Author Archives: Wendy Raeside

Kent People: Meet our very own Jacquie of All Trades 

Jacquie Edwards is PA to the Director of Sport, but better known to many as performer Ginger Bennett. During Black History Month, she tells us how stories of being and growing up in the UK during lockdown helped create this alter ego. 

‘I joined the University in 2001 as a temp in the Estates Department. Jill Andrew’s Friday afternoon tray bakes were amazing and I think I knew from the first bite I would be working here until they shoehorned me out!

‘I’ve always had an affliction or a gift, whichever way you look at it. If I say I’m going to do something out loud, I will generally do it. Sometimes I will fail spectacularly but I will always see it through.  

‘In the past, this has led to some marvellous opportunities: I was a canoeing Instructor (who couldn’t swim that well); a karaoke hostess (with chronic nerves); PA to the Head of Exhibitions and Displays at the National Maritime Museum (with no keyboard skills whatsoever); and managed to hoist the Women’s Rugby World Cup (even though I really don’t like mud and dirt). 

‘I think a lot of working mothers know how that adventurous, pioneering spirit can so easily be diluted once you have children. It happened to me and, three children later, I was more prone to muttering under my breath than boldly proclaiming my next bonkers venture.  

Becoming, Being and Belonging 

‘Enter global pandemic and the lockdown. I’d always thought I came from a very close family but those Zoom calls take to you to another level! Those talking heads revealed family stories I’d never heard – stories about my parents’ arrival to the UK and their feelings of being and belonging. When I shared these stories with friends, I found the stories of their parents’ arrivals meshed with their own feelings and stories. Unconsciously, I had started to build an account of Becoming, Being and Belonging for 1st Generation Immigrants to the UK and their 2nd Generation children.  

‘Somewhere around month six or seven, I became very low – Long Covid, lockdown, three children, home-schooling and menopause all played a part. I have a lovely friend who saw through my thin smiling veneer – we talked, sometimes daily, and I read her the stories and poems I had written around the theme. She told me they were funny and important and, before long, I said out loud “I think I can write a play about this” so I did. It may have helped that friend is an award-winning jazz pianist but, regardless, I’ve done it.  It’s out there. 

The England Women’s Rugby World Cup-winning team, 1994. Jacquie is in the front row with her arm around the flag.

Songs from My Soul 

Songs from My Soul is an amalgamation of tales told to me by friends and family about being and growing up in the UK. I think it cuts across race too as I hope it tells the age-old story of mothers fighting for their children the best they know how and then letting them go.  

‘The stories are distilled into the life of Aretha a mother who, now retired, sees the path travelled very differently from her daughter, Bernadette.  

‘Those Zoom calls were a real awakening and I now have a few more job titles to add to my dodgy CV: Playwright, Producer, Actress.’ 

Listen and find out more 

Jacquie performs regularly across Kent as Ginger Bennett with her funk and Soul Band Project F and the KD Dance Orchestra 

Songs from My Soul will be performed at the Tower Theatre, Folkestone, on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 October from 20.00. Tickets, priced £12, are available on the Tower Theatre webpages 

Songs from My Soul is a year-long Arts Council funded project and will examine, Becoming, Belonging and Being as part of a performance of new works next year. The Songs from My Soul team would love to hear your stories and write your song. Get in touch via this Songs from my Soul link 

You can also listen to original songs for the Songs from my Soul project on YouTube. 

Group of students on campus

This Saturday’s UG Open Day – More helpers needed

From Simone Davies, Director of MORA

We’re holding an Open Day for potential UG students this Saturday (23 October) and we need your help! The Open Day takes place from 10.00 – 14.00 on our Canterbury campus and we need extra staff volunteers to meet and greet visitors and to be available on information points.

Please help us by encouraging colleagues across your team to help on the day. MORA will be able to cover overtime to those on grade 6 and below. Anyone able to volunteer should get in touch asap with the Schools Liaison team. They will need to be at Grimond Building from 08.45 on Saturday for a pre-event briefing. Further information on the Open Day is available on our Visit Kent webpages.

Many thanks your help with this.

