LGBT+ History Month 2022 – Round Up

A UoR branded graphic with 'LGBT+ History Month' written on it and a heart with the LGBT+ progress flag designed in it.

LGBT+ History Month – ‘Round up’

There was a lot of activity across the University in February for LGBT+ History month. Here are some of the highlights to keep your LGBT+ inclusion going beyond the major celebratory months.

 

What is LGBT+ History month and why is it important?

LGBT+ History Month happens in February every year in the UK. It is important that we celebrate LGBT+ history to recognise and celebrate the contributions and achievements of LGBT+ people throughout history. Some historical figures could not be openly ‘out’ in their own time (Oscar Wilde, for example) and for this reason it is important to celebrate them today and recognise them as their whole selves.

The LGBT+ community also have a long history of having to fight for human rights. Still today, 70 countries criminalise same-sex relationships. This map shows the stark reality of current global rights for LGBT+ people, which makes it even more important that we critique, as well as celebrate the community’s history, and by doing this, we can look ahead to the future.

 

The Library’s D&I resources  

A message from Tim Chapman, D&I Lead, Library.

“Our online reading list system, which is widely used by academic staff for most taught courses across the University, has been of huge benefit to students since we adopted it in 2015. It gives direct links to the library catalogue and instant access to any material available to us online.  

We are also able to develop bespoke reading lists such as this one - highlighting some great YA and Children’s material that we hold in the library, covering a range of LGBTQ+ issues and themes. Check it out.   

Our online reading lists enable us to get the broadest reach possible and they help us to widen readership, which from a diversity perspective, must be a positive thing.  

We also produce a reading list that keeps track of all the material purchased from our Diversity Fund. Anyone can suggest a purchase that relates to any of our diversity and inclusion themes (LGBTQ+, race & ethnicity, disability & inclusion). It’s a great way for you to help us to shape your Library’s collections.  

If you want more information, or to suggest a book for purchase, contact your School Academic Liaison Librarian here.” 

 

Prepster: PrEParing and HIV

Dr Will Nutland, co-founder of prepster, talked about why testing for HIV is important, who should be thinking about testing, and how frequently. He talked to us about how testing has changed over time and in addition, talked about the available options -including PrEP for those who are negative and new options for those folks that test positive for HIV.

Re-watch the event here: Prepster:PrEParing and HIV

 

 

‘Ice and Fire’ – a rehearsed reading and Q&A 

Brought to us by Dr Ruvi Ziegler, Chair of the LGBT+ staff network on Wednesday 02 February. Prior to the reading, between 2-2.45pm, there was also an asylum mapping workshop open to interested law students and staff.

The event was a rehearsed reading of LGBT+ asylum testimonies by Ice and Fire followed by a Q&A moderated by Sebastian Aguirre, Director of Actors For Human Rights (a queer human rights activist and theatre practitioner from the Chilean refugee diaspora in the UK), with Ruvi Ziegler and a representative of the Reading Refugee Support Group.

Here is tweet about the event as well as some photos

 

 

LGBTQ+ Britain through Bishopsgate institute collections

Stef took participants at the university on a virtual tour of the collections at the Bishopsgate Institute, talking about the history of LGBT+ Britain. Covering many topics and moments over last 50 years in a light-hearted fashion for all the University Staff and Students.

Watch it again below:

LGBTQ+ Britain through Bishopsgate institute collections

 

 

the Pride in STEM logo

LGBT+ History Month Whiteknights Campus trail

The Central Diversity and Inclusion team released a University of Reading ‘talking or walking tour’, in collaboration with the LGBT+ Staff Network.

We reached out to the Diversity and Inclusion leads across the University and asked for an LGBT+ figure who they associate with their School, Function, or field of study. We collated these figures and mapped out a route through the University’s Whiteknights Campus.

Some departments are not located on Whiteknights campus, and these have been added at the end so that you can learn about the historical figures, without travelling to those locations physically.

Colleagues can listen to an audio version, read about the icons, use the ‘map’ to physically familiarise themselves with Whiteknights campus buildings and departments (and LGBT+ History).

