The Inclusive University

A Personal Experience - The Disabling Effects of Trauma

Posted by Valerie Russell Emmott | 1 comment
22Dec2016

 

 

 

What happened to me

Earlier this year, I felt a sudden change within my physical and mental functioning. It started with night terrors and insomnia, but quickly turned into extreme depression, very high levels of anxiety in seemingly normal situations, regular panic attacks, unwelcome flashbacks, periods of disassociation, hearing and seeing things that did not exist, emotional numbness, demotivation, loss of self-confidence and self-esteem, heightened fear, body tremors, body pains, feverish sweating, loss of appetite and nausea.

I felt I could control or contain it until it started affecting my ability to speak and write. I could no longer access language the same way and this caused me to forget simple words. Sometimes, it brought on a stammering problem, and there were times where I would open my mouth and I could not get one word out.

My academic and professional life felt strenuous and tiring. I could no longer remember routes that I had walked a hundred times before and I started to lose balance in my body easily therefore socialising became more and more difficult. My personal life was painfully affected and I lost a lot of confidence very quickly. I isolated myself from my family, lost a lot of friends and lost the relationship I was in. The loss in every area of my life and inability to function felt like being trapped within my own body.

Seeking help and getting diagnosed with PTSD

It took me some time to accept that I needed help but once I did, I approached my GP at the UWE Health Centre, UWE Wellbeing, the NHS and various charitable organisations. After several assessments, I was diagnosed with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is a condition that sets in after a traumatic event where the event could not be processed properly at the time of occurrence. The memories are not stored in the brain in the same way and then start to re-surface later as though being played back in flashbacks with heightened reactions, triggered by the smallest of sensory reminders. This causes the physical and mental capabilities to feel overthrown.

For months, I had not understood what was causing these troubling symptoms that I could not control or contain, which felt even more disorientating - therefore finally having the PTSD diagnosis felt comforting. It helped me to understand that there was nothing wrong with me, I simply had a condition that was affecting my abilities.

Following the diagnosis, I did many new things to help me adjust and cope better:

    • I read available information to understand more about PTSD;
    • I was given medication specifically for PTSD;
    • I approached therapy that was targeted at PTSD including counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR);
    • I joined a specialist group to meet others who struggled with similar issues;
    • I discussed my diagnosis and circumstances with my Head of Department at UWE, my line manager, supervisors and colleagues that I worked very closely with;
    • I lived a crisis house in Bristol for a month to dedicate time for my recovery;
    • I mapped out my triggers and reactions to pinpoint what I find difficult to cope with;
    • I changed my lifestyle to be more accommodating and manageable;
    • I was kinder and less critical of myself;
    • I made time to do small replenishing things I had denied myself earlier in the year because I felt undeserving – I went for leisurely walks, listened to music, joined a choir, wrote in a journal, read books, cooked, went out for meals, travelled,got a kitten (whom I named Detective Bubbles) and even dyed my hair in colours that I liked; and
    • I spoke openly to my friends and family instead of putting on a pretence.

         

Almost a year has passed now since my diagnosis. Even with all the positive steps I have taken, it is an ongoing battle with symptoms that still surface and re-surface. Yet I am very grateful I reached out for help and receive the support I need.

Language as a barrier to healing

In terms of language, there were many labels and negative phrases people said to me: "you're weak," "move on from this," "you always act like a victim," "it's like you're 98%," "overreacting," "the past is the past," "you only think about yourself," "abusive," and "behaving like an abuser."

PTSD is a difficult condition to describe. I would personally describe it as living in a different world; one filled with fragments of a past traumatic event that flood your system, seize your senses and cease you from existing in the current world. The emotional and physical pains that come with it are terrifying mainly because you cannot stop or control them. The powerlessness, guilt and shame are heavy burdens to bear. It is difficult enough having the condition and made more difficult by negative connotations people attach to it.

Language is a two-edged sword. It can be used effectively to communicate messages and it can be used to entrap people. Nobody should have their personal circumstances dismissed or minimised, ignored or shamed. I consider Post Traumatic Stress a disabling condition for myself yet I describe myself as strong, as a survivor, and as 100%.

I hope this will give encouragement to be kinder to those around you because regardless of their appearance or behaviour, they may be going through difficulties that are both visible and invisible to the eye. I also hope that this blog post can help others come forward and seek the help they might need.

by Dharshana Navendren, Graduate Tutor, Department of Architecture and Built Environment, FET

Health and Wellbeing Update

Posted by Anna Houghton | 0 Comments
28Nov2016

Contributed by Lizzie Johnson, Health and Wellbeing Coordinator.

