2020 Graduate Programme launched

Kent’s Careers and Employability Service is pleased to announce the launch our new 2020 Graduate Programme!

The programme’s aim is to support those of you graduating in 2020, who are facing unemployment or underemployment. Graduates can sign-up to three personal sessions with a designated Adviser, to help them in their journey.

Those enrolled in the programme will receive a tailored action plan, which their Adviser will help them to work through. Through these sessions, we hope individuals will build their confidence and be successful in navigating and achieving their goals.

The programme is now open, with appointments available to book each week. Full details can be found below.

So, if you are a 2020 graduate, join our graduate programme and receive tailored 1:1 support to help you in your journey.

 

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Meet the author event 8 July

A new book by Alisoun Milne, Professor of Social Gerontology and Social Work at the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, provides insights into how lifecourse and age related inequalities and experiences impact mental health and wellbeing in later life.

Entitled, Mental Health in Later Life: Taking a Lifecourse Approach, the book analyses the meaning and determinants of mental health amongst older populations and offers a critical review of the lifecourse, ageing and mental health discourses for health and social care students, practitioners, policy makers and researchers.

A free virtual ‘Meet the Author’ event will be hosted by Professor Milne on 8 July 2020 at 19.00 to discuss her book where she will welcome input from attendees during a Q&A.

Professor Milne said: ‘The mental health of older populations is often overlooked. My new book adopts a lifecourse lens to explore and distil the individual and structural factors that undermine, or conversely promote, mental health in later life. My experiences as a social worker, researcher and lecturer are all brought to bear on a topic that has relevance for all in us. I look forward to welcoming attendees to my ‘Meet the Author’ event to find out more’.

Mental Health in Later Life: Taking a Lifecourse Approach is published by Policy Press: https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/mental-health-in-later-life

Milne delivers a thoughtfully considered examination of mental health and later life. She exposes the complex and varied textures of people’s lives into older age that impact well-being. A highly readable text relevant for all health and social care students and practitioners – Testimonial from Professor Mary Pat Sullivan, Nipissing University

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The Complete University Guide scores SSPSSR highly!

The Complete University Guide is an independent publication which uses multiple sources to rank universities and courses.  These measures are especially relevant to prospective students as they use information about student experience and support, as well as their academic performance to support a student making their university choice.

We are proud to say that the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research has once again scored highly in the Complete University Guide’s league tables for 2021.  Highlights of the School’s achievements are:

 

 

The latest Complete University Guide results once again demonstrates the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research as a UK, and indeed world-leading centre of research in the study of social problems, policies and processes. These areas of research have become particularly relevant in challenging times such as these, which have cast a spotlight on the increasing social inequalities at the heart of our society.’

Dr Vince Miller, Head of School

 

The Complete University Guide has published university league tables in print for over a decade and is trusted by students all over the world.

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Black lives matter statement from SSPSSR

The shockingly brutal and starkly inhumane killing of George Floyd symbolises the racism and oppression that blights human society. Tragically, George Floyd’s death is not an isolated incident, but one in a catalogue of injustices that have curtailed the positive social life chances of non-white people.

In the US, people from African-American and minority communities are disproportionately stop and frisked (Centre for Constitutional Rights 2012; Metropolitan Police Dept, Washington, 2020), incarcerated in state prisons (The Sentencing Project 2016)  and are more likely to die whilst apprehended or in police custody (Ordway et al 2020). African-American, Hispanic and minority people more likely than their white counterparts to live in poverty (Poverty USA 2018), to have lower educational attainment levels (American Council on Education 2017) and are less likely to access or receive proper health care (Hostetter and Klein 2018).

Systemic racism is not only an American problem. In England and Wales, black, mixed-race, and Asian people are disproportionately stop and searched (Lammy 2017; Gov.co.uk 2020), more likely than white people to be arrested and to have force used against them (BBC News 2020). One quarter of people incarcerated in British prisons are from a minority ethnic group (House of Commons 2019; Prison Reform Trust 2020). Rates of unemployment are higher for minorities than white people and black and Asian people are more likely to live in overcrowded and sub-par accommodation (The Equalities Commission 2018).  Black people are also disproportionately affected by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis: in the UK they are four times more likely to die from the virus than white people (Booth & Barr, 2020).

