Black History Month – Black Mothers Matter

Read time 3 mins

For the first of our Black History Month blogs we had the privilege to talk to Bristol alumna Sonah Paton, co-founder of Black Mothers Matter.  Here, Sonah shares some insights into her own time at university, and the ground-breaking work she is undertaking to address the disproportionately difficult experience of expectant and early Black mothers in the UK.

Sonah, what made you decide to study at Bristol?

My dad had been a doctor at the BRI so I already had a connection with the city. My parents also had high academic standards for me and my two siblings, and Bristol met with their expectations.

What was your experience like at university?

I had a great time at university! I met Yomi and Aisha (the other co-founders of Black Mothers Matter) at an ACS (African & Caribbean Society) event at Freshers Week. There weren’t many Black British women in our cohort so I suppose that drew us together. It was a very white space, and there wasn’t much recognition that my experience would be different from that, but there was a good sense of community within my wider friendship group.

How did Black Mothers Matter start?

It basically started from a chat on WhatsApp!  We had all become pregnant during 2019 and had given birth just before or during the first lockdown, so our babies were introduced to each other on Zoom. As well as talking about motherhood in general, we also discussed how lucky we felt that nothing seriously bad had gone wrong for us during our pregnancies and births, especially in the light of the 2019 MBRRACE report which highlighted that Black mothers are four times more likely to die during pregnancy. Between the three of us we have a combination of skills in marketing and medical expertise so we said to ourselves why don’t we take action and do something about these grim statistics.

That is a shocking statistic – why do you think that is the case?

The system was built for white people, for example when babies are assessed to see how much oxygen they are getting the measure is how red/pink they are. This just isn’t a relevant test for a black or brown baby. There’s also NHS advice on nutrition for pregnant women which might not include ingredients that are used in a traditional West African diet such as yam or plantain. Things like that may seem small but they can have huge consequences.

How do you help make a difference to Black mothers?

We have two work streams, one of which directly engages members of the community by pairing women with doulas, providing antenatal support hampers and that kind of thing. The other project addresses systemic issues and includes an anti-racist education and training programme for midwives and maternity assistants. One of our overall goals is to achieve zero disparity based on race by the time our own children are ready to be parents.

What is your opinion of Black History Month?

Black History Month has the potential to be a powerful campaign, but it really depends on the approach people take. For example, at my son’s school they ran a great project about Roy Hackett who was a local man and one of the organisers of the Bristol bus boycott.  The content was really relevant and the children learned a lot. We do get lots of enquiries around this time and I sometimes find myself asking, where were you for the other eleven months of the year?!  But it can be a positive reminder to celebrate black culture, even if it’s through a small gesture – if you are buying a book, why not choose one by a black author?

That’s a nice idea – do you have a book you could recommend?

I love I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite, a very relevant read.

 

Thanks so much to Sonah for giving her time to us and sharing the excellent work being undertaken by Black Mothers Matter. If you would like to know more about the organisation, or have other stories you would like to share with us, please contact student-comms@bristol.ac.uk.

Taking Pride in our research – focus on Jo Clough

Today’s blog is the last of the week of LGBTQ+ research focussed articles and is a special edition to celebrate Autistic Pride Day which takes place tomorrow, 18 June 2022.  In it, we are featuring Jo Clough who is a PhD student looking at the experience of autistic women accessing social care.  Although we particularly wanted to showcase her work for Autistic Pride Day, Jo explains why her work is also relevant to the LGBTQ+ community in general. 

What is the research project you are currently working on? 

I did a master’s in social work at Bristol University and I guess my dissertation and work as a student social worker inspired me to do what I’m doing now. Alongside this, the project also stems from personal and professional experiences of male bias and seeing how this plays out time and time again in research, practice and day-to-day life. 

I’m looking to interview autistic women and that’s anyone who identifies as a woman or basically non-male – so non-binary, trans, anyone who doesn’t exclusively identify as male!  

It’s to do with their experiences of adult social care, so whether people have had support from social care or whether they’ve tried to access it. I’ll be doing semi-structured interviews and I’m offering a variety of different formats to try and capture as many voices as possible because there’s a large number of people that quite like typing, for example, rather than just your traditional face-to-face talking interview.  

How is this relevant to the LGBTQ+ community? 

