Ed Newton (34) is the managing director of City Hearts, one of the UKs leading anti- human trafficking support charities based at the Megacentre, home of Hope City church in Sheffield, just off Park Square roundabout.
Ed came to Sheffield as a student in 2002 to study law at the University of Sheffield. After his Legal Practice Course, he struggled to get a training contract in the city he loved and ended up working in a bath factory in Hillsborough. Finally, a training contract in Devon was offered- he remembers sobbing all the way down. So homesick was Ed for Sheffield, he quit before the end, since when he says he has done every job under the sun. He attended the Hope City leadership college, managed The Megacentre’s play centre and coffee house and worked at The Disney Store. A stint as kids leader at church led Ed to working in primary schools for two years. Work as varied as supporting transition to secondary after the Park Academy culture clash riots to assemblies and activity days in 20 different primary schools from Stannnington to Meersbrook.
Ed moved to be assistant pastor of Hope City in Leeds and started the City Hearts safe house. By 2012 Ed was managing 40 staff across four safe houses Sheffield, Liverpool and Leeds helping 100 survivors- mainly women.
Over the past six years, City Hearts’ 161 staff now provide a safe haven in 10 houses for over 500 men, women and children who have survived human trafficking at any one time as far North as Scotland.
Ed lives in Yeadon, Leeds with wife Safi and their adoptive children James 7 and Emily 2- he says attending children’s parties seems to have become a job in itself! But in any spare moments he loves walking and football. He claims his faith in God helped Leicester to win the League.
Manor and Wybourne estates
As part of running the children’s work at Hope City church, we would have 100 people every week on Sunday, run a Friday night kids club and at our big Christmas party, Santa would travel in a limo to pick up kids we were supporting from Wybourne school and Norfolk Park. I lived on Ingram Road here for a few years and had my first proper kiss outside that house- to the woman I married six months later, ten years ago! I love the views of Sheffield up there.
At Uni, I remember being taken from the hall I was staying in to be shown round Conduit Rd law department and wondering if our coach would stay still on such a steep hill. It turned into place I loved: I would race people up the street and go bouldering further down the road at Goodwin sports centre.
I first did this charity walk as a student when it was a grueling 50 miler, shame it’s now a tame 13 mile walk! We started at midnight, walked 25 miles around Sheffield past the Union, then the committed did another 25 miles right out into the Peak. You could tell the people who had completed for the entire next week- they were the ones who could barely walk! It was a brilliant way of discovering Sheffield on foot in that way- passing so many community buildings open along the route with bacon sarnies at 4am. You got that real village feel: over any hill there was another pocket of community you may never know existed before.
City Hearts staff
All 161 of them! They are skilled, they’re caring, so giving when there’s drama…the extra mile we often feel is just where people START!
They are there in people’s worst moments, really journey with people and celebrate small successes. We are always so touched when someone’s left- maybe four or five years later they get a job or their leave to remain comes through and they call City Hearts team to tell us what happened. Then we know we are always in their hearts and minds. I was so touched when one of our safehouse women wrote in a Christmas card, “You are the voice for people who cannot speak out for themselves thank you for bringing back hope and giving a person like me love and protection.”. Staff and volunteers will be creating a wonderful traditional British Christmas dinner for our guests, coming in on Christmas Day. And we really appreciate other charities like Cash for Kids giving us gifts for the children in our care.
Weston Park Museum
Within a week of adopting James, we had a big conference at The Octagon and I wandered into the superb Weston Park Museum- as I have regularly since. I remember that activity strength test where you could ‘push a poo’ to see if you were as strong as a dung beetle. The shop was great for must-have items like shark teeth, the activities were terrific and we love to take our friends free to discover the history of Sheffield.
Endcliffe Park and Bole Hills
I used to play ultimate frisby on the Bole Hills as a student and could watch the fireworks from there when I lived in Crookes. City Hearts once did a sponsored ‘Walk for Freedom’ at Endcliffe Park. I was at Stevenson Hall at the time just up the road and I got involved. I like the Porter that flows through the park and the famous Friends of the Porter Valley duck race on Bank Holiday Monday. That big weeping willow as you enter the park is stunning.
Ballroom and salsa in Handsworth
Back when we first got married, Safi and I wandered into this church having decided we wanted to do something creative together for an evening. Once a week we would go and stand on each other’s toes with lots of 60-plus couples and one wedding dance couple. As a big Disney fan, I had imagined Beauty and the Beast… but I have since realized I’m much more suited to freestyle like the ceilidgh we had at our wedding!