'Why my Sheffield street has been an amazing extended community'
Polly Ives lives in Greystones with her husband, two young boys and her brother and has lived in Sheffield since coming to The University of Sheffield in 1998. She is founder and director of Concerteenies, presenting live music experiences for 0-7 year olds and their communities.
They have a jam-packed summer schedule with woodland, relaxation and playground concerts and Greystones gigs. She ‘normally’ presents children’s concerts around the UK alongside many orchestras, ensembles and soloists London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Mozart Players and Ensemble 360 and works in schools, libraries and hospitals.
Perhaps a sign of the times, my street has been one of my absolute favourite places over the last 18 months.
We have the most amazing neighbours and extended community in S11. People have gone out of their way to help others with shopping, childcare support, doorstep photography, garden gigs, wine/coffee/chat/footy kick-arounds in the front yard.
It has gone a long way to fill the void of seeing family, friends from further afield and work colleagues. Long may it continue!
Gilmours Coffee shop on Greystones Road, just off Ecclesall Road, has been open for three years and half of that has been during Covid. Brendan and all of the wonderful team have built up such a loyal following because they’re so friendly and welcoming to people from all walks of life. Again, over the last 18 months places like this have provided much more than just coffee and cake. And check out their hanging baskets!
I have EVEN more admiration and gratitude for what the entire school workforce do following this last year. I have led music projects in most Sheffield schools over the years and have got to know many headteachers, teachers, office and support staff.
As a parent and a fellow educator, I feel they have held our communities together, supported parents and cared for, educated and entertained our little ones. Our eldest has just completed his first year at school and we personally can’t thank them all enough!
Live music venues
I have deeply missed performing in live music events across the City during the pandemic, particularly the Crucible Theatres, Greystones Backroom, Yellow Arch and further afield at the Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall and Portsmouth’s Guildhall. In May, I stepped back into the Crucible Studio to narrate a streamed children’s concert Stan and Mabel - it was immediately like being home; the friendly welcome at stage door, the backstage hub-bub of everyone involved their their own jobs that make a show, the familiar red flippy chairs, and my friends and musical colleagues in Ensemble 360. But I desperately missed the excitable smiley faces of all the children - exactly the people all this is for. Keeping positive - we WILL be back in the autumn to launch Music in the Round’s UK tour of Izzy Gizmo, the new musical story by composer Paul Rissmann.
Concerteenies started up our Relaxation Concerts in May at Whirlow Spirituality Centre which is a beautiful little haven for a bit of calm – especially if you have been awake most of the night with a tiny baby! These concerts give very young babies the chance to go to new places and experience new sights and sounds with professional musicians and bubbles and sensory elements.
New parents have been isolated throughout pregnancy and new parenthood that they haven’t been able to create their new favourite places now they have a child - we’re hoping to start supporting this and encouraging people to visit public spaces and make new friendships.
I fear music promoters, professional musicians and venues will take a very long time to build themselves back up after these times. We desperately need to value the role of the arts for our communities, especially our young children. It is not just a luxury to attend arts events. Music is about who we are, how we feel and how we connect with others. Don’t use it and we may lose it.
New-found walks and woods
Having two young boys, we never really get to properly walk anywhere - it’s more a toddle-run round in circles-can I have a snack?-climb a tree-can I go on your shoulders?- kind of ‘walk’. So, like many, we’ve discovered some new beauty spots to while away the time - Limb Brook, Padley Chapel, Blacka Moor and Lady Cannings. And numerous trips per week to Endcliffe Park - we are so lucky to have all this on our doorstep.