Simone Davies | Director of MORA

Postgraduate students on campus

Help promote our next Postgraduate events on 17 November

This Autumn, we’ll be hosting postgraduate open events on Wednesday 17 November with two ways to attend, designed to make the events as accessible to as many potential postgrad students as possible.

12.00 – 14.00 – Virtual event

17.00 – 19.00 – In-person event

Our virtual events have been really successful, especially for overseas enquirers and this November we’re delighted to also be able to invite prospective students to come to the Canterbury campus to meet academics as well as support staff and students.

The November events will be of special interest to potential PhD students looking to the meet January funding deadlines, January start Master’s students and final year UG students researching the next steps for their careers.

The scholarships team will be there to advise on Research Council funding applications as well as Tomorrow’s World and alumni discounts available to Kent graduates.

To make 2022 postgraduate recruitment as successful as possible it would be great if colleagues could promote the events to current Kent undergraduates, through professional networks, among family and friends and on their social channels.

For further information about the event and to find out how to register, please visit the Postgraduate Events webpage.

Jim Everett

Dr Jim Everett announced as 2021 Levehulme Prize winner

Congratulations to Dr Jim Everett, Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology, who is among the winners of this year’s 2021 Philip Leverhulme Prizes.

The annual prizes recognise the achievement of ‘exceptional researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future careers are exceptionally promising’. 30 prizes are awarded annually, each worth £100,000 to be spent on further research.

Jim has been awarded the prestigious prize for his work ‘on experimental social psychology; moral psychology; experimental philosophy.’ His recognition by the Leverhulme Trust is an honour given to only a handful of the UK’s psychologists in each three-year cycle, and follows several other awards from the international research community, including a Rising Star award by the International Association for Psychological Science, the Wegner Theoretical Innovation Prize by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and the Early Career award from the European Association for Social Psychology.

Jim said: ‘To see my name amongst such impressive awardees in psychology from this year and previous years is a very strange feeling. As always, thank you so much everyone who has supported me. I say this every time I get an award, but nothing I have done, or will ever do, will be mine alone and I remain deeply indebted to my family, mentors and colleagues.’

Head of School, Professor Robbie Sutton said: ‘We have always had an outstanding international reputation for research in social psychology, which in recent years has only grown stronger with the recruitment of  supremely talented and energetic researchers who are publishing in the world’s leading journals, winning millions of pounds in research funding, and training the next generation of researchers with the skills and enthusiasm to address the UK’s, and the world’s, most urgent challenges.’

Read more about the awards on the Leverhulme Trust website.

ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) e-learning training module

The University takes the safety of our students, staff and visitors very seriously. Following the ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) Strategic and Operational training sessions with front line managers, supervisors and senior staff, the University has been provided with an ACT e-learning module that is now available for staff to complete.

Devised by counter terrorism officers and security experts, the ACT Awareness eLearning package provides nationally recognised guidance on how to spot the signs of suspicious behaviour and understand what to do in the event of a major incident. This guidance is not only useful while you are on campus, but is also relevant when going about your daily lives. It has been proven to save lives both in domestic (eg the London Bridge attack) and overseas (eg Tunisia beach attack) terror incidents.

To complete the module please select this link: Course: Action Counters Terrorism (ACT)(kent.ac.uk). The module should take around 45 minutes to complete. It is broken down into a number of sections that you can return to and resume if you can’t complete in the whole module one sitting.

The training module refers to the ACT URIM app, which is available to download on your mobile device from the Google Play or Apple app stores. Click or tap on the suitable link to download the app and follow the log in details below:

ACT URIM for Apple

ACT URIM for Android

Generic log-in: UOKENT@urim.app

Generic Password: Urim123$

Please do see if you can find the time to complete this module – it may just save your life or those of your family, friends or colleagues.

Mark Ellis | Director of University Operations

Coronavirus

Update on timing of salary awards

From Martin Atkinson, Director of HR and Organisational Development

This is to confirm that all deferred salary awards associated with 2020 academic promotions and salary award processes will be paid in the October pay run.