 

Listen to/watch the presentation here: Whiteknights_campus_LGBT_tour_2022.mp4

Whiteknights Campus map here Campuses Map & Key (reading.ac.uk)

We also ran training including an LGBT+ Ally recruitment and information session. You can still sign up to our Trans inclusion training, as it is at the end of March:

A Trans flag being held up against a blue background

Trans inclusion training 

Thursday 31st March 2022 – 10am-12pm (via Microsoft Teams)

Register here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing… Mary Turner Wolstenholme

During Women’s History Month we often focus on great women and women pioneers. But for Women’s History Month 2022, here at the Department of History, we are privileged to be able to concentrate on one of our own, Mary Turner Wolstenholme. Mary represents so many women who might have considered themselves ordinary but whose achievements tell us so much about women’s lives and opportunities.  With the kind permission her daughters Gilly Pinner and Julie Wolstenholme and through their generous donation of their mother’s documents and photographs from her time at Reading we present:  Mary Turner Wolstenholme.

Mary Turner completed a BA Hons in Geography and graduated on 1st July 1948. She graduated in the same year that the eminent historian Doris Stenton received her doctorate in History. 1948 was also an auspicious year that saw the founding of the NHS. After graduating from Reading in 1948 with a BA Hons in Geography, Mary (known as Molly) went on to complete her teacher’s diploma at Manchester Victoria University. She subsequently became a teacher at a local high school in the Rossendale Valley, Lancashire, known as Whitewell Bottom. She married Robert Wolstenholme in 1952 and her daughter Gilly was born in 1956 and Julie in 1959. Mary retuned to teaching when her own daughters started school, as a primary school teacher, first at Stubbins County Primary then Edenfield CofE Primary. She continued teaching at Edenfield, later becoming Deputy Head, until taking early retirement in the 1980s. Through the kind gift of Mary’s personal papers we can see her journey to becoming an educator herself though her time at Reading.

 

An image of female staff and students posed together outside a university building in Reading.

Female undergraduates and academic staff at Reading, 1947

 

Rag Week 12th March 1947

Rag week is almost a lost tradition, it was a designated week when the university and the town came together; students organised fayres and a procession of floats to raise money for local charities.

An image of a horse drawn carriage and people surrounding it An image of people marching in the streets. An image of a float going down a busy street. An image of people driving a car.

An image of Kimber, Bill Ashton, The Mayor, Brian Robinson, Roger Williams in the Berkshire Records Office.

Kimber, Bill Ashton, The Mayor, Brian Robinson, Roger Williams
Students attempt to kidnap Phoebe Cusden, first female mayor of Reading and eminent peace campaigner. Read more about Phoebe Cusden at the Berkshire Records Office where her papers are held The Berkshire Record Office

 

Final Examinations

BA Geography examinations consisted of eight 3-hour papers.  How would you have done?

An image of a scanned geography final exam paper from June 1948

Other papers included: Human and Historical Geography, Geography (PRACTICAL), Physical Geography, Regional Geography (EUROPE), Regional Geography (BRITISH ISLES AND FRANCE), Economic Geography, Cartography

 

Graduands for presentation

When Mary graduated there were a surprising number of women gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Faculty of Letters.  For the Bachelor of Science degrees however the number of women dwindles hugely!

An image of a scanned graduands for presentation document.

Doris Mary Stenton (Lady Stenton), was awarded her doctoral degree D. Litt. from the Faculty of Letters at the same presentation.

An image of a scanned graduates document.

An image of graduates in 1948

Graduation, July 1st, 1948 (Geography Group):
Mike Banyon, Shirley Jones, Frank Pierce
Isobel Ayers, Sheila Knight, Mary Turner, Ron Waters
Ron Stone, Margaret Lawes, Mags Johnson, Frances Pilling

 

 

Reference in application for Education Methods (modern PGCE)

What Mary made of her reference from Professor Austen Miller in 1949 we do not know but it is eye-wateringly misogynistic by C21st standards! While Mary was of a ‘frank, cheerful and warm-hearted disposition’, she might not make ‘a great scholar’. In fact

‘The qualities that recommend her are the more

 personal ones of appearance and presence…’

 

An image of a scanned letter dates 1949

In 1878, the University of London was the first to award degrees to women. Both Oxbridge universities were among the last to grant women degrees on the same terms as men: Oxford in 1920 but not until 1948 at Cambridge, the same year that Mary Turner graduated from Reading. The granting of degrees by Cambridge caused a huge amount of unrest with male undergraduates burning effigies of women students and throwing fireworks at the windows of women’s colleges. Even then, the university was allowed to limit the numbers of female students relative to men and continued to exercise that power to the full. The University of Reading awarded degrees to women on the same terms as men from its inception in 1926.

