Meet Nathan, Postgraduate Research Advocate for the Be More Empowered (BME) for Success programme

This week we get to know a bit more about Nathan who is one of the first five PGR Advocates for the Be More Empowered (BME) for Success programme. This initiative is run by the Bristol Doctoral College and aims to support an increased sense of belonging and connection among Black, Asian and ethnic minority student PGRs in the University. A similar scheme is run for undergraduates by the Student Inclusion Team.

Highlight of being an advocate so far:

My highlight has been working with a group of incredible people! I am grateful for their consistent support over the past year and the opportunity this position has provided in making connections across the university.

Goal (in reference to the programme) for end of 2022-23:

My goal as an advocate this year is to create a consistent and established support network for BAME PGRs. I hope to achieve this by creating safe social spaces and providing supportive workshops which encourage empowerment in academia for this community of postgraduate researchers.

Top leadership skill gained/developed:

I’ve enjoyed being a person who can listen and I have developed a skill for making people comfortable with openly expressing their feelings and thoughts. I believe that being heard has been a powerful method of peer support for BAME PGRs and has empowered those who have attended our events.


Favourite meal:

Anything from Trinidad, but a favourite would have to be saltfish and fried bakes!

Favourite place in Bristol:

My favourite place in Bristol is Stokes Croft. I think that Gloucester Road has some of the best food places in Bristol and it also reminds me a bit of home (London).



Book/film recommendation:

My favourite book at the moment is Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson. I really enjoyed the story, which explores themes such as belonging, vulnerability and mental health, and how the writing immerses you in the character’s thoughts.


Person who has most inspired you:

Both of my parents have, and continue to inspire me most in my life. I try to have the same courage and determination in everything I do and hope to make them proud!


Huge thanks to Nathan for sharing these insights into his experience of the programme, and some of his preferences! Please contact if you have a story you would like to share on this blog for Black History Month, and beyond…!


World Mental Health Day – Monday 10 October 2022

The theme of 2022’s World Mental Health Day, set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority‘. In an often unequal and changeable world, it is important that each of us are able to look after our own mental health, while passing on ideas and techniques to those around us.

Self-care is an important part of how we manage our mental health. As each of us face challenges, we develop strategies to help handle stress and protect our wellbeing.

Below are some tips, from the NHS and mental health charities, which can be helpful self-care reminders to ourselves and those around us:

Stay aware of your mental health

If you know what helps your mental health, let others know too. Tell your friends and family how they can support you and encourage them to let you know how you can best support them.

Keep a mood diary

Tracking your mood can help you find out what makes you feel better or worse. This can help empower you to make good decisions for yourself and avoid situations which negatively impact your mental health.

Stay connected

Seeing friends and family can have a great positive impact on your mental health. If this isn’t possible, a phone call or even a text can make you feel connected and less isolated.

If this isn’t possible, events in your community, or university events can help you meet new people, who may be feeling the same way you are. We have a list of university resources and events below.


Getting enough rest will help you feel refreshed and help your mind deal with any stresses you encounter during the day. It’s vital that you give yourself some down time.

Get regular exercise

Even a short walk each day can clear your head and help you feel better. If you’re physically disabled, Disability Rights UK provides information about exercises you might be able to do. Alternatively, ask your doctor for advice.

Try to be mindful

Mindfulness – stopping to take notice of what’s going on around and inside you – can be a great way of keeping in touch with yourself. Being aware of how you are feeling at any moment can help you process feelings productively, rather than being caught up in a moment.

Improve your self esteem

Recognise what you’re good at! Are you a good singer? Cook? Friend? If you can engage in the things you are good at, you’re likely to feel better. Encourage those around you to do the same. We all need reminding of what we do well from time to time.

Wellbeing support at the University

The last couple of years has been challenging for everyone. Frightening world events dominate the news, and cost of living may have you feeling stressed and worried.

Or you may be struggling to settle in or get started. While perfectly normal, this can leave you feeling isolated.

The University has many resources available to help, which can be found here:

Self help ideas can be found here:

PROJECT:TALK are running a range of support activities, from 1 to 1 phone calls, to targeted group talks:

Student Minds offer a range of resources:

Emergency support is available here:

Researchers and autistic students at our Elizabeth Blackwell Institute have produced an online infographic, highlighting some of the challenges faced by autistic students and a suite of resources available for students, families and staff:

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

Danny Watts of Cosmic Ninja on playing Bristol Pride 2022

We spoke recently with Danny Watts, an Executive Assistant in the School of Biological Sciences. Danny drums for Cosmic Ninja, who will be playing the mainstage of Bristol Pride at 6:25 pm on 9 July. While Danny doesn’t identify as LGBTQ+, the bands lead singer Tamsin Cullum does. We spoke to Danny about how Cosmic Ninja got involved in Bristol Pride 2022 and what it means to him to be an LGBTQ+ ally.

