Union StUnion St

By Matt

Katie Fenn

Katie Fenn joined Union Street a few weeks ago when she began working for Canonical as a Senior Developer. Canonical is the company behind Ubuntu, one of the world’s most popular, free and open-source operating systems.

“The open source approach is built around the input from developers who share their time and skills because they believe in this way of working. My role with Canonical is to create software that will enable developers from around the world to contribute to the ongoing development of Ubuntu. What I really like about my job is helping people come together and develop new ways of using software that really makes a difference.”

Remote working

Katie doesn’t fit the self-employed profile of many of Union St’s members, but the model of staff on permanent contracts working remotely is something we are likely to see a lot more of in the future.

“I’d guess about two thirds of the Canonical staff work remotely. We have the technology to facilitate this and it helps companies like Canonical to recruit talented people regardless of location. It also means that we have staff online around the clock so any issues can be dealt with straight away.”

Why Union St?

“I’ve lived in Sheffield for the past 10 years and I already knew Union St as it has hosted meetings for local software developers. It seemed an open and friendly place and so when I moved to Canonical and needed a local base, it was an obvious choice. Another advantage is that there are several other developers that work here – Glen Mailer, J-P Stacey, Caolan McMahon and Mat Booth, so we can pick each other’s brains if we are getting stuck. I also really like the pop up cafes for lunch!”

In her spare time Katie has developed Parker, a tool to help developers produce simpler code. She is a keen cyclist and has recently taken up diving (with the bruises to show for it).

Words by David Edwards of www.wordscount.co.uk and you can follow Katie Fenn on Twitter at www.twitter.com/katie_fenn

By Matt

Tea break with: The Pasta Masta

We are surrounded by world foods these days. We’re spoilt for choice in fact, with everything from Korean Kimchi to Mexican Mole vying for a turn to tempt our taste buds as never-ending waves of exotic flavours hit our towns. We Brits have never shied away from new tastes, however, there are some cuisines that have become so ingrained in our culture, it’s hard to imagine they were once thought of as foreign fare.

Our favourite meal? Plenty will argue for the great British curry, but I’m pretty sure that pasta is right up there on our most-loved meals. From the candle-lit Italian restaurant to spag bol at the kitchen table, we can’t get enough of the stuff. It’s enjoyed by everyone from pre-schoolers to pensioners, and it’s the unsung hero of many a successful university experience, sustaining skint students with comforting carbs at all times of day.

In fact, Stevie-Lee Clark’s friends from University could probably have predicted his transformation to Pasta Masta long before his street food business launched onto Sheffield’s food scene. Back in his student days he was famous for tucking into the Italian staple at least five times a week, filling up on hearty bowlfuls to power him through his studies.

After he graduated, Stevie-Lee had ambitions to run his own business. When his mum suggested the two of them go into business together, it was an opportunity that he simply couldn’t pass up. The pair always had event catering in their sights: “We are both massive fans of live music, festivals and events and we had talked for ages about starting our own catering business.”

However, the idea really came to fruition when Stevie-Lee was at The Secret Garden Party in 2015. Having spent what seemed like an eternity in a queue, he handed over a shocking amount of money in exchange for one of the most disappointing sandwiches of his life. At that point, Steve’s dissatisfied stomach, empty wallet and entrepreneurial spirit all agreed that he could offer something so much better than that.

I was thinking about all the street food stalls and it occurred to me that you never see pasta being dished up outside of restaurants. It seemed a bit bizarre – it’s my favourite food and I know it’s a lot of people’s go-to comfort food, too.” In fact, it occurred to Stevie-Lee that (with the exception of those intolerant to gluten) he had never met anybody who doesn’t actually like Italy’s greatest export.

Soon after, Pasta Masta was born. (So we all have a lot to thank that overpriced sandwich for!) For Stevie-Lee, making sure he could offer good-value grub became really important, so the food he served had to be delicious, filling and offer good value money.

