Education is a privilege

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Anti-racist educator Aisha Thomas MBE, LLB(Hons) Law (2006), founder of Representation Matters, talks to us about her journey, her inspiration, her successes and what’s next.

Tell us about the start of your journey, studying law and your early legal career.

My journey initially was very much about law, justice, social justice and making sure that people in life really got a fair deal. If the world was oppressing you, I wanted to do something to change that.

After my degree, I worked with the Prince’s Trust National Offender Management Scheme, working with young people, particularly young boys in prison and helping them back into community.

My time there made me realise that education was a privilege. And I realised that if they could’ve been served the opportunity to experience education in a different way, perhaps they wouldn’t have chosen the pathways they did. I decided to give up my legal career and transition into education.

How did you get started in education?

I spent 10 years working in a secondary school in the inner city of Bristol, helping young people to really think about what the world could offer and provide for them. I built up training courses, beginning to challenge students and expand their minds. But I realised that their racialised experiences – that them being black and brown – was really impacting how they would navigate through the world.

And that’s when I thought about becoming a specialist leader in education for community, equality and diversity. I did a lot of anti-racist practice work within the education system, which then led me to say, ‘I need to do more’!

And that was the birth of Representation Matters, an organisation specialising in anti-racist practice, supporting young people, teachers, and corporate organisations.

What three things most inspire you in your work?

  1. A young man I met in prison

In the prison environment I met a particular black boy. We were talking about why he was where he was. He said, “perhaps if you were my teacher, I wouldn’t be in prison today.”

He wasn’t talking specifically about me, but what I represented. All of his representation, all the people in society who were significant, were racialised as white and gendered as male.

I started thinking about under and over representation. He had seen an over representation of himself (as a black male) in crime, in media, and in sports. But he didn’t see himself in those pathways. So crime is where he took his chances and unfortunately, he ended up in prison.

Thinking about the under representation. Children could look up to doctors, engineers, teachers, biochemists and have aspiration. But often they’re not seeing people racialised like them in those job roles, so they think ‘those roles are not for me’.

2. My mum

She’s a primary school teacher. I didn’t realise back then the significance of the seeds she was sewing, by being a black representative in education.  I look at my mum as inspiration, because she shows me that even when she didn’t see representation, she became what others needed.

3. My sons

As black boys, I already know how society can deem them. Representation Matters is about providing opportunities of black joy, so that they don’t only see themselves from a negative perspective, a place of pain and deficit, but they see themselves as young boys who can experience joy in all places.

What does success look for you?

It’s about having an organisation that is impactful, not just regionally or even nationally but internationally. And actually, changing the lives of the young people in the next generation.

It’s when I talk to teachers and leaders, and they say to me, “the training you’ve delivered has transformed my way of thinking and my way of being and the way I now teach”.

Success is when a child says to me, “my teacher now sees me, they now recognise my existence.” They now know that the child’s racialised experience, gendered experience, or sexuality are just as important as any other aspects of their identity, and that they see that as an important part of their curriculum.

Tell us about your relationship with UWE Bristol.

For me UWE Bristol has been a springboard.

I started to do some guest lectures with the education department, sharing my journey of what it meant to be a senior leader within practice.

That work grew, and I’ve worked with the department to develop an accredited course about inclusion for teachers in training.  The programme is about ensuring that students understand anti-racist teaching practice, LGBTQ+ gender and intersectionality pedagogy. It’s not only innovative but also pioneering. We’re allowing teachers to be perhaps more equipped than the those they will be working with when they get into practice.

The course is now in its second year and will create a legacy beyond me, beyond Representation Matters. A legacy that will continue in education up and down the country. Now that is powerful.

Notes

Find out more about Aisha on LinkedIn and more about her work on the Representation Matters website. Her book Representation Matters – Becoming an anti-racist educator contains the voices of 30 different people who speak about their journeys in education.

Aisha is one of our 30 to watch, a list of inspirational alumni, staff and students. Each of these individuals have talent, persistence and passion. They’re all making important changes, not just in our community but in industry and society.


Seriously good prizes for a great cause

Play our 30th anniversary prize draw for your chance to win one of 30 fantastic prizes, kindly donated from alumni and the wider UWE Bristol community.

100% of funds raised from ticket sales will go to the UWE Bristol Fund to support Student Hardship Grants.