I’m coming from an intersectional lens, so I’m interested in how all different kinds of marginalised groups are impacted. For instance, a black gay autistic woman is very likely to have different experiences compared to a white, heterosexual autistic guy. I’m looking at how these characteristics and social identities overlap and can pose as barriers to accessing services and support. At times these can be subtle barriers that it’s not always easy for people to see.  

More specifically to the LGBTQ+ community, current research shows that there are higher rates of ‘non-heterosexuality’ in the autistic population and then, even more specifically, it’s higher in autistic women than it is in non-autistic women. So it’s very pertinent to the community, and going on from that, gender diversity is higher again in autistic populations compared to neurotypical populations, so it is very relevant to the community. 

Is the motivation for your research more to raise awareness or do you have a specific goal of increasing support for these people in some way? 

It’s quite a few things really. Even though there is research that might talk about autistic women or autistic people, it might not even report on sexuality or race. If you just talk about the LGBTQ+ community specifically, research shows that mental health outcomes are poorer, and then you throw autism into the mix and it’s even poorer again. So yes, it would be great to raise awareness, not just about getting support, but knowing that the support is there. The funny thing is that although there’s all this medicalised talk going around with autism, the way you get a diagnosis is through behaviour. So it’s a very socially diagnosed label and a lot of people don’t realise they’re entitled to social care support. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge of getting to hear those voices?  

There’s all kinds of reasons I think.  I’ve found going out and putting up paper posters in the community more difficult than I expected – people almost treat me like I’m a big company looking for free advertising!  We’re living in COVID times – charities are stretched, some are stressed. And because I’m trying to get a variety of voices and do something a little bit different to what’s out there already I haven’t gone through standard routes, like contacting the National Autistic Society for example.  So far I have found online methods to be the best, which makes sense when, as I said, there is a preference for online forms of communication, because obviously, you can have your video off, you can type, and also have that processing time which is really valuable in a world where that is not really the norm yet. 

Will you be celebrating Pride yourself?  

Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash

Yes, I will be going to the parade but also to Bitch, Please! which is an afterparty in the courtyard of the Christmas Steps. They have some great local DJs and the profits go to the Albert Kennedy Trust, which is an LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity, and to the All Out Ukrainian LGBTQIA+ fund.  So it will be great fun but all in a good cause as well! 

 

A big thank you to Jo for giving up her time to talk to us.  If you would be interested in taking part in her research you can contact her directly at j.clough@brtistol.ac.uk.  And if you would like to know more about how we are celebrating Pride please visit our Pride webpage. And if you have your own stories to share about Pride or being part of the LGBTQ+ community please get in touch: student-comms@bristol.ac.uk. 

#BristolUniPride #BristolPride

Taking Pride in our research – focus on Dr Mario Campana

Mario Campana is a Lecturer in Marketing in the School of Management and has been at the University of Bristol since 2021. His research is focussed on consumer research and consumer culture theory specifically. His research programme is partly centred on diversity and inclusion, focusing on LGBTQ+ themes. We spoke to Mario about his recent work on RuPaul’s Drag Race and its place within LGBTQ+ brand history. 

What is the main motivation behind your research areas? 

I started my PhD in a different area of research, looking at alternative economies. I think it was something like 2012, 2013, and I just came across RuPaul’s Drag Race.  I got hooked to the point that I nearly stopped finishing my PhD! I watched all the series that were out there, and I kept watching it again and again and again!

I hadn’t been to any drag shows before watching Drag Race. So, I really entered this world more socially rather than on any research perspective. What I really found interesting were the stories that they were telling on the show – the experience of being excluded, of being the outcast in school, of growing up at the margins. I found that these stories were resonating with me, and with other people within the LGBTQ+ community. 

I found myself at a party, where two people were talking who were not LGBTQ+ and they were watching Drag Race as well, and these stories were also resonating with them! I found this interesting because when you look at the literature in Marketing, it says that the things that are for LGBTQ+ people are only for LGBTQ+ people, right?  

So, how could Drag Race have achieved mainstream success, despite carrying the LGBTQ+ stigma? We are in a period where there is more, I would not say acceptance, because different letters in the spectrum are facing very different challenges, but at least a bit more legal legitimation of LGBTQ+ people. And while the challenges are still steep, you have this show that showcases drag queens and normalises them. 

