Favourite Things: Museum top spot for romance as well as play 

Favourite Things with Ben Woollard at the Depot Bakery. Picture: Chris Etchells
Favourite Things with Ben Woollard at the Depot Bakery. Picture: Chris Etchells

Ben Woollard is a social entrepreneur who is passionate about overcoming division and working with others to see Steel City reach its greatest potential.

When Ben arrived in Sheffield over 12 years ago for university, he was told that statistically he was likely to stay in the city, meet his wife there and work there after he graduated. He thought ‘no chance’, then fell in love with his now wife and Sheffield and became an adopted Northerner. 

Weston Park Museum

Weston Park Museum

He founded Authentic Recruitment shortly after university, initially to allow him to volunteer in Doncaster Prison as a mentor and chaplain one day a week. Selling the business a year ago has enabled Ben to concentrate on the charitable projects he is involved in, growing emergency department pastors beyond Sheffield and chairing Together for Sheffield, a group of business, church and civic leaders who are committed to the wellbeing of the City.

Ben lives in Burngreave with his A&E nurse wife, Amanda. He enjoys travelling, his church community at St Philip's and adventures in the Peak District. 

Together for Sheffield are currently coordinating response from churches and other faith groups to support those being transitioned onto Universal Credit. Organisations are invited to nominate a UC champion and recruit additional volunteers as demand for foodbanks rises and to be trained as UC ‘digital buddies’, to help those struggling to access Credits online. More information from UCbuddy@togetherforsheffield.co.uk 

Accident and Emergency at Northern General Hospital

It’s often in the tragic places that we can find the most reason to hope. This is certainly true of A&E at the Northern General Hospital. Four years ago, my A&E nurse wife Amanda and I approached the inspiring hospital chaplaincy team with an idea to launch a listening and support service offered by volunteers from churches across Sheffield. The aim was and is to support patients in need whatever their faith background, with a listening ear, cup of tea and prayer if requested. There are now more than twenty volunteer emergency department pastors. Every time I’m on shift, I’m blown away by the hard working, caring and dedicated staff, the precious life stories from patients and the fact that everyone believes in something.

Weston Park Museum 

When I took my wife to Weston Park Museum on our first date (as a student the free entry was a big plus!).  I don’t think I could have imagined that we would be taking our hilarious two year-old Evie to see the same woolly mammoth twelve years later! It’s still great fun and a proven ingredient in a recipe for romance.  Randomly, it is also host to a stuffed parakeet that sadly crashed into my sister’s bedroom window in London...but that’s another story.

The Depot Bakery 

Depot is run by the Tamper Coffee company. When I started Authentic Recruitment, Tamper had just opened up off West Street and our first coffee was served by one of the owners. Like me he wasn’t born here, but drawn here and I’ve enjoyed watching their business grow from strength to strength. Depot is a great, and unfortunately rare, example of a place in the north of the city, near my home in Burngreave, that draws people in from the south. I love taking my daughter there for a baby-chino which often evokes cries of ‘ooh nice!’ from her and they never seem to mind all the mess we make. 

Medieval Mayhem 

In my mind the best soft play centre in Sheffield. Family run, based in North Sheffield, and a great place for Evie to let off steam or me to legitimately enjoy a big slide. It’s also a funny context to meet other adults in as you follow your child across a rope bridge or through a tunnel. 

Together for Sheffield 

It’s not always easy on the ego, but it is a pleasure working alongside people who are more inspiring, committed and intelligent than myself (indeed I married one!). Together for Sheffield, a group committed to the wellbeing of our grand city, is full of such people. It’s an honour to chair the core team as we work with local authorities, churches and faith groups to tackle, albeit in a small way, huge issues like Universal Credit.