Buy a ticket and find out more about other ways we’re celebrating 30 years of being a University.

uwe.ac.uk/prize-draw

30 years of UWE Bristol, win in our prize draw
Win in our prize draw

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And still we lack the resolve our problems demand

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Illegally logged hard wood in Nigeria © Hard Rain Project / Mark Edwards

Mark Edwards is one of the most widely published photographers in the world. His pictures are collected and exhibited by museums and art galleries in Europe, the US and by private collectors. He’s recognised as the first photographer to focus on the environment and sustainable development issues.

Assignments for magazines, non-governmental organisations and United Nations agencies have taken him to over 100 countries during his 30 year career.

In 2006, he produced the Hard Rain exhibition, a collaboration with Bob Dylan. Hard Rain is one of the most successful environmental exhibitions ever created, attracting an audience of some 15 million people around the world.

Environmental refugees from rural Haiti going to school © Hard Rain Project

In 2017 Mark was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Arts (Hon DArt) by UWE Bristol in recognition of his commitment to communicating sustainability challenges through the medium of photography and via the Hard Rain and Whole Earth exhibitions.

Earlier this year he was awarded an OBE for services to Photography and to the Environment. Here he shares his response.

Swings and roundabouts, by Mark Edwards OBE

My phone rang just as I was starting to paint the banisters. It was my GP, sounding worried. My prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, a marker for prostate cancer, showed an elevated reading. She promised an urgent call from a specialist. “Right,” I thought, “get on with the banisters”. 

As I got to the newel post in the hall, a heavy letter dropped on the floor behind me. I saw with alarm that it was on Her Majesty’s Service. Even more worrying, it had ‘Cabinet Office’ printed above my address. I’d been critical of Boris Johnson, but surely he couldn’t write to everyone who’s been on his case; the Post Office couldn’t handle the volume. I tore open the letter and saw to my amazement that the (then) Prime Minister had recommended me to “Her Majesty The Queen for the honour of the Officer of the Order of the British Empire”. 

It must have been the Hard Rain Project (HRP) that caught the eye of the OBE nominator. I stepped into the arena with the Hard Rain exhibition in 2006 to show a vision of a world unravelling.  The exhibition was hard hitting, as it needed to be. Bob Dylan’s poetic masterpiece A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, illustrated with pictures of dead and dying life, could only be justified when there was still time to step back from the precipice.

The HRP outdoor exhibitions reached millions around the world and showed how our environmental problems are linked by cause and effect and need to be tackled together. Hard Rain was a thorn in the flesh of those who offer hope to gloss over the scale and complexity of our problems and the opportunities this crisis offers to people who are prepared to face facts. There is nothing wrong with hope that is contingent on us all working together to deal with the environmental crisis. But hope, offered as timid reassurance, does not cut through the inertia to bring about the depth of response this crisis demands. 

‘Heard the song of the poet who died in the gutter’ © Mark Edwards

In the early years of this century, we had that narrow window of opportunity to scale up solutions to deal with climate change and the interlinked problems now threatening to overwhelm civilization. In just the last few years, real-life news has overtaken the horror of the imagined future offered in Hard Rain. We are sleepwalking through heatwaves, droughts, floods, the destruction of habitats and species extinctions—and still we lack the resolve our problems demand. How stupid is that? Very.

There is a growing acknowledgement that it is too late to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees. In the face of this bleak assessment, a new generation of campaigners, school students, have found their voice. Will their uncompromising call for a radically new world-wide approach jolt political and business leaders and the silent majority into action? Our failure to respond adequately to our environmental problems so far shows that we do not really care about the prospects for children alive now, let alone future generations. We have put at risk the gains so painstakingly developed throughout our history for short-term advantage.

Children, Mexico City © Mark Edwards

I’m aware of being at the receiving end of many of those extraordinary developments. A few days after my GPs call, I was pushed gently into an MRI scanner. It brought to mind a sequence from a Woody Allen movie, and I started to laugh. I’m rolled out of the scanner and told off by a rather severe looking nurse. I quickly explain the joke; Allen’s character gets a headache, fears he has a brain tumour and demands a brain scan. He is rolled into a scanner, his face full of the crumpled despair he does so well. Next, the doctor greets him in the waiting room with the scan results: “There’s nothing wrong with you. Take an aspirin and have a lovely evening.”  You see him running down the hospital steps, but as he reaches the pavement, he freezes. Cut to him with his girlfriend in his apartment, wringing his hands, “And I suddenly realised: I don’t have a tumour now, but I could have one at any moment.” Now we are all laughing at the uncertainty of life. It’s a lovely moment then it’s back in the machine for a very special kind of selfie.

