Even before I was ill, baking was not my strong point – so when the charity Headway asked me to organise a ‘Mince Pie Morning’ to raise funds for its Christmas appeal, it was a fairly solid “no”. That said, I did want to find a way to say ‘thank you’ for the help they have given me over the past few weeks. For those who may have missed the news, I was taken ill in July and had a Colloid Cyst removed from my brain – something I described in an earlier post.Continue reading “Forget mince pies – I’m hoping friends, family and colleagues will donate to this great cause instead”
Well I told you I was ill…or so said Spike Milligan’s famous epitaph – and I did go around telling everyone I was ill, I just had no idea exactly how unwell I was…Continue reading “I’m recovering from having surgery on my brain. This is what happened…”
A few years ago, in another life a was a writer, journalist and stand-up comedian. During that time I wrote the Old Romantics Column for the Lincolnshire Echo with my friend Stu Wilde. On the stand-up scene we were joined by another friend, Gary. Lockdown does strange things to people and we thought a podcast about the good and bad old days might be a way to celebrate the Old Romantics era and do something positive while disconnected by the pandemic. So I invite you to take a nostalgic journey through the past with The Rotten Retro Time Machine and take in the best and worst things that happened in the past 40-odd years. If you enjoy the show please consider making a donation to YMCA Lincolnshire, which provides emergency access accommodation, known as the Nomad Centre, the only direct access night shelter in Lincolnshire.Continue reading “Listen to the Rotten Retro Time Machine Podcast Project”
One of the key responsibilities for being a United Nations Academic Impact Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) Hub for SDG 16 is to promote Goal 16 and all the Global Goals. The lockdown period has seen lots of opportunities for us to deliver projects on the ground to support our communities and also to join lots of conferences and online discussions. Although it doesn’t quite match being there in 4D, it means most are recorded and can be shared. I thought I’d post some that I have taken part in. Some times things don’t go perfectly, but then again, neither do the ones in real life.Continue reading “Promoting Sustainable Development in Lockdown”
With universities under great scrutiny to demonstrate how they serving their communities during the Covid-19, I thought this would be a good time to talk about the work currently being undertaken at De Montfort University, Leicester.Continue reading “Insight into how we are serving our communities in Covid-19”
Yesterday I was asked to present an example of my public engagement work to a small group of academics and third sector workers to demonstrate how university and community partnership working can create impact. From my list of recent activities I chose the work #DMUlocal did with Professor Jo Richardson, a housing researcher, from the Faculty of Business and Law, to try to measure the true scale of homelessness in Leicester and thought I should share it here.
I felt it was a good example of how De Montfort University (DMU) had worked with a leading charity and other agencies to capture the true scale of homelessness in Leicester and how best to tackle it – and its impact led to almost 40 people off the streets and into accommodation.
I haven’t been to India for a couple of years, I think it’s fairly well known I don’t like flying and despite my love of De Montfort University’s Square Mile India programme, the food and the politics of the country, I cannot face an 11-hour journey including an internal flight to Ahmedabad, Gujarat. That said, my trips to India have impacted my life, I have seen extreme poverty, people living under questionable religious order (the caste system), beautiful colours, interesting faces and millions of people enjoying another level of spirituality I could not reach no matter how much drink and drugs I consumed on a journey to truly find myself. I can live with the fact I’m not George Harrison but it certainly feels like India does effect people in a way visits to other countries do not. Sure you can see poverty in London, New York, Berlin, and the bottom of your street, but few comeback from a holiday and say ‘that was truly life-changing’. Yet people who come back from India do, so much so it’s becoming something of a cliche. When the brilliant folks in ADH at DMU said they wanted to a research exhibition about India in The Gallery, I thought this was my chance to lance my boil and actually investigate whether students volunteering in India was truly life-changing or just a cliché. I am in the process of writing a paper on this, but as the exhibition closed last week I wanted to share the story so far and I’m happy for an academic collaboration to get the paper into shape for a future journal submission. I also created a podcast with Chris, Kainaath and Lucy from one of the focus groups that you can hear here:Continue reading “Student Volunteering in India: Life-changing or just a cliché?”