So, this is where the project started from. But as I started my research, other things came up too. I am now looking at, with other colleagues, the academic literature in marketing on LGBTQ+ people as consumers. We are trying to map the literature and look at underrepresented consumer segments. For example, transgender men and women or transgender people in general, who almost disappear when it comes to these studies, which are normally focused on white gay men in the Western Hemisphere. 

Has Pride itself taken a similar route to Drag Race in becoming a mainstream brand? 

I am an advocate of Pride as a protest, I think that’s the function of Pride, rather than having a parade of corporate sponsorships. Effectively, as they became a brand, they also become more commercialized. I think Pride is a bit of a crossroad in terms of what it represents. Pride really has to reconfigure what they stand for.  

Will you be celebrating Bristol Pride this year? 

So, I’m not sure I’ll be in Bristol for the march, but I celebrate Pride in general. You have to celebrate Pride if you can. Despite its identity crisis, Pride needs to be celebrated. The creation of visibility is always important. 

Has the response to your research themes changed since you started looking into them and if so, how? 

When we started the research, we were basically trying to show a case of a brand that was becoming mainstream, and we saw that there was more to it than that. So, we integrated this idea of stigma, and spectacles and trying to create visibility around this, the theme of the research has shifted since the beginning.  

In terms of participants that we interviewed, it’s quite interesting to see. I thought that my experience with Drag Race was a shared experience, but then as we started to interview, we started seeing that this story really resonates with people that have had hardships in their lives. So, people that had less hardships, they somehow see less in the show. 

Do you see a difference in responses to Drag Race, across different demographics? 

Yes, there are the very young people! Though we don’t yet have many of them in our research interviews. We have people more or less my age, that went through being in the closet when they were younger, that hardship there. And we’ve interviewed older people, who have been through the same thing, but they’re also really attracted to this fabulousness of drag queens! 

Another aspect is that I was very surprised how drag queens are cultural in the UK. A lot of older people, even non-LGBTQ+ people, have been to drag shows. They will watch RuPaul because they are familiar with drag shows. This gives them something in common with the younger demographic.  

Who has been your favourite drag queen on the show?  

Hands down Bianca Del Rio! But I have to say in the UK, Tia Kofi. 

A big thank you to Mario for giving up his time to talk to us.  If you would like to know more about how we are celebrating Pride please visit our Pride webpage. And if you have your own stories to share about Pride or being part of the LGBTQ+ community please get in touch: student-comms@bristol.ac.uk. 

#BristolUniPride #BristolPride

Taking Pride in our research – focus on Dr Peter Dunne

In today’s blog we talk to Dr Peter Dunne about his fascinating work around LGBTQ+ rights and legal reform. If you ever wanted to find recent, relevant and meaningful research in this area then look no further!

What is the main focus of your research?

My research focuses on LGBTI+ rights. I’m particularly interested in both diverse family units and how the rights of LGBTI+ people have been affected by the European Union in recent decades. I work on all types of questions, including who can get married, how best to protect LGBTI youth and how the law should shape experiences of gender and sexuality. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to work in a significant number of inspiring collaborators – in academia, civil society and the policy sphere.

In recent years, my scholarship and policy work has touched upon a number of less obvious or less visible questions, such as male pregnancy. In the United Kingdom, one of the positive aspects of our gender recognition laws (although, I do still think that these laws need to be updated) is that individuals can legally amend their gender without compromising their capacity to have children.

This raises the question of how the law can and should respond where people reproduce outside traditional expectations. An example might be a person, who is legally male, but who decides to conceive and give birth to a child. This is an issue which politicians, judges and policy-makers are increasingly trying to address, both in England and Wales, and in Europe. My research explores this subject from different angles. I also served as an expert in a recent case regarding this question in England and Wales.

What is the main motivation behind your work?

