Category Archives: EDI

Students, staff and alumni involved in the Disability History Month project

Introducing Disability History Month 2023

Disability History Month (16 November – 16 December 2023) is an annual event that aims to promote acceptance of disabilities (physical, mental, visible and hidden) and champion change to ensure that all people have fair and equitable access to opportunities and services. 

At Kent, we use the month as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the services we have available, ask students to tell us what is missing, and encourage open and honest conversation to raise awareness and challenge assumptions.  

The national theme for 2023 is Children and Young People, with a focus on the experience of disablement amongst children, young carers and young people in the past, now and what is needed for the future. For many of our students, this will be a recent experience and something that may have been positive, or negative. 

Barriers caused by society 

For a long time, society operated under the assumption that the barriers experienced by people with disabilities were caused by the limitations that their bodies and minds placed upon them (the Medical Model of Disability) and the only way to overcome these was to treat the person rather than consider how to remove the barrier.

The fact that society itself may pose a barrier for people with disabilities was not a concept that was widely considered until the Social Model of Disability was created. This model, first expressed by Kent Academic Mike Oliver, says that disability does not come from the physical or mental limitations imposed by a person’s body or mind, but rather by the limitations and barriers inflicted by society around it. These barriers could be physical (lack of drop curbs or ramps), institutional (jobs that do not adapt to the needs of people with disabilities), structural (lack of pathways for diagnosis at a young age), societal (attitudes towards mental health), or political (lack of investment in social care or individual welfare). All of these factors contribute to a society that puts barriers in place for people with disabilities. The model also supports the concept that if you remove barriers for people with disabilities, many other people also benefit (for example if you put a ramp in, a wheel chair user can easily access a building, but so can someone pushing a buggy, using a walking stick, or with a twisted ankle).

Another model is the Psychosocial Model which, like the Social Model, believes that society imposes restrictions on people but also acknowledges that some conditions do benefit from medical interventions and by adopting both approaches you offer people with disabilities the best opportunities to succeed. In short, making society more accessible for people with disabilities ensures that it is more accessible to all.

What’s on at Kent 

At Kent, Disability History Month is organised by both the University of Kent and Kent Union. Events are open for staff and students and the vast majority are free. See the full list of events. 

Key events include the virtual exhibition of Disability History at Kent, where you can see the evolution of support for people with disabilities from the earliest days of the University right up to present day. 

There is a bookmaking workshop being run by Stella Bolaki, British Sign Language lessons, the Accessibility at Kent: Empowering Students to Learn, Work and Grow workshop, run by Student Support and Wellbeing, Careers and Employability Services and Kent Union and is your one stop shop to finding out everything at Kent that can support you, and the Neuro-Insurgence Open Mic Night, plus more.  

Please check individual event listings for accessibility information. If you have any queries about the accessibility of any of our events for Disability History Month please email


We are committed to ensuring that all students and staff are supported at Kent, and are able to study and work to their fullest potential. We also take discrimination, harassment and bullying extremely seriously. If you feel that you have been subjected to any form of bullying or discrimination due to a disability, mental or physical, visible or invisible, please do report it via the Report and Support tool. This will trigger an investigation and support for you, although you can do report anonymously if you prefer.  

Look out for more blog posts and information over the course of the month, and we hope you enjoy Disability History Month. 

If you have any comments or feedback about this month’s activity, or any other History Month or equality, diversity or inclusion related activity, please do email 

Black female student holding degree and smiling at graduation ceremony


Black Female Professors in Higher Education

Welcome to Week 4 of BHM 2023!

Professor Diamond Ashiagbor

Black Female Professors in Higher Education University of Kent Black Female Professor, Diamond Ashiagbor

As of December 1st, 2020, there were 224,530 academic staff members employed in UK higher education institutions, excluding atypical staff. Among the 22,855 professors, 6,510 (28%) were women, consistent with the previous year. Of the total academic staff, 17% were EU nationals, while 15% were non-UK nationals from non-EU countries. The majority of academic staff were White (89%), with 7% being Asian.

In terms of Black representation, only 160 professors (1%) were Black, out of which 61 were Black women. As we commemorate Black History – ‘saluting our sisters’, it is crucial to address the underrepresentation of Blacks in academia, particularly Black women, and the resulting barriers to career advancement and professorship. The empirical evidence highlights the urgency in today’s world, to go beyond headlines, surface-level, and endless discussions and actively push for accelerating the implementation of diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education and other domains, with reference to quantitative metrics and qualitative narratives.