Mental health is a growing concern for the university,  and is one of the priority areas for the Healthy University Group (HUG). In order to raise awareness about mental health and the support available, HUG are working on a number of related projects including: 

Feel Good Focus – a new project looking at a particular health topic each month for students and staff. This will enable UWE to promote health and wellbeing all throughout the year (not just February), it will raise awareness about key issues such as mental health during exam periods or staff taking breaks for lunch and will hopefully increase engagement with our initiatives/events.

Feel Good February (FGF) – planning is underway we are hoping for a full programme of activities and events again this year if anyone would like to contribute to FGF or give any suggestions for activities please don’t hesitate to contact feelgood@uwe.ac.uk

Mental health working group – There is a lot of work going on across the university around mental health so we have decided to create a working group to bring all interested parties together to ensure future plans/projects are co-ordinated efficiently and ensure some consistency.

The Wellbeing College – UWE are partnering with the Wellbeing College (South Glos partnership scheme) to bring relevant wellbeing courses such as peer support, money matters, mindfulness, assertiveness training, cooking courses etc. to UWE for its staff and students. This will be launched in February 2017.

 

Black History Month: BME Professional Careers Networking Event

Posted by Vicky Swinerd | 1 comment
21Nov2016


Contributed by Dr Zainab Khan

FBL celebrated Black History Month 2016 with a fantastic professional networking evening for BME students on 17th November.  Despite the stormy weather outside, over 50 Law and Business BME professionals and entrepreneurs from across Bristol joined us in order to share their personal career stories and advise our students.

Organisations in attendance included Elite Solicitors Ltd, Gregg Latchams, Albion Chambers, Bristol Pound CIC, GE Oil & Gas as well as the Black Police Association.

The evening included talks from finance experts and motivational coaches as well as successful UWE Bristol Alumni.

The event, the first of its kind at UWE Bristol, was a huge success and the inspirational speakers energised over 100 students in attendance, championing them to pursue their careers with even more enthusiasm and drive.  

The event was organised by Dr Zainab Khan (FBL) who would like to give advanced notice of Bristol Law School’s Annual Address: 9th February 2017 6pm Tunde Okewale MBE, the founder of the charity Urban Lawyers and recipient of numerous diversity awards, will be delivering his speech entitled 'No one Rises to Low Expectations.'  Registration for this event will be available online soon.

You can find more photos from the Networking Event on flickr.

UWE support for the Zero Tolerance campaign

Posted by Valerie Russell Emmott | 0 Comments
07Jul2016
This article is taken from the Zero Tolerance campaign website and was originally published in April 2016 prior to the Bristol mayoral election:

The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) have been involved in Bristol Zero Tolerance from the beginning and are championing the issue of addressing gender-based violence in Bristol with the University of Bristol and others.

We spoke to Professor Jane Harrington, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, to find out what has been implemented and what they are planning for the future:

 Professor Harrington, the Bristol Zero Tolerance initiative was needed because of the attitudes that she saw in students regarding gender-based violence: "I have been shocked by attitudes of students across the sector and was concerned that we had a specific policy to deal with this issue at UWE Bristol… In particular I have an interest in seeing that female students and staff have a safe working environment and that there are policies in place to ensure this. We obviously have a focus on students because this is a large issue, particularly around alcohol-related sexual violence and harassment. But it also translates to staff and it is important that staff also have a safe environment. Their home life can impact on the workplace, there is also the relationship of staff to students which needs to be appropriate, and it is also student to student. So we want to work on all of these aspects."

Professor Harrington is the Senior Lead for Gender at UWE and a member of the Bristol Women’s Commission and it was through this role that she was involved in setting up Bristol Zero Tolerance. "We felt it was the most pressing problem in the city and that we shouldn’t ignore it but should take a stance and not just sign the pledge but take actions, and this was an impetus for us to take action at UWE Bristol… I was the Chair of the Transport Sub-Group on the Women’s Commission and the biggest issue with transport is safety, likewise with housing, safety is a huge issue. So it impacts on so many areas. When we look at the percentage of sexual violence and domestic violence in society, it just has to be one of our main priorities, safety has to be a priority, because if we confront that and use it as a baseline then we can tackle the other issues of inequality against women and others."