I think that there is often a perception that, within the UK, progress for LGBTI+ people has been unidirectional. Both as a matter of law and social acceptance, we sometimes assume that the situation for LGBTI+ in this country is almost universally positive. Of course, in a comparative context, where we look around other parts of Europe, it is true that some LGBTI+ people in this country experience relative levels of equality and non-discrimination. Yet, many problems remain – both in terms of legal rights (or an absence thereof) and in the lived-experience of LGBTI people. At least in terms of my work on domestic LGBTI+ rights, I am motivated to identify and explain outstanding gaps or problems in our current legal and social frameworks, and to think about ways, big and small, that we might be able to improve the equality and well-being of LGBTI+ communities in this country.

Do you find you get a positive response, or do you feel you’re always meeting resistance to this kind of research?

I think that, within academia, there is a real appetite for understanding how laws, social structures and cultural practices negatively impact the lives of LGBTI+ populations. In recent times, the UK, particularly our different funding bodies, has been good in terms of providing resources for LGBTI+-focused research, and in encouraging and creating relevant conversations within academic spaces. At present, there are numerous academics across the UK who are undertaking really important studies into the lives and experiences of LGBTI+ communities.

My perception is that, within the wider public sphere, it has become, within the last five years, more difficult to respectfully discuss the rights and experiences of LGBTI+ individuals, in a manner which acknowledges the dignity and humanity of the people involved. As an academic, I have a strong commitment to free expression and robust debate. Furthermore, as somebody who is interested in policy reform, I understand that proposed legislative changes, whether or not directed towards LGBTI+ populations, must be subject to appropriate scrutiny. Yet, I worry that, increasingly, our public conversations, particularly about gender and sexuality, disregard the dignity and humanity of those most affected. Furthermore, free speech works both ways. While individuals have the right to critique LGBTI+ rights, so too they must accept pushback against their own comments. Free speech protects both opposition to LGBTI+ rights and those who would criticise that opposition,

Do you have any advice for someone thinking about going into research and the challenges they might face?

For anybody who’s thinking about doing research in the area of LGBTI+ rights, I would say it is a hugely rewarding area of scholarship. In the social sciences, there are a number of questions out

there which remain unanswered, so I’d say it is a very exciting time to be doing doctoral work, post-doctoral work, or even undergraduate dissertations. Every year, I read dissertations from undergraduates who write on issues relating to LGBTI+ rights and it is always fantastic work. It’s really inspiring, and I hope that a number of these students will consider further research after their degrees.

And lastly, how will you be celebrating Pride?

Well, I’ll be celebrating Pride by doing quite a lot of marking! But I’ll also be celebrating how much the community has come on. I’m definitely not going to say there aren’t challenges, but even in the face of those challenges, there are people doing fantastic work. So, I’ll be spending time with friends, attending Pride-related events and taking the opportunity to engage in the research that inspires me!

 

A big thank you to Peter for giving up his time to talk to us.  If you would like to know more about how we are celebrating Pride please visit our Pride webpage. And if you have your own stories to share about Pride or being part of the LGBTQ+ community please get in touch: student-comms@bristol.ac.uk. 

#BristolUniPride #BristolPride

Taking Pride in our research – focus on Dr Sarah Jones

In the first of this week’s blogs focusing on research we are talking to the vibrant Dr Sarah Jones, a lecturer and researcher in the Department of History.  Dr Jones’ teaching in 2022/23 will include the units Gender in the Modern World, Under the Covers: Sex and Modern British Print Culture, and Sexualities, reflecting her interest in histories of gender and sexuality.  She generously gave her time to discuss some of the challenges around researching queer history, and what appealed to her about taking part in a multi-disciplinary project organised by the Brigstow Institute. 

What was your motivation for getting involved in Jenny: Posed as a woman

The big motivation behind the Jenny project is the fact that queer histories, and especially trans histories, are often told through what we would consider regulatory bodies, so we tend to hear about people when they’re arrested, or oppressed in some way, or when horrible things are happening to them. And that’s obviously a really important thing to look at and understand, but it also means that you don’t really get that much of a sense of these people as real, living people.  History has often tended to focus on victimisation, oppression, and persecution  – what Tom (Marshman) wanted to do is think about different ways we could look at the archive and build a more rounded, human story about someone like Jenny.  Just a wonderfully complicated person living a complicated life in a complicated moment.   

Why do you think queer history is important?