Category 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21
Source of basic salary
Wholly general financed by the provider 158,375 163,010 169,790 174,265 174,940
All other sources of finance 48,495 48,970 47,275 49,260 49,590
Academic employment function
Teaching only 56,130 61,050 66,355 72,540 72,970
Teaching and research 100,165 100,120 98,600 98,085 98,630
Research only 49,085 49,515 50,855 51,510 51,375
Neither teaching nor research 1,490 1,290 1,255 1,390 1,555
Contract level
Professor 20,550 20,940 21,520 22,810 22,855
Other senior academic 6,050 6,175 6,185 6,115 6,220
Other contract level 180,270 184,860 189,360 194,600 195,455
Terms of employment
Open-ended/permanent 137,025 141,035 144,315 148,945 151,920
Fixed-term contract 69,850 70,945 72,750 74,580 72,610
Total 206,870 211,980 217,065 223,525 224,530


As universities experience an increasingly diverse student body, it becomes essential to have a teaching academics that reflects this diversity. Creating a diverse staff is crucial for promoting inclusivity and creating a student-centered educational environment. This entails not only increasing the representation of Black female professors, but also other ethnic minorities. Representation is important. When students of color see lecturers who resemble them with shared experiences, a sense of belonging and acceptance on campus is fostered. Consequently, this can positively impact Student Success and overall retention.

Black professors have a significant and positive impact on higher education. They bring their unique perspectives, experiences, and expertise to the classroom, enriching the learning experience for all students. Black professors also serve as role models and mentors to Black students, helping them to succeed academically and professionally. Black professors in higher education can have a significant and multifaceted impact on the academic community, students, and the broader society. Here are some specific areas of the impact of Black professors in higher education:

  • Diverse Perspectives | Institutional Change

They contribute to a more diverse and inclusive curriculum. Black professors are more likely to teach courses on race, ethnicity, and social justice, which are essential for all students to learn about.

  • Representation and Diversity| Mentorship | Student Success

They also bring their own unique cultural perspectives to their teaching, which can help students develop a better understanding of the world around them. They improve academic outcomes for Black students. Research has shown that Black students who have Black professors are more likely to graduate from university and earn higher grades. This is likely due to a number of factors, including increased role modelling, mentoring, and cultural understanding.

  • Inspiring All Students| Role Models| Social Justice and Equity

They create a more welcoming and inclusive campus climate. Black professors can help to create a more welcoming and inclusive campus climate for all students, regardless of their race or ethnicity. They can do this by serving as role models, mentors, and advocates for Black students, and by working to create a more equitable and just campus community.

  • Research and Scholarship | Global Perspective | Community Engagement

In addition to these specific impacts, Black professors also play a vital role in advancing knowledge and scholarship. They conduct research on a wide range of topics, including race, ethnicity, social justice, and the Black diaspora. Their work helps to expand our understanding of the world and to promote social change.

While Black professors make significant impacts and many positive contributions to higher education, it is important to note that there are still challenges and disparities in representation and support for the larger Black community. These include issues such as underrepresentation, pay gaps, and barriers to career advancement. Efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in academia require urgent action.

Black female lecturers are crucial to the academic success of all students in higher education. I’m optimistic! Look at that smile and pure joy on the face of one of our Kent students who graduated this July. I believe she is on her way to greatness, perhaps another Black female professor in the making…

Black female graduate posing for photo at graduation ceremony

I hope this #KNOWLEDGESHIFT about BHM 2023 has inspired you in some way and enhanced your understanding of Black culture and its people. The blog series has explored various topics such as Black hair, African talking drums, Black cuisine, and Black female professors in higher education. I invite you to make room for one another, every culture, and ethnicity – there are galaxies yet to be explored. It’s the Human Race, not colour race. Thank you!

Nigerian Jollof Rice with Plantain and Beef


#KNOWLEDGESHIFT by Dr Yetunde Kolajo

Welcome to Week 3 of BHM 2023!

Let’s talk about food, I hope you’re hungry!!!

Nigerian Fufu and Egusi soup

This week’s blog is another great opportunity to celebrate BHM theme of ‘saluting our sisters’.

Food plays a significant role in defining and differentiating black culture. It is often said that food is the gateway to the soul, bringing families and friends together, regardless of how much or little one may have. The love and connection shared over dinner tables are truly priceless.