Can you tell me a bit about Cosmic Ninja?

Yes, so Cosmic Ninja started around 2015 and I joined the band in 2019. Musically, we could be described as rock/rave, or sort of dance, synth rock with like a punk rock like edge. Lyrically, it’s very left wing and politically active.

We’re motivated by a desire to write good music that you can have a dance and let loose to, while making people aware that inequality is happening all day, every day, everywhere and we need to do better.

Is this the first Pride you’ve played?

This is the first Pride I’ve personally played. The band themselves have played a couple of times before, including a completely berserk evening gig at Old Market Assembly a few years ago.

I did go a few years ago though, when it was in Castle Park. It was fantastic, so much happiness and joy.

This year we’re on at 6:25 pm on the mainstage, hopefully it’s gonna be a big one!

How did you get involved in Bristol Pride 2022?

Our singer Tamsin Cullum is a very proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and getting booked has been on the radar for a while, but obviously COVID caused everything to be backlogged. Because of the previous times the band have played and how successful it was, the decision was made that we should be moved to the mainstage this year.

Has the response to the LGBTQ+ nature of Cosmic Ninja changed over the time that you’ve been in the band?

If things have changed, I think that people are becoming more aware. It’s getting more into the minds of people that these inequalities exist. I wouldn’t say that too much has changed in a legislative way since I’ve been in the band, but you definitely hear a lot more about the LGBTQ+ community in media circles and on social media.

What does it mean to you to be an LGBTQ+ ally in 2022?

I think it is massively important to be an ally because of the inequality faced by the LGBTQ+ community. It still astounds me to this day that people who identify in that way are marginalized. As for myself, somebody who isn’t LGBTQ+ who doesn’t identify like that, I try to authentically be myself, wherever I am. And I find it very frustrating that other people can’t, or they feel like they can’t because of the pressure that society puts on them. So, I feel like I have a very important role in being able to push those voices and give them a chance to be themselves. This is the very least it seems you should be able to do.

We should celebrate everyone being themselves, and that’s why I feel like I can be an ally, especially in a band where the ethos that is front and centre of what we’re trying to do, is highlight inequalities via music.

A big thank you to Danny for giving up his time to talk to us. You can follow Cosmic Ninja @Cosmicninjaband on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also see the band at multiple festivals over this summer.  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: 

#BristolUniPride #BristolPride


Chief Operating Officer, Robert Kerse, speaks about his first Pride event

By Vikki McCann-Rogers, Communications Officer

This Friday (1 July) is 50 years since the very first Pride march in London. 2,000 people took part. Now, more than one million people take London’s city streets to celebrate, and Pride events take place all over the world. To mark the occasion, I spoke to our Chief Operating Officer, Robert Kerse, about his very first Pride.

What do you remember about your first Pride march?

It was a mixture of being really life-affirming, because there were lots of other people like me, but I was apprehensive as well. I just didn’t know what to expect. I went to the Brighton and the Manchester ones about a week apart and I finally felt a sense of belonging.

I’ve been to Pride in London about five years in a row, and Bristol Pride whenever I’ve been here. I’ll be at the Bristol Pride event this year with my husband and our dogs.



We’ve clearly made incredible progress through the years. How important is it that we still celebrate pride today?

I think it’s hugely important for two reasons. Firstly, it’s still not always easy for everyone come out. So, it’s important for those people to see others like them, from different walks of life, and different identities. Secondly, some parts of our community are hugely privileged in this country. That’s certainly not the case for all of our community or LGBTQ+ people in other parts of the world, including countries not far away from here.

Pride started as a real protest movement – do we still have a fight on our hands?

I think we do have a fight on our hands for parts of our community, yes. And I think if you are privileged enough to be able to be out and safe, then that gives us a huge obligation in terms of fighting on behalf of others. That’s what people did before us, to give us the position that we have now. So yes, I feel a big responsibility

Do you feel a responsibility to be a role model here at the University too?

I do, and it’s something I need to be continually conscious of. You never quite know who in the room might be trying to find some kind of affinity with you or is making their own decisions about themselves or somebody close to them.

So yes, it is incredibly important. There will be people in our community who are not yet out; who perhaps are not in the kind of circumstance where they feel they’d be accepted; who maybe fear loss or hardship if they did come out. What we can do through role modelling is really important – it can give people hope.

