‘Stories from the pandemic’ invites local people to share stories and experiences from the pandemic via a new website or by writing on postcards available across the city. Their contributions will form a lasting testimony and historical record of the pandemic’s impact from the perspective of individuals and the communities they live in. These stories will then inform plans for localised activities and a memorial statue in the city centre.
Delivered by social enterprise Opus Independents in partnership with Sheffield City Council, Sheffield City Archives, and Compassionate Sheffield, the project aims to gather stories from people of all walks of life in Sheffield, which will inform and strengthen the city’s memorial plans. Tim Feben from Sheffield-based social enterprise Opus Independents, who are leading on the city-wide project, said the project is looking for as many varied contributions as possible, so that the city’s memorial activity is “rooted in the experiences of its people and collectively owned”.
A place in history
The project’s aim to create a lasting testimony from the city is supported by the partnership with Sheffield City Archives. Contributions from residents will be submitted to form a historic record, available now and well into the future. It will try to capture the human experience of what it was like to live through a monumental moment in our global history, in a way that wasn’t possible in previous pandemics.
Individual experiences will then be presented back to the city as part of a process of collective reflection. Stories will be made available on the Stories From The Pandemic website in due course, and plans are being developed to showcase entries in exhibitions across the city. Pete Evans of Sheffield City Archives said, “whoever you are, whatever your background, whatever happened to you during the pandemic period, that is your individual story and together that makes up the story of Sheffield.”
Councillor Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council, explained that a range of ideas had been explored in order to reflect the needs of the city, but concluded that “the thoughtful approach we’re taking will stand the test of time and mean something, in different ways, to everyone now and in the future”.
Healing Sheffield as a city
Also involved in the memorial activity is Compassionate Sheffield, which is connecting and supporting people, communities and organisations to harness the power of compassion. Nick Deayton from Compassionate Sheffield said, “communities within Sheffield have experienced huge loss and hardship during the pandemic; it is time to hear these stories and collectively heal as a city”.
Pam Daniel, Equality and Engagement Lead for Voluntary Action Sheffield, echoed Deayton’s call for communities across Sheffield to share their stories: “The importance of community engagement to ensure the project is truly representative of this great city is clear. It is only when we listen with an open heart and compassion that we will hear the pain and start to heal as a city.”
How to get involved in Sheffield’s Covid memorial
The organisers are calling on Sheffield residents to submit their stories and experiences via a new website which went live last week: www.sheffieldstoriesfromthepandemic.com. Everybody’s experience is important and will help inform Sheffield’s story.
Postcards will also be distributed across the city, in various libraries, museums, community centres and venues, for people to leave physical contributions. They can be filled in and submitted at these participating venues, or posted for submission. Postcards will also be made available to order for group sessions and discussions within communities and organisations across the city. A list of participating venues where postcards can be submitted in person will be published on the website.
“Everybody has a story from the pandemic – we’d love to hear yours.” – Tim Feben, Opus Independents