Author Archives: Miriam Sandiford

Woman carrying bucket of apples in orchard

Canterbury Gleaning Collective – what is it and how to get involved

What is Gleaning?

In Kent as in the rest of the UK, surplus fresh produce is left in the field post-harvest or not harvested due to staff, quality or price constraints. Nationally, pre-farm gate food waste has been estimated to be 1.6 million tonnes annually.

Gleaning is the process of picking this surplus food and veg from farms that would otherwise go to waste, and redistributing it to those who need it.

Why is Gleaning particularly relevant now?

The cost-of-living crisis has increased the pressure on food banks and food redistribution organisations with many not including fresh produce in their offer. Food offered to those who need it is often just ambient and not always healthy.

Many students have expressed their concern about the increased cost-of-living, and Kent Union has seen an increase in the number of students accessing Campus Pantry, our on-campus food bank.

Farmers in Kent are keen to work more closely with the community, sharing the realities of farming but also promoting work opportunities in the agri sector.

How can I get involved?

With all this in mind, membership organisation for local food and drink businesses, Produced in Kent, and the University of Kent have decided to set up a gleaning group with student and staff volunteers from the university. The gleaning group will work together with growers in Kent, picking surplus fresh produce left on the fields, and redistributing this to charities, community groups and food banks in the Canterbury area.

Canterbury gleaning collective. Join us for an information session in Woodys on campus 3th April 5pm to 6pm.

Please join Produced in Kent, the University and Kent Union on 4 April or 25 April from 17:00-18:00 at Woody’s on Canterbury campus to hear more about gleaning in general and how you can become a volunteer with the Canterbury Gleaning Collective.

The event is free to attend, but please secure a ticket so we know how many to expect.

Togetherall

Activate your free access to Togetherall to combat exam stress

Exam season can be a particularly stressful time for students. Kent’s partner organisation, Togetherall, has a variety of resources to help you make it through your exams and explore new self-help tools along the way.

All Kent students have free access to Togetherall, which you can activate with your student email.

Togetherall highlights

Here are some of our favourite features of Togetherall.

Journal

You can write about absolutely anything using the journal feature – your mood, what you’ve been doing recently, or things that make you happy. You can even add emojis 😊!

Your entries are saved and dated so you can go back and re-read anything you have previously written. Although other users cannot see your journal entries, they are visible to Togetherall’s professional mental health team to ensure user safety.

Goal-setter

This interactive tool allows you to enter a specific goal and the date you would like to achieve it by. You can also enter the reason why you are interested in this goal for extra motivation to keep going.

When you have completed your goal, you can tick it off. All previous successful goals are stored so you can review how much you have achieved over time.

Self-help courses

Togetherall offers several short courses to help you manage complicated feelings around exam season…

  • Managing emotions: Explore what emotions are, how to tolerate your emotions without distress, and strategies you can employ to make managing your emotions easier.
  • Managing stress and worry: Learn about how your sleep, lifestyle, and schedule can help or harm your stress levels. It also offers different ways to face your worries and how to plan for future stressful situations.
  • Balance your thinking: Identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts. You can then build a plan to help you maintain your progress in the future.

Togetherall also offers self-help courses in other personal issues you may be dealing with, such as bereavement or health anxiety.

Please note that Togetherall is mainly a self-help platform. For 24/7 phone, text or WhatsApp support from trained professionals, you can contact our other partner organisation, Spectrum Life.

Self assessments

You can take a short, evidence-based questionnaire to track your feelings on specific topics. For example, depression, social anxiety, and general distress.

When taken repeatedly, you can track your development over time and start observing patterns. For example, you may notice that your anxiety tends to increase after specific events or at certain times of the week.

If you think you could benefit from meeting with a counsellor to address issues concerning you to get thoughts, feelings, behaviour and perspective on life back in balance again, you can access counselling for free through the University of Kent by contacting counselling@kent.ac.uk (Canterbury campus) or MedwayCounselling@kent.ac.uk (Medway campus).