In the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Research we want you to know that we recognise the structural disadvantages faced by black, Asian and minority groups. We stand in solidarity with all those experiencing and fighting against systemic injustice and racism, but we also know that words are not enough. We want to build on the statements provided by the University, the Students’ Union and the University’s BAME Staff Network released last week to explore more deeply what work we all need to now do to ensure this issue continues to remain in the spotlight and continues to get the attention it so very much deserves. It is vital to recognise that institutions such as ours must take responsibility for driving the fight against racism. Going forward, we suggest some small steps to redress these inequalities. Within SSPSSR

  • we need to do more to fight injustice, oppression, prejudice, brutality, racism, inequality and discrimination, especially where they have become systemic. These are issues that are absolutely central to the work that we do in this School, whether it be in the field of sociology, criminology, cultural studies, social policy or social work.
  • we need to do more to ensure that the research done by us as individuals and as a school highlights these issues in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement. We need to do more to ensure that our teaching is inclusive of everybody, that the voices of all our students are heard, and that our whole community understands that racism of any form will not be tolerated.
  • we need to work harder to ensure that members of the BAME community are encouraged to take up university places, to make sure they are not alienated when they arrive, and that they are supported to reach their full potential.
  • we need to do more to increase the diversity of our staff body, especially at the senior level.

We are incredibly proud of our multiracial student community many of whom have already spoken out on these vitally important issues via networks such as Social Work Students Action for Diversity (STAND), the BAME student network, Decolonise UKC, and the Kaleidoscope network, a space for allyship. We now all need to become actively anti-racist, a task that is particularly important for those with white privilege: to educate ourselves on the issues, to acknowledge instances of racism and speak out against it whenever we can.

We encourage all members of our community to get involved in the movement for justice by following the #blacklivesmatter hashtag on social media, @blklivesmatter on instagram and the British arm #BlackLivesMatterUK which can be found at @ukblm on social media. For those of you wondering what you can do to support the movement from your own homes because of the public health crisis, this instagram page offers a guide to ‘virtual protest.’

Some useful resources for white people wondering how to best support the movement include this article and this document. We also recommend Rachel Cargle’s work and Layla Saad’s excellent resource Me and White Supremacy. Some British authors to look up include Akala, Afua Hirsch and Reni Eddo-Lodge.

We are working towards reducing the BME/White attainment gap through running various events and projects as part of the University-wide Student Success project. For further details or to suggest a BAME Inspirational Speaker, please contact Dr Triona Fitton (t.fitton@kent.ac.uk).

The Diversity Mark project within our university is a fantastic initiative that explores the links between racial injustice and knowledge production through decolonising our reading lists. If you would like to discuss how the project is going in SSPSSR, please contact Dr Barbara Adewumi (b.adewumi-282@kent.ac.uk).

As a gesture of solidarity, funds from the local UCU Hardship fund – roughly £1000, collected during the recent strikes – will be donated to a charity that works on racial injustices relating to education. We would like our students to actively participate in choosing where the money goes. Please indicate your preferred charity here.

References:

BBC News (2020) George Floyd death: How many black people die in police custody in England and Wales? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/52890363

Booth, R. and Barr, C. (2020) ‘Black people four times more likely to die from Covid-19, ONS finds’, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/07/black-people-four-times-more-likely-to-die-from-covid-19-ons-finds

Equalities and Human Rights Commission (2018) Race Report Statistics – https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/race-report-statistics

Hostetter, M. and Klein (2018) In Focus: Reducing Racial Disparities in Health Care by Confronting Racism – https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/newsletter-article/2018/sep/focus-reducing-racial-disparities-health-care-confronting

House of Commons (2019) UK Prison Population Statistics – https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn04334/

Lammy, D (2017) An independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/643001/lammy-review-final-report.pdf.

Metropolitan Police Department Washington (2020) Stop Data Report https://mpdc.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/mpdc/publication/attachments/Stop%20Data%20Report.pdf

Ordway, DM., Wihbey, J., and Kille, L.J. (2020) Deaths in Police Custody in the United States: Research Review https://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/deaths-police-custody-united-states/

Poverty USA (2018) Poverty Facts: The Population of Poverty, USA https://www.povertyusa.org/facts

Prisons Reform Trust (2020) http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/WhatWeDo/ProjectsResearch/Race

The Sentencing Project (2016) The Colour of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in State Prisons – https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/color-of-justice-racial-and-ethnic-disparity-in-state-prisons/

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Does brain-scan research give insight to the terrorists’ mind

In his opinion piece, Dr Simon Cottee looks at, in his own words, ‘what makes terrorists tick?’

