Author Archives: Natalia Crisanti

LGBTQ+ rainbow flag with text 'lgbt history month'

LGBT+ History Month, February 2023

LGBT+ History Month takes place every February across the UK, and celebrates all LGBTQ+ individuals and communities, as well as taking the time to reflect on the struggles and traumas of the past, and what still needs to change.

This year’s theme is #BehindTheLens, celebrating LGBTQ+ people’s contribution to cinema and film, which we are interpreting as listening to and honouring the lived experiences of people within the LGBTQ+ community.

LGBT History Month at Kent

There’s lots going on to mark LGBTQ+ History Month at Kent, with events and activities throughout the month for all staff and students to participate in at both Canterbury and Medway campuses and online. You can browse all events for LGBT+ History Month on the dedicated events calendar.

Events in Canterbury

The launch event for LGBT+ History Month at Kent takes place on Tuesday 7 February, and will feature the opening of the LGBTQ+ love letters exhibition, a performance from Drag Queen Dame Jame, and a talk by trans activist Connor Styche about their own experiences.

The #BehindTheLens exhibition (on display in the Marlowe Building lobby from 7 to 28 February) explores our own history at Kent, pulling materials from our archives and also showcasing the Zine Library, created by members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Other events on the Canterbury campus:

Events in Medway

From Wednesday 1 February, you can come and see the LGBTQ+ In Lockdown exhibition (previously on display on the Canterbury campus) in Drill Hall Library.

Other events to celebrate the month include:

Online events and resources

We have explored the Special Collections Archives at the University of Kent to explore our LGBTQ+ history, take a look at the timeline on our LGBT History Month webpage.

There are also lots of online events:

For online opportunities to meet and chat with our LGBTQ+ Staff and Student Networks and other resources, look at the LGBT+ History Month events calendar.

If you have any questions or feedback about LGBT+ History celebrations and information at Kent, email the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team: StudentEDI@kent.ac.uk

Using social media to share your participation? Tag posts with #LGBTHMKent23 and #BehindTheLens

Written by Becky Lamyman and Joshua Stevens, Student Services, 01.02.2023

logo for holocaust memorial day and picture of electric tealights

Holocaust Memorial Day 2023

Holocaust Memorial Day – 27 January

Between 1941 and 1945, six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis during the HolocaustThe Nazis also murdered millions of others including Roma, Gypsy and Sinti people, people with disabilities, gay people, and many whose political views or religious beliefs threatened the Nazi regime.

On 27 January 2000, the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, 46 governments signed the Stockholm Declaration and founded Holocaust Memorial Day. This day is to remember the millions murdered during the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia (1975-1979), Rwanda (1994), Bosnia (1995) and later Darfur in 2003.

You can learn more about the Holocaust by using your Kent login to access an online library of films.

On YouTube, you can watch Medway campus Chaplain Lynne Martin’s seven-minute video marking Holocaust Memorial Day, in which she shines a light on the hope, bravery and heroism of an individual in the midst of horror and atrocity. You can also learn more about the Holocaust by using your Kent login to access an online library of films.

Fighting antisemitism and hate at Kent 

Prejudice, discrimination and hatred based solely on difference is still pervasive in society today. This includes anti-Jewish attitudes, with reports of antisemitism increasing at Universities, and the recently released investigation into antisemitism within the National Union of Student (NUS).

Antisemitism is a form of racism and religious discrimination and we do not tolerate it at Kent.

We have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism and the Jewish Declaration of Antisemitism. This is an important statement of our solidarity with the Jewish community and our commitment to stamping out antisemitism at Kent.

Light the Darkness – 27 January, 16:00.

On 27 January at 16:00, you are invited remember pause and reflect by placing a battery-operated tea light in your window to honour Holocaust victims and show you stand against prejudice and hatred today. You can also wear purple in solidarity.

The battery-operated candles are available free from Mandela Reception from Friday 20 January. (For safety reasons, please do not use a candle with a real flame. Candles with flames are not allowed in University bedrooms or many privately rented properties.)

Tag @UniKent_CCL on your socials and use #HolocaustMemorialDay and #LightTheDarkness to share your commitment.

There are other opportunities to commemorate throughout the year, including Antisemitism Awareness Week in March and Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day on 22 August.

