Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Photo exhibition celebrates 70 years of Sheffield migration

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams
Image caption Abdi-Aziz Suleiman, pictured at Broomhall Flats, was born in Somalia during the civil war and moved to Sheffield with his mother in 1993

Over the past 70 years, thousands of people have moved from all over the world to make Sheffield their home.

The personal stories of scores of migrants who have settled in the city of steel are on show in Arrivals, an exhibition by photographer Jeremy Abrahams.

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams
Image caption Jeremy Abrahams moved to Sheffield from London in 1986 with his young family and took up photography in 2013 after being made redundant from the government's Building Schools for the Future project

Abrahams said the seed for the idea was sown years before he became a photographer, by a friend who travelled to Sheffield from Nazi-occupied Europe on the Kindertransport for Jewish children.

"On my own street in Hunters Bar are people from Poland, Belgium, Ireland and Uganda, and I don't think that's unusual.

"I hope the photos and stories of the people in them offer an insight into the human experience of immigration, and show how generations of arrivals have helped to shape the creative and diverse city Sheffield has become," he said.


Justine Brothwell - Austria - Arrived in Sheffield 1947

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams
Image caption Justine Brothwell, pictured at home in Lowedges

At the end of World War Two, Justine Brothwell was a young woman living in the city of Graz in Austria.

"Life was hard and food was short. The British army was helping feed schoolchildren and as my mother was a school caretaker we had close contact with the Army cooks.

"One day, a young man called Harold asked me to help him with the cooking, the beginning of our courtship.

"We got married in Austria, Harold went back to Sheffield first and I was brought over to join him by the Army in 1947."


Thomas Hezekiah Goode - Jamaica - Arrived in Sheffield 1955

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams
Image caption Thomas Hezekiah Goode moved from St Catherine's in Jamaica in 1955 after the British government advertised in the colonies for migrants to work in nationalised industries

"I was born in St Catherine's in Jamaica in 1932, and was one of the early wave of West Indian immigrants who came to Sheffield chasing the dream of a better life.

"We were made welcome by some people, but life could be difficult in those early years. There was plenty of work but quality accommodation was difficult to find.

"My [British] wife was spat on in the street for her acquaintance with me.

"But over the years, as populations have integrated, life has become easier. I'm 84 now. The initial hardships are a long way in the past. I've enjoyed my life in England and achieved so much. I may have been born in the West Indies, but Sheffield is my home."


Haji Nazir - Pakistan - Arrived in Sheffield 1964

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams
Image caption Haji Nazir, Pictured at the Medina Mosque on Wolseley Road, moved to Sheffield in 1964 as part of the first influx of people to the city from Pakistan

"I was born into a middle class military family in the country which became Pakistan. My father was a British Indian officer who fought for Britain in both world wars.

"I trained as a teacher and was a deputy head until I migrated to the UK.

"As part of the first influx to Sheffield from Pakistan, I was one of the few who spoke Punjabi, Urdu and English so whilst working for Sheffield Transport Department I spent many hours voluntarily interpreting at schools, hospitals and other agencies to enable people to play a full part in British society.

"I worked as an advice worker, a councillor and a member of Sheffield Campaign Against Racism and helped set up the Pakistan Muslim Centre and the Medina Mosque. In 1998 I was awarded an OBE for community and race relations work."


Pedro Fuentes - Chile - Arrived in Sheffield 1975

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams
Image caption Pedro Fuentes, pictured in Sheffield Forgemasters

Pedro Fuentes moved to Sheffield from Chile in 1975, a political prisoner from one of Pinochet's concentration camps. He worked in the steelworks and then as a teacher of refugees.

"I remember being six years old at home in Valparaíso, Chile, reading 'Made in Sheffield' on my mother's cutlery.

"In my mid-20s, as a political prisoner in the north of Chile, I received an envelope marked 'UK Embassy'. A visa to live in the UK.

"Once in Sheffield, my first job was at Firth Brown. Now, in my early 70s and enjoying retirement, I feel thankful for the solidarity and support I have received throughout my exile here and am proud of being a Sheffielder."


Aroose Uppal - Uganda - Arrived in Sheffield 1987

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams
Image caption Aroose Uppal, pictured at St Mary's Church and Community Centre on Bramall Lane

"When I was a child in Uganda my father owned a bike business and the family lived a comfortable life. Until Idi Amin came to power.

"All Ugandan Asians were given three months to leave the country. We left on the last plane to Pakistan and became stateless as we did not have passports.

"A year later my grandmother, who lived in the UK, became ill and my father tried to bring us here.

"We travelled through Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and finally Austria, where we were accepted as refugees. We lived in a refugee camp for two years. My father applied to live in England but was rejected; Sweden agreed to take us.

"Every summer we came to England to visit family and I eventually settled here.

"My experiences led me into working to help others. I started as an advice and advocacy worker for the Asian Welfare Association and for the last 20 years I have worked for St Mary's Church and Community Centre. I can't leave Sheffield, it's always been good to me."


Angga Kara - Bandung, Indonesia - Arrived in Sheffield 1997

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams
Image caption Angga Kara came from was photographed at the top of South Street Park amphitheatre: "I like high up places, I like the overview."

Artist and designer Angga Kara moved to Sheffield with his family in 1997, at the age of 11, for his father to do a PhD. The family returned to Indonesia in 2008 but he stayed and married.

"Arriving at Gatwick airport in shorts, I was freezing, even in June.

"The whole experience was like a dream. I had no expectations of how England would be. I couldn't speak a word of English, the only word I knew was 'bucket'.

"I soon settled in and the people of Sheffield embraced me and changed me to the person I am today, although going straight into a British secondary school from Indonesia was hard.

"Living in Burngreave was good, it's very multicultural and diverse. Many Jamaicans live there and speak patois, so I had to understand that before I could understand English.

"Sheffield has a great sense of community and belonging. Home is where the heart is and mine is here now. I have an English wife and we have a great life here together with our amazing friends and family."


Malaka Mohammed Shwaikh - Gaza/Palestine - Arrived in Sheffield 2013

Image copyright Jeremy Abrahams
Image caption Malaka Mohammed Shwaikh had a traumatic journey from Gaza when she was given a fee waiver to study Global Politics and Law in Sheffield

"I was given a fee waiver to study a Masters Global Politics and Law at the University of Sheffield, but travelling here from Gaza/Palestine was not easy.

"I experienced humiliation and discrimination many times when I tried to cross the border from Gaza, finally arriving in Sheffield feeling traumatised.

"It took me some time to start engaging with the community around me, but since those early days I have spoken in almost 62 conferences throughout Europe to raise awareness of the situation in Palestine and Yaffa, my homeland."

In 2015, she was elected education officer for the University of Sheffield Students' Union.


Arrivals: Making Sheffield Home is at Weston Park Museum from 24 September until 12 February.

Related Topics

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites