Author Archives: Alice Allwright

Coffin Tales Roadshow is coming to Kent and Medway

The Coffin Tales Roadshow is coming to Kent, Medway and Essex this month with a series of free events that offer creative ways to look at the subject of death and dying.

Dr Julie Hedayioglu, Research Associate at Kent’s Centre for Health Services Studies (and a BPS Chartered Psychologist and Health Psychologist, HCPC Registered) is leading the evaluation of these community events. The aim is to look at the experiences and how people engage with using creative ways of sparking conversations around death, which are known to be beneficial in supporting better choices for end-of-life care.

The Coffin Tales Roadshow, a new series of events funded by Creative Estuary Ideas Lab, gives people the chance to come and look at customs, reflect, and experience traditions around life and death. Each event will have three different workshops led by creative practitioner Natasha Steer, Poet Dan Simpson, and Heritage Scientist/Conservator Dana Goodburn-Brown. There will be investigations into burial artefacts, live cooking workshops relating to funeral food, after dinner games, and creating writing.

Dana Goodburn-Brown said: ‘Some of my favourite and most memorable work is related to the conservation of objects from graves; investigating and sharing stories from our discoveries about the life of the person they belonged to. Finds from graves represent incredible and poignant time capsules revealing the details of ancient lives. It has been my privilege to work with such objects. I rarely get a chance to discuss what these findings mean to people in communities today. It is wonderful to be part of the Coffin Tales Roadshow Team, coming together to focus on what life and death means to us all.’

Dan Simpson said:Poetry is often deployed at significant life events – and, of course, at the end of it: when we come together to celebrate someone who has passed. It is words that outlast us: through stories we tell and lines engraved on gravestones to commemorate the dead. I’m excited to encourage people to write their own words on this topic, and reflect on how to live a meaningful life in the here and now through poetry.’

All are welcome to drop-in events taking place in:

  • Chatham: 18.00 – 21.00, Wednesday 20 October, at Dragon Coworking, St George Hotel, 7-8 New Road Avenue, ME4 6BB
  • Sittingbourne: 14.00 – 17.00, Tuesday 26 October, at The Forum Shopping Centre
  • Southend-on-Sea: 13.00 – 16.00, Thursday 28 October, at Prittlewell Priory, Priory Lodge, Victoria Avenue, SS2 6NB
  • and Gravesend: 10.00 – 13.00, Sunday 31 October, at St Andrew’s Art Centre, 19 Royal Pier Road, DA12 2BD

For further information, please contact:

Books and Computers for Africa

The Division of Natural Sciences has been collecting books to send to Books2Africa (a Canterbury based registered charity 1152599). This drive led by Dr Andrew Wickens from Sports and Exercise Sciences collected 18 decent sized boxes of books which the charity were extremely pleased with.

This October in celebration of Black History Month, they are organising the Kent Computer Drive to collect donations of laptops and desktops to be refurbished and shipped to students and teachers in Africa. Their goal is to raise 500 laptops and 200 desktops and are offering free collections and drop-offs within Kent only. Anyone who wishes to donate their old laptop or desktop in Kent or to find out more, can head to the website to arrange a free collection or drop-off.

A shout out to the Division of Natural Sciences, and to Andrew in particular for collecting so many books for such a worthy cause.

To find out more please take a look at the Kent Computer Drive Poster

Lunchtime Concert series returns on 20 October with Jonathan Mayer

The Music department’s curated Lunchtime Concert series returns this month, as we welcome sitarist and composer, Jonthan Mayer, to launch the new series.

The concert series, which is open to all and free to attend, brings some of the best performers to Colyer-Fergusson Hall, and this term sees some exciting links with the University’s musical community.

In a change to the normal procedure, entry is by free ticket only, which needs to be booked in advance please see the website for details

The Music department is grateful to Furley Page Solicitors for sponsoring the Lunchtime Concerts.

Feedback from the ‘Implementing an anti-racism strategy’ session

The final day of Kent’s inaugural staff conference was marked by an important session on our university’s new Anti-racism strategy. GdM (DVC, EDI Lead and Kent’s Race Champion) hosted a staff discussion and Q&A, together with a panel of colleagues instrumental in the development of our strategy.

You can listen to a recording of the event.

Slides to accompany the event – Staff Conference anti-racism strategy slides

Key feedback from the session include:

*making sure that experiences and stories are incorporated into our anti-racism work (along with more quantitative forms of data).

*being as transparent as possible about what we are doing, so that we can get the most out of this living-breathing process and associated work plans.

In response to this feedback we will be continuing to update our Challenging Racism pages so that this can serve as one part of a broader suite of mechanisms for feedback and transparency in our work around EDI. We will also be looking to join up important insights from across the institution, including but not limited to the important experiential information and recommendations which have emerged from the BAME Staff Network’s survey and project.

