workplace.’

More information about social action projects and how to get involved is here: