About Arch

... An exploration of participation, art and architecture in the city to inform a concept for engagement with the local community via artistic intervention... offering to our client a point of departure for the continuation of these ideas in their future work.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Some interesting facts about Sharrow

I went to a lecture/workshop, "Made in Sheffield", run by Sheffield City Council last night (at St. Vincent's WMC) which was the 1st evening in the Urban Design Week series, where we examined the current conditions in Sheffield with a view to how Sheffield can move forward.
Of three specific areas of Sheffield discussed, Sharrow was one. Below are some interesting perspectives and facts about Sharrow:
  • In creating the new Sharrow School, it was all about creating a sustainable community, both economically, socially and environmentally. COHESION was a key theme.
  • In the past there was a move to empty certain areas of Local Authority Housing, but this decision has now been reversed, bringing more families back into the area.
  • There are a lot of over-crowded households, with 2 or 3 generations frequently living together.
  • While many of the residents are financially poor, they are culturally exceedingly rich.
  • Generally good interaction between the sub-communities within the broader Sharrow community making Sharrow, "... an exciting place to live for some of the community, some of the time."
  • Key organisations in the area: Sure start, Sheffield Community Forum and FURD (Football unites, Racism divides - a key player particularly among the young people in Sharrow dealing now with a wider scope of issues than just what the name implies)
  • Problem: area is intersected by busy roads which has led to a lot of road accidents in the area, particularly amongst the young and the elderly
  • Very diverse community - includes among others particular groups of Pakistani, Bengali and Somalian residents (different Mosques cater specifically to each group)
  • The Mosques are very powerful and active within the smaller communities, in some instances intervening to help solve clashes between youth groups. The new mosque was entirely community funded; a lot of individuals went door to door selling jewellery to raise funds.
  • While a lot of effort is put in at Primary level education to promote diversity and cohesion there is no common secondary school, so despite a positive foundation, problems often arise at higher level schooling as young people are dispersed, losing the community feel. There is also quite a gap in the provision of services/activities for older young people, the main centre being an adventure playground - more popular with younger teenagers.
  • There has been a seachange in the aspirations of the residents, and in particular there has recently been a liberation of the community's women. Girls are now, more frequently, going on to higher education, and women are continuing to work after having children. This is particularly evident within the somalian sector of the community.
  • There is a lack of green space within Sharrow. There is Mount Pleasant Park, which is due for redevlopment, but facilities are limited. There is, however, a playground, an adventure playground and there are some cricket nets (particularly popular with the Pakistani boys). Dividing these is an 'official' grafitti wall, which sees a wealth of high quality, frequently changing artwork.
  • Within the park are 22, 100m deep, bore holes which provide ground source heating in Sharrow School (Primary).
  • A Common sign - a pair of trainers tied together, hanging over telegraph wires. This is seemingly widely known as a signal that drug dealing is happening in the area. Drugs are quite a problem within the area and there are key areas which are known for their 'invisibility' for such exchanges, and needle pick-ups first thing 'the morning after' are a necessary daily occurence.
  • An interesting point about London Road: Lloyd's Pharmacy requires a security guard at the front door, as the drug addicts go for their daily medication; this is juxtaposed with the charity shop, 'Mind' on the opposite street corner.
  • There are many "disaffected young people and adults"

Additional points about Sharrow to draw to a close: there are seen to be three main barriers

  • There is lack of spaces for meaningful interaction
  • There is a view that other groups, outside of Sharrow, get special treatment, not them (so, a feeling of resentment towards others)
  • There is a mistrust of new groups coming into the area (... which may mean we have to be quite sensitive to how we approach our methods of intervension, and how we 'brand' ourselves within their community.)

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