Heading home from a night spent at the Times Higher Awards with a banging headache and a huge feeling of disappointment probably isn’t the best time to update this blog, but it might help me get a few things off my chest. Naturally being shortlisted for a national accolade and not walking away the prize is a bit deflating. Even though the judges thought we weren’t number one, I thought I could share some insight into De Montfort University’s work in Leicester Prison, so at least I’ve told you how good it is. Since I am trying to theme my blog posts around UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 – let me point out that work in prisons forms an important part of the targets. The UN indicators recognise that poor prison conditions and prison overcrowding point towards systemic deficiencies in justice systems. Reforming the penal system and prisons is high priority across the world, as well as access to justice. These areas include a lack of access to legal aid, alternatives to imprisonment, youth crime prevention programmes, offenders’ rehabilitation; social reintegration measures, as well as the overuse of pre-trial detention. The programme at Leicester Prison very much focused on offenders’ rehabilitation and social reintegration. The idea was, and continues to be, that by working with staff and the men inside the prison, the university might be able to influence a different path to reoffending upon release.Continue reading “DMU and Leicester Prison – the ‘inside’ story…”
What are the benefits of student volunteering, beyond enhancing a CV or developing soft skills? Are there other talents developing or changes in behaviour less obvious and unintended when an undergraduate gives their time to a project or cause?
I’m presenting a piece of research at the Refugee and Migration Exhibition at De Montfort University that suggests that student volunteers are showing an increase in their political participation as a result as giving time to work with refugees and migrant communities. The Refugee and Migration Exhibition has been organised by the Arts, Designand Humanities Faculty and has been inspired by DMU’s close involvement with the Together Campaign, so look out for any exhibition-related tweets with the hashtag #JoinTogether. Lots of DMU researchers are giving talks on their specialisms too. As part of my talk I’ll discuss how political engagement amongst young people has been lower than other voting groups for several decades. In the United Kingdom, since 2010, the 18 – 24 age group has received considerable scrutiny in the wake a major political decisions and election outcomes. Historically the public good of higher education was considered to not only supply a well-educated workforce for the country but to create well-rounded and civically-engaged individuals that would benefit society. Since the UK Government’s introduction of full tuition fees in 2012, questions have been raised about the purpose of universities, with an increased focus on economic and employability outcomes for graduates. In light of falling political engagement amongst young people, the government’s Electoral Commission has encouraged UK universities to seek new ways to encourage more young people to vote. Volunteering, which is offered in some form by most UK universities, is recognised through various studies as a way of building social capital and creating civic engagement. This research presents a case study of whether a programme of focussed volunteering for university students can better enhance participants’ political awareness by exposing them to people directly affected by political policies, in thiscase refugees and migrant communities. This research seeks to identify whether participation with refugee and migrant communities can lead to increased political engagement, likelihood to vote or future activism. I present the outcome of a pilot study linked to my PhD which used mixed methods of qualitative and quantitative research involving a questionnaire and focus group of a small group of students who discussed the effects working with refugees on a recent trip to Berlin (pictured top), which I podcasted with their permission.
You can hear the podcast here:
I have gone 28-hours without sleep. I was awake through the coldest night of winter so far with many other hardy souls from De Montfort University, Leicester, to demonstrate our solidarity with victims of breaches of human rights worldwide with a 24-hour vigil. I was willing to deprive myself of sleep and do this is because I believe that being civically and politically engaged is a crucially important attribute all students should learn and develop. Secondly a vigil is really interesting and entertaining, a place where views of different people from a variety of disciplines can come together and pull ideas apart and put them back together again and develop understanding. Finally, I believe that an outdoor vigil that lasts 24-hours is symbolic. It shows an unbroken chain of commitment that gives those suffering violations of human rights hope that there are good people out there who want to make the world a better place.Continue reading “An unbroken chain of commitment that gives hope to victims of human rights violations”