Community Cohesion: Sheffielders living in poverty and isolation have a tougher life

Walkley is one of the areas in Sheffield which has seen a population growth
Walkley is one of the areas in Sheffield which has seen a population growth

Poverty and inequality are still major issues in Sheffield – leaving some people isolated and living a much harder life than others.

These are the findings of a wide ranging new report by Sheffield Council, which has spent the past three years working on a Community Cohesion strategy for the city. This is part of a series of stories looking at this strategy.

Sheffield’s economy is growing and is now worth over £11.3bn. The city’s economy has continued to thrive despite a bleaker national picture.

More than 259,500 people are working in Sheffield but the report says pay and productivity are “a challenge”. Pay levels in Sheffield and across Sheffield City Region are comparatively low and so too is productivity.

Along with this, many families are struggling. Almost 25 per cent of children in Sheffield are living in poverty, compared to the UK average of 20 per cent.

This varies considerably across the city, with almost 43 per cent of children in Firth Park living in poverty compared to just three per cent in Ecclesall.

Angela Greenwood, community services manager at Sheffield Council, says in a report: “These challenges, along with poverty, are critical issues and impact on the extent to which people in Sheffield feel part of and feel that they share in the city’s economic growth. Poverty and inequality remain a challenge for the city.

“Sheffield wants to continue to be an inclusive city – socially, geographically, economically and culturally.

“The city is moving forward at pace, with an £11.3bn economy, increasing numbers of jobs and an attractor of major global investment.

“This will have significant and long term positive benefits for the city but we have to make sure that people and communities across the whole of Sheffield are part of, benefit from and can achieve the things they want to achieve.

“We have challenges which ensure that the city’s success is not experienced by all. As with many cities, a significant number of people in Sheffield live in poverty and experience inequalities which mean that life is much harder for some of our communities than others.

“Poverty and exclusion from good education and skills, good jobs, and the economic and cultural opportunities that Sheffield has to offer can leave people feeling isolated and excluded from the life of the city and we need to continue to tackle the challenges which prevent people from achieving their potential.”

The council says it will work alongside the business sector to develop opportunities and services to addresses economic and social inequality.

The report says Sheffield will continue to grow – based on current trends, the latest estimates indicate that its population could reach 650,000 by 2039.

The largest population increases are in the City, Walkley, Fulwood, Burngreave and Darnall wards. The growth is largely down to students and residents with young families moving into these areas.  

The report adds: “The city is also a major draw for international students coming to study at our leading institutions, with over 11,900 international students studying in Sheffield in 2014-15. Of these, 86 per cent were from outside of the EU.”

Sheffield is actively ageing with a third of the population over 50, a slightly higher proportion than other Core Cities. The number of people aged over 85 has increased by 18 per cent over the last 10 years.  

And 19 per cent of the population are from a Black Minority Ethnic background.  

Sheffield Council has worked with voluntary, community and faith organisations to discuss the need for a new Cohesion Strategy. The result was an in-depth report called Sheffield Together: The Sheffield Cohesion Framework.

The full report can be read here:

http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/documents/s32561/Cohesion%20Charter%20Report.pdf