Articles and external resources

There is a range of content available, from personal stories of overcoming hardship to advice from qualified psychologists. You can browse specific categories, such as “student experience” or “loneliness”, to discover the articles most relevant to you.

This section will also direct you towards Kent support services.

Are you interested?

Learn more about Togetherall and how to activate your FREE access while you are still a Kent student.

More support at Kent

For information on wellbeing support and resources available to Kent students (including 24/7 support services), have a look at the Student Support and Wellbeing webpages.

You can also @UniKentSSW on Instagram for tips and reminders on staying well throughout stressful times.

Written by Daisy, Student Services, on 22.03.23

2023 Summer Ball. Saturday 3 June.

Summer Ball end of year party, 3 June

Summer Ball is the ultimate end of year party where campus transforms into a one-night-only festival with 3,000 students getting dressed up and coming together for live music and free fairground rides, as well as street food and themed areas. It’s the only way to kick off the start of summer.

When and where is it? 

Summer Ball is on the evening of Saturday 3 June 2023 and is held on the Canterbury Campus of the University of Kent.

How do I get tickets? 

Tickets go on sale Friday 31 March 2023 at 12:00 and are available for purchase online from the Summer Ball website

Who puts on Summer Ball?

Kent Union, your students’ union, hosts the Summer Ball each year for students to celebrate the end of the academic year. Kent Union is a registered charity and all the profit they make is invested straight back into our students.

What was Summer Ball 2022 like?

Last year’s Summer Ball saw some huge acts including Sigala, Karen Harding, Notes, Avelino, Nippa, Santero and Twisted Time Machine, as well as world-class DJ’s. There was also free fairground rides and games, the VK double decker bus, food trucks, insta-worthy photo opportunities, free candy floss and popcorn, Redbull tropical bar, stilt walkers, face painters, 360 photo booth and so much more! Check out the official highlight video to get an idea of the vibe. 2023 is guaranteed to be just as epic!

Student in library

Final year students: how the Templeman Library can help you

As you approach the end of your final year, we are here in Templeman Library to support you through the next few months.

Help with your assignments

You can get 1-2-1 help from your Liaison Librarian on resources for your final assignments and dissertations, plus referencing advice.

Online support is available on our Library Research Skills Moodle page, including finding material for your research and managing your references.

Exam-time study support

During exam time, you’ll find additional study spaces and silent study areas plus bookable individual study rooms in the Templeman Library. Study in the way you want to by choosing a study space to suit you. The Templeman Library is open 24/7 until mid June and the Drill Hall Library is open 24 hours, five days per week (09:00 – 00:00 weekends) from 24 April until mid -June!

Study and work smarter! Check out some of the great tools we recommend, to help you manage your time, take notes and stay focused plus more.

Look after yourself

Browse our Wellbeing and Self-Help reading list or check out the accompanying book displays in the Library. Libby Kent is a leisure collection of e-books and audio books from a wide range of publishers and genres including contemporary fiction, classic fiction, wellbeing and self-help books, themed reading lists such as LGBT titles and Black Asian and Ethnic Minority authored titles, and more.

Need some time out? The Templeman Library’s Chill Out Zone on Floor 1 provides a quiet space to relax and take a break from studying.

Careers and employability reading list

Have a look at our Careers and Employability reading list to find books to help you with career choices and preparing for applications and interviews.

Training session: Using library e-resources to get ahead in the job market

Did you know the library subscribes to business databases which can help you with your job search?

Join our online training session on Friday 31 March 10:00 -11:00 and discover how you can use library databases to help you with your job searches, and to stand out in interviews and applications.

You’ll find out how to access key data about companies, markets, and consumers to demonstrate your knowledge and initiative in your job search.

This is an online event: no need to book. Use this link to join the session: Using library e-resources to get ahead in the job market

After you graduate

Don’t want to miss out on the great resources when you graduate? You can join the Library as an alumni member.