Red beans and Plantain

Nigerian Sweet Red Beans and Plantain

The role of black women as masters of the kitchen and the significance of cooking meals for their families is embedded in most African cultures. Food and cooking are often used symbolically in most black cultures to represent a range of themes, from love and nurturing to cultural preservation and resistance. The history of African food exemplifies how preparing food becomes a symbol of survival and familial bonds in the face of adversity. There are numerous talented black female chefs, food authors, and bloggers in the world of black food cuisine, and a significant number of them own their own restaurants.

Nigerian Okra Soup

Nigerian Okra Soup

Diverse Origins: Black cuisine is not monolithic. Black cuisine is a rich and diverse culinary tradition that encompasses a wide range of dishes, flavours, and ingredients. It has diverse origins and has been influenced by various cultures and cuisines of African, Caribbean, Southern American, and European culinary traditions. Understanding the regional differences is important. Black cuisine is also a celebration of resilience and creativity, as it is often associated with communities that have been historically marginalised and oppressed.

Black food is a celebration of culture and heritage. It is diverse and delicious, known for its bold flavours and use of fresh ingredients. Black cuisine reflects resilience and creativity and serves as a unifier for communities. It is often associated with family gatherings and community celebrations, as it offers a way to come together and celebrate shared culture and heritage.

Here are some interesting facts about black food:

African Roots: Many dishes in Black cuisine have their roots in West African cooking, such as jollof rice, okra soup, and fufu. Learning about the ingredients and cooking techniques from Africa is essential.

Soul Food: Soul food is a popular subset of Black cuisine, known for its comfort dishes like fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread, and macaroni and cheese. Understanding the history and significance of these dishes is important.

Caribbean Influence: Caribbean cuisine, with its emphasis on tropical ingredients like coconut, plantains, and spices, has greatly influenced Black cuisine. Learning about dishes like jerk chicken, roti, and callaloo provides broader insight.

Creole and Cajun Cuisine: Creole and Cajun cuisines, with their mix of African, French, Spanish, and Indigenous American influences, play a significant role in Black cuisine, particularly in Louisiana, USA. Dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and étouffée are worth exploring.

African-American Traditions: African-Americans have their own unique culinary traditions, often referred to as Southern cuisine. This includes dishes like collard greens, black-eyed peas, and sweet potato pie. Understanding the historical context of these dishes is crucial.

Ingredients: Essential ingredients in Black cuisine are endless, such as okra, yams, black-eyed peas, collard greens, and various spices and seasonings like cayenne pepper, allspice, and thyme.

Nigerian Jollof Rice with Plantain and Beef

Nigerian Jollof Rice with Plantain and Beef

Are you interested in preparing a delicious Nigerian Jollof Rice meal? Check out this link for a recipe.

Last series was about African Talking Drums and I hope this week’s #KNOWLEDGESHIFT with focus on the unique and fascinating aspects of Black cuisine you have found intriguing and informative. I trust that I have piqued your interest and appetite and provided valuable insights into the world of African cuisine. I encourage you to find an African Caribbean restaurant near you to try some of the delicious beautiful delicacies that black cuisine has to offer. Yum! See you in Week 4


#KNOWLEDGESHIFT by Dr Yetunde Kalajo

African Talking Drum

Drums are symbolic representations of African culture, particularly in West Africa.

The Yorùbá drumming tradition is characterised by its unique style that differs from the European approach to drumming (Finnegan, 2012; Iroko). It is considered more than just music, as it is a highly cultured means of communication. This traditional form of drumming plays an important role in conveying messages, emotions, and even history within the Yorùbá community (Iroko 2023: Speaking Without Voice). The African Talking Drums were developed and used by forested cultures for long-distance communication and religious ceremonies. This hourglass-shaped instrument can be precisely controlled in tone and articulation, but its sound can only be heard in close proximity such as in a gathering or marketplace. It is mainly used during ceremonial occasions, including dance, rituals, storytelling, and communication of important information (Akinbo, 2021; Britannica)

In West Africa, especially in Nigeria and Senegal, the talking drums have become a popular instrument in music genres like Jùjú and Mbalax in the 20th century. West African ethnic groups have different variations of the talking drum (Akpabot, 1975; Motta, 2020; demfirecreation).