 

Mary Turner, BA Geography, 1st July 1948

An image of Mary Turner, BA Geography on 01 July 1948

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National HIV Test Week 07-13 February 2022

a blog piece by Quincy Bastow (they/them), Technician – Teaching and Research at UoR, in collaboration with Jessica Harding (she/her), Deputy CEO at TVPS

Background on TVPS: Since 1985, Thames Valley Positive Support (TVPS) has worked hard to make a significant difference to people living with HIV across Berkshire. Originally an amalgamation of several different HIV support groups in the area, TVPS now stands proudly as the only HIV charity in Berkshire and in January 2020, expanded to include HIV support in North Hampshire. Our work spans prevention, testing, and post-diagnosis support. Their goal is to make people are aware of their HIV status, have the right level of support if they are positive, and are sufficiently informed to protect themselves if they are negative.

 

 

 

7th-13th of February marks National HIV Test Week. This week aims to encourage as many people as possible to test for HIV and know their status. It also highlights the many different methods of testing for HIV. A quick, easy and discreet method is the free postal test scheme that runs throughout the testing week. You can order one from freetesting.hiv 

 

Last year marked 40 years since the first official reporting of five cases, of what would later go on to be named Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). We have come a long way in the past four decades, so let’s explore some of these advances…

 

PrEP 
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a drug taken by HIV-negative people before and after sex that reduces the risk of getting HIV. Taking PrEP before being exposed to HIV means there’s enough medication inside you to block HIV if it gets into your body. PrEP is available free on the NHS in England. If you would like to learn more about PrEP or how to access it, contact your local sexual health clinic

 

PEP  
Post-exposure prophylaxis is a combination of HIV drugs that can stop the virus from taking hold. It can be used after the event if you’ve been at risk of HIV transmission. It must be taken within 72 hours, but ideally, it should be taken within 24 hours. It is not guaranteed to work, and it is meant as an emergency measure to be used as a last resort, such as if a condom fails during sex.

 

U=U
Undetectable equals untransmittable – this means that if the levels of HIV antibodies are so low in a person’s blood they cannot be detected. We call this an undetectable viral load. If you have an undetectable viral load, you cannot pass HIV on. People achieve an undetectable viral load by consistently taking their HIV medication and this is where the phrase ‘medication = prevention’ derives from in terms of HIV.

 

“While we have come so far in terms of testing options and advances in medication and prevention strategies, sadly attitudes towards HIV have not kept pace. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigmas that surround HIV due to misconceptions and lack of knowledge. The best way to help diminish stigma is to get HIV educated and pass that education on to those around you. A really easy way you can start to get HIV educated is to head over to iTunes or Spotify and listen to our HIV podcast – HIV, Hope & Charity. We share the stories of positive people, activists, and HIV history, and all in around 25 minutes!” – TVPS (Thames Valley Positive Support)

 

 

At the University of Reading this week, Friday 11th, 13:00-14:00, we will have Dr. Will Nutland, co-founder of prepster, will be talking about why testing for HIV is important, who should be thinking about testing, and how frequently. He will also talk to us about how testing has changed over time in addition, to how there are options – including PrEP for those who are negative and new options for those folks that test positive for HIV.
To register interest click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating the Year of the Tiger 2022

We’ve received a collection of photographs and contributions from some staff and students across UoR sharing how they celebrate lunar new year with friends and family!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My wife said for this Chinese New Year, she will put a red packet under the pillows of me and my daughter. It reminds me of my childhood memories of looking forward to receiving Yasuiqian (the red packet or lucky money) from my elders in the village in the Chinese New Year and we children needed to kowtou (kneel down with head touching the floor in front of the elders to show our respect) to receive it as part of the ritual – well, only symbolically as far as I can remember. Nowadays, kowtou is truly a thing of the past, but the folklore and the tradition of giving and receiving Yasuiqian (the lucky money) during the Chinese New Year have been passed on from generation to generation.