To amplify work that is already happening across Kent in support of our approach to anti-racism, we’d also like to draw your attention to other key updates at this time:

*Inform Kent (InK) has changed to Report + Support. The Report + Support page can be found on the website. The page gives the option to give an anonymous report or a report with details that Ken can follow up on. In both cases your confidentiality will be respected in-line with our safeguarding policies. This page also collates all of the help and support pages into one, to increase access to the resources that may be most helpful to you at the time.

*The staff reporting tool can still be accessed via links found on the “Reporting Incidents” page.

Just a reminder that this reporting tool is for any sort of incident that occurs, irrespective of whether the incident involves another member of staff.

We hope that staff and students will feel encouraged to report incidents and that the experience of doing so feels helpful and supportive.  Where sufficient information is shared, we hope to enable effective, timely resolutions and support.  Your experience at Kent is important to us.  If for any reason you have concerns about reporting, do please speak to a Harassment Adviser or someone you trust within the institution, as we’d like to ensure you get the support you need.

Attend webinars given by Kent’s Centre for Child Protection

Experts from the University of Kent’s Centre for Child Protection are sharing research expertise on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and parent-infant interventions in a series of two, free thought-provoking webinars.

The webinars offer professionals concerned with child protection and the safeguarding of children an opportunity to update their knowledge and gain insights that will help inform their practice in the field.

Tackling the challenges to investigating and prosecuting crimes of child sexual exploitation in England – What works?

Wednesday 20 October, 10:00 – 11:00

Presenter: Dr Aravinda Kosaraju, Lecturer in Child Protection at the Centre for Child Protection (CCP) and Acting Director of Studies for the MA in Advanced Child Protection Programme

What will it cover? Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) has become popularly recognised as a complex crime and as a ‘national threat’ within policy discourses in England. Yet, prosecutions of these crimes are not proportionate to the number of cases reported.

This webinar briefly explores the challenges to investigating and prosecuting crimes of CSE.  Dr Kosaraju will highlight what works in tackling the challenges experienced in providing effective criminal justice responses to crimes of CSE and will draw from her PhD research analysing data from policy texts as well as interviews and focus group discussions with practitioners working to tackle CSE in England.

Who is it for? All are welcome to attend but this thought-provoking webinar is likely to be of particular interest to child protection professionals concerned with the safeguarding of children from sexual abuse. It will be particularly beneficial to practitioners from law enforcement, social care, education, health, prosecution, probation, CSE specialist teams and youth services.

Register now on Eventbrite

Influencing factors on the outcomes and experiences of parent-infant interventions within Child Protection. 

Wednesday 10 November, 10.00 – 11.00

Presenter: Dr Alice Loving, Honorary Lecturer at the Centre for Child Protection

What will it cover? This webinar will include a discussion of the key findings from Dr Loving’s doctoral thesis, which focused on influencing factors on the experience and outcomes of parent-infant intervention within child protection.

The interventions that families took part in included parent-infant psychotherapy, and/or residential placements in assessment units or parent-infant foster placements. For the participants who were successful and returned to the community with their children four ‘change facilitator’ themes were identified:

  • ‘Acceptance’
  • ‘Determination’
  • ‘Mentalization’
  • and ‘Connection with past trauma’.

For the group whose babies were removed from their care, the key themes from their interviews comprised three ‘change inhibitors’:

  • ‘Denial’
  • ‘Low Mentalization’
  • and ‘Disconnect with past trauma’.

This webinar will include a detailed discussion of both the ‘Change facilitators’ and the ‘Change inhibitors and the importance of using these findings to help strengthen assessments and, most importantly, provide more effective interventions within child protection.

Who is it for? This webinar is likely to be relevant for any professional working in a child protection setting. It offers practitioners important information to consider within their practice.

Register now on Eventbrite

Abdulrazak Gurnah

Emeritus Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah wins Nobel Prize for Literature

Many congratulations to Kent Emeritus Professor and novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah who has been awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.” Up until his recent retirement, he had been a Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at Kent, where he focused primarily on writers such as Wole Soyinka, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Salman Rushdie.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Karen Cox was among the first to offer congratulations. She said: ‘On behalf of the entire University I’d like to extend our huge congratulations to Abdulrazak for this tremendous achievement. Abdulrazak is a complete inspiration to all of us – as a teacher, an alumnus of Kent and as such a powerful voice in postcolonial literature. His stories, some of which were first drafted in our very own Templeman Library, have touched millions worldwide and shine a light on human experiences that are so often ignored. We couldn’t be prouder of his success.’