  • Tama (Wolof of Senegal)
  • Dondo (Akan of central Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire)
  • Doodo (Songhai and Zarma of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger)
  • Gan gan, Dun Dun (Yoruba of Nigeria and eastern Benin)
  • Lunna (Dagomba of northern Ghana; Mossi of Burkina Faso)
  • Kalangu (Hausa of northern Nigeria, Niger, northern Ghana, Benin and Cameroon)

The African talking drums are not exclusively played by men, but the extent of gender involvement can vary depending on the specific cultural context and tradition within Africa. In many African societies, both men and women can play talking drums. However, there may be cultural norms or traditions that influence who typically plays them. For example, in some West African cultures, talking drums are often played by male drummers, while women may have different roles in the musical or social context. In other regions, men and women may participate in drumming activities without significant gender-based restrictions.

Aralola Olamuyiwa, Female African Drummer

Also, the drums themselves can be referred to as male and female drums as a result of the sound they produce. Some scholars believe that a drum’s distinguishing characteristic might be associated with its high or low pitches, but rather with its “bigness” and “littleness” of sound. “Bigness” referred to a loud and forceful timbre, while “littleness” referred to a soft and gentle timbre. Drums that produced a loud, penetrating sound were classified as male, while drums that produced a gentler sound were classified as female (Carrington, 1971).

The African Talking Drums have gained immense popularity and recognition worldwide due to their captivating effect. You will see the African Talking Drums in various musical performances, orchestras, and even in the Award-winning soundtrack of the movie Black Panther. Their unique sound and traditional significance have made them a sensation and a significant part of the global music scene.

Last series was about Black Hair and I hope this week’s #KNOWLEDGESHIFT on Talking Drums you have found intriguing and informative. See you in Week 3


Blog by Dr Yetunde Kolajo

Welcome to Week 1 of BHM 2023!

I firmly believe in the value of continuous learning. As Albert Einstein once said, when you cease to learn, you cease to grow – I say “When you stop learning, you cease to exist.” This timeless message remains relevant today, as a lack of ongoing education can inhibit personal growth and progress. It is important that our society does not become devoid of understanding. Without ongoing learning, one’s potential for improvement and development is limited, particularly within the realm of higher education. I find Robert Kiyosaki’s emphasis on the importance of fully experiencing life rather than simply existing to be especially poignant. In order to truly live life to its fullest potential, it is essential to keep learning and growing. For higher education students and institutions alike, it is crucial to continually engage in the acquisition of knowledge, understanding, and skills. Embracing a continuous growth mindset is imperative for change and success.


  • Black History Month was first proposed in 1915, 50 years after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished US slavery
  • In America, the month is celebrated in February.
  • Black History Month was created to improve the public’s study of African-American history
  • In 1976, the celebration was extended from a week to a month. v The UK started celebrating Black History Month in October 1987. (source: champions)

Hair holds significant cultural value in African communities, particularly for black girls and women. It is a defining aspect of their identity and a powerful symbol of beauty and pride. BHM 2023 is an opportune moment for our community to delve deeper into the unique and exquisite qualities of Beautiful Black Curly Kinky Hair.

According to Selkridge-Carty ‘s 2021 blog post, the elimination of European beauty standards for black women and girls would effectively end the fashion oppression of black hair.

As we celebrate 2023 Black History Month, we have a unique opportunity to expand our collective knowledge and understanding of this important event. Recently, I watched a thought-provoking TED Talk by Mena Fombo from the ‘No. You cannot touch my hair!’ campaign.

This campaign is a great example and can provide valuable insights into this year’s Black History Month theme, which is focused on recognising and honoring the significant contributions of Black women and girls to various movements throughout history – The theme of ‘Saluting our Sisters’.

Let’s support and embrace the #WEMATTER movement for BHM 2023 by focusing on increasing awareness and knowledge.

Check out this 14-minute video celebrating Black Women and Girls


A Younger Becky with Family

A Conversation with Becky Lamyman

This two-parter blog series follows conversations held with staff members at the University of Kent during South Asian Heritage Month 2023.

In this article, we hear Student EDI Officer Becky Lamyman’s thoughts on identity, heritage, and belonging. As part of the University’s South Asian Heritage Week in 2022, Becky wrote the article White British or Mixed Race?.

B – Becky Lamyman, Student EDI Officer and Interviewee
Z – Zoe Grasby, EDI Office Assistant and Interviewer

Z: How are you really doing this summer break?

