Suspended Coffee Sheffield

Help people in need get a free hot drink

This week you may have read about the concept of Suspended Coffee. Richard Hennessy explains a bit more about it and why he is trying to get this up and running in Sheffield:

The idea is that independent coffee shops in Sheffield allow people to buy a suspended coffee which is either kept ready waiting for them in the shop or a voucher is given which you then pass to a homeless person.

This way the homeless person gets a drink when they want one, people can give something to a homeless person if they are in a rush and don’t want to give money, the local coffee shops sell the tea/coffee (Americano) at £1 so they make a little money (but not an extortionate amount) and more money is invested back into the local economy.

It is an idea that came out of Italy originally I believe but it is taking hold around the world and I am trying to give the idea a foot hold in Sheffield.

Giving a coffee (or tea!) to someone means so much more than just warming them up…it shows you give a monkeys which could make a big difference. Handing over a voucher for a brew or a sarnie is also a great opportunity to start a conversation with a homeless person. Ask a couple of questions and you might gain a deeper understanding of some of the issues affecting the homeless/poor.

Piccolo Sandwich bar on London Road has already pledged their support for the scheme. Could you approach your local coffee shop do the same?

You can get in touch with Richard or find out the latest on Suspended Coffee Sheffield via their Facebook page and @suspendedsheff on Twitter.

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Sharrow lantern festival

Have you seen the lights?

The procession at Sharrow lantern festival

The procession at Sharrow lantern festival

Sunday night saw the annual lantern festival take over the streets of Sharrow. I don’t live in the neighbourhood but the reputation of the festival has been growing for a few years now so I decided it was time to check it out.

In the weeks leading up to it, workshops took place to help people craft a lantern to carry in the procession. On the day of the festival, crowds would then gather at dusk in Mount pleasant park before setting off and parading through Sharrow to Cemetery park.

This year’s procession was again led by the Sheffield samba band, who were brilliant. Everyone else followed: many people proudly carried ‘elements’-themed lanterns in all shapes and sizes, while some were dressed up and others had their faces adorned with face paints. It didn’t matter if you hadn’t prepared anything though, as everyone was welcome to tag along regardless.

As the carnival wove its way through the streets, residents gathered in doorways and faces pressed up against windows to catch a glimpse of the festivities and see what the noise was all about.

On joining London road, we turned left towards town and headed for Cemetery park for live music, fire spinners and the spectacular lantern release. And for those wanting to continue the festivities, bands and DJs carried on at the Cremorne pub until late.

It looks like 2011 will be the final year that organisers Creative action network will be managing the event. There is no suggestion that it won’t be going ahead next April though and they are inviting people to get involved with the organisation. Do get in touch with them if you fancy it.

I’d definitely recommend getting involved in next year’s event, whether you are eight or 80. I didn’t really know what to expect, and when the rain came down on Sunday afternoon – following a hefty mother’s day meal – it was quite tempting not to bother venturing out. But I’m really glad I did, as I got to not just see but actually participate in another heart-warming example of grassroots Sheffield culture and community spirit.

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Sheffield restaurant reviews

Two new blogs

There are now two blogs covering restaurant reviews in Sheffield.

Sheffield restaurant reviews has promised weekly posts reviewing places in and around the city. So far they have reviewed La luna on Ecclesall road and the Chequers inn at Froggat. They are also on Twitter as @SheffRestaurant.

London road clock will work its way up London road on a food odyssey, covering the food outlets that aren’t takeaways. The blog started in August and has since visited Baan Thai, Tin tin, Candytown, Zeugma, Wasabi sabi, La romantica, Aroma and Thai punna.

We’ll have to see how the restaurateurs deal with any negative experiences documented in the blogs.

Rolling down the London Road

London Road by Neil McSweeney

When writing my recent post about Sheffield’s Chinatown, it got me thinking of a great song called London Road by local singer-songwriter Neil McSweeney.

It is a fantastic, moving track that name-checks the major Sheffield street (slide show) and is currently available to hear on his MySpace page and also to buy from iTunes.

Neil is also playing on this Saturday at the SPLAYD music festival at the Shakespeare, alongside the lovely Nat Johnson.

Sitting in the park, passing time
Watching stars with a bottle of wine
You notice something in my smile

So we head off into town
Just in time for kicking out
Call a friend but there’s no reply
They’re never about but it was worth a try

We go rolling down the London Road
Though we know it’s not the best way home
Sat on a corner staring at our shoes
Sick to my guts for the love of you

Well the garage up ahead closed down
But the petrol smell still hangs around
And you don’t like it like I do

Singing about the hip lap drive
and I can’t dance to save my life
I never felt more like I wanted to
Still something tells me not to

We go rolling down the London Road
Though we know it’s not the best way home
Sat on a corner staring at our shoes
Sick to my guts for the love of you

Should part of London Road become Chinatown?

Would Sheffield’s Chinatown bring benefits to the city or create an ethnic ghetto?

Over the last few years there have been various reports regarding a proposal to officially designate an area of the city as Chinatown, although to date nothing concrete has been formally decided.

It is thought that any such development would be based around the London Road/Highfield area, a district that has traditionally been home for a number of Sheffield’s Chinese community. Three-and-a-half hectares has been earmarked for various restaurants, bars, a business centre and maybe a hotel.

Reactions to plan are varied. On one hand it is thought such an area would celebrate the neighbourhood’s diversity while developing tourism and boosting local businesses. Internationally, it could make Sheffield a more attractive proposition for Chinese investors, plus it may help draw in students from China to the city’s universities.

There are also reservations regarding the scheme and questions to be answered. London Road is presently home for multi-cultural mix of people from all over the world, so is it right to focus on one culture, creating an area just representing the Chinese? What would the impact be on a non-Chinese restaurant located within Chinatown?

Many of the famous Chinatowns of the world have been naturally created in port cities by immigrants; would manufacturing one in Sheffield be “fake”? Or does the fact that the idea has come from Sheffield’s Chinese community give it sufficient credibility? There is no mention of the scheme in the city centre masterplan, although of course not all of London Road is classed as being in the city centre.

In principal I’m cautiously in favour of the idea of Sheffield having a Chinatown, although it would need to be implemented with care and in full consultation with all existing residents, community groups, businesses and other stakeholders. If an agreeable and inclusive solution can be found then it could become an asset to the city.

Walking the dragon
Image by bits of rubble and used under Creative Commons license