I think it is important for a couple of different reasons. For one, I think it would be a wonderful thing if queer history stopped being something that is only covered as a sort of aside, an appendix to other kinds of ‘normal’ history. There’s this tendency to see it as kind of niche and to assume that it’s only done by angry queer people –  the power of history is showing that these are just people living their lives, and they are just as important and just as much part of history as everybody else. But I also think history is actually really important in helping us understand why we are the way we are now, how we’ve got here. I think it’s actually quite a powerful thing to look at people and say the oppression you’re facing is not inevitable,  it’s a product of historical processes.  And actually, if we understand that, maybe we can challenge it – that’s a really formidable, empowering thing.   

Have you seen many changes in responses to your research and teaching during the last 10 years? 

I would say in my experience, as our student body gets more diverse, I’m teaching more students who are openly, confidently, and happily queer, which is great. And of course that means they want to see histories of themselves. I’m seeing lots more students working on queer history as  part of their assessments for their own research, which is really exciting.  

What are the greatest challenges you face around your areas of research? 

So it’s quite difficult to find the same sort of evidence for queer history as it would be for other forms of history, just because you don’t always have that same kind of archival presence. People were either deemed to be not important enough to keep their archives, and lots of families burnt the papers of people who were in queer relationships after their death because they didn’t want to attract unwanted or negative attention. People wanted to keep their clandestine activities under the radar.  Funnily enough, they’re not going to write a diary that records all the crimes they committed!  

Will you be celebrating Pride this year? 

I think Pride is brilliant. I remember going to my first Pride when I was about 16, in Cardiff, and I was a little baby gay and I was having a proper in the closet, out of the closet the moment. I remember it was slightly terrifying at the time, but also just absolutely brilliant. I love to go to Pride and see the genuine diversity and people celebrating in their different ways. One of my favourite things is going along and seeing people find a comfortable space to be themselves, possibly for the first time. 

 

A big thank you to Sarah for giving up her time to talk to us.  If you would like to know more about how we are celebrating Pride please visit our Pride webpage. And if you have your own stories to share about Pride or being part of the LGBTQ+ community please get in touch: student-comms@bristol.ac.uk.  

#BristolUniPride #BristolPride

Taking Pride in our research!

The University of Bristol is known for its world leading research, and throughout this week we will be showcasing some of the work carried out by and for our LGBTQ+ community in particular.  We are very lucky in Bristol to have a commitment to ensuring a positive research culture for all staff, and this is reflected in the diversity of the research we are going to highlight.  (more…)

Assessment Do’s and Don’ts!

Here are some top tips from students on preparing for assessments.  Let us know if you have more to add! Student-comms@bristol.ac.uk 

 

DO 

Get enough sleep.  Yes, we know you’ve heard this before, but we can’t say it enough.     
Sleep is your best friend when it comes to performing well. 
(Read the Sleep Foundation’s Guide to Getting Sleep During Exams.)

 

 

DON’T 

Forget to eat and drink.  You brain needs energy as much as your body does.   
See what the BBC recommends for breakfast on the day of your assessment.

 

DO 

Ask your friends and classmates what they are working on and how they are preparing.  
You will probably feel reassured – or realise anything you may have missed.
 

DON’T 

Try to pretend you’re feeling ok if you’re not.  Talk to someone.  
A friend, a mentor, or JustAsk.  You are not alone.
 

 

 

 

 

 

DO 

Give yourself breaks.  You are better off clearing your head and planning your revision in manageable chunks of time than trying to keep going for hours and hours and hours… 

DON’T 

Put off taking your assessment.  It may seem tempting to give yourself more time but in reality you are just prolonging a stressful situation.   The resit period in August is a safety net if things go wrong the first time round.  Don’t rely on that as your one chance to progress.  

DO 

Familiarise yourself with the format of your assessments.  For in person exams you can look at past papers, and for a lot of online assessments you will have a practice test in the Assessment, Submission and Feedback area of your unit on Blackboard

DON’T 

Forget that there is more to life than assessments!  Not everyone has the same idea about what “success” means and getting good grades is only a tiny part of that picture. 

 

Assessment tips from someone who knows…

It’s Week 23 and you are probably either buried in revision or planning your summer break.  Student Comms Officer Roz caught up with Dom who is in his fourth and final year of a Masters in Mechanical Engineering to ask him how he’s feeling about coming to the end of his course, and what assessments have meant for him.