B: There’s not enough hours in a day to get everything done, especially when you are juggling childcare, work, summer holidays. I think a lot of people who do not work in Higher Education (HE) get the impression that we have the whole summer off like schools do and that we close. And the reality is that is not the case. You are trying to get work done while people around the university are on annual leave, on summer holidays, et cetera. Everything just slows.

I’m slightly panicking about how little of the summer is left, but then I remember that the students are not back until late September. So, there is a bit more time than I sometimes think there is. But yes, there is too much to get done.

Z: Tell me about your current role at the University. What do you get up to and what do you enjoy the most?

B: I am the Student EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity) Officer at the university, and I have been here for 11 years now. I love the job and I love the unpredictability of it and the fact that it is so varied. There is a rough structure to my year, because you know that October is always Black History Month, February is always LGBT History Month, there’s always Worldfest in March and things like that. But what we do on a day-to-day basis can change up so much.

I have a lot of meetings with people around the university. I always describe my role as an octopus because it has these tentacles that reach out across the entire university and gets into everybody’s business – hopefully in a nice way!

I have always said that my goal for my role is that the university will turn around and say, “sorry, you do not have a job anymore. You have worked yourself out of one because everything is brilliant!”. It is never going to happen. I am very realistic about that fact. There is always something else to do.

Z: When did you realise you wanted to work in Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI)?

B: Until I got the job, I did not know this role – this type of work – existed. I had always done a bit of EDI work. I was the Education Sabbatical Officer for Kent Union. I have worked with students my entire career, apart from a very brief stint in Social Services for 10 months. While I was General Manager of CCCU (Canterbury Christ Church University) Student Union, I did an awful lot of EDI work, it just was not under the EDI banner. I was introducing HR (Human Resources) policies including flexible working. I was doing awareness raising for History Months. I was working hard with the LGBTQ+ and other societies. But it was not framed as equality. It was not a buzzword then. It was not something people really knew about.

And then the Equality Act came out in 2010 and suddenly everyone was talking about equality and this role here at the university came. I was going through a redundancy process, and I got lucky. I was in the right place at the right time to apply for this role. At the time it was only 50% EDI. The other 50% was community relationships, which meant that when students had house parties, I got the phone call from the angry neighbours. Eventually that role got split into two full-time jobs and my line manager at the time asked me what I wanted to do. I chose the EDI path and I have been on it ever since. This was before Athena Swan. This was way before the Race Equality Charter. It was pre- a lot of legislation. I have seen all of this grow as I have been in the field.

Z: Do you think you have a preference towards working with staff, or working with students?

B: I have not really got a preference, no. What I love about students is that they are so eager for change. When you get something that catches their attention and they are passionate about, they just want to run with it. They have got so many ideas and fresh approaches and creativity and diverse ways of using technology, which is amazing. Staff tend to be a little bit more realistic when it comes to constrictions, budget, space planning, health, and safety legislation, all that kind of stuff. So, you have to bring that balance into it.

If I did not like working with staff and students, I would not still be in HE at the end of the day!

Z: How did it feel writing about your South Asian heritage last year?

 “I am staring at the question that I never know how to answer. It is a standard question, a simple tick box and one that the vast majority of people would answer without a second thought. It simply asks me to define my ethnic origin for data management purposes.

The problem is, I never know whether to tick White British or Mixed. I fluctuate between the two depending on my mood, how much of time I have spent with my family, recent interactions and sometimes it just depends on what day of the week it is. I know that for many mixed-race people, particularly second and third generation who have been born and raised in Britain, it is a question of identity that they can struggle with.”

– Becky Lamyman, White British or Mixed Race?

B: It felt nice. It is not something I really got to do much in the past and I found that as I was writing that blog post, more memories kept coming back to me. For example, the memory of the story about the boy with the orange in the myth – or the fairy tale. It was lovely.

I had not realised quite how important the elements that she (my grandma) had passed on to us really were. Because it was always just what we were. But it did leave a strong impression. I have been proud of my heritage and proud of the fact that I have Burmese blood in me. But growing up in England, you do not always make that connection so much.

Z: You wrote about your struggles with identity as someone with mixed heritage. Given that your mother is biracial, do you feel like she was able to pass on any guidance in this respect?

B: I mean, she struggled with racism, but she would never dub it as racism. It is only when she describes it to me that I tell her that it was not acceptable and she is like, “it is how it is.”  Her brothers look much more ‘Asian’ than she does (she is more often than not mistaken for Italian or Portuguese), and they’ve also experienced racism as well in their lifetimes. But they are a different generation that thinks, well, you just deal with it rather than challenge it.

