All posts by Liz Laurence

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – November 2020

October is Black History Month and also on 16 October it is World Food Day.  With that in mind we have chosen Marcus Rashford as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the month.

Marcus is a professional footballer who plays for Manchester United.  He was bought by his mum who often struggled to afford food to provide meals for Marcus and his siblings.

The issue of food poverty for families and children had always therefore been something that Marcus was very keen to help with and he has been working with the charity FareShareUK to raise money to supply meals for 3 million vulnerable people.  During the coronavirus lockdown the government insisted that food vouchers for families on free school meals would not be extended outside of term time so he decided to act.

He wrote an open letter to all MPs calling for the decision to be reversed.  The letter drew on his own experiences growing up relying of free school meals and food banks.  He asked that the government make the U turn to protect the lives of the most vulnerable which was not about politics but about humanity.  In June 2020 it was confirmed that he had been successful in his quest and the government changed their mind and extended the scheme through the school holidays.

He has now formed a taskforce with some of the UK’s biggest food brands to continue the work to reduced child food poverty and backed proposals from the National Food Strategy, for an independent review of UK food policy.  Marcus is confident that the group could help change lives for the better and is hoping that with a bigger team of experts he will be able to help more children.

To find out more about Marcus see here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Rashford

To find out more about Black History Month see here https://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/

To find out more about World Food Day see here http://www.national-awareness-days.com/world-food-day/

Black History Month: Postboxes painted to honour black Britons

Four postboxes have been painted black to honour black Britons including Sir Lenny Henry and nursing pioneer Mary Seacole.

The Royal Mail postboxes – in London, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast – have been painted as part of Black History Month in October.

Each features a significant figure in the British black community and has a social media link.

Royal Mail says the aim is to help mark the success of black Britons. More

Trans Rights Are Human Rights

We’re proud to be a signatory supporting this Stonewall campaign, along with over 100 other companies to urge the UK Government to make progress for the trans community.

As an inclusive university we fully support the public statement to say trans rights are human rights.  We’re proud to show our support for trans people in our university community, and more widely in our local communities and across the UK.

The campaign aims to redress reports that the government may be slowing progress on trans rights here in the UK, you can read Stonewall’s response: Statement on reports that key Gender Recognition Act reforms are set to be dropped. 

What you can do

You can consider writing a letter on behalf of your organisation to the Prime Minister and Women and Equalities Minister to outline your concerns about recent press reports, show your support for trans equality and urge the Government to give trans people the support and recognition they deserve.  A template letter is included should you wish to use this.

You can find out more on Stonewall’s website and social media.

Meet Senegal’s first female professional surfer

Khadjou Sambe, Senegal’s first female professional surfer, trains near her home in the district of Ngor – the westernmost point of the African continent.

I would always see people surfing and I’d say to myself: ‘But where are the girls who surf?'” says the 25-year-old.”I thought: ‘Why don’t I go surfing, represent my country, represent Africa, represent Senegal, as a black girl?'”

Reuters photojournalist Zohra Bensemra has documented Sambe’s training and her coaching of other girls and women. More

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – September 2020

Youth Mental Health Day is on 7 September and with that in mind we have chosen Bella Ramsey as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.   Bella is an actress. She made her professional acting debut as the young noblewoman Lyanna Mormont in the series Game of Thrones; she is also known for playing the leading role of Mildred Hubble in the 2017 CBBC television series The Worst Witch and she is currently the voice of Hilda in the Netflix series Hilda.  

Bella started acting as a hobby at the age of four, through Stagecoach Theatre Arts‘ Loughborough branch, which she attended for seven years, she then went to The Television Workshop, where she began auditioning for professional jobs with her first credited role being in Game of Thrones.  

Bella is an Ambassador for the Young Minds Charity, a charity whose aim it is to make sure young people are given the best possible mental health support and the resilience to overcome life’s difficulties.   She became an Ambassador because she is passionate about talking about mental health and destroying the stigma surrounding it and she wants to use the platform she has been given to have to help.  

To find out more about Youth Mental Health Day see here https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/youth-mental-health-day-2020/  

To find out more about Young Minds see here https://youngminds.org.uk/  

To find out more about Bella see here http://www.bellaramsey.com/  

Noor Inayat Khan: Muslim war hero who became ‘unlikely spy’ for Britain in WWII honoured with blue plaque

A Muslim woman who became an “unlikely spy” for Britain when she was dropped into occupied France during the Second World War has been honoured with a blue plaque at the site of her family home in London.

Noor Inayat Khan, dubbed “Britain’s first Muslim war heroine in Europe”, served in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the conflict.

Khan was born in 1914 in Moscow, but her family quickly moved to Bloomsbury in London’s West End at the outset of the First World War.

They then moved to France, where she looked after her mother and siblings following the death of her father.

However, in 1940, the family fled occupied France to Falmouth in Cornwall, where she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and trained as a radio operator, despite her Sufi pacifist beliefs.