A couple of weeks later I meet the surgeon who gives me the news: “So, Mark you have prostate cancer. But you’re an exceptionally fit 75-year-old man, you cycle to your hospital appointments, you’re gregarious and I have absolute confidence I will be able to operate successfully.”

I cycled home elated. I’ve spent 30 extraordinary years with people at the sharp end of the environmental debate in a hundred countries. If the photographs I, and my fellow photographers, have taken have helped show the need to take healthcare, proper housing and education to all – and deal urgently with global warming so that we can pass on our gains to future generations – that is the only thanks any of us need.

But I am grateful for this unexpected recognition the OBE offers and for the Honorary Doctorate of Arts from the University of the West of England. It gives me a chance to renew our message and thank Bob Dylan and his team at Special Rider Music and Sony ATV Music Publishing for their generosity and support.

And a further unexpected vote of thanks to everyone at the Urology Clinics at Kings College Hospital and Guy’s Hospital! I’ve never been in hospital so I’m discovering, late in life, the generosity and skill of NHS staff. It prompts a final note to gentleman reading this; may the PSA be with you. And if you don’t know your PSA score, book a blood test. Prostate cancer is really cancer for beginners—provided it’s caught early. I was just in time.

Mark Edwards

Hard Rain Project

Mark receiving his Honorary Degree in 2017

‘I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow’ © Mark Edwards

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What happened next? Meet Kevin, 24 years after he featured in our prospectus.

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Kevin Millwood featured in our 1998 prospectus. We came across his profile whilst looking through our archives and wondered what he did next. This is what we found out.

Kevin has been a DJ, a night club organiser and owner and a Kung Fu practitioner.  Now he’s Head of Information Security at Hargreaves Lansdown, an award-winning financial services company based in Bristol.

It’s clear Kevin’s a man with wide ranging skills and interests. So, what’s his true passion? His dedication to give back to the community of his hometown, Bristol.

Humble beginnings

Born and bred in Bristol, Kevin was an incredibly hardworking and promising student, however he lacked the funds to move out of home to attend university. He decided he would stay living at home, attend university and work at the same time to keep himself afloat. The first in his family to go to university, Kevin had no blueprint to follow. But that didn’t set him back. Kevin notes,

“University was easily the best time of my life”.

For the love of music

During his time at UWE Bristol he realised his love of DJing. Starting at the university winter ball his success spiralled and with a team of students he created a promotion company.

Friday night at Student’s Union, 1998 prospectus

In 2001 Kevin hosted a UK Press Club night for a record label, where he performed to a packed-out crowd. The night was hailed as best UK club event by the national press. He was asked to become promotions manager of a group of clubs, later running one, and even performing on Radio One Live.

Kevin DJing at event in Bristol in 2014

Head hunted

But he knew he couldn’t work in that industry forever. Kevin wanted to use the skills he gained in his degree and gradually gained more experience, moving up the ranks in IT roles, becoming a manager.

He applied to Hargreaves Lansdown but was turned down. This lit a fire within Kevin who worked harder than ever. Later they headhunted him for a job, and now he is their Head of Information Security.

Supporting young people to achieve

A trip to South America was Kevin’s epiphany moment, seeing poverty first-hand made him want to give back. He began by working to rehabilitate young people in the prison system, but felt he could do more.

Now Kevin is chair and mentor of ‘Stepping Up’, a Bristol based company that aims for fair representation, supporting people to reach where they want to be in their careers. He’s also chair of Bristol Reggae Orchestra and non-executive director of Lockleaze Sports Club, both local organisations close to his heart.

“I have mentored a lot of people and have learnt from them all. You get something back out of it too”.

He gives talks in schools about cyber security, helping to demystify the topic and encourage people to take an interest.

“I wouldn’t have gotten where I am without help. There are lots of underprivileged people who want to better themselves and they deserve help”. 

Kevin states.


After a varied career, what Kevin values most is making Bristol a fairer place to be.

Tell us your story

What journey have you been on since studying with UWE Bristol? What are you passionate about?

We’d love to hear your story. Tell us what you’re doing now, share an old photo.