Students sat chatting

Life after uni

Trying to picture life after uni? It can be unsettling to think about the academic, wellbeing and social support networks falling away. But from finding your next step in work or study to building a balanced life after you graduate, there’s lots to help you plan for the future.

Life After Uni Week (Monday 3-Friday 7 April 2023) has you covered with a week of events from employers, recent alumni and the Careers team on career journeys and the support students can access from Kent even after graduation. It’s a great opportunity for final-year students to calm any worries they may have about getting a graduate job they’re interested in, and to get their questions answered.

Careers support – even after you graduate

Did you know that the Careers and Employability Service provides graduate careers support for alumni up to three years after you graduate?

You can also register for Target Jobs, a service which helps you explore opportunities from internships and work placements to graduate schemes, as well as offering online courses and advice to help support your career journey.

Another great resource for networking is the Kent Alumni group on LinkedIn!

Perks of being a Kent graduate

Interested in doing a Master’s degree? How about money off your postgraduate tuition fees? Find out more about further study at Kent’s Further Study Postgraduate webpage, and information about the alumni scholarships.

Kent offers a range of services and discounts for Alumni.

Finding community post uni

Moving from a university environment where there are societies, sports teams and nights out going on all over the place can be unsettling, especially if you are moving back to a smaller town or village where there are fewer people you feel similar to.

This doesn’t have to mean the end of your communities and friendships from uni. See if you can find local sports teams, or perhaps try some online friend-finding apps to find other people in a similar situation to you. Is there a way you can keep going with any new hobbies you have picked up by finding a way to connect with others online?

Wellbeing and mental health support networks

Aside from NHS mental health and wellbeing services, there is also a range of charities and organisations that can assist you in staying safe and supported. Check out our list of self-help resources, most of which are open to everyone.

Alumni groups in your community

Network, share stories and support fellow alumni by joining a Kent alumni group that is relevant to you! These groups can be based on location, school of study or year group, and often communicate around a Facebook group or through emails. They are also amazing ways to plan events with like-minded people – and even your class reunion!

Staying in the loop

Want to stay involved in the University of Kent news and events? Register to receive regular alumni newsletters. You can also follow @UniKentAlumni on Twitter@UniversityofKentAlumni on Facebook and @UniKentLive on Instagram.

Interested in learning more about how you can prepare for life and work after graduation, and how Kent can support you? Check out the programme of events for Life After Uni Week.

Written by Emilie and Joshua, Student Services, 23.03.23

Students in classroom

Events roundup 27 March – 2 April  

This events roundup features loads of events to help you prepare for exams and life after uni if you are graduating this summer. Including a series of Master’s degree talks and our Postgraduate Open Day on 1 April if you are considering further study. 

Monday 27 March: build your resilience and Wellbeing Café  

On Monday there is an online workshop to help you build your resilience ready for applying for jobs and the workplace.   

Go along to one of our regular Wellbeing Cafes to talk about mental health and try a wellbeing activity.  

Tuesday 28 March: Essay writing in exams and travelling gallery  

You can start preparing for exams by attending this ‘Essay Writing in Exams’ workshop at Canterbury and Medway on Tuesday.  

The SHIFT Festival continues with the Birth Rites Collection Tour. This unique, travelling collection of artwork is currently on the Canterbury campus, and you can book on to a free tour of the collection with Curator Helen Knowles.  

Wednesday 29 March: Careers in engineering talk, Exam Chambers and mock assessment centre  

Interested in a career in engineering? Then don’t miss this free talk by Georgia Thompson who is one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering in 2022. 

Student Learning Advisory Service (SLAS) are offering an exam practice session at Canterbury and Medway to help you improve your performance in exams and reduce any feelings of anxiety. There’s no revision and no marking, just an opportunity to practice. See all exams preparation events.  

Get some tips and prepare for assessment centres which are now common practice when applying for graduate jobs.  