To ensure the pasta was going to be dished up fresh and hot, Stevie-Lee had some serious culinary logistics to consider. After much research, he invested in a trailer that would become the perfect home for the Pasta Masta. Stripped back to basics then lovingly kitted out with shiny stainless steel and a solid wood counter, he created a portable kitchen that could house all his cooking equipment.

Clean, fresh, bright and welcoming, the trailer was exactly what Stevie-Lee wanted for his brand. The blue background and modern logo stands out amongst the plethora of burger vans and American meat stalls that tend to populate foodie events.

Pasta Masta’s brand new trailer was ready for its first outing at the Highland Fling in Graves Park in May but, looking back, Stevie-Lee admits it’s been a bit of a blur since then. “Since we launched, it has been crazy. We have had a packed diary of events all summer and our food has been more popular than I ever could have imagined it would be.”

At Tramlines we had people queuing for up to 45 minutes, which gave us a real taster of how crazy this business can be.” In fact, Tramlines customers gobbled a whopping 70kg of pasta from Pasta Masta – no wonder it is all a bit of a blur!

To ensure people get their food as speedily as possible, Stevie-Lee is helped out by girlfriend Rebecca and mum Karen. A human conveyor belt, Steve dishes up the pasta (diners can choose from white or wholemeal), Rebecca tops it with the sauce (he currently offers five veggie-friendly options of Napoletana, Hidden Veg, Two Cheese, Creamy Mushroom and his five-year-old nephew’s top choice of butter and marmite – named Charlie’s Favourite), and Karen is on hand to add those enticing extras (cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan, olives and jalapeños).

The pasta can also be given a local twist with a few shakes of Henderson’s for those who want to eat it Sheffield-style. Something you probably don’t get in Napoli!

This is the perfect job for a mother and son who are as passionate about the events themselves as they are about the food they serve up. “It’s such a fantastic thing to be a part of. The atmosphere is alive and people are happy, so it’s great to be serving up food to queues of people who are in the middle of having a great day out.”

What the customers don’t see during the excitement of food festivals and events is the tremendously long hours Stevie-Lee spends on preparation. Before this year’s Tramlines, the Pasta Masta spent three days part-cooking and portioning pasta ready for the weekend.

For Stevie-Lee, though, the experience so far has made all the hard work worth it, and he has plenty of ideas for the future. “The next thing I want to focus on is getting gluten-free pasta as an option very soon,” he explains, so we’ll be keeping our eye out for that over the summer, as Pasta Masta pops up at events around the city.

Most excitingly, he will be launching a regular weekly pop-up café at Union Street starting on Wednesday 17th August, where he hopes to satisfy the midday hunger pangs of the city’s workers with a little taste of Italy… Sheffield-style. You can also follow Pasta Masta on Twitter here and Facebook here.

By Courtney

Tim Rivett

 

What will you be doing at Union St?

Using instead of working from a coffee shop before and after meeting clients in Sheffield. Creating client reports and business administration. Working on public transport technology & information and information governance (data protection etc).

How did you get into this area of work?

I was a paid employee for 20 years I left to use my experience for a wider client base.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The flexibility to choose what I do and to see the end result making a difference to the travelling public.

What type of individuals / organisations are you looking to work with in the future?

Private sector suppliers into public transport, public transport providers and public sector (local authorities, Transport Authorities and Health).

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

Easy access working space in central Sheffield and supporting a co-operative so that others that may need more regular space can access one in a cost effective way.

What is your website address?

timrivett.co.uk

What is your Twitter address?

@tim_rivett

By Courtney

Kate Reeves Brown

What will you be doing at Union St?

Mainly writing regional cookbooks, editing recipes and proofreading.

How did you get into this area of work?

I have worked in publishing for nearly a decade. Having been an editorial assistant and assistant editor, I have been a book editor specialising in food and drink books for 8 years, working for publishing companies in London. I decided to go freelance when I moved back up north in 2015.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I love getting cooking inspiration from new recipes, tips and techniques from authors and seeing the finished results of printed books. It’s a nice balance between creativity and attention to detail, which suits me perfectly!

