A hard day’s night in 24-hour city

Working Sheffield: Night falls over a city that is always on the go
Working Sheffield: Night falls over a city that is always on the go
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SHEFFIELD: 24-hour city.

When most of us go to bed, it seems there are plenty of Sheffielders just getting ready for work.

New figures show the UK’s night time economy is currently valued at £244 billion, up almost a third from 2002.

And, because Sheffield has a steel industry that works round the clock and some 50,000 students who are more likely to spend money during the night, our region contributes hugely to that.

“Exact figures are difficult to work out at regional levels,” says Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “But, for example, advanced manufacturing is a 24-hour industry.

“When you are working with furnaces you cannot keep warming it up and cooling it down.

“It takes too much time and energy.

“You have to make your capital assets sweat for you and that means keeping a furnace hot 24-seven.

“And because this kind of industry is more prevalent in this region it means we do have a strong night time economy.”

At the other end of the scale students are credited with boosting the leisure industry. Nightclubs now open later than ever, take-aways feed hungry revellers and taxis take them home.

In 2009, it was estimated the city centre turnover was some £613,765 – the 11th largest in the country – and there were 12,536 staff working into the night.

This, then, is The Star’s guide to the people who slog while you sleep...

Taxi Driver: Simon Davies, 42

Simon, of South Anston, has worked for Mercury Taxis for 17 years. He has a wife and three children.

“When I first started as a taxi driver I was working nights and it just stuck.

“My hours differ but generally it’s 9pm to 5am. It means I’m not ever stuck in traffic.

“My social life has suffered but with bringing up a family it would be on the back burner anyway.

“I will usually get up about 3pm. I have dogs so I take them for a walk, and do errands such as doing the shopping, nothing exciting. Everyone is used to the routine. My wife goes to bed early. It has meant that I’m able to see the kids more.

“One thing I’ve noticed is people are in a better mood at night. They are in a party mood.

“In the day you are mainly taking people to the train station or the shops, when they aren’t quite as lively.

“I get lots of interesting passengers, and people too drunk to know where they want to go.

“I end up being a social worker or agony aunt some nights.”

Steelworker: Marc Thornhill, 36

Marc, from Shirecliffe, is a charge-hand fettler for Sheffield Forgemasters International, in Brightside Lane. He works four night shifts every third week.

“Working nights is part of being a steel worker.

“The job has to be done 24 hours to meet production deadlines. My job is air-arcing – a surface preparation activity – on large cast steel engineered products. The work is exactly the same except nights are quieter, with no interruptions from trucks or contractors so it’s more productive.

“Personally, one of the real benefits of nights is the split when the weekend comes. I’ll start work on Monday evening and finish Friday morning, which in essence, gives me an extended weekend.

“When I finish my night shift, I generally go home straight to bed until midday. My wife is at home on maternity leave with our seven-month-old baby, so I get to spend a nice half day with them and we’ll go for a walk – and the money is better.”

Nurse: Emma Kimpton, 25

Emma, from Crookes, works at Sheffield’s Children’s Hospital, Western Bank. She does five night shifts a month

“Nights are similar to days because the role of a nurse is continuous care – we perform all the observations and medications just like we would during the day.

“When I’m on that shift I start at 7pm and finish at 7.30am.

“They tend to be quiet because there are no families and visitors so we do more preparation for the next day such as checking resuscitation trolleys and blood sugar monitors.

“When I do nights I will have a nap in the early evening before I set of for work.

“My husband is a teacher so we only see each other for half an hour but we get by.”

Nightclub Manager: Dani Munn, 24

Dani, from Wickersley, Rotherham, is events manager with The Leadmill nightclub, Leadmill Road. She works two night shifts every week.

“The best thing about working in a nightclub is it’s fun.

“It’s hard work and pressured and even as a manager you have to muck in – I clear more glasses than you can imagine – but it’s still a great job.

“You’re in a young, vibrant place with staff who are fun. It’s like still being a student.

“Working nights obviously comes with the territory. I work Mondays from 9pm until 6am and then one weekend night the same.

“It’s not easy because when I finish at 6am on Tuesday I have to be back for 1pm but you get used to it.

“At the end of the night shift you’ll have to make sure all the customers are out safe and everything’s clean, and then I go home.

“I don’t have children so I can go straight to bed for a few hours.”

Emergency Plumber: Des Walsh, 45

Des, of Norton Lees, runs Walsh Plumbing Services, in Warminster Road, Norton Lees, with his son and daughter. He is on call 24 hours a day, six days a week.

“You wouldn’t believe how many people need a plumber in the night.

“Burst pipes, frozen pipes and leaks - I’ve had them all. One time I went to a place where the ceiling had collapsed. People tend to be panicking when I arrive and in the night that’s worse.

“Sometimes I’ll go days without getting a call but others I’ll be driving around going to job after job. When there’s a freeze on, I’ve worked for 24 hours non-stop before. I was shattered but you’re helping people - and it’s good money.

“I’ll give myself a couple of nights off every so often. I’m going to a wedding this weekend so that will be one but other times I’ll go out socially and just hope I don’t get called. If I do, I have to go to it. My wife doesn’t mind. It’s my job.”

Security Guard: Harry Jarvis, 51

Harry, of Rossington, Doncaster, has been a security guard for almost 20 years. He lives with his parents.

“The one thing I notice is the temperature drop around midnight. That sounds obvious but it’s true.

“I work three night shifts every two weeks. Before and after I get three days off and I like that. I wouldn’t change it because it gives me the chance to go off to Mablethorpe in my caravan for the fishing. From March to October, I’ll do that a couple of times a month. I’m single so I’m not tied.

“I worked down the mines before this so I’ve done nights all my working life. We do a 12-hour shift, 6pm-6am. We have to tour the building every hour and monitor cameras. There have been times I’ve had to call the police but mainly it’s peaceful.

“I’ll go to bed as soon as I get home then get up about 2pm and go in the garden. That’s one perk. Not many people get to spend as much time in their garden as I do.”