Union StUnion St

By zapier

Jane Shields

What will you be doing at Union St?

I coordinate Sheffield Creative Guild, a cooperative network for anyone working within the creative sector in the city. We connect, support and promote individuals and organisations of all persuasions and aim to raise the profile and status of the sector across the city and beyond. We also run lots of events and a creative timebank scheme.

My role is to do everything from marketing and events to finance and governance as well as manage the website and individual projects.

I have always been a theatre maker and performance artist and continue to create and develop my own work as a solo artist and with companies both in the UK and internationally.

My other passion is sewing and dressmaking which I do in any spare time I get and have been known to sell my products online and at craft fairs.

How did you get involved in this area of work?

Through a rather zig-zaggy path! I come from a theatre background and worked as a freelance performer, director and facilitator but also ended up working on a lot of education and community projects. As well as freelance this led me to working for different organisations in the city. The Guild was set up with support from ACE and the Culture Consortium and I was employed in April 2015 to lead the project. We have only been open for membership since May 2016 so we are only very young!

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The variety of what I do and all the many members and partners I get to work with. I love making creative things happen and supporting others to do what they dream of doing.That list is very long but really any working in the creative sector, I’m always keen to hear other peoples ideas and form partnerships and collaborations.

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

We try to make Guild membership affordable to all by having tiered pricing depending on your income level and different payment options but I’d be happy to talk about what else we could do to be inclusive to everyone.

What are you looking to get out of Union St?

A community. Working on my own can get lonely and so I’m hoping to meet people and make my work days a bit brighter!

Follow Jane at https://twitter.com/plainjaneshield and visit the Creative Guild at https://sheffieldcreativeguild.com/


By David Edwards

Jonny Butcher

Some lettings agencies in Sheffield are charging tenants up to £700 to sign a tenancy contract. This fee isn’t related to any additional work by the agency, they are already being paid by the landlord. Agencies are charging these fees simply because they can get away with it, (in Scotland such a practice is illegal).

Renters Rising

Issues like this motivated Jonny Butcher to become an organiser for Acorn in Sheffield. “Acorn develops and support communities to campaign for changes in their day to day lives. In the UK, Acorn is currently coordinating #RentersRising – a national project to build a renters union to campaign for a better deal for private tenants.

“Over the last 10 years the number of people renting privately has doubled. Private renters pay more of their income on housing than any other group, they live in the worst conditions and they have the least security. Private renting used to be a stepping stone to home ownership or social housing tenancies, but increasingly it is now a long term option.

Acorn in Sheffield

“I have just moved back up to my hometown Sheffield to start working on #RentersRising. My first step has been to make contact with private tenants across the city, which I have been doing through street stalls in different areas, making connections online and face to face meetings. By mid-November the aim is to have 15-30 volunteers who will attend a training event to provide them with the skills and resources to build the union in Sheffield. Acorn is a bottom-up organisation and our mission is to give people the support and tools they need to campaign for the changes they think are important in their locality.

“One of the things I really like about Acorn’s approach is that it attracts a wide range of people who see this as relevant to their lives, and it doesn’t just rely on seasoned activists. In a way there are similarities with the early trade union movement in that people are coming together to organise and campaign for a fairer deal regarding issues that impact on their daily lives, except for us the focus is on housing rather than employment.

Union St – “A petri dish for the new, networked economy”

“I decided to work from Union St for a couple of reasons. On a practical level it has a central location which is useful as I’m working across the city. At the same time Union St feels like a real hub of inspiring people, it has people with a wide range of skills and backgrounds – it’s kind of like a petri dish for the new, networked economy. There are also a number of the members who are involved in campaigning work around social justice, so I’m looking forward to swapping ideas and learning from each other.”

Jane Shields
Jonny Butcher