‘Safety has to be a priority, because if we confront that and use it as a baseline then we can tackle the other issues of inequality against women and others.’ – Professor Harrington

For UWE Bristol, being involved in Bristol Zero Tolerance was important, as gender-based violence was an increasing concern and it was a priority to ensure the right response for students. For Professor Harrington it also "means that we can push in the direction that we were already going more quickly. It sends out a clear public message to students and staff about our values and the actions that we will take if they are not carried out."

UWE Bristol have also joined proactively with the University of Bristol and both student unions as well as with other agencies, such as the Police and Bristol Zero Tolerance, to create the Forum Against Sexual Violence and Harassment, which is a great example of joint working to create change on this issue. The Staff unions are also supportive and they are hoping to work with them further on this issue.

Externally, through the Intervention Initiative, they hope to help other universities and further education colleges implement this preventative work to tackle the problems of gender-based violence before they occur. As Professor Harrington notes, "if we can stop sexual violence before it happens, it is better than dealing with the consequences."

"If we can stop sexual violence before it happens, it is better than dealing with the consequences." – Professor Harrington



For Professor Harrington, a Zero Tolerance City would mean "that all aspects of sexual violence and harassment are tackled appropriately and people are empowered to take appropriate action and are confident that this action will be supported by the relevant bodies in the city, such as the Police, the universities and other services like The Bridge… I also want women to feel confident that if gender-based violence occurs or they are in fear of it occurring, that there is a place that they can seek help and be confident of this… My vision is that the percentage of domestic violence and sexual violence is diminished dramatically from where it is now and that this is not seen as a daily occurrence – that it rarely happens and is dealt with when it does… I want Bristol to feel a safer city to be a woman in."

She also has a message for the city leaders in Bristol: "I hope that whoever the elected mayor is after May 2016 that they commit to supporting this initiative and I hope that they see gender-based violence as unacceptable and want to address it, as well as recognising that this doesn’t happen without commitment
and funding!
"

We can’t disagree with that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen Lawrence Trust and UWE Bristol offer new bursary for young wildlife filmmaker

Posted by Valerie Russell Emmott | 2 Comments
19Apr2016

Interview with Patrick Aryee on YouTube

The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust has partnered with the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) to offer a unique bursary for a young person wanting to study towards a prestigious MA in Wildlife Filmmaking.

The UWE Bristol / BBC Wildlife Filmmaking Master course is a practical, one year MA, featuring masterclasses from industry leaders, practitioners and experts in the field and craft of wildlife filmmaking.

This unique scholarship will not only provide world class teaching and practical experience to the student, but the successful applicant will also receive additional support in the form of bespoke mentoring throughout the course, and after graduation, from production staff at the BBC and Plimsoll Productions; an independent production company based in Bristol.

UWE Bristol's MA in Wildlife Filmmaking is now in its fourth year and has an employment rate of 90 - 100%, at any one time, for its graduates.

The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust has, historically, offered bursaries for young people studying towards a degree in architecture. More recently, bursaries have been offered to students studying law and journalism. With the announcement of this new scholarship the Trust continues to ensure that talented young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are able to access a variety of careers.

Sonia Watson, CEO at the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust says, "This is an exciting new venture for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. We have been working towards improving access to the media industry for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, but we have never ventured into the world of wildlife filmmaking. The work of the Trust is aimed at giving young people the opportunity to succeed in whatever field they choose, so we were delighted when we were approached by UWE Bristol and the BBC's Natural History Unit to develop a new scholarship aimed at increasing diversity in this field."

Alex Gilkison, Pro-vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education, says, "UWE Bristol appreciates this opportunity to work in collaboration with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and the BBC to provide tangible opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds to enter the television industry at a professional level."

The Stephen Lawrence Trust & UWE Bristol Wildlife Filmmaking partnership bursary is open for applications. For further information and how to apply, please visit the course page.

 

 

 

 

We need to double number of young engineering students

Posted by Valerie Russell Emmott | 0 Comments
18Apr2016

Catherine Hobbs, Head of Engineering, Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol, reflecting on the latest report from Engineering UK.

Engineering is important to the nation, and we need more engineers. This message is certainly getting across loud and clear, from Government, from employers and from the professional bodies.