Dr Bashir Abu-Manneh, Head of the University’s School of English, added: ‘Abdulrazak Gurnah’s writing epitomises our contemporary condition of displacement, violence, and belonging. His is the struggle for individual voice, for justice, for feeling at home in an ever-changing world. No one writing today has articulated the pains of exile and the rewards of belonging so well. Canterbury and Kent are both his exile and home.’

Abdulrazak Gurnah’s background

Abdulrazak was born in 1948 and grew up on the island of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean but arrived in England as a refugee in the end of the 1960s. After the peaceful liberation from British colonial rule in December 1963 Zanzibar went through a revolution which led to oppression and persecution of citizens of Arab origin.

Gurnah belonged to the victimised ethnic group and after finishing school was forced to leave his family and flee the country, by then the newly formed Republic of Tanzania at the age of eighteen. Not until 1984 was it possible for him to return to Zanzibar, allowing him to see his father shortly before the father’s death.

Abdulrazak Gurnah’s work

Abdulrazak has published ten novels and several short stories, with the theme of the refugee’s disruption running throughout his work.

His debut novel, ‘Memory of Departure’ (1987), is about a failed uprising and is located on the African continent. In the story, the gifted young protagonist attempts to disengage from the social blight of the coast, hoping to be taken under the wing of a prosperous uncle in Nairobi. Instead he is humiliated and returned to his broken family.

Gurnah often allows his narratives to lead up to a hard-won insight. A good example is his third novel, ‘Dottie’ (1990), which portrays a Black woman of immigrant background growing up in harsh conditions in racially charged 1950s England.

To find out Anders Olsson, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, view’s on Abdulrazak’s work please read his bio on the Nobel Prize 2021 website.

Worldwide media coverage

News about Abdulrazak’s award has already attracted a phenomenal amount of interest from around the world. Within 24 hours of its announcement, there were almost 700 print and online articles mentioning Kent and 300 broadcast pieces. Quotes from either the Vice-Chancellor Karen Cox or Head of English Dr Bashir Abu-Manneh were included in The Times, The New York TimesBBC News and Times Higher among others. Our top-performing social media posts attracted 17k+ reach on Facebook22k impressions on LinkedIn and significant engagement on multiple posts on Twitter

tribute site to Abdulrazak has also been put together, bringing together testimonies from staff, students and alumni

‘If we can do one thing, we can change everything’ – World Mental Health Day

An article by Brenda Brunsdon, Occupational Health and Wellbeing Manager 

All the major health focused organisations, especially those whose principal aim is to support people with mental health problems, are promoting initiatives for World Mental Health Day on 10 October. Initially promoted by the World Federation for Mental Health, their chosen theme for this year is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’. The World Health Organisation has worked with this and has a theme of ‘Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality’.

The day is promoted in the UK by Mental Health UK and their chosen theme is ‘Forward Together for Mental Health’; the aim is to focus on inequality of mental health support provision and to encourage people to learn about how big a problem this is and to work to change things. MIND’s theme is ‘If we can do one thing, we can change everything’; it emphasises that small changes made by enough people can work to make a difference in mental health inequality provision.

The NHS is struggling to provide services after the acute strains of the pandemic with the ‘aftershocks’ of that event continuing. We have entered what appears to be a chronic phase of lesser numbers of infections but with debilitating disease still affecting some people who contract Covid 19. Most people know how difficult it is to get an appointment at a GP surgery or subsequent referrals for investigations for any health problem. Waiting lists for treatment are very long.

Traditionally, NHS care and treatment provision for mental ill health has been a difficult area, where demand for service has overwhelmingly outstripped supply; the pandemic has made this situation worse. Mental ill health presents a major problem in our post-pandemic society. Many people have been adversely affected by the strains of the pandemic and developed mental ill health. Many people who had pre-existing mental health problems have seen their symptoms worsen.

There is general inequality of service for mental healthcare provision in the UK and across the world. If you access the webpages of the various organisations below, you will find lots of information on this. Living with a system of inequality is something that most of us struggle with. Inequality of mental health support provision applies equally in workplaces. I believe it is therefore important that people take advantage of good support when they have it available. The University has a strong offering of mental health support for its staff, superior or at least equal to that of many organisations, including higher educational establishments. There is a dedicated area of the University intranet which brings together information on all the support available: Mental Health Support at Kent One Stop Shop Information at this site includes:

The reason I am revisiting this in this blog post is that it is relevant to the MIND theme: ‘If we can do one thing, we can change everything’. Maybe the one thing you could do, as a staff member, is to go and read the information on the University’s  Mental Health Support at Kent One Stop Shop. This is so you can have the information ready to help a colleague who might be facing mental health problems; it would be invaluable to be able to quickly signpost them to somewhere they can access help and resources. This is doubly so if you are a manager at the University, so that you can help members of your team.

