Sheffield Star – 13 October 2012

Sheffield people urged to speak out

People on Sheffield are urged to have their say when a speaking initiative launches next week. Sheffield Speaks wants people to take the opportunity to address their fellow citizens on a subject of their choice for 60 seconds.

A special platform is being erected on the steps of Sheffield Town Hall, Pinstone Street, in the city centre as part of the scheme, which launches in Monday. It has been organised to mark Local Democracy Week, from Monday to Sunday, October 21.

Coun Julie Dore, who will launch the event on Monday at the stage, said: “It is important we support and encourage people to speak out about issues and subjects that matter to them. “We have such a diverse city and it’s fantastic when we can all come together. “It gives us all an insight into the different communities and the lives of people we wouldn’t always necessary know about.”

The public stage is among a number of events being held as part of Sheffield Speaks. Sheffield Hallam University Students’ Union is setting up a Speakers’ Corner in Hallam Square on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday lunchtimes.

Howard Duffy, union democracy and communications officer and joint-chairman of Sheffield Speaks, said: “Local democracy is about people of all ages and backgrounds and we want to give them the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions right from the start of our programme and to celebrate all the wit and wisdom Sheffield people have to offer.” A variety of other events open to the general public will be held across the city.

Events include the chance to quiz candidates standing in next month’s elections for South Yorkshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner, while the Workers’ Educational Association will be asking why people do or do not participate in the democratic process.

It is hoped the Sheffield Speaks programme will be the first step in creating a permanent Speakers’ Corner in the city centre.

Peter Bradley, Speakers’ Corner Trust director, said: “The aim is to get people to exchange ideas and opinions about the issues that matter to them face to face with their friends and neighbours. “The idea has grown into something much bigger and better than we envisaged and it is something that Sheffield should be very proud of.”

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