Standard progression ‘automatic’ increments, including academic advancements, and any transition arrangements from the Reward Strategy deferred by 12 months due to the pay freeze will also be paid in October along with 2021 academic promotions and advancements.

Given the volume of work involved in processing these payments, all awards associated with the 2021 salary award processes will be paid in November and backdated to 1 October.

We aim to send all letters detailing the outcome of 2021 salary awards processes to staff by Thursday 11 November.

Martin

Martin Atkinson | Director of HR and Organisational Development

New training module developed for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office 

A new online training module for civil servants around the world has been developed by international law expert Dr Luis Eslava for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

The module on ‘Green Cities and Infrastructure’ explores contemporary debates about sustainable development in low income and G20 countries.

Dr Eslava said: ‘The topics covered in the module highlight the role of urban and local development in conversations about the future of the global environment. The module shows how effective and progressive actions at the local level should recognise the impact of past development policies on current urban arraignments, and how meaningful local engagement with communities, in both “developed” and “developing” countries, are an essential step towards global environmental justice.’

The module was commissioned by the FCDO for their Trade Policy and Negotiations Faculty (TPNF) as part of their extensive program for government officials specialising in trade policy across Whitehall and globally.

Dr Eslava said: ‘It was a great privilege, both professionally and academically, to be able to contribute to the training of current and future FCDO officials posted across the world and who are directly dealing with crucial questions about domestic and international development and global trade policies.’

Dr Eslava was supported in the development of the ‘Green Cities and Infrastructure’ module by Kent Law School alumnus George Hill. George graduated from Kent with a First Class Honours degree in European Legal Studies in 2019 and is currently completing an LLM by Research at the European Institute in Florence. George co-authored a chapter on ‘Cities, Post-Coloniality and International Law’ with Dr Eslava for the Research Handbook on International Law and Cities (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021).

Dr Eslava is a Reader in International Law at Kent Law School with teaching responsibilities that span across Law and International Development, Public International Law and International Human Rights Law.

He is an active member of The IEL Collective, the network Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) and is currently writing a book on the changing nature of global poverty, Broken Worlds: New Poverty, Law and Youth Violence. He is also co-editing The Oxford Handbook of International Law and Development (OUP, forthcoming 2022).

Kent Staff Recognition Awards

We are delighted to announce that nominations are open for the brand new Kent Staff Recognition Awards!

The past year and a half have been difficult for us all.  Whether we have been furloughed, working from home or continuing to work on our very quiet campuses, everyone has had to adapt, to change the way we work and to juggle work with our home lives in ways that we wouldn’t have imagined beforehand.  And we must not forget that some of us have suffered illness and lost loved ones.

Every employee and every team should be proud of what we have all achieved and, whilst Covid and the University’s financial challenges haven’t gone away, we feel the time is right to celebrate the amazing efforts of our staff by launching our new Kent Staff Recognition Awards.

The Awards are intended to celebrate the achievements of Kent staff across five categories: unsung heroes, great teams, supportive colleagues, most humorous moments and community impact. Further detail about the Awards and how to nominate a colleague or a team can be found on our Kent Staff Recognition Awards webpages. Nominations will close at a minute to midnight on Sunday 31 October and awards will be presented at an Awards Evening on Wednesday 10 November.

We look forward to receiving your nominations and to celebrating the fantastic contributions and achievements of our staff, as well as hearing about those funny Teams moments we have all enjoyed so much.

Karen and Martin 

Professor Karen Cox | Vice-Chancellor and President
Martin Atkinson | Director of HR and Organisational Development

A close up of the inside of a purple flower

Wellbeing at Kent: Our commitment to you

From Martin Atkinson, Director of HR and Organisational Development

This year continues to present unprecedented challenges across the University as we adapt to the largescale disruption brought about by the pandemic and our continued period of change at Kent, coupled now with the difficulties many staff are experiencing following the launch of KentVision. The impact this is having on many people’s wellbeing has been a major concern in recent Executive Group meetings – we hear what you are saying and are fully committed to putting the right things in place to address the issues as quickly as we can. 