Thursday 30 March: Exam support, finding a part-time job and ‘Art Against War’ gallery   

Exam support continues on Thursday with sessions to help you with your exam technique and managing stress at both Canterbury and Medway.  

Interested in finding a part-time job to fit around your studies? Get some tips at this careers session.  

See ‘Art Against War’ gallery in Templeman Library, an exhibition which portrays lived experience of the ongoing war in Ukraine. This has been curated with Kherson State University, which is twinned with the University of Kent.  

Friday 31 March: community gardening and vintage sale  

Everyone is welcome to a gardening session at our Kent Community Oasis Garden on Friday. It is a great opportunity to relax, learn some gardening skills and make new friends. 

Find some new vintage pieces at the Vintage Kilo Sale in the Venue between 10:00 and 17:00 on Friday. 

Opportunities

  • Do you want to be part of creating a memorable student experience for students living on campus? Join the Residential Life Assistant team to gain invaluable work experience and get 50% discount on your on-campus accommodation for the 2023/24 academic year.
  • Enhance your employability skills by doing a free Study Plus course
Neurodiversity celebration week

Autism: understanding, embracing and celebrating different ways of thinking

There is a widely reported increase in awareness about autism around the world, probably because there is a long-awaited increase in awareness, identification, diagnosis and capacity to serve the autistic community. At Kent we want to nurture the culture of discourse about different ways of thinking and being, in order to better understand one another and create a supportive atmosphere for everyone to thrive in our diverse university community.

What does it mean to be autistic?

Autism is not an illness or disease. It means your brain works in a different way. If you’re autistic, you’re autistic your whole life: it’s something you’re born with and is often first noticed when you’re very young, although many people don’t know they are autistic until they’re older. Autism can affect the way a person communicates and how they experience the world around them. It is considered a spectrum condition, meaning the way one person experiences their autism can differ a lot to another person with the same diagnosis. Some well known people from all walks of life are autistic, for example, environmental activist Greta Thunberg, actor Anthony Hopkins, writer and outspoken poverty issues campaigner Jack Monroe and film maker Tim Burton. 

Every experience of autism is unique, and no one person will identify with every negative or positive feature of autism. Some autistic people need little or no support, while others may benefit from help from people who know lots about the condition. 

Some difficulties often experienced by autistic people are:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by social interaction
  • High levels of anxiety
  • Specific sensory needs (noise/ light/ physical sensation)
  • Struggling with changes to routine
  • Difficulty processing lots of information

Some positive features of autism*:

  • Attention to detail (thoroughness, accuracy)
  • Deep focus (concentration, freedom from distraction)
  • Observational skills (listen, look, learn approach; fact finding)
  • Absorb and retain facts (excellent long term memory; excellent recall)
  • Visual skills (visual learning and recall; detail-focused)
  • Expertise (in-depth knowledge; high level of skills)
  • Methodical approach (analytical; Spotting patterns, repetition)
  • Novel approaches (unique thought processes; innovative solutions)
  • Creativity (distinctive imagination; expression of ideas)
  • Tenacity and resilience (determination; challenge opinions)
  • Integrity (honesty; loyalty; commitment)
  • Accepting of difference (less likely to judge others; may question norms)

Support for autistic students at Kent

Whether you are autistic or think you might be, looking at strategies to help you, or peers to explore this journey with might be really helpful. SYA? is an 8 week support programme to help students who have an autism diagnosis, or who are seeking one, to explore what being autistic means for them. If you would like to participate, please email AutismSupport@kent.ac.uk.

Student Support and Wellbeing

Student Support and Wellbeing provide assistance to autistic students with transition into university life, peer support and 1:1 guidance on managing academic work, accommodation & socialising. Find out more about autism support at Kent, including how to be supported getting a diagnosis if you think you’re autistic.