But what is the effect on the South West regional economy and where should effort be concentrated to address the need for more engineers? The latest Engineering UK report, launched on 10 February 2016, contains a wealth of data on the contribution of engineering to the economy and on the needs of employers.

For the first time, the data is broken down by region so we can see exactly how the South West is affected. The report tells us that over 27 per cent of the UK’s GDP comes from engineering and that this contribution is growing. In the South West alone almost 55,000 engineering-related enterprises were registered last year – up nearly 5 per cent on the previous year.
The annual turnover of engineering industry in 2014 in the South West was almost £78 billion, a growth of 11 per cent on 2013. However we are facing some severe skill shortages that will stifle further growth unless addressed now. It takes at least three years to produce a graduate engineer, and longer if you take on board that we need to start with children as young as 11 if we are to motivate them to consider an engineering career.

The evidence is that the 11-14 age group is critical and the Engineering UK report calls for employers to provide more high quality work experience and support for schools in the region to inspire this age group. More than 16,000 engineers will be required in the South West by 2022 which will mean doubling the number of young people doing engineering degrees and apprenticeships (including degree apprenticeships) over the next six years.

This is a possibility. At UWE Bristol we have doubled the number of engineering graduates over the past four years with very strong graduate employment outcomes (82 per cent of whom are in graduate employment at 6 months after graduation, and virtually 100 per cent of them employed at 3.5 years).

We have done this through stimulating demand with exciting outreach such as our involvement with Bloodhound SSC, and collaborative work with employers to develop and contribute to programmes that match their needs. The first degree apprentices from our innovative programme with Airbus, delivered jointly by UWE and City of Bristol College, rolled off the production line in November 2015 and will be followed by many more from a range of engineering employers.

Of course another aspect highlighted in the Engineering UK Report and acknowledged by Government, industry and education is that if we want to grow the number of graduates and apprentices we need to ensure that the whole population is represented. The under-representation of girls in engineering is not a new issue, but organisations like Tomorrow’s Engineers, who put on the Big Bang and Big Bang Near You shows, are starting to make a real difference to the perceptions of girls and their important influencers – parents and teachers – about engineering as an exciting and rewarding career for all.

This opinion piece appeared in the Bristol Post on 13 April 2016.

 

 

Gender Equality in STEM subjects

Posted by Valerie Russell Emmott | 0 Comments
14Apr2016
Please see this interesting article, forwarded to the E&D Unit by John Albarran, the departmental lead for Athena SWAN (gender equality charter) from Nursing and Midwifery, based at Glenside.

 

Adjacent Government – Feb 2016

Profile: Women’s careers in STEM – What does it take?

01/02/16

Elena Makarova, Professor at the Centre for Teacher Education and at the Department of Education at the University of Vienna, outlines the obstacles young women have to overcome if they aspire to a career in the STEM fields, and how teachers can support their gender atypical career choice.

Makarova and her colleagues in Switzerland have conducted extensive research on the gender-atypical career choices of young women in secondary schools. The study “Gender-atypical career choice of young women” was funded by the Swiss National Research Foundation and was a part of the Swiss National Research Program (NRP60) on Gender Equality.

Makarova says: “Young women who aspire to a STEM career have to overcome a variety of hurdles and conquer gender stereotypes on their way to becoming a professional in a male dominated career field”. She further explains, what makes it difficult for young women to pursue a gender atypical career in Switzerland.

Perception of science as a male domain

Secondary school students not only have a stereotypical perception of both genders and personality traits associated with women and men, but also a gender stereotypical image of science. In the perception of female students women are labelled as being soft, dreamy, lenient or frail, whereas mathematics and physics are seen as being hard, sober, strict or robust. Thus, young women are strongly challenged in relating the masculine image of science to the self. This image of science not only endangers young women’s identification with this academic domain but in the long term also negatively affects young women’s interest in science, their academic self-concept in the science subjects and lastly their decision to choose a career in science-related fields.

Gender stereotypes in the science textbooks

In our study we analysed the textbooks for mathematics, physics and chemistry in secondary schools with respect to the numerical representation of female and male characters in the text and illustrations as well as the context in which both gender appear. It was obvious that male protagonists and the everyday experience of male students vastly dominated the representation of gender in the science textbooks. Moreover, persons of female and male gender were presented in highly stereotyped roles and activities. It can be assumed that the textbooks are less likely to appeal to young women and to encourage them to pursue science. Thus, issues of gender mainstreaming should be given more consideration by textbook editors and authorities who approve these teaching materials.

