Sheffield & Rotherham United
posted by: Nick Stevens | on: Friday, 23 June 2017, 20:13
Around 1,000 residents of Rotherham and Sheffield came together across two fantastic Great Get Together events of celebration and solidarity in Rotherham’s Clifton Park and Sheffield’s Heeley City Farm, in memory of Jo Cox and also as a show of defiance to those who attempt to spread hate, fear and division in our communities.
Organised as small-scale community festivals, both events basked in glorious sunshine, as groups of friends and families enjoyed the uplifting atmosphere, engaged with the various activities and stalls on offer, made new friendships and reignited old ones.
On the Saturday in Rotherham, local musicians spanning the genres of African-inspired drumming, choristers, political folk and a young people’s dance group filled the running order at Clifton Park bandstand. A minute’s silence took place in memory of Jo, led by newly-elected Mayor of Rotherham, Eve Rose, and re-elected MP for Rotherham, Sarah Champion, who both made very moving speeches to an audience which observed the silence and subsequent addresses impeccably.
Throughout the day, Rotherham-based graffiti artist, the extremely talented Phil Padfield, gradually created a sepia portrait of Jo, with her immortalised ‘more in common’ words layered over the top. Local artist, and Rotherham Carnival organiser, Vicky Hilton, ran activities with youngsters while the Doncaster Real Junk Food Project provided food for the crowds.
Friends at the Rotherham 12 Justice Campaign, with whom HOPE not hate has been working, also ran a food tent, though this one specifically feeding Rotherham’s homeless community in the spirit of Ramadan.
The picturesque Heeley City Farm in Sheffield played host to over 500 of the city’s residents on Sunday, a day jammed full of music, art, activities, food and poetry.
Jazz, maypole dancing, Celtic folk rock, Southern African singing, R&B and Iranian folk were all the order of the day in the performance area, with SOSA-XA! encouraging the sun-soaked field into portions of audience participation. Sheffield-based poets River and Mimi followed another moving speech commemorating the life of Jo Cox, by MP for Sheffield Heeley Louise Haigh, with some verses written specifically for Sheffield’s Great Get Together on the theme of unity.
HOPE not hate activists roamed the field for the entirety of the event, striking up conversations with attendees and spreading a message of HOPE and friendship, while also monitoring the progress of the community static bike ride to Batley, which was conducted in solidarity with the residents of Jo’s former constituency. By 2:30pm the cyclists had peddled the 37 miles to Batley, fuelled by food courtesy of Sheffield Real Junk Food Project.
Throughout the course of the day children made beautiful music instruments at the My Arty Party, attendees placed coloured dots on a huge map of the world indicating their country of origin and the beauty of migration, engaged in other art projects led by friends at Sheffield Amnesty International, joined hula-hooping workshops and also just sat on the grass immersing themselves in the community atmosphere and enjoying a picnic.
With three divisive elections in two years, and with four error attacks within the space of three months, not to mention the horrors in Rotherham which have brought with it multiple far-right incursions, it was incredibly heartening to see so many people turn their backs on hate, turn out en masse and in unity and embrace the events so enthusiastically.
A big thank you to everyone who made the Great Get Togethers in Rotherham and Sheffield possible.
Posted: 23 Jun 2017 | There are 0 comments
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