You can get in touch through our memories form or post on social media – tag us and use #30yearsofUWE

Seriously good prizes for a great cause

Play our 30th anniversary prize draw for your chance to win one of 30 fantastic prizes, kindly donated from alumni and the wider UWE Bristol community.

100% of funds raised from ticket sales will go to the UWE Bristol Fund to support Student Hardship Grants.

Buy a ticket and find out more about other ways we’re celebrating 30 years of being a University.

uwe.ac.uk/prize-draw

uwe.ac.uk/30

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Then and now: the story of a farm girl, a 900-year-old castle, and an executive coaching business

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Growing up on a dairy farm in rural Wales, special days out for Marian were spent at Llansteffan Castle. Steeped in history and bound up with her heritage, it captured her heart.  Years later, the same castle and estate is now her home and the base for her executive coaching business.

We talked to Marian and found out why the drive that won her such success has now brought her home again.

From farm-hand to top entrepreneur

Marian has never been scared of hard work. Mucking out cows on the farm is perhaps what gave her grit and determination. Coming from a family of ’home birds’ she was first to fly the nest and ’escape’ to university in England.

She arrived at UWE Bristol and soon settled in to her new home. She wasn’t sure where her course in Geography and Environmental Management would take her, or what her future held. But she took every opportunity.

“I think the biggest lesson I learnt at UWE was that if you work hard at anything and take every opportunity, you’ll progress and move in the right direction. You’ve got to learn resilience and how you work best. My time at UWE definitely set me up for the future.”

Marian says.

Not one to sit back, Marian began her property portfolio at 18 years old and had her first job before university results were out. She soon launched an impressive sales career, quickly making a reputation as an Expert Risk Manager.

To her surprise, in 2019 Marian was named Women in Business’ Inspirational Woman of the Decade. Now she runs her own company Elevate BC, coaching and mentoring business leaders.

Supporting women in business

Despite her clear success’ Marian admits to struggling with imposter syndrome. She finds it uncomfortable talking about her achievements. But her time at UWE Bristol taught her to be comfortable in her own skin and understand what her strengths are. And that’s the lesson she’s passionate to pass on to other women in business.

Marian pictured in Cardiff

Marian works with Women on Boards, who aim to help women achieve higher positions in male dominated areas, just as she did.

“I feel duty bound to share my story, give back and say, you can do this too! There are so few women pushing through to those higher levels in business, we’re not giving them the support to crack on to the next level.”

she explains.

And what of the castle?

Llansteffan Castle, on the river Tywi estuary in Carmarthen Bay

Despite her high-flying career, Marian’s attachment to Wales never left her. Perhaps it’s the same passion that led her to study Geography – a love of the natural environment, her heritage and her home land.

Marian and her Welsh husband quietly took a leap of faith when they saw that their beloved castle was for sale. They’ve since made the Llansteffan Castle Estate their family home and a base for business.  

The castle is in safe hands – keen for it to remain at the heart of the local community, and be used for events, they’ve set about the restoration.  It’s rich history and beauty will be protected and shared for future generations.

Tell us your story

What journey have you been on since studying with UWE Bristol? What are you passionate about?

We’d love to hear your story. Tell us what you’re doing now, share an old photo.

You can get in touch through our memories form or post on social media – tag us and use #30yearsofUWE

Seriously good prizes for a great cause

Play our 30th anniversary prize draw for your chance to win one of 30 fantastic prizes, kindly donated from alumni and the wider UWE Bristol community.

100% of funds raised from ticket sales will go to the UWE Bristol Fund to support Student Hardship Grants.

Buy a ticket and find out more about other ways we’re celebrating 30 years of being a University.

uwe.ac.uk/prize-draw

30 years of UWE Bristol, win in our prize draw
Win in our prize draw

uwe.ac.uk/30

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A safe space in a neurotypical world

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It is estimated that 1 out of 7 of the UK population are neurodivergent – that’s almost 15%*. A high percentage of people with neurodivergence are unemployed**. We need more solutions to make learning and workplaces more inclusive.

Angharad Davies’ designs are just that. Her MSc Computational Architecture final year project is a desk-based modular screen, designed to address neurodiversity in the workplace.

She’s also designed the Joey Pod. The calming pod is a solution for schools, hospitals, and public spaces. It’s a safe space for someone to retreat to, before experiencing sensory overloading.   