She always wanted to go to Burma, and she managed to do that. But she has got a very strained relationship with her mother, and I think delving too deep into [her heritage] emphasises that strain on her relationship with her.

My mother loves the food, and she is incredibly good at cooking. She loves all the food like the gulab jamun, the balachaung, lahpet, the curries. She likes the artwork, the wood carvings, she likes the visual elements of the culture. But she does not connect with the people so much, it is difficult.

Z: Am I remembering correctly that your grandfather, your Burmese grandmother’s husband, has written a book delving into some of your family history?

B: Yes, he was. I have got it here. So, there is a bit where it says…

‘I was now going through my “to hell with all women” phase when into the office came Joan Barry, a very attractive young Burmese girl who applied for a secretarial post. I was told later by the manager that she was turned down only because he considered her too good looking and would probably cause a distraction within the bachelor cause. How right he was. I tracked her down and we started dating and within six months were married. Mark arrived the following year and after completion of my tour in Burma and our setting up a home in England, the family was increased by the addition of Kim – ‘

That (Kim) is my mother. He said it was throughout his professional practise examination for his architecture qualifications that Joan’s assistance proved invaluable.

‘She’d always been extremely good at maths, particularly application of formula algebra and this is what I needed the most. With much exasperation, she got me to understand sufficiently to enable me to calculate beam loads and bending -’

I mean, this is a young girl in rural 1950’s Burma who is doing quite complex algebra. The book also delved into her experiences travelling to Britain, where most of the time it was assumed that she was the nanny and not the wife.

Z: She sounds like an amazing woman. So, can I ask, what is more important to you: family or community?

B: You know, I do not think you can replace either in any way. And I really feel for people who do not necessarily have that connection with one or the other, because I do think you miss something there.

So yes, I was thinking about this, and I think your community can be your family, but it is not to say that you must get rid of your blood family. I am incredibly lucky in that I live in a part of the UK, in a tiny little village where I have an amazing community around me. I mean, it is like a family, the way they bicker, and they get on with each other. But it is so, so supportive and we have chosen to live in that environment because our family is physically located so far away from us. We do not have that that family network physically close to us, but we still talk to them, love them, have a strong family connection.

Z: What do you think the core message of South Asian Heritage Month is – or should be? How can others support those in the South Asian community?

B: People know about a lot of the other History Months now and they do an amazing job at raising awareness about the nuances between diverse cultures. From a South Asian perspective, we all tend to get lumped in as one big homogenous group and that is not the case. I mean, you can even take from my grandmother’s homeland – the differences between the hill tribes and the city, the differences between the Chin state or the Shan state, the various religions et cetera.

People talk about common ground without necessarily considering the intricacies behind it. For example, someone may talk about the food, “Ohh, I love Asian food.” So, OK, which regions of Asian food do you love? Thai food? OK, which region of Thai food do you love?

I cooked Burmese food and all of us who sampled it decided that the region I had cooked from was too heavy on the peanut oil and the shallots for our palettes. But then I took a different region of Burma and tried the food from there, which is much more fish based. That was wonderful.

So, my core message is awareness raising and celebration. We are not a homogeneous group. Educate yourself, read a book or listen to a podcast, watch a television show (when they are accurate). Start to discover the nuances between the diverse cultures in South Asia.

There is a fantastic line. It is in, um… Pitch Perfect! There is a line where one of the judges at the music competition just tells the other one, whatever his name is, “crack a book.”  That is what I would like people to do.

Z: Do you feel a sense of belonging at the University of Kent?

B: Yes, I do. I went to work at CCCU for some time, and I remember the very first time I drove back onto [University of Kent’s Canterbury] campus, before I started my new job here, I felt like I was coming home.

I could not imagine working anywhere else now. Do not get me wrong, it goes through its tumultuous periods. But overall, I feel a sense of pride working here.

Z: If you could, what would you say to your teenage self?

B: I think the same as it is for all teenagers and all teenage girls. Do not read the magazines. Do not look in the mirror. Keep your friends around you. Trust that it gets easier!

Z: Do you have any book, film, or podcast recommendations?

B: I do EDI so much at work, that when I get home, I am watching things like Sex in the City, back-to-back Midsummer Murders, Great Pottery Throwdown, The Witcher… I just love the ‘switch off’ stuff.