What type of individuals / organisations are you looking to work with in the future?

Book publishers, websites, magazines… anyone who needs a helping hand with developing, editing or writing recipes or food-related copy. I can also do copy-writing, editing and proofreading for lots of other businesses, too, so it would be nice to expand into other areas.

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

A structured working day away from home, some friendly chat over a cup of tea and to meet some new people. Especially sharing problems and solutions to do with starting your own business and working on your own.

What is your Twitter address?

@katereevesbrown

By Matt

Tea Break with: Sophie Lane of Slaaw

Slaaw

It’s mid-July and just when we were about to give up all hope of ever removing our waterproofs, the summer has finally decided to show its face with an apologetic shrug of the shoulders and a few days of blissful sunshine. Across the city, people are inspired to ditch the hot dinners and indulge in something light, bright and healthy – a mood that recent graduate and travel-loving foodie Sophie is keen to capture.

Sophie is the fresh face behind Sheffield’s newest pop-up, Slaaw. Bright, energetic and full of ideas, she has made the humble salad the star of her culinary show – bringing it into the limelight after years of sitting limply on the side-lines as an obligatory garnish.

 

 

 

 

She graduated from Sheffield Hallam University in 2015 and set off inter-railing around Europe, munching her way from country to country sampling the best local dishes as she went. When she returned to Sheffield and the realities of a 9-5 office job, Sophie struggled with adapting to the endless days tucked away behind a desk.

“I was always dreaming about starting my own business,” she explains, and during a short break in Copenhagen this year, Sophie was hit with the realisation that she could actually give it a shot. “I was standing in this incredible salad bar in Copenhagen, surrounded by the most colourful and exciting selection of ingredients I’d ever seen. There were vegetables I didn’t even recognise sitting side by side with familiar favourites that had been turned into really amazing-looking dishes. I was just blown away by it.”

Having grown up in a family where wholesome home-cooking was the norm, she had always been a lover of nutritious nosh. However, what inspired her most was the striking visual effects that fresh, vibrant ingredients had on the plate (and palate!) – people do eat first with their eyes after all.

She set about creating Slaaw – an exciting move from the office to the kitchen, where the next few weeks of her life were spent peeling, chopping, spiralising, mixing and marinating. When she launched her first stall at the Sheffield Food Festival in May 2016, she was taken aback by the reception her salads got and she paid close attention to what worked and what didn’t.

“People loved the colourful salads. You could see their eyes drawn to those things on the stall that were most visually appealing. And they also loved to mix and match.” Sophie found that people loved her bold flavour combinations as much as she did.

 

Salads suddenly didn’t have to be all about healthy-eating or ‘diet food’. Wholesome, yes. Fresh, of course. Packed full of nutrients, sure. But they are also delicious and filling, with the option of adding toppings like chia seeds, cheese and chicken.

“I enjoy mixing and matching flavours from around the world,” she enthuses, and just looking at some of her favourite salads, her love of travelling is obvious – her ever-popular Raw Thai Salad sits beautifully next to Get Freekeh and Mexican Quinoa. “I try to make sure that all the colours of the dish complement each other. I get really excited about interesting coloured ingredients like candied beetroot, which just look so beautifully appetizing.”

Since the Sheffield Food Festival, Slaaw has been popping up at various events, from Go Sky Ride to Nether Edge Market. She sold out within a couple of hours at Sharrowvale Market and now has two wedding bookings in the diary.

Slaaw salads are now available at Ink and Water, which is something Sophie is really proud of – with its design focus, could there be a better place to launch her edible arty ensembles?

So what’s next for Sheffield’s newest start-up? Luckily for those working in town, she’ll be setting up in the ground floor of Union Street every Tuesday from Tuesday 26th July, where she plans to try out some exciting new creations. Not one for sitting back and admiring her success so far, Sophie has a million ambitions, plans and ideas bubbling away.

 

Her bliss balls (not-so-naughty sweet treats) are her newest invention. The lemon and coconut ball looks and tastes too good to be healthy, but Sophie ensures us that this is thanks to the natural goodness of dates and cashews. Never has a burst of protein-packed energy tasted so good.