Digital drawing - design for sensory pod
Digital design drawing for Joey Pod

Designing for neurodiversity

Named after Angharad’s son Joey, the idea for the pod was born during the second year of her BSc(Hons) Architecture course, when Joey received an autism diagnosis. That diagnosis changed Angharad’s whole perception of architecture.

“I realised his outbursts were due to his surroundings. In my final project, I reached out to the autism community and realised I wasn’t the only person who felt isolated due to poor building design and a lack of understanding of autism.”

Angharad said.

There has been a lot of research about separate Special Educational Needs (SEN) rooms at schools, but Angharad’s concept offers the child a pod in the corner of a room – like a den.  The pod uses audio-visual effects and provides a ‘safe zone’ for people with sensory processing problems.

It’s a place to rest and reset, something which is often necessary when interacting with the neuro-typical world. Crucially, this safe space can help avoid an oncoming anxiety attack or an exhausting and alienating meltdown.

“I want to see these solutions everywhere: workplaces, schools, hospitals, airports, festivals, concerts, commercial and sporting events – any busy or public spaces”

she explains.
Joey Pod

Entrepreneurialism

Angharad’s story is one of firsts. An entrepreneur at heart, Angharad has grabbed every opportunity available to her at UWE Bristol.

She founded the Inclusive Design Network (IDN) whilst studying for her undergraduate architecture degree. Thanks to donations from alumni, the UWE Bristol Fund supported IDN to host a series of talks on equality, diversity and inclusion within the built environment. The network has also been supported by The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Bristol and Bath.

As one of the first students on the new MSc Computational Architecture course at UWE Bristol, Angharad hopes to go on to complete a PhD in designing for neurodiversity, to enable her to become a Sensory Design Consultant.

Angharad’s modular screen will be on display at the Faculty of Environment and Technology’s degree show in 2022 (our first physical degree show since the coivd-19 Pandemic), alongside many more innovative ideas for products and services which aim to fill gaps in the market.

Degree Shows

Emerging talent at UWE Bristol will exhibit work at the annual graduate degree shows for the Creative Industries and Faculty of Environment and Technology. The events will celebrate the University’s ambitious and creative graduating students, through a mix of physical exhibitions and a digital showcase.

The degree shows kick off on Thursday 9 June with The Faculty of Environment and Technology (FET) Degree Show – covering architecture, creative technologies, computing, engineering, geography and the environment, and product design. The free event takes place between 17:00 and 21:00 at UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus.

The Creative Industries Degree Show, covering art, design, animation, drawing and print, fashion, media, performance, photography and filmmaking, opens to the public at the University’s vibrant City Campus – Bower Ashton, Arnolfini and Spike Island – on Saturday 11 June. The week-long showcase features a series of events including live music, drama performances, a festival stage and outdoor art gallery.

*reference from Local Government Association presentation.

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Award-winning filmmaker Lindsey on penguins, people and the pandemic

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Lindsey Parietti is passionate about telling stories that highlight how humans impact the natural world.

Through the medium of wildlife filmmaking, she hopes to capture a sense of wonder about nature. But not just that. Lindsey aims to invoke a sense of environmental and social consciousness and empowerment to make positive change.

Her fundamental motivation to promote the support and protection of the natural world is evident both in her own films and those she’s worked on with the likes of the BBC Natural History Unit and Apple TV+.

“If my work challenges people to reconsider their relationship with nature, then that would be the greatest honour,”

Lindsey says.

Image from The Year the Earth Changed

Lindsey works on new BBC nature series tracking 7 years of ecological change

The BBC has just commissioned a landmark documentary series Our Changing Planet, following how nature responds to the extraordinary ecological changes happening around the globe.

Lindsey is working on the series, which will closely observe six habitats around the world and the species living within them, over a seven-year period. The public will be able to follow as the stories unfold. The first programme is due to air in April 2022.

Our Changing Planet is the most ambitious environmental series the BBC has ever commissioned. It will stand as important evidence of this critical moment for life on earth.

Alongside the urgent ecological messages, it will be a story of hope. You’ll meet incredible conservationists who are working to turn the tide, preserve ecosystems and save species from extinction.

Filming nature’s response to the global lockdowns

Image from The Year the Earth Changed

During lockdown in 2020, Lindsey worked on what has become the most watched documentary on Apple TV+. The Year Earth Changed was narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

The programme was inspired by evidence that members of the public were paying closer attention to birdsong last spring and filming unusual sightings of wild animals. It includes striking footage including penguins crossing a deserted city road and turtle hatchlings able to start their lives unhindered by beachgoers.