Book-wise, I am currently reading the Silence of the Girls– my Classics education and background comes into play here. It is written from the perspective of the captured women of Troy, you get their names in one line of the Iliad by Homer and then they are just wiped out of history. So, some female authors are now taking these women and reimagining their stories, placing them back at the centre. I have also just finished reading Cersei [by Madeline Miller].

There is also one by a Whitstable based author. I am loving it, but I am reading it quite slowly. It is amazing. Mischief Acts by Zoe Gilbert. It is all about Herne the Hunter and his different incarnations throughout history. So, it jumps through time zones. But again, it is completely away from what I do on the day-to-day basis. It taps into my personal interests in fairytale, mythology, and classics.

Z: Finally, are there any projects, events, or programmes you are working on and would like to share?

B: Black History Month! Always want to make sure people know about that coming up. Especially with the fact we are going to have an amazing looking exhibition.  We are just finalising all the details for it now. It is with a Nigerian artist called Abolore Sobayo.

Z: I took a little peak, his work looks amazing!

B: Yes, so that is the big one for me now. But it is just like always – trying to just get people to be aware of what work we are doing within the EDI field. So, making sure people are keeping abreast of the news blogs and channels and the project work that we are doing with regards to the Race Equality Charter and Athena SWAN and Disability Confident and all the rest of it.

And just making sure that people know EDI does impact everybody. And if you think it is not related to you or your work, it will affect the environment within which you are working.

Freddie Mercury, performing on stage during the Live Aid concert

10 Notable British South Asians from the Past

During South Asian Heritage Month, the University of Kent is glad to celebrate the immense contributions British South Asians have made to UK society, politics, culture, healthcare, and many other areas for decades. In this blog, we would like to highlight ten extraordinary British South Asian figures in UK-SA history. 

18th Century

Sake Dean Mahomed (1759–1851)

Mahomed was an Indian surgeon, entrepreneur, and one of the most notable early immigrants to Europe. He introduced Indian cuisine and shampoo baths to Europe, as well as offering therapeutic massage. He was also the first Indian person to publish a book in English. 

Learn more about Sake Dean Mahomed here

19th Century

Dadabhai Naoroji (1825 – 1917)

Also known as the ”Grand Old Man of India”, Naoroji was an Indian political leader, merchant, scholar, and writer. He was also a Liberal Party Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom House of Commons between 1892 and 1895 and the first Asian to be a British MP. Naoroji is renowned for his work in the Indian National Congress, of which he was one of the founding members and thrice president – 1886, 1893 and 1906.

Learn more about Dadabhai Naoroji here

Maharajah Duleep Singh (1838 – 1893)

The Maharajah was born in Lahore and came to the throne of the Punjab at only five years old. After the annexation of the Punjab to British territories, the Maharajah was exiled to England in 1854 and looked upon as an adopted son of Queen Victoria. His relationship with the British establishment was fraught due to their manipulations and the terror of the Anglo-Sikh war.

Learn more about Maharajah Duleep Singh here

Cornelia Sorabji (1866 – 1954)

Sorabji was the first woman to study law at Oxford University in 1889, having fought a long battle to sit the law exam alongside her male colleagues. This was the first victory for opening up the profession to women and equality in higher education. She retired in Britain in the 1930s, working as a writer and broadcaster.

Learn more about Cornelia Sorabji here

Frederick Akbar Mahomed (1872 – 1884)

The grandson of Sake Dean Mahomed, Mahomed was an Englishman of mixed Indian and Irish descent who made substantial contributions to the study of high blood pressure. He also initiated the Collective Investigation Record for the British Medical Association, the precursor of modern collaborative clinical trials.

Learn more about Frederick Akbar Mahomed here

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh (1876 – 1948)

Singh is best known as a suffragette and women’s rights campaigner. As the daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh and goddaughter of the Queen, she used her fame and position in the fight for gender equality in the early 20th century, leading movements such as the Women’s Tax Resistance League. Singh also volunteered as a British Red Cross nurse.

Learn more about Princess Sophia Duleep Singh here

20th Century

Aftab Ali (1907 – 1972)

Ali was an early 20th-century Bengali social reformer, British Indian and East Pakistani politician, and entrepreneur. His work is recognised to have helped thousands of British South Asian lascars to migrate, settle and find employment in Britain.