Make it your one thing to do; perhaps, one day, it will change everything for one person you have contact with, or even yourself.

World Federation for Mental Health website – WMH 2021

World Health Organisation website – WMH 2021

Mental Health UK website – WMH 2021

 MIND website – WMH 2021

Sustainability – Climate Action Week

Don’t forget to keep a space in your diaries for Climate Action Week at the end of October!

Working in conjunction with a Canterbury-wide climate action week, organised by Canterbury Climate Action Partnership (CCAP) and involving Canterbury BID, councils and others, we have got a great week planned from Monday 25 – Friday 29 October.

Taking place in the run-up to COP26 (the 26th UN Climate Change Conference), we will be holding a series of events focused on sustainability at Kent and celebrating the launch of the University’s Sustainability Strategy.

To see the plan for the week, please visit our Climate Action Webpage, which we’ll continue to update as content for some of the events is finalised.

Among events taking place are:

Launch of the University of Kent’s Sustainability Strategy – Tuesday 26 October – 12.00-13.00

Introduced by Professor Richard Reece, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience, this free online event will include a presentation given by Catherine Morris, Environmental Adviser, of the four major themes running through the strategy and a panel discussion. Please register in advance – details on how to do so will be updated to the webpage.

COP26@Kent: Co-Create your campus of the future – Thursday 28 October – 12.00-14.00

The Sustainability Team is inviting everyone to take part in a special event hosted in the Gulbenkian to co-create the campus of the future. They’ll be showcasing key areas of sustainability activity at the University and asking students, staff and community members to have their say and share their ideas of how we might transform these areas into truly sustainable and innovative good practice exemplars.

For more details on events taking place from 26-29 October, please visit the Climate Action Week webpage.

Kent Unicorns – staff netball team

Kent Unicorns, a netball team made up of University of Kent staff get ready for their next season in the Thanet District Netball League which starts this month.

Sponsored by Kent Sport, the team are made up of staff from across the university and have been together since 2017.

Following the successful introduction of Netball in the VC Cup, Sport Development introduced netball coaching sessions for staff to help those get ‘Back to Netball’.  As regulars to training, the team took up the opportunity to participate in the local league to improve their practice and gain further match play.  The team have gone from strength to strength.  Friendly games returned this summer to get teams active after months of lockdown.  Their first match of the new season resulted in a win for the Kent Unicorns, and two of its team earning both Best Attack and Best Defence of the match.

Team Captain, Ali Webster (Quality Assurance and Compliance Manager), says ‘the pandemic has presented many challenges for everybody over the last eighteen months, but I’ve been delighted with the team’s resilience and ability to find ways to support each other throughout. We have already started practicing as a team again and I am excited to play netball with this amazing bunch of women during the coming season.’

The team are grateful to Kent Sport for the support and sponsorship they have given the team over the years and look forward to this next season where fingers crossed, they can keep up the good work.

If you are a member of staff interested in playing Netball, come along to ALL Active Social Netball every Monday lunchtime, 12.30 – 13.30 in the Sports Centre.  Kent Sport membership required. Minimum membership £2 per session with pay to play membership.  For more information, please see website or follow @ALLActiveKent on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok for updates.

Black History Month 2021

Welcome to Black History Month 2021!  This October we celebrate Black History, the successes and achievements of Black individuals and offer a critical examination of where we need to do more and be better, both as a University and a society.  

This year’s theme at Kent is Black Excellence, and this is exactly what the month aims to showcase. Black Excellence across a variety of academic and non-academic fields such as Business, Research, Sports, Literature, Media and Culture and celebrates a host of British and international figures.

Led by volunteers from BAME Staff and Student Networks and the Kent Union Representative Officers, this year’s Black History Month features a wide range of events that are sure to capture your interest and attention. They include inspirational speakers, art exhibitions, workshops and training courses, film screenings, a book club and even a reggae night in the Gulbenkian on the Canterbury site. The vast majority of events are free, open to anyone to attend and a lot are online so can be dipped in and out of at your leisure if you are unable to attend on the scheduled time and date or are studying or working at home or at a different site.

You may want to try our recommended reading list, go and see a film in the Gulbenkian, grab a chat and a coffee at Woody’s, listen to Professor Kalwant Bhopal speak on Black Excellence in Higher Education and Scholarship, view the photos from the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, watch some YouTube videos or simply enjoy some food from the Ile Afrik food truck. Whatever you get involved in, make sure you share it with #BHMKent2021

The full programme is available on the Kent Union website

Our programme of activity doesn’t end when Black History Month is over either- keep a look out throughout the academic year for more events and activities on campus to engage with.

We hope you enjoy everything that Black History Month 2021 has to offer.