Lord Mayor Magid Magid is hoping to raise a record-breaking £100,000 during his term in office for three small but ‘life-saving’ charities in Sheffield.
The national record for Lord Mayor’s Charity Funds is currently set at £80,000 by a former York Lord Mayor, and the Sheffield record is currently around £30,000.
The three he has chosen are Sheffield Flourish, which supports people with mental health issues, Unity Gym Project, which helps young people, and Sheffield Women’s Counselling and Therapy Services, which supports women who have suffered abuse or trauma.
Magid said around 37 groups pitched to him for the funding but not one of the three he eventually chose.
He said: “There are some really large charities that do amazing things and have already got a massive profile in Sheffield and the resources to pump money into marketing so it was quite important for me to really get behind smaller charities I felt it would have the most impact on.
“There are a lot of smaller charities that are saving people’s lives so it’s important that those don’t get left behind and I thought mental health, women and young people seemed like a good balance.”
Katherine Myles, chief executive of Sheffield Women’s Counselling and Therapy Services, said the money Magid is raising will go a long way towards helping people in need of support.
She said: “For small charities a little goes a long way and for community members who support them so much of what you give goes straight to helping the people who need it most in your community.”
The service will celebrate its 30th birthday next year and during that time it has helped many women transform their lives.
Ms Myles said: “Some people say it’s like a big black cloud has been lifted. Like the difference between not wanting to live anymore and knowing that there is actually a life that they can enjoy.
“Their symptoms might not go away completely but they have the tools to manage and understand what’s happened to them, that it’s not their fault, they matter and that they have the skills and support to get their lives back.
“They often tell us they have better relationships with their families and are going to A&E or the doctors less often. It’s really transformative work but we cannot always meet the demand that’s out there but we really want to do more of it.”
Jo Eckersley, deputy managing director of Sheffield Flourish, said the support of the Lord Mayor’s Fund will also help to get the message out to people who may be suffering.
She said: “We know the majority of people living with mental health issues aren’t diagnosed and when you are living with issues like that we want people to know there is a guide they can go on that has information about what services are available.
“The really nice thing about Sheffield Flourish is across the city there’s loads of different, excellent services but a lot of them are referral only and you can only access them at certain times but with Flourish you can access them at any time.”
Flourish played a key role in creating the Sheffield Mental Health Guide and have their own website with informed resources to support people with mental health issues.
One of these is a collection of stories where people share their experiences of living with mental health issues.
They also run activities and have gardening, music, art and football groups.
Ms Eckersley said: “It’s an opportunity for people to just take time out. People can just be in a space that isn’t just necessarily about all the problems they have but is just safe and supportive.”
The Unity Gym Project offers a similar space for people to get away from problems they might be facing and are known locally as a “pillar of Broomhall”, but young people come from across the city to use the services.
Saeed Brasab, project coordinator, said: “We’re small but our work is quite driven and delivered across the city, predominantly in disadvantaged communities.”
The gym offers mentoring, counselling, fitness, a youth club and the opportunity to learn life skills.
Mr Brasab said they recently helped a young man who was a victim of a knife attack in which he was stabbed multiple times. He said coming to the gym helped him turn his life around and he is now about to start university.
He said: “The idea came as a direct result of dealing with some of the issues we had in the community due to cuts to youth provisions, and we had a young man at the time who had lost his life in a drive-by shooting.
“So it really was a time when the community was dysfunctional and there were a lot of barriers. We did a lot of work trying to defuse some of the issues but also try and come up with a solution to bring about a bit of unity.”
The project will celebrate its 10th birthday next year and Mr Brasab hopes the money Magid raises will help them to reach out to even more young people.
Magid pointed out that the money will also be crucial in helping the charities cope against ongoing cuts to services.
He said: “We can’t forget about the government’s austerity programme, all the cuts have had a direct impact on not just Sheffield but across the whole country and I think it’s also having a detrimental impact on people’s lives.
“We are actually in more debt as a country than we were before, so it’s clearly not working and is quite nasty.”
Magid’s fundraising efforts for the three charities will start in October and end with a grand finale in May 2019 with a Love Sheffield day.
He said Love Sheffield will be the city’s answer to Comic Relief and will aim to bring all areas of our city together for one day of raising money and celebrating everything good about Sheffield.
He added there will be an open get-together on September 18, at 6pm in the Town Hall for people to share ideas for Love Sheffield and volunteer.
To donate money to the Lord Mayor’s Charity Fund you can send a cheque payable to ‘The Lord Mayor’s Charity Fund’. They ask people to add their name and reference to any donation.
The address is: Barclays Bank, Pinstone Street, Sheffield, S1 1UJ. Sort code 20-76-92. Account number 63672913.