Josephine Maltby is a chartered accountant and Professor of Accounting at the University of Sheffield. She joined Ben’s Trustees in 2004 and is now our Chair. Jo coordinates our meetings with the aim of helping Sue and colleagues especially with funding bids and raising awareness of the work we are doing.
The Tramlines Festival enjoyed its 7th weekend this year, with acts from all over the world finding their way to venues as varied as the Queens Social Club to the Millennium Gallery and even the threat of seeing WU-Tang Clan in Ponderosa Park, we all new they would bottle it! Even so, for me seeing The Charlatans in sheffield again after seeing them at the Octagon whilst still at school was pretty cool, I often wonder if I hadn't seen them at that time how I might have turned out differently, I’d probably have done better in the english exam I had the next morning.
The 2015 Tramlines was bigger and better in so many ways than previous years. Of course, ‘its not what it used to be’, people will always complain about it becoming too commercial or too expensive, but to put on a 3 day festival in and around the centre of a major city is something Sheffield should be very proud of and something that was an excellent community event.
It did raise a few questions about social norms, I mean none of us would like to think of ourselves as anti-social or a menace. But I saw more street drinking and rowdy behaviour in the 3 days than I have seen all year previously-granted I don’t get out much, but I do live in the city centre. I didn't see any violence or much in the way of anything that you see as dangerous or a threat to my or my parties safety, but I can remember saying on more than one occasion “i’m glad we don’t live there…” as we left venues that were in more residential areas, and as calm as we all were just the number of intoxicated people walking up a residential street made for quite a spectacle and on another day would maybe have seen a different reaction from residents and authorities alike.
It got me thinking about something that has troubled me for years, and something that came up again when at work the other day. It did feel like the wristband not only gave you access to some fantastic entertainment and the opportunity to find new bands and genres of music that you may not normally come into contact with, but also the ‘right’ and ‘permission’ to drink in the street and be a little less well behaved than usual. Just to be clear, this is not a dig at the organisers that I thought all considered put on an excellent event and the ‘Conditions of Entry’ to venues along with the role that stewards played when people were leaving meant that this was policed as well as any event of its kind I've ever attended. However, to quote Jurassic Park… ‘life will find a way’, and lets face it, its no big deal to have a quick can between venues, right? Especially if you've paid for the privilege. I mean its your weekend, you've earned it- your a tax payer!
Im not sure, the government guidelines on alcohol consumption is 3-4 units for men and 2-3 units for women daily, it doesn't mention if wearing a wristband makes any difference. According to the Alcohol Concern website ‘Only people over 18 can drink in public, except in areas of towns where Designated Public Place Orders (DPPOs) (1) are in place. DPPOs give police officers special powers to order a person to stop drinking alcohol in public and confiscate it from them. Even outside of these areas, the police can take away alcohol or move on under 18s if they have been drinking. The police can also fine or arrest under 18s drinking in public places (2).’ again no mention of wristbands. In the 1976–77 season, Abdul-Jabbar had another strong season. He led the league in field goal percentage, finished second in rebounds and blocked shots, and third in points per game. He helped lead the Lakers to the best record in the NBA, and he won his record-tying fifth MVP award. Again no mention of wristbands, but I know he wore them all the time, did he drink in the street as well? I only know that he wore wristbands because as a youngster I was pretty good at basketball and had posters and films about the sport and my hero’s who played it, I also remember seeing the parades of when the teams won the championships, going out into the street, celebrating with the fans and getting very merry on the finest champagne (the sponsors) money can buy. The other thing I remember about the sport at that time was the money involved, I can remember once seeing an article about the fact that a small number of top NBA players paid more in tax one year than Premier League players earned that same season. All disgusting, however the point is, he paid tax, he’d earned it-so whats the big deal?
So the issue is probably not wristbands, its tax? If you pay it, you should be allowed to reap the rewards, right? Beer duty in the uk currently sits at 8.1p per litre for each percentage of alcohol, for drinks up to 2.8% abv. That rises to 18.37p for up to 7.5% and 23.85p for more than 7.5%. The stronger the beer, the more duty you pay. Add to that VAT and there is quite a lot of tax on having a bevy or two.
It does make me think again these days, when people complain about street drinkers on a daily basis, the argument that it is illegal is nonsense, we have already learnt that wristbands have very little to do with it, and it now looks like the tax issue is rubbish as well, It appears to me that as street drinkers in sheffield pay more tax when drinking in the street than millionaire sports stars and Tramlines revellers, so do they not have more of a right to do it than us?
Ok, this is not supposed to be a compelling and conclusive argument, just something to get the conversation next time your in the local with your mates, and one of them gets a bit smug and starts thinking that they are in some way different or better than other people. We are all human, all silly and daft at times, all angry and sad sometimes and all capable of love and humour sometimes. Maybe next time your avoiding speaking to someone asking for help you could consider that?
The Sheffield Anti-Begging Campaign is aiming to redirect the kindness of the Sheffield public in a way that will truly support and assist the most vulnerable people in our community. Look out for posters and flyers, such as this one, that aims to educate and empower people to make better informed decisions on how to support people in need.
As part of the Sheffield Anti-Begging Campaign, Bens Centre Senior Practitioner Daryl Bishop spoke to the press about the issues faced by vulnerable people in Sheffield. Links for both the STAR and Radio Hallam are below.
As a big thank you for the generous and continued support that the members of Banner Cross Methodist Church have shown Bens Centre over the years, The staff, volunteers and clients of Bens Centre decided to go to the church and cook for the group.