Image from The Year the Earth Changed

Since it began streaming in April it hit the top spot for most watched documentary.

“I think people really responded so much to nature during a difficult year, and maybe this programme gave them hope.”

Lindsey reflects.

Lindsey’s talent was spotted early in her career

She won a student BAFTA for her film ‘Blood Island’ whilst studying for her MA in Wildlife Filmmaking at UWE Bristol in 2018. The film tells the story of laboratory tested chimpanzees abandoned on a remote island in Liberia.

Next, she successfully pitched a story to the BBC’s Natural History Unit, which went on to be made into a 3-part series Baby Chimp Rescue. She worked on the programme which was aired on prime time BBC2 in 2019.

The traumatised chimps lost their families to hunters and were sold into the illegal pet trade. Viewers were captivated by watching baby chimps rediscover their personalities with the support of a dedicated team of human carers.

Baby chimp featured in Baby Chimp Rescue, copyright BBC Lindsey Parietti

The future

Lindsey is happy to be back out in the field filming again after so long working on remote projects due to the restrictions of the pandemic.

“It’s sobering but also uplifting to meet people all over the world who are facing some unprecedented challenges with so much energy and determination. I love learning and seeing the world through their eyes and my hope is just to keep telling these stories as long as I can,”

Lindsey says.
Lindsey Parietti, copyright Tom Campbell

Green Week

Our annual festival of eco ideas, events and smart living takes place from Monday 18 to Sunday 24 October 2021.

2021 is a crucial year for sustainability and climate action!

Get energised and find more about what UWE Bristol and The Student Union at UWE are doing to address the challenges. 

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Dr Zara Nanu – women’s economic rights activist and visionary entrepreneur

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Dr Zara Nanu is passionate about creating Fair Pay globally. She’s an unstoppable campaigner in workplace gender equality, and an entrepreneur at the forefront of women in business in the South West. She believes business can drive social change.

“The World Economic Forum predicted it would take 217 years for the global gender pay gap to close! We thought that this was too long,”

says Zara.

She started her career combatting human trafficking and campaigning on women’s rights issues. Inspired from years spent working for women’s charities in Moldova, the U.S. and the UK, she identified an opportunity to use technology to break down gender bias in the workforce.

She’s now CEO and co-founder of Gapsquare, leading the drive for technology to build more inclusive workplaces. Launched in 2017, her pioneering tech company is transforming pay equity, using data science and technology to help companies narrow their gender pay gap faster. Gapsquare offers diversity and equality data intelligence, report generation, and expert consultancy.

 “We know for many businesses transparency around compensation, fairness, and pay reporting is high on the agenda,”

Zara explains.

Zara as campaigner

Dr. Zara Nanu is an expert on how diversity and inclusion can shape more dynamic and productive teams and a more engaging and empowering workplace. She is Chair of the Women in Business Task Group and a member of the Global Future Council on Equity and Social Justice at the World Economic Forum.

She can be seen speaking at international events, sharing her ideas with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and through her recent TED talk, as well as in a range of reports and publications. Zara believes in putting the power and responsibility of equality and diversity in the hands of employers.

Gapsquare is acquired by XpertHR

Gapsquare was this year acquired by global organisation XpertHR. Together they’re dedicated to creating a fairer world of work.

Scott Walker, Managing Director of XpertHR:

“I am excited to bring Gapsquare into the XpertHR family. Our mission is a simple one: to create purposeful workplaces for every person in every organisation. Both businesses are dedicated to improving the experiences of millions of working professionals around the globe.”

Gapsquare’s innovative software FairPay® Pro provides businesses with instant insights into wage gaps across various demographics such as gender, race, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation. They count organisations such as Vodafone, Conde Nast and The London Metropolitan Police among their clients, and their software has analysed the wages of more than 270,000 employees in the UK.

Notes

Dr Zara Nanu studied a PhD in Social Science at UWE Bristol.

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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.

Black and white photograph of Patricia Johnson standing in front of TV c1960.
Carole’s mother, Patricia Johnson
Black and white photograph of Patricia and WInston Johnson on their wedding day.
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.”

Portrait of Carole Johnson
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 Johnson in civic regalia, 2020
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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