Yemeni workers who moved to Sheffield in the 1960s have finally been recognised for their contribution to the city’s steel industry.
Hundreds of Yemeni men emigrated to the UK to work in the steel industry after the country was left with a shortage of skilled workers in the wake of the Second World War.
Among them were dozens of men who left their families behind in the Yemen and moved to Sheffield to work.
Their story has been recorded for the first time in a new documentary called Sheffield Steel – Yemeni Dreams, which was made as part of a University of Sheffield project.
The film had its debut screening at the Vestry Hall in Burngreave.
Mohammed Alshaebi, chairman of the Yemeni Community Association, who attended, said: “A lot of the older members of the community came and it was brilliant. It brought a tearful moment to some people.
“There were about 8,000 men who came to the UK in the late ’60s and early ’70s. They went to Cardiff and Liverpool to work and around 1,000 came to Sheffield.
“My father, who died five years ago, was a steelworker in the Yemen. He came over in the ’60s and spent 40 years working in the steel industry in Sheffield.
“My mum and three older brothers stayed in the Yemen for 15 years before they came to Sheffield to join him.
“Myself and my sister were born and bred here.”
Mr Alshaebi said there were around 100 surviving Yemeni steelworkers left in the city, many of whom were now in their 80s.
“They came over here in their 40s when they were fit young adults,” he said.
“I think the documentary is a great thing. The older people do want their stories to be told.”
Among those in the audience was 83-year-old former steelworker Mohsin Alhadidah, who stars in the documentary.
His son Gamal Alhadidah, 35, from the Yemeni Community Association, said: “The film was about our fathers who came to Sheffield to work in the steel industry.
“It was really fantastic. He can’t really believe it.
“It’s nice for them to be finally recognised for all their hard work.”
Freelance film-maker Cathy Soreny, of Optical Jukebox, said the documentary had been commissioned as part of an NHS research project being undertaken by University of Sheffield’s School of Nursing.
She said: “It’s part of a project called Life Story which aims to tell the stories of vulnerable and marginalised people. “Two researchers from the university started working with Sheffield’s Yemeni community and when they found out about this, they wanted to do more, that’s how the film came about.
“They really are the unsung heroes.”
There are now plans to present all of Sheffield’s remaining Yemeni steelworkers with certificates to thank them for their work.
n Log on to www.vimeo.com/ opticaljukebox/yemenidreams to see the film.