Led by Sue and supported by the awesome Trudy, the group enjoyed three delicious courses and were able to use the opportunity to talk about the great work the service does, whilst meeting some of the people that make it possible. Over 30 people attended the event on Friday 28th of August, many of which had contributed to the running of the service without ever meeting any of us. That generous and magnanimous support given without an agenda or prejudice is greatly appreciated by a service often facing ignorance and undeserved fear of our client group and work, this means we can provide fluid and dynamic service that enables us to react to the ever changing needs of our client group. The meal was fantastic, not only the food, which was beautiful but also the opportunity to speak to people about their views on what the issues are in our local area.
It was pleasing to hear people talking about others in such an educated and understanding way, talking about peoples strengths and positives instead of complaining about the differences and challenges they can cause. The event was fun and relaxed, and it appeared that everyone enjoyed themselves and gained a great deal from the day. Another theme of discussion was about self belief and caring for each other, “I find it sad that people don’t believe in themselves, if we can show that we care maybe they will start to believe in themselves…” I think after this event, anyone that attended will be taking a bit more time to care for each other.
Thanks again to Trudy and everyone in the kitchen for the fantastic food, and a big thank you to all that attended and contributed to a fantastic day.
Adam and Will have completed their coast to coast walk, raising money for Ben's Centre and SWWOP, two charities who are always hunting for funds and are always very appreciative! Well done boys, you are shining stars!!
Also a huge thank you goes out to Mr Trevor Bernard for his recent fundraising efforts (Oh and he did earn it!!) thanks so much Trevor, we are so glad to have you as a friend of Ben's!
We are so proud to have so many friends and we really try to thank and appreciate you all. We are a very small team with a big workload so if we forget anyone please do give us a nudge!!
Thanks everyone, we cannot do what we do without you!
...and here it is people. For anyone who missed John Shuttleworth's sublime poetry about Ben's Centre on Friday: Welcome to Ben's Centre A place for men to enter To give them a brief respite From the streets, a quick bite It's a haven, a refuge Its benefits, well, they're huge It's an umbilical cord, a placenta So raise your glasses to the new Ben's Centre!
We, or more importantly our clients, had a wonderful Christmas dinner (last) year and we would like to thank everyone who made it happen so successfully:- Aspire Sheffield's amazing shoebox appeal (You 3 are amazing!) Steve Judge Lloyds Bank (Joe and her team) Sheffield Dog Wardens The Lighthouse Project Our amazing volunteers (who managed to cook Christmas dinner and keep spirits high even though the centre had no gas!) and last but not least, the public of Sheffield for your general donations, presents, assistance and well wishes.
Thank you all so much and Happy New Year to you all!
At Sheffield's "Inside out" festival at the weekend we held a competition to guess the amount of donations we would receive at our stall with our sponsors for the day Richer sounds. We are proud to announce that "M Somers" won a pair of A-JAYS One headphones courtesy of Richer Sounds and...
"C Sephton" won a city centre voucher for £10!!
Well done folks and thanks so much for taking part!!
Sue was on BBC Radio Sheffield last night on "Mouthpiece", You can find it again as a podcast onhttp://www.sheffieldlive.org/podcasts/
She's now been asked to appear on Sheffield Live TV. Tonight (Weds) at 7pm on 'Talking Sheffield'.
You can watch SLTV through Freeview Channel 8 if you are tuned to the Crosspool transmitter in Sheffield and through Virgin Cable Channel 159 in Sheffield
As well as coverage in the Star online last night http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/sheffield-street-drinkers-lose-safe-haven-1-6868997
Please spread the word, we need all the help we can get, to get our services back up to full strength!!
We have managed to secure office space to run our temporary outreach service, and continue our search for a new premises. As we are in the process of reconnecting to the internet and phone lines, please take note of the following contact details:- Telephone:- 07771897086 Email:- benscentre@Hotmail.co.uk
Stay tuned for further updates, and please do get in touch if you can offer any help with our plight, our clients are currently left without sanctuary!
In more positive news we'd like to thank the following organisations for rescuing us in our time of need, we hope to be able to return the favour when we are back on our feet!! Emmaus, Lloyds Bank, and Aspire, thank you so much!!
Please note: the third, rather old picture is of when Ben's Centre started 19 years ago! We have been here for 19 years and we WILL be here many more despite certain forces that seem to be against us!!
We are delighted to announce the opening of our new premises on the 26th September!! We will be holding our AGM on the same afternoon at 12:30pm, so come along and get involved! There's still a whole lot of work to do to prepare for the big move so watch this space for updates. New address: 176-178 Eyre St, Sheffield S14QZ
Huge thanks go out to Sheffield University Geography Society for their donation and continued support of Bens Centre, Also Sheffield's Quaker Meeting House, your donations and support are also invaluable, thank you so much!!
As you may have heard on Radio Sheffield and in The Star recently, Ben’s Centre is facing homelessness! After nearly 18 years of residency in Sheffield we are now in the process of trying to secure new premises in Sheffield town centre. We are not an “attractive” charity and, as a result this is proving to be a tough task indeed so we are asking anyone who has any ideas or contacts who could help to get in touch as soon as possible! On a more positive note!
Our new “Reach-out program” is going really well, we are trying to bring our services to the more vulnerable people of Sheffield and it seems that there are lots of people in need of help, whether it’s with housing issues, alcohol dependency, homelessness or just basic things like water, food and sleeping bags.
Stay tuned for more updates in these uncertain times and, at the very least keep your fingers crossed that we can find somewhere to put our roots down and do what we do best!
Ben's Centre are so proud to be supported by this event! Massive thanks to the 'Geogsoc' at the University of Sheffield! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153937610310099&set=gm.749751898382579&type=1&theater