In the long term? “I would love to study to become a health coach. I am really interested in the whole-person approach to health. It’s not just about diet or exercise, or even both. I like the idea of bringing vitality and happiness to life through everything we do – and that is something that can partly come from the food we eat. If tucking into one of my salads can play a small part in someone’s overall well-being, than that is fantastic.”

You can sample one of Slaaw’s salads every Tuesday at Union Street, from 26th July.

 

You can sample one of Slaaw’s salads on Tuesday 26th July at Union St, and follow Slaaw

on Instagram here, Twitter here, Facebook here, and on the website here

(all links open as a new window)

 

Article written and editted by Kate Reeves-Brown, a freelance food writer based at Union St;

https://twitter.com/katereevesbrown

By Courtney

Zoya Street

What will you be doing at Union St?

I use Union St as a space to work on writing, community management and research for my projects in the games industry — I love the creative, focused atmosphere and I like seeing people milling about. I am Senior Curator for the games writing curation site Critical Distance, Editor-in-Chief of games history publication Memory Insufficient, and a Japanese-English translator, as well as a part-time PhD student at Lancaster University. I also do consulting work in games, primarily assisting with world-building and constructing fictional languages.

How did you get into this area of work?

I first started researching games in 2011, while studying History of Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum; my plan had originally been to study Japanese ceramics, but the idea of writing a paper on video games crossed my mind and I ended up on a different path altogether. I soon started working freelance for games publications and games developers as a writer, editor and translator (Japanese-English). I have been combining academic research with an embedded critical writing practice ever since.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The creative boundaries of games as a form are constantly being pushed in surprising ways. Often the most promising terrain is in the opposite direction to where everybody has been looking, and so incredible work can come out of left field. I love making sense of it all and grappling with the interpretive and creative challenges that a relatively young field brings.

What type of individuals / organisations are you looking to work with in the future?

As a writer, consultant and translator, I like to work with anybody who is creating media that connects audiences with other cultures, be that international connections, outreach with subcultures within the UK, or by immersing people in fictional worlds. I develop concepts, conduct historical research, construct languages and translate content, to help creatives to integrate their work with a cultural context.

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

I’d like to work from an uplifting space and get to know interesting people who are working on positive things. There is always something exciting happening from Union St and it is great to be able to feel connected with that.

For more information about Zoya and her work, visit rupazero.com and follow @rupazero on Twitter.

By Courtney

Gina Walters

What will you be doing at Union St?

One day a week I will be working freelance as the Administrative Assistant for the new touring mid-scale dance production of Gary Clarke’s COAL. As the show reflects upon the mining strikes of 1984, there was no doubt that this would be a community project so after securing ACE funding for this national tour, Gary will be working with a core team of 5 male dancers but also with brass bands and a cast of women local to each city. It will be job to manage the schedules of each cast and crew member for the duration of the tour into Spring 2017 add well as managing the social media campaign.

How did you get into this area of work?

My line manager Jane works with me at Music in the Round as the Finance Manager and we sit next to each other. This year I was the Digital Marketing Officer for the first Classical Sheffield Festival of Music, Jane didn’t realise I also worked freelance until this point. One day I got an e-mail from her asking if I’d be up for getting involved with this new touring production and I couldn’t refuse!

What do you enjoy most about your work?

As a musician & creative soul myself, I feel very lucky to be working in Arts Admin in order to support my own work as a performer when I feared I may end up stuck in a temp job or washing pots (which I did for a quite some time!). To be working so closely, and helping to deliver, high quality output in both music and dance is an inspiring, exciting place to be.

What type of individuals / organisations are you looking to work with in the future?

In the future I very much hope that I will be earning the majority of my income from singing, in one form or another. However, now my first year immersed in Arts Admin is coming to an end, I would love to be working with more Classical Music ensembles and/or venues who think outside the box, with a focus on dissolving the reputation that this genre of music has acquired over the years. The Manchester Camerata, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Wigmore Hall are all prime examples of this.

