Why Sheffield is feeling noisier, optimistic and more prosperous

If you’ve visited Sheffield city centre in the past week or so, you can’t fail to have noticed a new level of life, vibrancy and busyness has returned. After 18 months of wilderness, there seem to be young people everywhere, it’s noisier, optimistic and feeling more prosperous.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 11:23 pm
Rev Nick Allan, minister of The Well

Why? Because our two excellent universities are fully open, and tens of thousands of students are back, making up almost 10 per cent of our city’s population.

I love this time of year. I work on Ecclesall Road, bang in the centre of student world and I love how life picks up as the students return. This year has an extra zest to it, a sense of catching-up for what was lost in lockdown.

I’m the minister of a church, so last week we went onto our local streets to welcome new and returning students and to ask them a question: do you ever think about spiritual matters? I was fascinated by their response. Quite a number simply said, ‘no’.

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The autumnal weather just can’t stop the University of Sheffield students smiling as they kickstart their community “Live Projects” The Sheffield School of Architecture has a long tradition of delivering excellence and this year the department is supporting community projects locally, regionally and nationally, sent in by Patrick Meleady

Naturally, I was surprised. Our church is full of young adults and teenagers on a typical Sunday. “That’s curious,” I said. “You are investing so much time and money in bettering yourself, in increasing your knowledge during these uni years, would you not also want to invest in the deepest issues of life?”

This is true for all of us. We spend plenty of cash or energy on leisure, cars or sports. Those things can be fun and often good for us. But the return on investment is usually pretty short term.

When did you last ask yourself the most important questions of life: Is there a God who loves me? How do I live well with purpose? How do I make the right decisions?

My spiritual guide for life is Jesus. In John’s gospel, speaking of himself, Jesus said: “Don’t work for food that spoils. Work for food that gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give you this food.” That’s an amazing return on investment.

For the spiritually curious, The Alpha Course (alpha.org) is happening in various churches across Sheffield this month for free.

A place to ask and discuss the big questions of life, in a no pressure environment with like-minded spiritual seekers, and some good food.

In this post-lockdown season, let’s invest in what matters the most.