Reporting

If you or another student you know has been the target of antisemitism, or any other form of discrimination, prejudice or harassment, you can use our Report and Support service to report anonymously or get support from Kent’s new Specialist Wellbeing Adviser (Bullying/Discrimination/Hate Crime) who can support students in incidents of discrimination or harassment (regardless of where or when these took place).

Written by Becky Lamyman, Natalia Crisanti and Joshua Stevens, Student Services staff, 20.01.23

people working in a garden in winter time

Tips to boost your winter wellbeing

With the days still short and a bit dank and grey, it’s easy to feel a bit gloomy in January, but there are things we can do shift our mindset. Psychology PhD student Kelly Dawson shares her advice for boosting your mental health this winter, together with information and opportunities from Student Support and Wellbeing staff at Kent.

Gratitude

Find five things you are grateful for today

Find five things that you are grateful for. These don’t have to be big mind-blowing things (though they can be of course). It could be the feel of your slippers as you slide your feet into them in the morning or the warmth of your coffee cup in your hand or the feel of your dog’s cold wet nose as they nudge you for a stroke. These were three things that happened to me within 15 minutes of being awake this morning. When you really focus on gratitude, that blue feeling just slips away.

Share the good (and not so good) bits of your week at the Wellbeing Café

The Wellbeing Café takes place every week (starts for this term on Monday 23 January 2023) and is a space to connect with other students in a relaxed environment with a focus on promoting your wellbeing and mental health through activity. Last term’s activities included a Positive Planner journaling session, a great tool for remembering to notice what you are grateful for. Find out more about the Wellbeing Café on the Student Support and Wellbeing Events calendar.

Mindfulness

Be present in this moment

We spend lots of our time reminiscing about the past or planning the future. But spending some time being fully immersed in the moment is really beneficial. Look around you, what can you see and hear? Are there any particular smells? What are your hands touching, how does that feel? Is it rough or smooth? Your senses are a great way to bring yourself right to the present moment. Spend a few minutes five times throughout the day focussing on your sensory experience.

Free mindfulness classes with a qualified instructor

Come along to the popular mindfulness meditation sessions – a great way to improve your wellbeing alongside other Kent students. They take place on Wednesdays at 13:00 online and 17:00 in-person. Find out more about Mindfulness at Kent.

Endorphins

Get out in nature, exercise, or take a cold shower

Get up early and go for a walk (or a run/cycle if that’s your thing), preferably in nature.  If you don’t enjoy nature, that’s no problem, don’t do something you don’t like. Try any form of exercise, from swimming to dancing in your kitchen! If exercise isn’t for you, then try turning your morning shower as cold as you can comfortably stand for a few seconds. Anything that gets your blood pumping will help your body release endorphins!

Come along to the community garden in Park Wood

Get outdoors in the allotment! The Kent Community Oasis Garden (KentCOG) is a project run by a collection of students, staff and community members working to create a sustainability hub centred around growing food. Go along to one of their open gardening sessions on Wednesday and Friday (10:00-14:00). Find out more about KentCOG.

Self-care

Set aside some of your day to do something that makes you feel good

Self-care is super important all of the time, but on cold dark days definitely do something for yourself that makes you feel good. Don’t just think about it, actually set aside part of your day in your calendar to make this happen – it can be reading a good book, taking a nap or meeting a friend.

Find something relaxing to read in Templeman Library

The new ‘Love to Read’ area in the Templeman Library Cafe has a collection of novels, best-selling books, self-help titles and e-books. You can borrow them as usual with your ID card, or sit in the cosy area and take a break from studying. Find out more about the Love to Read collection.


Need wellbeing support?

Have a look at the Student Support and Wellbeing webpages to find out about support services including a free, confidential counselling service and 24/7 online and phone support partners.

Written by Kelly Dawson (PhD researcher in Cognitive Neuropsychology), and Joshua Stevens (Student Services), 12.01.23

Sustainable Events at Kent: A collaborative workshop on 26 January

Ever wondered how events and meetings could be made more sustainable? Whether your job involves planning small meetings or large-scale events, or you’re simply interested in the topic and have ideas from an attendee’s perspective – come along to learn, ask questions and help to think through how we can drive the sustainability agenda at Kent forward together.

University of Kent Sustainability Team and staff Sustainability Champions welcome you to come and share your ideas and good practice about how to improve sustainability across all aspects of event planning.

