Child of the Windrush generation determined to make Bristol better

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Carole Johnson was appointed Deputy Lord Mayor of Bristol City Council 2020 – 2021.

Her strong sense of civic duty and her commitment to unlocking the agency of Bristol’s BAME communities is driven by her life experiences.

The daughter of Jamaican parents, Winston and Patricia Johnson, Carole was born in the UK.

Her parents moved here from Jamaica separately to London and Birmingham, in 1959 and 1961 respectively. They were full of hope, based on the promise of a ‘better’ future. But her parents, with others in their generation, subsequently felt bitterly let down by the British government.

Carole’s mother, Patricia Johnson
Carole’s parents Winston and Patricia Johnson on their wedding day in the UK

Carole’s family moved to Bristol in 1976 and she attended St George’s Secondary School until 1982, before qualifying both as a teacher and social worker at UWE Bristol. She now lives in East Bristol. As a first-generation mother of two primary-aged children, she’s keenly aware of the inequalities still in existence in the city.

Carole explains,

“My vision is to lay foundations which create a climate of perennial change that positively impacts future generations. I’m passionate about readdressing the current societal imbalances in our city, so our children can inherit a world of increased and increasing equity and equal life chances.”

Carole Johnson

Dedicated to supporting her community

Carole’s working and personal achievements span politics, education, law, health and community life in Bristol and the South West region.

She is proud to have been Deputy Lord Mayor of Bristol City Council this year, only the third woman of Caribbean descent since 1899, and an elected local councillor for Ashley Ward in Bristol (2016 – 2021). Her duties extended to serve also as Deputy Cabinet Minister for Communities, Equalities and Public Health.

As Magistrate, she presides over 621 Magistrates as Deputy Bench Chairman for Avon and Somerset, the first of BAME descent in the region. This year, Carole founded the first Magistrates Black Asian and Ethnic Minority and Allies Support Group.

She is also Interim Chair and Non-Executive Director of St Paul’s Carnival and served as school governor to St Barnabas, Easton Academy, St Patrick’s and Hope Virtual School as well as hospital governor for University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.

Carole pictured in Deputy Lord Mayor civic regalia, August 2020

Windrush Ambassador

Following the Windrush scandal in which British Citizens with Caribbean backgrounds were threatened with deportation, a new working group was set up to address the challenges faced by the Windrush generation.

In 2020 Carole was appointed as one of 41 Windrush Ambassadors tasked with raising awareness of the Windrush Compensation Scheme. The collective work of the group received praise from the Home Office as huge progress was made, notably the lowest compensation award was raised from £250 to £10,000.

Windrush Generations project at UWE Bristol

It was in light of all of this work and her leadership in BAME communities that Carole was asked to share both her personal and professional experience with the UWE Bristol community through the Windrush Generation project. The project has explored, celebrated and documented the contribution of the Windrush generation in Bristol, British societies and across the African Diaspora.

Since both of her parents are now deceased, Carole’s commitment to telling the story of their lived experience is even stronger. For Carole it’s a matter of legacy and it’s of incredible historical importance that their whole lives are remembered and recorded correctly for future generations.

 “The best thing about the Windrush Generations project has been having the opportunity to share the Windrush Experience cross generationally. This supports the legacy and provides a vehicle for the truth of their stories to be told.”

Carole

Learn more about the project and watch films of the online workshops on the Windrush Generation project webpages.

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Designing for good causes: graduate showcases and charity campaigns

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BA(Hons) Graphic Design alum, and Creative Director of Rhombus Studio, James Ratcliffe is partnering with UWE Bristol again this year to create Showcase *, a digital platform promoting the talent of our 2021 creative graduates.

James first designed the site last year, to provide an online exhibition space when a physical exhibition wasn’t possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The online showcase will soon be filled with the work of hundreds of this year’s graduating talent from 25 of UWE Bristol’s creative programmes across art, design, animation, fashion, media, performance, photography and filmmaking.

“It’s an honour to be able to build a digital showcase for a university I owe so much to. The website will hopefully be a vital tool for both students and employers for years to come.”

James said.

Academics working with Rhombus Studio praised their design-led approach which resulted in an elegant and simple interface that puts the focus on new talent.

Hoardings from 2020’s Showcase campaign

Campaign design for charities during the pandemic

James has been busy working on several projects with charities during the COVID-19 pandemic.      

The studio created a brand identity for ‘Cheers Drive’ – a life-saving new food aid service in Bristol delivering food to homeless people during the pandemic. They have delivered 160,000 meals since launching.

‘Cheers Drive’, is a Caring in Bristol campaign. The charity works with the public and community partners to bring about lasting change for people experiencing, or at risk of homelessness in Bristol and beyond.

‘This City Can’, another ambitious appeal by Caring in Bristol, saw Rhombus collaborate with local illustrator Claire Shorrock and actor Joe Sims, to create a unifying animation that highlighted the rise in homelessness in Bristol.

Rhombus also worked on a pop art inspired identity for Fareshares’ FoodStock campaign, which has delivered food for over 2 million meals to people and institutions who need it.

Another highlight is an ongoing project for ‘Tap for Bristol’,  – an innovative donation scheme, with over 30 ‘Tap Points’ installed across the city so far, where people can donate to homeless charities using contactless payment.

Rhombus studio direction

Rhombus Studio is a multidisciplinary creative agency, specialising in brand identity, strategic campaigns, design-lead websites and animation.

In addition to their third sector clients, the studio enjoys working with a range of businesses. In the South West their clients include the likes of Temple Homes, Spaceworks and Farmfest, as well as international clients such as Seth Troxler and Groove Armada.

