Whole-courtyardlage The current situation for our clients at Bens Centre is as challenging as ever, the work we are being asked to do is now very different in many ways from when Bens started 20 years ago, although sadly many of the circumstances are still exactly the same. Sheffield is one of the better cities at tackling social issues, and the services in sheffield are overall very good, as is the DACT. That said, we as a society still have a long way to go and it is pleasing to know that the wider community in sheffield are still willing to get involved and do their bit.

In February this year I was invited to speak to a group of Business Students at Sheffield University School of Management about having a look at our organisation and offering a different view of how to move forward and also raise the awareness of the current need in the city.

I was very honoured to be asked and felt this was a great opportunity to tap in to one of Sheffield’s resources of business talent, before they become too expensive for us… The pitch was difficult, Ive done lots of that sort of thing in my life, but during speaking to students it became clear that we don’t have a product as such nor was I able to speak about the subject in a way that was coherent due to feeling so strongly about the topic. Bens was up against some very well known brands and very well established organisations, all of which were worth while, and to be honest would have been a much easier project in my eyes. Fortunately I was able to struggle through and from the feedback it sounds like not everyone realised that I was struggling to hold it together, maybe they weren’t all listening?..

Incredibly I was contacted by two students that wanted to take the challenge. After a couple of meetings and a number of emails back and forth, silence… Then a week before the presentation of the findings, the emails started again, a combination of excuses and questions, but I got the sense from both students that they had started to care more about this issue than just a means to achieving a good grade, this feeling turned out to be correct when the projects were presented.

The presentations by both students were fantastic, the level of understanding they had gleamed in a short space of time, combined with the unique and unusual way they both tackled the project gave us some new and interesting insights to Bens. They were both talking about people and community and not victims or addicts. Many of the ideas and recommendations are going to form part of the new approach Bens will be taking in the near future and the visions of both students will have a lasting positive impact on our work and ultimately our on our clients. There is a more detailed description of how each student approached the project on the Sheffield University Blog, please follow this link. On behalf of the Bens Centre team I wanted to thank Sheffield University for allowing us to be part of this project, and in particular Michael Frize, Programme Director for Business Management, and above all the two students who’s work is going to make such a difference to our project, Lily Robinson and Jessica Murray. Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication to our group, your projects were both excellent and we are looking forward to hearing about your continued successes.

Bens Centre benefits greatly from both University’s in sheffield and from the cities strong community spirit generally within businesses and organisations. We are always looking to hear from local groups or individuals that would like to be involved and feel they may have something to offer. There is a number of reasons for Bens Centre’s success over the years, one thing in particular is the innovative and creative approach taken in tackling this continuing issue, so even if you feel you don’t have much relevant experience in this area of work, we are sure your expertise in other areas could support us on a wider scale so get in touch.