She was recruited to the SOE – which was set up by Winston Churchill – in 1943, and was then sent back to France as an undercover radio operator.

In October that year, she was arrested by the Gestapo – the secret police of Nazi Germany – after she was betrayed by a French double agent, who was reportedly paid to hand her over.

Khan was questioned by Gestapo agents, who managed to imitate her over the radio so as not to arouse suspicion, but she escaped along with other members of the SOE.

She was recaptured nearby and taken to a German prison, where she was shackled and interrogated. She refused to cooperate, and managed to scratch carvings of her address on to her bowl so other prisoners could identify her.

After 10 months she was taken to the Dachau concentration camp, where she was executed with three other women.

The English Heritage tribute will mark the London family home which Khan left for Nazi-occupied France.

Shrabani Basu, Khan’s biographer, is unveiling the plaque on Taviton Street in Bloomsbury.

“When Noor Inayat Khan left this house on her last mission, she would never have dreamed that one day she would become a symbol of bravery. She was an unlikely spy,” she said.

“As a Sufi she believed in non-violence and religious harmony. Yet when her adopted country needed her, she unhesitatingly gave her life in the fight against fascism.

“It is fitting that Noor Inayat Khan is the first woman of Indian origin to be remembered with a blue plaque. As people walk by, Noor’s story will continue to inspire future generations.

“In today’s world, her vision of unity and freedom is more important than ever.”

The plaque will be unveiled at the address that Khan etched on to her bowl while in prison, with a virtual ceremony broadcast on English Heritage’s Facebook page at 7pm on Friday.

Khan’s plaque comes after English Heritage admitted the number of women represented by the scheme is “still unacceptably low”, with only 14% of London’s 950 plaques representing women.

The charity said that “if we are to continue to see a significant increase in the number of blue plaques for women, we need more female suggestions”.

Inspirational Diversity CHampion of the Month – August 2020

12 August is International Youth Day and with that in mind we have chosen Dante Marvin as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.  Dante is a Young Ambassador for Variety, the Children’s Charity and Variety North West.

Dante was born with brittle bone disease and scoliosis. He has spent most of his young life in and out of hospital for treatment, including painful rod replacement surgery in his legs.  But refuses to let it get him down. He tells everyone he meets: “There are no disabilities, only abilities.”  It sums up the indomitable spirit of a youngster who inspires everyone he meets with his remarkable zest for life.

Dante first became involved with the children’s charity Variety when his mum Rachel asked for help to buy a new wheelchair. During the home visit, Dante dazzled the assessor with his optimistic outlook and she asked him to speak at an event.

His motto was a key mantra of his speech, which was such a success he now speaks regularly to audiences of adults to raise awareness while encouraging them to dig deep for the cause, helping to raise £30,000 for a Sunshine Bus.

Dante also visits other seriously ill and disabled children in hospital, not only bringing light and laughter to the wards, but also identifying children who could benefit from Variety’s support. He petitions the charity on their behalf for equipment such as lightweight wheelchairs and he’s even been known to do it when undergoing treatment himself.

His message to others is be resilient, be brave and never give up and just because you are disabled, you are no different to anyone else. Never forget that.”

To find out more about Dante see here

https://twitter.com/thedantemarvin?lang=en

To find out more about International Youth Day see here https://www.un.org/en/observances/youth-day

EDI annual report 2019/20

The EDI Strategy 2019-2022 is a declaration of the university’s commitment to place the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of the university. We believe that having a clear Equality and Diversity Policy Statement for students and staff reinforces our expectations of the values and behaviours that all members of the university community should exhibit: 

  • Treat others with respect at all times, and promote an environment free of all kinds of bullying and harassment.
  • Actively discourage discriminatory behaviours or practices.  
  • Participate in training and learning opportunities that would enable them to adopt best practice.

You can read the (EDI) Annual Report now.

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – July 2020

24 July is Samaritans Awareness Day and this year it is known as The Big Listen, with this in mind we have chosen someone who has openly discussed their mental health situation, the actor and tv personality Denise Welch as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the month.

Denise is an actress and tv personality. She has featured in many well know tv shows including, Soldier Soldier, Waterloo Road, Coronation Street, Eastenders, Benidorm and Dun Breedin to name just a few.  She has appeared in many other tv shows and is a regular panellist on Loose Women.

Her mental health issues began following the birth of her first childShe refers to the clinical depression she suffers with as ‘The Unwelcome Visitor’ and although she has written before about her struggles her latest book is called ‘The Unwelcome Visitor – Depression and How I survive it’.

This type of book was something she would have found very useful over the last 30 years, within the book Denise reveals her ongoing journey from breakdowns to breakthroughs and through self-destruction to self-acceptance. It lets people know that ‘you’re not alone and you can live a happy and successful life alongside your illness’.

To find out more about Samaritans Awareness day see here

https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/24-7-samaritans-awareness-day-the-big-listen-2020/

To find out more about Denise see here

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0919538/