James co-founded the studio with his best friend in 2019.  He credits the course and tutors during his time at UWE Bristol for helping him develop the way in which he thinks and looks at things. It’s this, alongside his passion for typography, branding and design consistency that is making the business go from strength to strength.

James Ratcliffe

* This year’s online Showcase opens on 15 June.

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Eva Watkins: The photography graduate making waves in the UK and beyond

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From winning prestigious awards to having her work shown on billboards across the UK, UWE Bristol photography graduate Eva Watkins is quickly establishing herself as a rising star in the world of photography.

Despite only graduating in 2020, Eva already has a number of awards under her belt, including the prestigious Portrait of Britain Award. More recently, it is Eva’s images of synchronised swimmers which have been making waves.

Henleaze synchronised swimmers project

Photographed at Henleaze swimming lake in Bristol, Eva was introduced to the synchronised swimming group by one of her UWE Bristol tutors who also features in the images. While many people may feel apprehensive about being photographed in their swimming costumes, Eva put the swimmers at ease by getting to know the group and even braved the chilly waters herself.

‘‘I love getting to know the people who I’m making a project with and making sure they feel as comfortable as possible in front of the camera. I also love to get involved in what they do. I went swimming with the synchro team and they taught me synchro moves while they sang ‘Her bathing suit never got wet’ by the Andrew Sisters, it was such a great experience. ’’

says Eva

The images have gone on to secure a multitude of awards for Eva, including the 2020 British Journal of Photography: Female in Focus Award. As part of her prize, Eva’s photography will be exhibited in New York City in July; the first time her work has been shown internationally.

Swimmers pictured pre dip, at Henleaze lake, Bristol

Billboard campaign

Closer to home, Eva was one of 20 graduates selected for a recent UK billboard campaign run by Free Range and Clear Channel. Her image of swimmers emerging from the water on a ladder has been viewed by thousands of people, appearing in cities such as London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham.

‘‘It’s been a great experience walking around London finding my photograph. The synchro team have been finding billboards around Bristol as well. Neither me or the team thought the photo would be around the UK, it’s wild! I’ve loved receiving photographs from people around the UK of the billboards. It’s been surreal.’’

All images ○ Eva Watkins

UWE Bristol and beyond

Reflecting on her time at UWE Bristol, Eva says ‘going to university has to be one of the best decisions I’ve made’ and she credits her tutors and university technicians with helping her to develop her photography style which she describes as ‘documentary portraiture.’

Looking to the future, Eva has recently moved to London and hopes to further her photography career. She also plans on revisiting her synchronised swimming project which was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘‘I plan on making more photographs with the team, swimming with them more and having a fabulous time with them when it’s safe to do so!’’

For more about Eva and her work visit www.evawatkins.co.uk.

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Tom Tucker on Minirigs – from the heart of Bristol’s music scene

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We interviewed Tom Tucker, co-founder of Minirigs, back in 2019. In case you missed it, here’s an introduction to the outstanding work of Tom and Minirigs, along with the film of his interview.

Minirigs evolved through a series of obsessive hobbyist fabrications.

At a time when portable speakers weren’t available, Tom and his friends started making DIY sound systems. Their creations became more and more refined, they went into production and Minirigs was born.

Intrinsically linked to the Bristol music scene, Minirigs are a proudly Bristol-based and forward-thinking company. Dedicated to producing top-quality portable audio products, they’re also passionate about sustainable manufacturing processes. They design and assemble all their products in the Bristol, use recyclable packaging and biodegradable plastics.

Tom studied Product Design Technology at UWE Bristol. In this short film he explains how they got started and why he loves his job.

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Lieutenant Commander Pete Reed OBE: Notes on resilience

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There’s no better grounding for the gruelling realities of spinal stroke rehabilitation than naval discipline and Olympic determination.

Although he didn’t know it at the time, Pete’s early career gave him incredible transferrable skills that would be crucial in dealing with what life had to throw at him.

Triple olympic champion rower

In his second year studying Engineering at UWE Bristol, Pete learnt how to row. He soon developed a passion for the sport and went on to be part of Oxford University’s Boat Club and to build on his rowing prowess.

Pete earned gold in the Men’s Coxless Four at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and then a gold medal again in the Men’s Eight at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He has also won five gold medals and three silver medals at the World Championships.

At almost twice the normal average, Pete has the world’s largest recorded lung capacity of 11.68 litres.

He was physically built for rowing, but it was the mental mindset, the never-give-up attitude that he would need most when his life changed radically.

Spinal stroke

On September 7, 2019 Pete had a spinal stroke. On that day he lost the use of all the muscles below his chest.

Because of the magnitude of the injury, he’ll be a wheelchair user for life.  He’ll have to manage all of the complexities which spinal cord injuries present. There’s a huge loss of all the bodily functions which everyone takes for granted.

Despite this crushing new reality, Pete is approaching his rehabilitation with positivity and complete dedication. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever walk again, but he does know that the next two years are critical in re-establishing his neural pathways and securing the best outcome.

His new goal demands infinite motivation and unrelenting determination, skills he honed in both his naval and elite sporting careers. He is chipping away, one day at a time, not fearing failure and embracing the new challenges. He’s as committed to his rehabilitation as he was to his athlete’s training. And he gets as much satisfaction from it too.

The next chapter

Pete retired from rowing in 2018 to get back to his Naval career. He remains a committed public servant. Right now, he’s focussed on his rehabilitation – it’s a full-time project. He’s not sure what the future holds, but he’d like to use his experience to help others enduring hardship to build resilience whilst continuing in public service.

As he says in his Twitter profile,

Made in the Royal Navy. Raised at the Olympics. On a roll.

Notes

  • Pete Reed studied BEng in Mechanical Engineering at UWE Bristol, completing his course in 2003.
  • He gained an MBE in 2009 and OBE in 2017.

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