Describing the quest to find the answer as the ‘Holy Grail of terrorism studies,’ Dr Cottee engages with a recent documentary which claimed neuroimaging of the brain reveals “clues as to what makes people willing to fight and die for their beliefs.” So can commitment or personal belief really be seen in the neural pathways of the brain? Dr Cottee thinks not, he says:

“At the very core of this wisdom is the ancient theological notion that evil leaves a human stain which can be mapped and, with the right intervention, exorcised from the world.”

Read the full article in The Daily Beast online.

Dr Simon Cottee is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Kent. His research interests focus on apostacy deviance, political violence, terrorism and war. He teaches modules on war, atrocity and genocide as well as crime, culture and control.

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Learning from Greece: when political statements can indicate life or death

Dr Eleni Skoura-Kirk explores how the language used by policy-makers in constructing policy problems directly influences the solutions created. Looking at the responses of Greece and the UK to the Covid-19 pandemic, Eleni discovers that discourse prevailing discourses around the elderly often depicted them as ‘frail, dependent, a ‘burden’ on social resources,’ she says:

“The ‘othering’ and invisibility of older people in public discourse has had dire consequences in the ongoing Covid-19 crisis in the UK: care homes remained obscured from the government’s gaze…”

This is in direct contrast to the Greek response where the Greek Chief Scientist Dr Tsiodras explained that his recommended response was on the basis of respect for ‘everybody’. Regardless of age. At the time of writing, the handling of the pandemic in Greece is described as a ‘surprising success story’ with fewer than 200 deaths.

Read the full article in the Social Work 2020 under Covid-19 Magazine.

Dr Eleni Skoura-Kirk is a Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Kent. Dr Skoura-Kirk’s research interests relate to homelessness and service user and carer involvement in social work education. Dr Skoura-Kirk is interested in qualitative methods, with a focus on discourse analysis and narrative approaches to research. She is currently examining the way in which social work students’ discourses might develop or shift after service user and carer input in the classroom.

 

 

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Social work expert asks whether Covid-19 is an ‘equal opportunity disease’

Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Dr Sweta Rajan-Rankin notes how the Covid-19 pandemic has brought an ‘interconnectedness’ across the globe, but asks whether this actually means that we are “all in it together.” She comments:

‘After all, this is a disease that has claimed as victims, both the wealthy and the poor. If Prince Charles and Boris Johnson can both contract Covid-19, then surely this is an equal opportunity disease?’

Her findings however severely challenge this assumption and show quite clearly that BAME communities have been worst hit by the Covid-19 crisis since its emergence in the UK. Why? In order to understand how and why minority communities are disproportionately affected by Covid-19, Dr Rajan-Rankin explores a series of interconnected issues, starting with analysis of ‘the stripping of NHS funds on the one hand, and the deepening of social inequalities among BAME groups on the other.’

Read the full article online.

Dr Sweta Rajan-Rankin is Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Kent. Her interests are in anti-racist social work interventions, race and racialisation, migration and belonging.

 

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Covid-19 made ‘governmental ignorance’ visible says social care expert

Writing in Social Work 2020 under Covid-19 MagazineAlisoun Milne, a Professor in Social Gerontology and Social Work at Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, describes the Covid-19 related deaths in care homes as ‘both a tragedy and a scandal’. She said:

‘…overall, 22,000 deaths in care homes have been the result, either directly or indirectly, of Covid-19. At the time of writing, this number represents over half of the (predicted) total of all Covid-19 deaths in the UK. It is a figure that warrants analysis as it raises serious questions…’

Professor Milne identifies ‘a number of dimensions’ to citing that the ‘focus was at the expense of protecting ‘at risk populations’ including care home residents. Valuable early opportunities to reduce the chance of the virus entering care homes were not taken.’

Read the full article online.

Professor Alisoun Milne’s research interests are in four intersecting areas: social work with older people and their families; mental health in later life; family caring; and long term care. She has been PI and/or CI on a range of projects in all four areas and has received funding from a number of sources including the Department of Health, the NIHR School for Social Care Research (SSCR), the National Health Service and ageing and caring related charities. 

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