Key staff from services across the University will be there to take part in this dialogue – from catering, design and print, communications and branding to answer your questions. We’ll be launching our new online sustainable events guide – a handbook to help you plan and deliver sustainable events with confidence.

Staff from the Gulbenkian will also share their sustainability ambitions for the Boing festival and how you can be part of that work to shape the future of a large community event on campus.

Book now on Eventbrite to find out more about sustainability at Kent, discover sustainability actions you can take in your work when planning meetings and events, and meet like-minded colleagues across the University.

The last part of the workshop will involve food and drink tasters showcasing our local suppliers and sustainable catering options in the cafe area of the Gulbenkian. This will give us an opportunity to talk about how venues like the Gulbenkian can support sustainable events and give us more time to chat informally.

If you have any questions about the event including accessibility requirements, please email sustainability@kent.ac.uk as soon as possible so we can seek to accommodate these as well as we can. You can also view accessibility information about the venue.

Accessibility considerations:

The workshop will take place in the Gulbenkian theatre which is on the ground floor and has step free access with automated doors. Accessible and gender neutral toilets are available nearby, as well as baby changing facilities, and everyone is welcome to come and go from the session as they need to for their comfort.

If you have any questions about the event including accessibility requirements, please email sustainability@kent.ac.uk as soon as possible so we can seek to accommodate these as well as we can.

picture of the sustainable development goals mutli colour wheel on a black background

Our ambitions for a sustainable University, and how you can get involved

If you’ve returned after the winter holidays thinking about what changes you might make in your life this year, you’re not alone. The start of the year is a great time to take stock and start thinking about ways you might change your behaviour to reduce the pressure on the planet. 

What does sustainability mean? 

To sustain means to ‘support’, ‘hold’ or ‘keep up’, and when we talk about sustainability, people often firstly think about environmental sustainability – that is protecting the planet, halting climate change and promoting social development. This means thinking creatively about how we might cover our present needs without compromising resources for future generations. This is also intertwined with concepts of social and economic sustainability, making sure that our progress as a society can be maintained without leaving anyone behind. 

What are we doing at Kent to meet sustainability goals? 

The University are signatories of the Sustainable Development Goals Education Accord. That means we are committed to embedding the 17 biggest global challenges of our time into everything we do; our operations, teaching and research. 

Our ambition is that by 2025, even before visiting us, people will be aware that the university is a key actor in addressing the climate and ecological emergency and is demonstrating dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions. Through our campuses and online presence, our staff, students and the local community will experience the obvious actions and activities that show how seriously the University of Kent takes climate action and social and environmental responsibility. Every building on our campuses will show signs of having moved to more sustainable power. Our transport systems will be much less fossil-fuel based, and our shops, cafes and restaurants will focus on more sustainable produce. Our green spaces will demonstrate our connection to the natural environment, making spaces for people to enjoy that protect, enhance and allow biodiversity to flourish. More than all this, our education will be steeped in a culture of continuous improvement to ensure that all our students in all subjects are learning the skills and knowledge needed for a sustainable future. You can read about all of our targets in the University’s Sustainability Strategy. 

How can you get involved? 

  • Keep up to date with sustainability activities and events by following unikent.sustainability on Instagram, or search #UniKentSustainability
  • Join one of Kent’s amazing student led societies centred around environmental and/or social sustainability  
  • Take part in Kent’s Environmentally Friendly Careers Week from 23 January to 27 January 2023 
  • Want to be involved in sustainability activity in your School/Division? Find out who your local staff Sustainability Champion is and get in touch with them 

Orchard Planting

This term we will be planting an orchard of over 300 fruit and nut trees on the edge of the Canterbury campus. What will be known as the diamond anniversary orchard has been planned ahead of the University’s 60th birthday in 2025 and the space has been designed by the future class of 2025, our undergraduates who started a 3-year degree this year. 

The site on the Southern Slopes of the campus 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. 

As the space matures it will become a mosaic of trees, grasses, shrubs and wild flowers supporting 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.  Orchard meadows with swathes cut through for paths provide a peaceful space to walk through and enjoy and with the increase bird life in the area the birdsong in this area will begin to match that heard in Bluebell wood. You can get involved with the planting and find out more about activities planned in the space on our anniversary orchard webpage.

We also have plans for the Medway campus bringing high pollen value plants for bees and butterflies to the communal seating area at Rochester Lawn, building upon the new seating and shaded area there. We will also be planting up large pots around the Medway building to improve access to nature at an urban campus and seeded a new wildflower meadow to bring nature in! 