So Dom, you’re working on your final dissertation which for you is a group industrial project.  Is that right? 

Yes, we’re doing a design and build, and building a product is always notoriously tight for time for engineers.  But it is coming along nicely.

Do you find it easier to meet deadlines when working in a group? 

Working in a group always comes with its challenges. You lose efficiency when you’re working in a team because there’s so much more to coordinate and so much more ground to cover. It can be hard to get the ball rolling, but the more you practice the better they tend to go.  By the time you’re in fourth year, group projects are going a lot more smoothly than they were in first year and that’s kind of the point of having them in first year because it’s a skill you have to learn as an engineer. 

If you’re managing deadlines just for yourself, do you have any tricks up your sleeve or tactics you rely on? 

A technique I use is creating your own calendar and then filling in all the time that you can’t be working, assigning time that you can be, and then dividing up the workload. You end up with this big A3 wall calendar with all the time divvied up how you need it, which is useful when you have, for example, five quite substantial exams.  It really helps to make sure that nothing’s being neglected. 

What’s been the main challenge of online exams? 

The biggest issue is time management as it appears you are set five hours’ worth of questions to do in three, and it’s simply not possible.  You also don’t have access to the years and years’ worth of previous papers so you’ll be going into online exams with less resources to prepare from than in person. 

And how did your experience of in person exams compare to the online assessments? 

So in person you would have a lot more “prove this, show this, derive this” questions that you could only really answer if you’d rote learn that technique.  Obviously, being open book and online, that’s no longer a thing that can be asked because you can just look up the solution. So it’s shifted away from those rote learn questions and more towards things that you’d have to actively think about a bit more, which is good, the way it probably should be. 

Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known as a first year and might have done differently? 

OK, so I would say problem sheets and past papers is definitely the way to go because it’s very easy to find that you understand the topic, you’ve gone through all the lecture content, you’ve read the notes, and you’re like, I’m happy with this and then can’t answer a single question on it!  That’s a very common thing that can happen. You understand all the theory, but to actually get an answer and apply it is an entirely different level that needs to be practised through the problem sheets and past papers.  

When it came to online assessments, did you ever use a Blackboard practice area? 

Yeah, absolutely.  You want to know what the setup of the paper is and what’s expected of you before you go in.  It was good to have access and be like, oh, I’ve got ten of these questions, four of these ones, six of those, and two of the big ones at the end.  

Are there any other resources that you’ve used, for example exam stress workshops

I don’t think so. I think the only thing over the four years that I had used might have been some general study skills workshops in first year, but nothing exam specific.  

Do you find you get stressed about exams or are you quite relaxed? 

Obviously they’re stressful for anyone, but I think I’m a lot more relaxed than most.  I find it’s important to remember that if you’re getting yourself stressed out about it, you’re only going to make it harder to actually remember things in the exam. If you can just take a breath and relax it’s only going to help.  So long as you’re preparing for a good time beforehand and you know your stuff sometimes it’s good just to take a break just before going in and make sure you’re calm and relaxed. 

And how do you personally relax if you need to step away from your work? 

It would be just do something that’s not uni related, get a drink, go do something else, just not think about engineering for a little bit.

I know you’ve had Alternative Exam Arrangements and I just wanted to ask whether it was easy to arrange additional support and were you well informed about how it was going to be set up? 

So I’m dyslexic and after the age of 18 you need your adult diagnostic assessment. You need to get your psychologist report and then arrange an appointment with Disability Services who are fantastic. They’re really, really helpful. They’ll explain everything to you very clearly. They take you through your report and what arrangements can be made within your particular school.   

This can be a huge variety of things, like what extra time would be appropriate for you, what working method would be appropriate for you, if you’re in person, would you still be allowed to use a PC to do your exam?  It can also be making sure you’re in low distraction exam rooms, or making sure the exam room is near bathroom facilities or a whole range of different things that they can run through with you and see what can be altered to make it more supportive for students that need that extra support. 

And lastly, how do you plan to celebrate when it’s all over? 

Oh blimey.  After four years – two years in person, two years online – it feels strange to be coming to the end. I genuinely don’t know and I’ve just been so busy with the project work and also trying to think ahead.  For a

 lot of people that’s applying for work, but for me I think it’s going to be looking for a PhD.  I haven’t really thought about it too much yet. I will probably get to the stage I’ll just need to crash out and do nothing for a while. A holiday would be well needed by that point, I suspect!  But equally it will be good to celebrate with friends after four very, very tough years of both the course and COVID. 