Autism social clubs at Kent

As well as support from Advisers and Mentors, autistic students at Kent can take part in various peer support groups. These are facilitated by Student Support and Wellbeing staff, and range from groups specifically for autistic students to explore what it means to be autistic, to social groups which are designed to be accessible to autistic students.

Have a look at the Student Support and Wellbeing events calendar to see what’s on this term, including the autism social club, modelling club and board games club, or attend the university-wide neurodiversity cafe on Monday 13 March from 12:00 – 14:00.

If you have an suggestion for a new group or have feedback on an existing group, please email WellbeingEvents@kent.ac.uk.

Get tailored employability support:

  • Finding disability confident employers: Online workshop for Kent students on Tuesday 14 March 12:00-13:00 – book online to receive details of how to join.
  • How to manage the uncomfortable when looking for employment or navigating challenges at work: Online workshop for Kent students on Thursday 16 March 11:00 – 12:30 – book online to receive details of how to join.
Written by Natalia Crisanti and Siobhan Mcghee, Sudent Services, 01.03.23
Industrial action

Upcoming strike days: Weds 15 – Weds 22 March

From Professor Richard Reece | DVC Education & Student Experience 

At the time of writing there has been no major update from the national negotiations on industrial action currently taking place. While talks are continuing, this means that unfortunately we expect strike days to return this week for six consecutive days starting on Wednesday: 

  • Wednesday 15 – Friday 17 March 
  • Monday 20 – Wednesday 22 March 

I can only apologise for this continued disruption which I know has had a real impact on you this term. As always, the nature of strikes can be very different in different areas so do check in with your lecturers or Division directly and they will advise where they can on what it might mean for you. 

What else is on this week 

While I know it doesn’t make up for missing classes, lots of university activity will carry on as usual across the strike days. Do look at our events roundup to see what is happening, which includes a number of free exam prep sessions. Kent Union has lots of activities running this week too, while our Student Support and Wellbeing team host regular events to get people together throughout the year. 

You can read more on how to prepare for a strike day and how to claim back any expenses directly caused by strikes on our industrial action webpages. 

Ensuring you can progress this year 

I know that many of you also have concerns around the rest of this year with UCU balloting for potential further action. I want to reassure you that we have plans in place to make sure you can progress as normal whatever happens over the coming months. We’ve put together some FAQs with more on the background to this

I know upcoming exams are also a worry – our general approach is that you shouldn’t have to answer anything in an exam that hasn’t been covered in one of your classes. Your teachers will bear this in mind when they are preparing your exam papers – some modules will also have multiple exam questions to choose from, meaning that in these cases you can avoid questions that you don’t think have been covered in a lecture or seminar if you prefer.   

Getting advice and support 

Talks are continuing at national level regarding the strikes so it remains my sincere hope that an agreement is reached that avoids further disruption. I will update you again if we hear more; in the meantime, if you are worried about the effect this is having then do contact us for further advice or support

Neurodiversity celebration week

Specific Learning Differences: the positive aspects

Many of us have heard of the difficulties or ‘deficits’ associated with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs), like dyslexia, dyspraxia, and ADHD.  But are we aware of the positive aspects that can make dyslexic individuals so successful?

Difficulties with attention and concentration? Time management and planning issues?  Short term memory concerns? Persistent difficulties with reading and spelling? Word retrieval problems? Many notable individuals – such as businessman Lord (Alan) Sugar, poet Benjamin Zephaniah and Nobel prize-winning microbiologist Carol Greider – have not just overcome but have harnessed the power of their Specific Learning Difficulties in their lives and careers.

The ‘dyslexic advantages’

Dyslexic minds can be predisposed to specific strengths because of the unique ways they process information.  The book, The Dyslexic Advantage, suggests that these strengths arise from the same variations in processing that cause dyslexic difficulties with literacy, language and learning.

Dyslexic advantages include:

  • Strengths in spatial visualization,
  • Perception of relationships,
  • Narrative reasoning, and
  • Abilities to perceive and use patterns in changing data sets.