Veganuary

Doing or trying the plant-based thing? The Templeman library are supporting this month with a themed reading list that includes books and films on veganism, and sustainable living but also on the cost of living and how to manage money., check out the library blogpost on veganuary for more information.

Want to share your sustainability tips/ wins/ challenges? Find unikent.sustainability on Instagram, #UniKentSustainability.

Written by Natalia Crisanti, Catherine Morris and Emily Mason, staff 10.01.23

photos of people involved in DHM at Kent 2022 & DHM logo

Disability History Month – how we marked it at Kent in 2022

To decide how to celebrate and mark Disability History Month this year, members of Kent Union, staff and students from a variety of divisions, networks, and groups across the Medway and Canterbury campuses met frequently throughout the term to plan and collaborate. Sharing ideas and looking at how far we have come has been part of the process in continuing to think of new and inspiring ways not only to celebrate Disability History Month, but also to identify areas where there work is still needed to continue to grow and develop new inclusive ways to remove barriers.

Event highlights

Exhibition and film screening

Student Engagement and Communications Officer Natalia Crisanti and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Strategy, Planning, and Performance) Professor Georgina Randsley de Moura, introduced the screening of a number of short videos called ‘Our Stories’ (BSL interpreted) with students and staff, current and past, talking about their experiences of disability. The films emphasise considering and anticipating the seen and unseen needs of all, with people listening to one another carefully and understanding that each person is the authority on their own best conditions for thriving. With such a wealth of inspirational people at Kent it has been a great opportunity to take time to focus and reflect on our community and what disability means to us as a University. Janice Markey, Kent’s Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion notes that “the exhibition and screening [which took place on 6 December] are an inspiring impetus for us in our work to create an environment at Kent which is welcoming and inclusive for all”. For more on the screening and exhibition opening, read the blogpost summarising this event. You can also watch a video version of the timeline (narrated, with closed captions), or read a slightly abridged version on Kent’s Disability History Month webpage.

Chloe Timms author talk
Former student Chloe Timms returned to Kent to give a talk on her debut novel ‘The Seawomen’ (2022). Chloe discussed about how she became a published author alongside the challenges of being a disabled writer. To find out more about her professional journey, visit Chloe Timms’ blog.

Chloe Timms with her book. Woman seated in wheelchair, with blonde hair and pink jacked. Book titled 'The Seawoman' on the table in front of her.

Research and career opportunities

Also this month was an opportunity for one of our PhD students to showcase her research with a Virtual Reality Wheelchair Driving Experience, and the Careers and Employability Service hosted a number of online groups for students, including workshops on how to ask for adjustments in the workplace, and sessions on the Change 100 internship scheme, which offers paid summer work placements for students with disabilities.

Finger casting workshop

On the topic of health and wellbeing, a finger casting workshop was held whereby participants could let their artistic sides show through creating their own finger sculpture and foil embossed artwork. The idea was to encourage awareness and connection with the body through creativity.

Group of students seated at a table with craft activities.

Millie Knight – sports champion talk

Kent Union’s focus was on creating opportunities for students to come together and learn from each other. Their events included plant pot painting and a talk from former student, and four-time Paralympic skiing medallist and Karate world champion, Millie Knight. Thomas Freeston, Vice President of Welfare and Community was Kent Union’s lead on DHM, and reflected on the month as an “opportunity to celebrate the achievements of people living with a disability and also raise awareness”.

Group of people standing in front of a banner, holding medals.

What’s next? Let’s shape tomorrow together…

Of course, opportunities for discussion and progress are not limited to Disability History Month. You can get involved in many different ways throughout the year. Perhaps through the Staff Disability Network and Student Accessibility Network. Please contact EqualityAndDiversity@kent.ac.uk if you would like to share any ideas or feedback about this year’s disability history month or disability provision in general.

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Did you know that Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW) advisers can help students set up the support they need at any time during their studies? Check out this guide on Seeking Support from SSW for more information.

Follow #DHMKent22 and #InclusiveKent on social media for the latest, and if you would like to contribute your experience and perspective to conversations, podcasts or articles on this theme, please email StudentServicesWeb@kent.ac.uk.

Written by Maddy Kendall, Joshua Stevens and Natalia Crisanti, Student Services, 13.12.22