I hope a well deserved break is on the horizon. 

Definitely.  I think that’s what the plan will be – chill out!     

 

Don’t forget that you can access a range of study skills and support to help with your assesssments. Good luck!

 

Spring vacation ideas if you’re staying in Bristol

By Victoria, Student Champion for Student Communications

Coming at you again with ideas for what to do to enjoy the spring vacation in Bristol. You’re sure to catch me at more than one of these!

Cannonball Cabaret at Zed Alley on 1 April

Start your break at Zed Alley for a cabaret night at Zed Alley. Check out the line-up and get your tickets here for an unforgettable night featuring a diverse range of acts from humour to Drag acts.

Catch an ethical Circus Show 7 to 24 April

Look at all the available dates here and join the Revel Puck Circus for an animal-free, ringmaster free and clown-free circus experience. Expect comedy, jaw-dropping acts, and an all-ages inclusive experience in the art district of Bristol. This new circus explores and celebrates fear in ways you have never seen before, so prepare to be amazed! And equally amused!

Dreams of Small Gods at Circomedia on 7 and 8 April 2022.

Book your ticket here for one of the two showings (Thursday 7 or Friday 8 April) and catch this unique live performance. It explores the triple nature of being a woman, blinding aerial circus, performance and masked ritual while exploring how myths, fairy tales and ancient culture create our conception of womanhood and reality. A one-of-a-kind experience!

Reggaeton Boat Party at  Thekla on 8 April  

As a Latina, I must commend Bristol for having such a great reggaeton scenery. I enjoy these events to the max, whether it’s at iconic Intirave events, the throwback parties at the Lanes or the great boat parties at Thekla. Happening on Friday April 8, you can get your tickets for one of the best reggaeton parties in the country. Take my word for it, it’s bound to be a night full of fun and dancing. The upstairs area tends to have some nice Afrobeat tunes as well, if you ever need a break of the hardcore reggaeton vibes. Make sure you get these tix on time, as they tend to sell out pretty fast on the days coming up to the party.

Funderworld Theme Park from 8 April daily until 2 May  

Get tickets for this fun-filled theme park hosted in the Downs. It will be full of rollercoasters and rides, Game Stalls and a delicious selection of food and beverage at the event. Your wristband gives you access to 4 hours of unlimited rides, and you can stay for longer enjoying the food court and independent games afterwards. The Theme Park is open until 9 pm every day, but make sure to check opening times for your desired day. Have fun and be safe!

Immersive Van Gogh Experience – Opens 9 April

Secure your tickets here, and quick, this is a must-see attraction brought to Bristol until September. The Immersive Van Gogh Experience is one of the most iconic exhibitions in the world, giving you a 20,000 square foot light and sound show in 360 degrees. Get to know the artist like never before, his life, his inspirations, and stories behind his art pieces, all in the iconic Propyard.

 

Lakota On the House Rave – House and Techno on 16 April

Lakota is a Bristol staple, and this rave with Bristol-based house and techno talents is sure to be one for the books. It will be free entry before 11 pm, and only a fiver after that. Secure your ticket here.

Visit the Grayson Arts Gallery – Any Tuesday through Sunday

Have you been to the Bristol Museum yet? In the heart of campus, it is one of those things we tend to not take the time to explore, but I’m telling you, it is such a fun afternoon. Especially with the Grayson Arts Gallery show, which is open between 10 am and 5 pm every day except Mondays. Book your slot here and go spend a day seeing one of Grayson’s most heartfelt creations. This exhibition shows people’s different experiences and coping mechanisms during the pandemic and lockdown periods, through creative and artistic pieces spread across the three floors of the museum.

A Day in Spike Island – Wednesday to Sunday

Spike Island has been refurbished and reopens in full swing after the pandemic. Visit exhibitions and galleries between 12pm and 5pm, Wednesdays to Sundays. You can find a full programme of what’s on here and book your slot to visit. My personal favourites include Candice Ling’s Pigs and Poison and the Oba Nosferasta, both of which will be on until early May so make sure to catch them before they’re gone.