Learn more about Aftab Ali here

Shah Abdul Majod Quershi (1915 – 2003)

Quershi was an early British-Bangladeshi restaurateur and social reformer. He is notable for being involved in the early politics of British Asians and pioneering social welfare work for the working-class diaspora in the United Kingdom. He was the first ever Sylheti to open up a restaurant in the United Kingdom, and his restaurants were one of the earliest Indian restaurants at the time.

Learn more about Shah Abdul Majod Quershi here

Freddie Mercury (1946 – 1991)

Born Farrokh Bulsara, Mercury was a British singer, songwriter, record producer and the lead vocalist of the rock band Queen. Regarded as one of the greatest singers in the history of rock music with his four-octave range and ‘flamboyant’ stage persona, Mercury’s later private battle with AIDS and death shocked the world.

Learn more about Freddie Mercury here

Shivananda Khan OBE (1948 – 2013)

Khan is renowned for his life-long activist work for queer and South Asian rights. Whilst attending university, Khan became the first gay South Asian sex worker in Manchester. Disenfranchised by the treatment of sexual minorities of South Asian descent in the West, Khan co-founded Shakti in 1998, a collective for South Asian gay and lesbian people, alongside Poulomi Desai. He further founded the Naz Foundation with Desai in 1991, and was made an OBE in 2005.

Learn more about Shivananda Khan OBE here

If you are interested in gaining a further understanding of the rich history of South Asians in Britain, the British Library has a wealth of resources here:

Banner for South Asian Heritage Month, Uni of Kent and Student Union logos, map of South Asia as background, text reads: "South Asian Heritage Month 2023, 18 July - 17 August'

South Asian Heritage Month 2023

The University of Kent is delighted to celebrate South Asian Heritage Month this year, between the dates of the 18th of July and the 17th of August.

British South Asians form a large percentage of the UK population, and naturally encompass a significant number of the staff and students represented within the vast community here at the University of Kent. The contributions of these Brits to entertainment, politics, science, sports, and many other areas central to British culture cannot be understated, rather, it is important that we take the time to recognise and celebrate such achievements.

Indeed, one of the core messages behind South Asian Heritage Month is seeking to understand, commemorate,, and celebrate the diverse cultures, communities and history that tie the UK and South Asia together.

According to the South Asian Heritage Trust (, South Asian Heritage Month encompasses several independence days connected to South Asian countries. The beginning and end dates of SAHM particularly call back to two significant events in 1947; the 18th of July marks the date that the Indian Independence Act gained royal assent from King George VI, whilst the 17th of August marks the date of publication of the Radcliffe Line, which established where the borders between India, West Pakistan, and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) would be.

In 2023, the theme of South Asian Heritage Month is ‘Stories to Tell’. We have therefore chosen to focus our efforts on gathering articles which shed a light on the perspective of South Asian Brits in the 21st Century, as well as the past that has shaped us all. This will include written interviews with the authors of last year’s South Asian Heritage Week’s stories, that along with a plethora of resources, will be released over the coming weeks. We also invite you to check out the developments on our new South Asian Heritage page, available here:

We hope you all enjoy the rest of your summer – and, of course, South Asian Heritage Month!

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 if you would like to share any ideas or feedback about this year’s disability history month or disability provision in general.


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

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

What’s on for Disability History Month

As Disability History Month continues, check out what’s on this week for DHM for staff to participate in:

  • Wednesday 23 November 13:00 – 14:00 DHM: Thinking about accessibility: ideas for inclusion. An interactive workshop to learn more about accessible practices that you can use in your work or study through a fun game of Cards for Inclusion and some crowdsourced tips and ideas. Book your place online via Eventbrite
  • Friday 25 November 11:00 – 12:00Asking for Reasonable Adjustments in the Workplace. This online one hour workshop from 11-12 will look at what reasonable adjustments you can expect and how to ask for these if you have a disability or health condition. The online booking via TARGETconnect may require a student ID, but the session is open to staff, follow event guidelines to book on.
  • Next week, but limited places, book now!
    Thursday 1 December 09:30 – 12:30: Deaf Awareness Session for all staff, to be booked via Staff Connect. This session will look at hearing loss, basic sign language and how you can better support our deaf community.

If you have any queries, please email

Our staff tell their stories for Disability History Month

Check out these video shorts on lived experience of disability, where Kent staff Anna, Maisie and Hannah share their experiences and what they wish people understood about various chronic conditions, dyslexia and ADHD.