Review of the Teacake Club meeting (Tues 6 Dec)

The Winter edition of the Teacake Club – an economic inactivity special – took place at the new Events Central hub on Fargate in Sheffield City Centre. Laura Hayfield, Head of Employment & Skills at Sheffield City Council, welcomed attendees to the meeting and outlined the reasons for having a network meeting focused on this theme.

Economic inactivity has risen significantly since the coronavirus pandemic, with the number of people leaving the labour market for health reasons risisng significantly.

Christina Beatty, Professor of Applied Economic Geography in the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR), was the keynote speaker, discussing the ‘Real Level of Unemployment’: hidden unemployment and economically inactivity. Prof Beatty has been tracking these numbers for the last 30 years from Sheffield Hallam University, taking a special interest in industrial and seaside towns & cities. She outlined how Sheffield fares compared to the rest of the region in terms of ‘hidden unemployment’, looking at the demographic breakdown across disability, ethnicity and other cohorts.

Dr Christina Beatty’s reports are available from Sheffield Hallam University:

Kevin Owers, Policy Officer at Opportunity Sheffield, presented next – outlining how Opportunity Sheffield’s European Social Fund supported programmes are supporting the engagement and progressions of economically inactive people within the city. He identified notable areas of achievement in terms of engagement with marginalised and disadvantaged groups, and laid out some of the findings from a recent qualitative study into the cause and effects of economic inactivtiy.

Tammy Piercey, keyworker at Burngreave Works and Sharrow Community Forum, was interviewed by Opportunity Sheffield contract manager Phil Johnson about her experiences of delivering support to the cohort in the community and the challenges faced by participants. Sharrow Community Forum currently delivers an economically inactives targeted support contract on ESF Pathways, while Burngreave Works engages with significant numbers of economically inactive people living in underprivileged parts of town.

Marie Croker, Community Development Manager at Israac, was next to speak, telling attendees about the work Sheffield’s Somali community centre is doing to support people, including the unemployed and economically inactive.

The final two speakers were Ian Collins, Specialist Mental Health Keyworker at Big Ambitions, and Adam Siu, Physiotherapist at Down2U Physiotherapy, who are both delivering on Opportunity Sheffield’s Positive Change Programme, which is designed as pre-entry activity for people at a distance to the labour market. They fed back on the initial health-focused cohorts being supported on this programme and their experience of engaging of engagement, enrolment and delivery.