A Family History of Community in Sheffield

Volume 23

20 April 2023

By a year 11 student from King Edward VII School, Sheffield

When I was younger, I never really appreciated the tight-knit community that me and my family live in. I never took the time to understand how we got here, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realise that this community has been built on decades of friendship and closeness. 

My family’s journey in the UK started in 1961, when my grandfather moved to Sheffield with some close friends and began working as a train conductor. He made friends with other people who worked on the trains with him and formed his own community with them. They would travel to work together, take their breaks together and when the long day ended, they would smoke cigarettes and play cards. When my grandad left his job as a train driver and became a shop owner, the same community supported him through his decision and continued to stay close to him.  

When my grandma moved here in 1963 to join my grandad, he had already bought a shared home where he was staying with a few other families. She would do household chores with the other women who lived there, then go to the park to knit and sew with them; this is what my grandma considered her community. Together, they would watch wrestling on the TV, go to the library to borrow Urdu books, share recipes and sew clothes while my grandad and the other men were away at work.   

In 1976, my grandparents had their third child (my mum) who was raised closely with her two siblings and cousins in the shared house. They all went to the same local school, where everybody knew everybody, which helped them strengthen the bonds between them as a community - partially because they couldn’t get a break from each other. Parents collectively raised them (it takes a village) and this upbringing has impacted the way the 3rd generation - AKA me - have been brought up too, for example, how close we are to our cousins and siblings. 

Fast forward to the 21st century, my grandparents have 5 children and live in their own house, but they’re both still really close with the people they shared many years of their lives with in those communal homes. This shows that as people grow up, they don’t always grow apart. To be fair though, they are all next-door neighbours, so nobody moved very far. 

Category: Modern