So, the flexibility in visual thinking that can cause persistent problems with letter or number reversals when writing (eg b/d/p/q, 6/9 confusion), can also generate a flexibility in spatial visualization that is highly advantageous to a dyslexic working in 3D. This strength in spatial visualization facilitates success in fields such as architecture, engineering and science – see the iconic design of  London’s O2 Arena, by dyslexic architect, Richard Rogers, for example.

Beyond dyslexia

And it is not just dyslexia: dyspraxia too is often associated with strengths in big picture thinking, being able to identify patterns, and problem-solving skills.  Likewise, positive attributes of ADHD are recognized to include strengths in energy, divergent thinking, and adventurousness. Indeed, some individuals with ADHD describe how their divergent ‘outside the box’ thinking inundates them with ideas, providing a great source of creativity.  Some also describe an abundance of physical energy that they can harness productively, and that makes them feel younger than their peers!

Recognizing these positive strengths for individuals with SpLDs is important for building confidence and encouraging success.

Written by Cathy Myers, Specific Learning Difficulties Adviser in Student Support and Wellbeing, 24.02.23.

Are you a Kent student who might benefit from support?

Student Support and Wellbeing have expert staff who are here to offer you support during your studies. If you have a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD), or feel that you experience difficulties, register with Student Support and Wellbeing and make an appointment with an SpLD Adviser. Want to know more? Please view this visual guide on How to get Specific Learning Difficulty Support.

Get tailored employability support:

  • Finding disability confident employers: Online workshop for Kent students on Tuesday 14th March 12pm-1pm – book online to receive details of how to join.
  • How to manage the uncomfortable when looking for employment or navigating challenges at work: Online workshop for Kent students on Thursday 16th March 11:00 – 12:30 – book online to receive details of how to join.

Find peers:

Attend the neurodiversity cafe on Monday 13 March from 12:00 – 14:00.

What do you think?

Would you like to contribute your experience and perspective to conversations, podcasts or articles on this or other topics covered by Student Services (employability, support services, student wellbeing, faith and belonging, inclusion, student healthcare)? Please email StudentServicesWeb@kent.ac.uk – we welcome student and staff contributions.

Fruiting trees

Diamond Anniversary Orchard planting, 15 March

This academic year we have launched the Diamond Anniversary Orchard project and planned the planting of an orchard of over 300 fruit and nut trees. This project was designed to celebrate that most undergraduates starting this year will graduate in 2025 which is the University’s 60th birthday and it is hoped that our students can watch the orchard grow and be part of its transformation from grassland to a complete and flourishing space.

Help us plant more trees

We managed to plant some trees last week in the snow (!) but need your help to plant more. Our next planting session is Wednesday 15 March between 10:00-13:00. You can come for as long or as little as you like. There will be a full briefing at the beginning of the session and newcomers throughout will be paired up with someone that has been trained.

Why an orchard?

The Southern Slopes provides an ideal setting for a semi-natural orchard and meadow that will not only be a beautiful space for students, staff and community members to enjoy, but also provides a complex habitat that will boost biodiversity in the area.

Step one is planting the fruiting trees, which once mature, will provide future students with fruit and nuts that they can harvest and enjoy. Later this year we will be seeding wildflower seeds to create an understory meadow that we will cut swathes through proving a peaceful space to walk through and enjoy.

Because this orchard will be a mosaic of trees, grasses, shrubs, wildflowers, and a pond, it will support a wide range of wildlife. As fruit trees age quickly, they create the perfect habitats for invertebrates and birds, such as the lesser spotted woodpecker and the rare noble chafer beetle.

This unique habitat will also feature key elements for our human community bring people and nature together. Accessible pathing so everyone can enjoy the space; seating with a view for meditation, rest or socialising; an outdoor teaching area; and a bird hide to spot nature from a quiet vantage point.

All the elements will be tied together with a central point that marks the six academic divisions that make up our learning community, celebrating all the students that will be our class of 2025 and beyond.