 

 

 

 

Comedy Cabaret every Saturday at Pryzm

Join talented comedians and stand-up UK legends at Pryzm literally any Saturday. Book tickets here and check which shows catch your eye. With three hilarious acts and a cozy cabaret-style seating arrangement, this is a great option to do something different on any given Saturday.

 

Thank you to Victoria for these brilliant ideas.  If anybody needs more practical help during the break please see our Spring vacation opening hours and services webpage.  Wishing you all a Happy Easter from the Student Comms team.

 

World Day of Social Justice – 20 February 2022

Are we all equal?

Social justice is a complicated subject.  It’s not just about what we have or don’t have.  We are all individuals and experience the world in a different way, but it’s really important that we have equal access to education, work, health services, regardless of where we live, our age, our physical abilities, our marital status, our gender, our sexuality, our ethnicity, our neurodiversity… the list about how we are regarded by society is a long and complicated one.   

 

Recently, COVID has highlighted inequalities because of the need to study and work from home even though we don’t all have the same facilities – whether that’s space, wi-fi access, or digital equipment.  Equally, news reports are telling us that the climate crisis is disproportionately affecting people with disabilities as we see the costs of services and equipment rise.  Is it enough to be aware of these differences, or do we have a responsibility to fight for change?  How should we go about doing that?  These are huge questions to which there are no easy answers.   

Difference is good

One of the ways to challenge the status quo is to embrace our differences. Sophie Hudson is a law student and Vice President of the 93 percent club which encourages students from less privileged backgrounds to recognise and value the skills they have. Watch this inspiring clip of an interview with Sophie explaining how our experiences before coming to university can have a big impact on our confidence levels.   

 

The Right to Protest

There are other ways to take a stand, and we know from our recent polls on social media that many of you would choose to actively demonstrate when you are feeling dissatisfied.  However, the right to hold a protest has recently been called into question and here, our student content writer Victoria Cornelio Diaz provides an excellent overview of the “Kill the Bill” protests that have taken place in the city during the last twelve months.   

“In March of 2021, the city of Bristol came together to protest against the new proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Over 500 protesters marched in the city centre to show their disapproval. One last display was carried out in January 2022 as a final effort to battle the Bill which was introduced for voting on January 17. This resistance against the Bill comes from the implications the Bill would have on protesting rights and police behaviour, which has led to advocates and protestors to ask the government to “Kill the Bill”.  Just in Bristol, Twitter user Martin Booth reports that there have been 15 ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstrations in the last year.  

If the Bill were to be accepted, these are some of the impacts it would have on protests and the safety of those involved: 

        Police can act against a group of people they believe will cause significant disruption and charge them with prison sentences. 

        Police can forcibly shut down protests and public assemblies. 

        Stop and Search actions could become more widespread, based on police’s suspicion. 

The Bill is described by many protestors as a violation of the human right to free speech and a danger to democracy. Government officials defend the Bill by saying it is a way of balancing the rights of protestors and the rights of people who want to go about their day without disruption. However, for a city like Bristol with a longstanding history of protest and social justice movements, if parliament does not “Kill the Bill”, the landscape of the city’s advocacy movements will see major disruption.” 

  Victoria Cornelio Diaz, Student Communications Champion

Picture from bristolpost.co.uk, Sunday March 21, 2021

 

A Guantanamo Conversation

Bristol is generally known as a liberal city, and the UK is a democratic society, however even then we don’t always get to hear all sides of a story.  On 3 March you can listen to three different perspectives when the Law School’s Human Rights Implementation Centre will host a conversation with Mohamedou Ould Slahi who was tortured and detained at Guantanamo Bay for 14 years without charge, Nancy Hollander, the defence lawyer who represented him and secured his freedom in 2016, and Professor Sir Malcolm Evans,the former Chair of the UN’s Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture. Book your ticket here.

Hungry for more?

If Social Justice fires up your passion then head to the School of Policy Studies events page and find out about their forthcoming talks. There are some fascinating topics coming up, (as well as the opportunity to find out first-hand whether Jess Phillips can hold her own as a speaker!). 

We hope you enjoy the World Day of Social Justice, whatever you’re doing. And please stay safe from Storm Eunice 😊