City Views: “Moving back was the best thing I could have done”

I returned to Sheffield in 2019 after a four-year TransPennine sabbatical as a student in Salford. Originally, moving back didn’t feel like a choice. More of a necessity. My impromptu homecoming was a result of leaving my job, flat, boyfriend, and ovary behind (thanks for that one, PCOS).

I can now say, without a doubt, moving back was the best thing I could have done. I’m sure many others who moved back to their hometown during the breaking of the pandemic in 2020 will echo my sentiments about calling this city home.

As a Sheffield native, I tick many boxes in the proverbial Steel City passport. From being born in Jessops hospital to dancing in and out of every bar down Division Street and beyond, I cut my teeth living my best life as a northern dancing queen. At the age of 17, I was pulling pints and starring in my own budget version of a Yorkshire flash dance montage every weekend. It was a role that I took very seriously, one that was further solidified by being known as the “little’un” amongst a family of steelworkers.

By the time I moved home, a lot of the faces and places had changed, as can be expected in a big city. I found myself lost between hangovers that were fuelled by my determination to chase nostalgia and attempts to build my new, shiny yet familiar life from scratch. And I was just getting to grips with growing up parallel to the roots of my formative years when the city, along with the rest of the world, was thrown into disarray and heartbreak by the pandemic.

Walking became one of the only permitted activities. And in it, I found magic in what I had previously deemed mundane. It was to my own detriment that I’d taken our luscious green spaces for granted. Sleepy summer evenings followed by the dreaded long winter nights gave me the much-needed time to fall in love with my hometown again – and rebuild some seven hills stamina in my calves.

With time on my hands and a reignited flame of community spirit in my heart, I reunited with old friends and was fortunate enough to make some new ones. No one can pretend that any city or community is perfect, but the spirit of the people of Sheffield comes very close for me. We walked for hours through Meersbrook, Graves and Endcliffe Park. We shared stories and sandwiches in the Whinfell Quarry and Botanical Gardens. Soothing each other’s minds, we inhaled the beauty of our surroundings that any Sheffield guide worth its salt would boast “are only a stone’s throw away from the city centre”.

As tiers and restrictions have lifted, I am cautiously beginning to venture back into the city centre. I vow to never take a cup of coffee and slice of cake from the Copper Pot, a bowl of chips from the Rutland or a full English from Bar Kelham for granted again.

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