In recent weeks a sub-group of JSNCC has been meeting to explore the issues impacting staff wellbeing in depth, leading to a report that lists out key recommendations (link requires VPN access) to help us move forward. These recommendations were endorsed by the full JSNCC yesterday and also have the full support of both Karen and the Executive Group. I’d like to personally thank the members of the Working Group for coming together at such a busy time to find ways forward with this – I’ve no doubt their input will help us identify tangible improvements that are of real benefit across our community. 

Four key recommendations 

At the heart of the report are four key recommendations the group felt would best address current concerns around Wellbeing: 

  • Wellbeing and Workload Focus Groups: Bringing staff together to talk about workload, to help us quickly identify and surface issues impacting staff as they arise and work together on solutions 
  • Toolkits: Alongside the Mental Health Support intranet site, a toolkit will be prepared for early next year that brings together our Wellbeing resource and ensures everyone knows more about support available at Kent 
  • Spreading the word: Encouraging more conversations about staff wellbeing and mental health by encouraging everyone to read this report and ensuring everyone has a chance to contribute towards putting improvements in place 
  • EG engagement: Finding new ways to bring staff and the Executive Group together – including continued staff engagement via the popular Staff Webchats series which we will develop further throughout the year 

Workload 

The Working Group were clear that workload issues are the number one driver for the impact on wellbeing many staff are feeling at present. This includes the continued challenges we face following the launch of KentVision, for which as an Executive Group we apologise unreservedly. 

There are no quick fixes to workload issues or to the problems with KentVision. However, this is a key priority for EG and we are determined to improve our current situation as quickly as we can. This includes introducing short-term resource where it can make a difference and continuing to prioritise process improvement through the How We Work project. The new KentVision project manager has written directly to key stakeholders using the system with details of the changes now being put in place to improve delivery and to help alleviate some of the problems being experienced by users across the University. 

Looking ahead 

Kent is a great place to work in so many ways, but I realise that the current workload and wellbeing issues mean that it may not feel like that for some staff at present. There is much to do to improve staff wellbeing and we will provide regular updates as the recommendations get taken forward.  

Alongside that, we also want to recognise just how busy things have been. While it may still be a little way off, I’m pleased to confirm in advance that the last normal working day before Christmas (Wednesday 22 December) will now be a full rest day in recognition of how hard the last few months have been.  And, given we know how hard it is to take leave at the moment, staff will be allowed to carry over up to 10 days leave this year rather than the usual five.  Full details of both will be confirmed nearer the time. 

I fully recommend reading the Report in detail to find out more about our commitment to improving wellbeing at Kent. My thanks again to those involved for their hard work and genuine commitment to finding better ways to support our community at Kent. 

With all good wishes, 

Martin 

Martin Atkinson | Director of HR and Organisational Development

KentVision: Project update and next steps 

Update by KentVision Project Manager, Martin Carvey 

As the new Project Manager for KentVision, I wanted to give everyone an update on where we are with the project and what our next steps will be. As many will be aware, there are a number of issues with KentVision currently which are having a major impact across the University. While there won’t be any quick fixes to this, we know that solutions are needed urgently and are working as fast as we can to identify and deliver them. 

Project management 

Working with Project Sponsor Richard Reece, we have established a new Project Board with more regular reporting to Executive Group. This includes a more robust approach to risk management and revised timelines that reflect our current status. While also making improvements on an ongoing basis, we are working towards having the key aspects of KentVision fully operational by mid-2022. 

Additional support 

While the KentVision project team has worked tirelessly to get us to this stage, greater resources are essential to the future success of the project. We are currently bringing in additional business analysis, development and user support with this in mind. 

Priorities will include setting up a specifically designed Service Desk by the end of November to better manage emerging issues, while also building in additional time into the planning, testing and delivery cycle so more issues are addressed before they impact students and staff, 

Ongoing communications 

KentVision impacts across a number of areas of the University and both Richard Reece and myself want to make sure everyone is kept fully informed of progress in the coming weeks. Along with dedicated workshops for frontline teams, all staff can join a Staff Webchat in November (date tbc) where we will give a full update on the project and answer any questions you may have. 

In the meantime, you can find out more on the KentVision webpages.

Martin Carvey | KentVision Project Manager