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

To have a central base in which to work productively in an informal, creative environment with interesting, inspiring people.

For more information on Gina and her work visit www.garyclarkeuk.com and follow @ginamaldina on twitter.

By Courtney

Bruno Postle

What will you be doing at Union St?

I will be doing design and structural engineering, typically large sculptures and other lightweight structures. My other current project is Homemaker, a free software tool for designing houses using Pattern Languages, though on occasions you may find me working on the Hugin panorama stitcher or Fedora Linux.

How did you get into this area of work?

I trained as an architect, but then spent many years designing large tents and doing software development, both led into my current line of work.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Doing something different each day

What type of individuals / organisations are you looking to work with in the future?

Housing and urban reconstruction

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

I’m firstly looking for somewhere in the centre of Sheffield to work rather than working from home, I’m also well aware that it is difficult to do creative work in isolation.

For more information on Bruno and his work visit bruno.postle.net and follow @brunopostle on Twitter.

By Courtney

Declan Walsh

What will you be doing at Union St?

I’ll be working for the Green Party in Sheffield; supporting, recruiting and liaising with volunteers. I deliver the strategy for volunteer and member engagement and Work with the elected Officers in developing strategy for the party. As the only member of staff in Sheffield I also take on additional roles in order to support and help the party develop. I’m particularly interested in how political parties can evolve to meet and canvass people where they are now. So online engagement and using digital tools to keep members and supporters engaged, informed and included is important to me.

 

How did you get into this area of work?

My background is in Clinical Psychology but I’ve become more and more interested in how people come together to change society and work for the common good rather than for individualistic reasons. My values have always been in supporting communities, connections and collaborations. Union St. also exemplifies these values so is a great match.

 

What do you enjoy most about your work?

My job is very focused on engaging with people. Making connections with new members and supporters or discussing why someone would join a party in the 21st century. I’m always learning from others and making new connections so it can be thrilling.

 

What type of individuals / organisations are you looking to work with in the future?

As long as someone is interested in the shared goals of making better, stronger, more communities that serve people and support society then I’m interested. As greens we want to reach out and support that natural human desire for cooperation, community and social connection and make sure that the political structures recognise and support it. Individually I’m keen on working with people who are using technology or digital tools innovatively and in a way that is prosocial. I keep time aside for volunteering and for new projects (I work for the greens part time) I’m always open to new ideas and collaborations. Obviously I’m also very keen on human science and behaviour and in particular the science of communities and cooperation.

 

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

I’d like to work with as many other people and organisations as I can either in my role with the greens or as an individual. I’m not there just to meet other greens but to work with everyone with whom I share values and hopes. I want to contribute. I believe in cooperatives and in Union St. and I want work toward taking it more successful. I’m excited by the current plans and the way in which members can get involved and I want to be a part of that.

 

For more information about Declan and the Green Party, visit SheffieldGreenParty.org.uk and follow @declanw @sheffieldgreens

By Courtney

Ben Cooper

What will you be doing at Union St?

Working with other ‘remote workers’, drinking coffee and generally being sociable. As for the work, providing remote SAP Payroll consultancy for a range of public / private sector clients.

How did you get into this area of work?

I studied Computing (Business Information Systems) at Sheffield Hallam and graduated back in 2005. I then managed to find a job working in consultancy and have been busy ever since.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

It’s a varied role that involves a lot of problem solving and a broad range of skills, so it is rarely dull.

What type of individuals / organisations are you looking to work with in the future?

I already work with a range of public / private sector clients, but it would be good to build up some local contacts with similar skills. Like so many industries, contacts are key.

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

I’m looking for similar individuals to work / socialise with. If also make some industry relevant contacts along the way then all the better.

1 2 3 4 5 6
Katie Fenn
Tea break with: The Pasta Masta
Tim Rivett
Kate Reeves Brown
Tea Break with: Sophie Lane of Slaaw
Zoya Street
Gina Walters
Bruno Postle
Declan Walsh
Ben Cooper