How ordinary people can create a safer, healthier and more equal world according to Sheffield history teacher

A history teacher and social justice campaigner from Sheffield is on a mission to inspire ordinary people to join the fight for a safer, healthier and more equal world.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 11:58 am

Mark Hutchinson teaches at High Storrs School and is also part of Journey to Justice, a volunteer led social justice organisation, which uses stories and the arts to inspire people to work for a fairer world.

The group is hoping to create an online exhibition to display its work and other learning resources, but it needs to raise £20,0000 in order to create an exhibition that is as engaging as the physical one.

Mark said: “More than 180,000 people visited the exhibition.

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Sheffield timeline of activism. Mark Hutchinson, left.
Sheffield timeline of activism. Mark Hutchinson, left.

“And people told us again and again how much it inspired them. When it came to Sheffield we heard of people going away and getting involved in all kinds of social action, from writing creative stories about racism to joining refugee support groups and campaigning for equal opportunities in their workplaces.”

Visitors have previously commented on the exhibition containing ‘critically important information’ and of which ‘should be part of the school curriculum’.

Mark believes that the exhibition is one of particular importance today.

He explained: “The pandemic has really shone a spotlight on the inequalities in our society and at the same time the Black Lives Matter movement is galvanising many people to take action. Then of course there’s the coronavirus crisis, which is so huge and overwhelming that it often makes people feel powerless.

An exhibition in Sheffield, pre-pandemic.

“However, when asked, 80 per cent of those who visited the exhibition in 2016, stated that it made them more willing to go out and take action for non-violent change.

“Journey to Justice’s message is that ordinary people absolutely can make a difference. We’ve seen time and again how the key to believing that is learning about others who’ve done it in the past.”

In 2016, the group created a multi-media, touring exhibition that took hidden tales from the UK and US civil rights movement to towns and cities all over Britain.

Mark suggests that Sheffield’s past is evidence that ordinary people have the power to bring about change, and seeks to get this point across when teaching his students.

He said: “For example, when we study the suffragettes, students are often amazed to find out that one of the Pankhurst sisters, Adela, ran a shop in Chapel Walk.

“And we also look at a local GP, Dr Helen Wilson, who was part of the suffragist movement, which attracted less attention but made an enormous difference through things like marching and letter-writing.

“It gives the students a way in and makes the stories come alive for them. They learn about the likes of visitors for example Malcolm X; residents such as Samuel Morgan Smith and groups like the Sheffield Asian Youth Movement. I think it also shows them that you don’t have to be famous or ‘important’ to bring about change.”

To donate towards the exhibition, visit here.

For more information, visit here or email [email protected]

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