Prejudice towards women in STEM careers

Young women apprentices learning a STEM profession are at risk of experiencing discrimination during their vocational education and training. In order to adjust to a male dominated career field and to combat prejudice in the work place, young women need to outperform their male co-workers and need to be resilient towards gender stereotypical beliefs and attributes in the work place, or to assimilate within the gender atypical career field. Thus, training companies which provide apprenticeship programs in STEM fields should be strongly challenged to combat sexism and gender discrimination in order to create an inclusive working environment for young women in gender-atypical careers.

Makarova highlights further, that teachers can support young women’s interests in science and their career choice in STEM.

Fostering students’ motivation in science classes

As shown in our study, students’ learning motivation in science classes can be increased through the connection of science to different everyday experiences of female and male students, through providing individual instructional support for students, by using gender-neutral language, by giving information about STEM professions and by encouraging and supporting female students’ interests in STEM careers. Thus, science teachers can increase female and male students’ willingness to choose a career in science related occupational fields through conducting gender inclusive science classes.

A need for professional role models

Role models and mentors are highly important in the process of professional orientation and especially for the gender-atypical career choices of young women. A young woman who has chosen a career in the STEM fields highlighted the impact of male or female professional role models on their gender-atypical career choice. Consequently, parents, siblings, teachers and peers – regardless of gender – can function as a role model or a mentor by inspiring, supporting, encouraging and accompanying young women who opt for a career in the STEM fields.

A way to go

Gender segregation in career fields typically chosen by women or men constitutes a serious obstacle to gender equality. In this endeavour instructional design of science classes which increase students’ learning motivation emerges as a promising means to gaining more women and men for STEM occupations. In this endeavour teachers play a crucial role in helping students to overcome gender stereotypical beliefs and make their life choices independently of their gender.

 

Prof. Dr. Makarova Elena

University of Vienna, Centre for Teacher Education/Department of Education

Tel: +43 664 60277 60030

elena.makarova@univie.ac.at

Research Focus: Bisexuality

Posted by Vicky Swinerd | 0 Comments
26Jan2016

Various surveys indicate that the number of young people in the UK who identify themselves as bisexual is increasing (including students at UWE). However, bisexual people have often been overlooked within academia and in wider society.

Nikki Hayfield is working with two psychology undergraduate students at UWE to identify what is known and what gaps exist in our knowledge and understanding of bisexuality.

Currently the project focus is on bisexual people and their relationships, and ‘biphobia’ and bisexual marginalisation. The aim to develop ideas for future research that can increase our understandings of bisexual people’s lived experiences, and address misconceptions around bisexuality.

New online file conversion service available for students and staff

Posted by Vicky Swinerd | 0 Comments
20Jan2016

The library now offers an online file conversion service, which enables students and staff to create their own accessible documents in just a few minutes. Simply upload a document, select your chosen format and enter your UWE email address. The converted file is emailed to you within a few minutes.

You can upload a variety of formats including .DOC and .DOCX (Word), .PPT and .PPTX (PowerPoint), JPEG (photos), EPUB (ebook) and PDF.

Documents can be converted into a range of formats including accessible PDF, Word, Braille translation, ebook, and MP3 (audio).

This service is perfect for converting short documents such as journal articles or reports.

If you have any questions or would like to know more, please contact the Library Disability Support Team (fr.enabled@uwe.ac.uk).

New customer relationship management system to improve services for disabled students

Posted by Vicky Swinerd | 6 Comments
17Sep2015
Contributed by Christine Little, Senior Project Manager, Strategic Programmes Office

Strategy 2020 Update: Ways of Working 2020

Disabled students will benefit from the introduction of a new customer relationship management (CRM) system to help manage the process of assessing their study needs. This is the first part of an improvement project within the Ways of Working 2020 strategic programme.

From this month the Access West of England (AWE) team and Disability Services will use the CRM system to deliver their service. This will:

• Significantly reduce the risk of breaches of data protection
• Provide more rigorous records of student data
• Make it easier for staff to access and maintain student data
• Enable a more efficient service

AWE provides a service to more than 900 disabled people each year, both UWE students and those going to other higher education institutions, to assess their study support needs.

The next part of the project is to develop an online portal to provide an accessible entry point for students who wish to carry out tasks such as making appointments and submitting enquiries, and provide data with improved security and automated data transfer to and from the CRM system.