Favourite things: Sheffield, a city with plenty of heart to help survivors

Kirsty Allan, 26, Anti Trafficking Manager at charity City Hearts, is writing about her favourite places in Sheffield, including Couch.
Kirsty Allan, 26, Anti Trafficking Manager at charity City Hearts, is writing about her favourite places in Sheffield, including Couch.

Kirsty Allan, 26, is the anti-trafficking manager at Sheffield charity City Hearts, working with the survivors of human trafficking. In her first year, she has seen over 50 women and children rescued. As part of national guidelines, organisation has six weeks to provide a rescued victim with immediate support, medical care, counselling and assistance toward a new future. She is originally from the small Scottish fishing town of Fraserburgh, and moved to Rotherham four years ago, helping pregnant drug addicts to get rehabilitated before and after giving birth. Kirsty married John Wilson this month.

City Hearts

Sunday Lunch The Graze Inn Ecclesall Raod

Sunday Lunch The Graze Inn Ecclesall Raod

City Hearts offers hope to the most vulnerable, with three locations across the UK for accommodation and support to men, women and families caught up in trafficking. I just love seeing countless lives changed. It’s amazing to see the difference a smile can make.

I love working with the staff team and brilliant volunteers such as the Sheffield University students who run the Hope project with us. Together we see many miracles!

Liberty Church

My home church in Rotherham which I lead alongside John. It is a very multi-cultural church where I am involved in the worship team and where I sing and play guitar and keys. I guess you could say this is my escape.

People from different walks of life can be united for one cause. After the Rotherham abuse scandal, the feeling of unity and passion was overwhelming.

business for breakfast

When I started at City Hearts, I was invited to a Business for Breakfast ladies business lunch where we are the nominated charity. At first, this was completely daunting as I was very shy! Now I can honestly say both myself and the charity have benefited in many ways, so much so we have been shortlisted for Charity of the Year by Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce. The ladies are inspirational, and I have grown in confidence and made great contacts. Encouraged by group leader Jill Ashton, the group donates valuable items that help the women and children I work with – toiletry hampers, bedding, warm coats and bags.

The Graze Inn

The Graze Inn on Ecclesall Road has become my favourite restaurant. The staff go out of your way to help you, and the décor is amazing! I love the clean shabby-chic feel. The food is amazing, like the rotisserie chicken and their delicious dessert platter.

Fab Flowers

I came across this little florist in Wickersley. It has the creative style and talent to create modern arrangements that last for quite a while. I received a beautiful arrangement a couple of weeks ago that still looks fresh.


Snowdrop is a relatively new Sheffield charity that works with survivors of human trafficking when they move into the community. It is so valuable for us to know that the women we work with in safe houses are being helped into jobs and supportive relationships.

Couch cafe/bar

I stumbled across Couch one Saturday night when me and a friend were looking for somewhere to eat as most restaurants were fully booked. Wow, it is such an amazing coffee shop with amazingly friendly staff. There is a Couch in Campo Lane in the city centre and in Ecclesall Road.

We have now managers’ meetings there, occasional staff meetings and I mostly do all my staff supervisions there. It is a great quiet café, spacious, great décor with wonderful coffee – and the decadence hot chocolate made with melted Mars bars is just sensational!

mercure St Paul’s Hotel

Last year I was given a gift of a spa day from a friend at the Mercure St Paul’s Hotel overlooking the Peace Gardens. It instantly became one of our favourite places to hide away and relax after a busy day. There are amazing spa facilities and on a Friday night it is so quiet and relaxing, open until 10pm. We especially love the ice room and the fragrant shower, which is just what we need to wind down after a pressured week.


One thing I love about Sheffield is the community of human trafficking survivors, which is probably the largest in the country. It is rewarding to see people make friends with those who have been through the same horrendous things as them and to help them through such hard times.

The friendships are amazing, all from different countries, all different stories, but there is a unique understanding. I am so proud of each and every one of them and the bravery that they show.