Do you think being gay has had any impact on your work or on your career?

Sometimes people don’t know how to take me when they first meet me, but I think I’ve become less conscious of that over the years.

I also think people sometimes make a special effort to acknowledge my sexuality for whatever reason.  I’m always quite touched by that.

However, personally – given I’m a middle class, Oxbridge educated white male – the fact that I don’t tick the heterosexual box can take some of those edges off. A sort of leveller in some ways. I think because I’ve had the challenges of coming out the world is not as black and white for me as it might have been had I not been gay. That kind of struggle and difference helps me to be more empathetic with other people than I might have otherwise been.

I remember realising as a gay woman in my 20s that you don’t just ‘come out’, you have to keep doing it. Every time you meet someone new, or start a new job. Do you think that’s still as relevant now?

I think it’s still hugely relevant, but I’d hope the world is different than when I came out 20 years ago; I think certainly as a gay man it is much easier now. For other parts of the Community, there’s still quite a long way to go, I think.

When I first came out though – which does seem like a long time ago – I was pretty blessed by both my family and friends. A lot of people were very surprised though.

If I’m honest, I would say I still get a bit nervous about it in some circumstances, because everybody wants to be accepted and not singled out or identified for their sexuality.

What else can we do to help people feel they can bring their whole selves to work?

I think it’s talking about difference, whatever that difference is. I’ve always found any kind of equality, diversity and inclusion training I’ve undertaken where people tell you face to face what life’s like and challenge your preconceptions the most valuable.

We’ve done this previously with our frontline colleagues and our trans students. Experiential training is really, really important. You can’t ever walk in somebody else’s shoes, but the closer we can get to giving people access to those experiences, the better.

I’m looking forward to seeing you at Pride on 9 July and marching together as a Bristol community.

Me too. For me personally, I feel it’s really important to be with colleagues and students at such an important event for our community; but also to remind myself of everything that’s happened before us. The people who have paved the way. And the fact that there is still much more to do.

Of course, it’s always a really good atmosphere as well. An incredible buzz of so many LGBTQ+ people and supporters altogether. Whether it’s your first, tenth or even your fiftieth Pride – come and join us; come and march with us; and join an incredibly important party.

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! 



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.)




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.



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.


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







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… 


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.  


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


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, 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 😊 

Student Volunteering Week 2022


What is Student Volunteering Week?

Running for its 21st year, Student Volunteering Week is a nationwide event bringing students together to celebrate the volunteering you’ve been taking part in, or to find out more about ways you can get involved.

For obvious reasons, this year has seen many people keen to support projects focused around sustainability, but there’s a whole range of opportunities out there and it would be difficult for someone not to find a programme linked to a social issue close to your heart.


Why should I be interested?

Being a volunteer is not about being a saint!  Talk to anyone who gives up their time for a cause that concerns them, and they will tell you it makes them feel good.  And if your physical or mental wellbeing isn’t in need of a boost, then what about your employability skills?

Volunteering often provides the chance to test your ability in areas where you may not have had much experience before, but that will be a real asset in your future career.   You often get thrown in at the deep end, but when you realise you can swim you will get a huge confidence boost – and who would say no to some Jedi powers?  You may also find out that topics you thought would interest you turn out to be not what you expected and, equally, discover subjects you feel passionate about but had never really considered before.

If you need more inspiration, please head to the Law School Student Employability Blog and read about Ayran who volunteered at the Law Clinic.  By providing clients with free legal advice he not only made a real difference to people who needed help but weren’t able to afford it, he also gained invaluable experience in advising clients, and resolving disputes.

How can I get involved?

Many people have considered volunteering but are not sure whether it’s for them, or even what they’d like to do.

A brilliant way to find out more about how you can get involved is to go to the Bristol SU Volunteering Fair.  This will be held on Wednesday 9 February from 4:30 – 6:30 in the Anson rooms and will be showcasing lots of local organisations.  You don’t need to be ready for a long term commitment – there will be options for just getting a taster too.

If you can’t make it to the Fair but would like to find out more about local projects then head to the SU’s Skills & Volunteering webpage,  check out what’s happening at Bristol Hub, or take a look at myopportunities run by the Careers Service.

British Heart Foundation have lots of volunteering opportunities available, and if you already know you are looking for an outdoor volunteering role, Step Together are looking for volunteers to assist with their allotment programme and would welcome anyone interested in helping vulnerable young people.


We hope that’s provided you with some food for thought, and wish you a very happy Student Volunteering Week!