Why a red packet for the Chinese New Year? What does it symbolise?

I found the following brief story on the Yasuiqian (lucky money) shared by Cindy on Travelguide an interesting read:

https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/festivals/red-envelop.htm

I look forward to my red packet! Wishing everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous Chinese New Year of the Tiger!”

Dr Daguo Li, ISLI

 

 

“Chinese Lunar New Year (CLNY) is the most important festival for all Chinese in China and overseas. CLNY, of course, includes celebrations, delicious food, fireworks, visiting relatives and friends, while, more importantly, it is the time for family gatherings. A famous Chinese poem says “独在异乡为异客,每逢佳节倍思亲。” (All alone in a foreign land, I am twice as homesick on this day) During the year, I may be too busy to contact some relatives and friends. However, it is important to call all of them and give my 拜年(New Year Greetings) to them. With the development of social media, I can easily see them and 拜年 on WeChat. 2022 is the Year of Tiger 🐯. I wish all my relatives, friends and colleagues in the University of Reading 虎虎🐯🐯生威 (Forge ahead with the vigour and vitality of the tiger) in 2022.”

Dr Hong YANG (He/Him)
Associate Professor in Environmental Science

 

 

“Before the outbreak of COVID-19, Lunar New Year’s Day left me with many memories. Family and relatives gathered to thank our ancestors (“Chalye” in Korean), ate “tteokguk”, bow to adults with saying ‘Happy New Year'(“sebae” in Korean), and played traditional games such as “yutnori”. Since the spread of Corona 19, it has become difficult for family and relatives to gather on Lunar New Year’s Day, but I hope that we can get together again from this year and have a good time. Also, I wish all the students and staff at Reading University become a Happy New Year.”

YoungWoo Shin
Student at UoR Law School

 

“A Chinese New Year Meal” – Yang Zhong

 

“Children enjoy this festival most” – Yang Zhong

 

“Making dumplings during the new year eve is a family activity we all love” – Yang Zhong

 

“Door decoration of FU means good fortune usually goes with the spring festival couplets” – Carrie Zhang

 

“Spring Festival Couplets are essential Chinese New Year decorations”

 

“Writing Spring Festival Couplets” – Carrie Zhang

 

“Dumplings are an essential dish in the family reunion meal” – Carrie Zhang

 

“Giving Yasuiqian (red envelopes) is a very traditional practice and continues being popular among young and old”

 

“Red lanterns in all shapes or sizes are another type of essential decorations for Chinese New Year” – Carrie Zhang

 

“Visiting a temple fair or a local park with festive decorations is a popular way of spending the Chinese New Year holiday”

 

“A glimpse of street scene in Chengdu” – Yang Zhong

 

“A local park in NingXia” – Peilan Zhang

 

“Hanging new year decors” – Yang Zhong

 

 

“Street scene in Ningxia” – Peilan Zhang

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holocaust Memorial Day 2022 – Thursday 27th January 2022

 

An image of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. We see concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern. A beam of sunlight enters the image from the top right-hand corner, and beautiful light shines onto of the memorial pillars.


Holocaust Memorial Day
in an international day that is marked to remember those who were murdered for who they were.

By ‘visiting’ Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center digitally, you can explore digital collections including  ‘The Online Photo Archive – Visual testimony of Jewish life before, during and after the Holocaust.’, ‘The Righteous Database’, featuring rescue stories, photos, and information.

 

The founders of Holocaust Memorial Day UK have provided a variety of different resources designed to enable you to mark Holocaust Memorial Day together, from home. Some ideas they suggest include:

Cook together – “Food is a great way to learn about other cultures and share a new experience, even while apart. Use these resources to organise your own online cook-along event.”

Inspire together – “Make a moving film from your home by each reading lines from a poem about the Holocaust or genocide. Alternatively, your group could put pen to paper and write your own poem, which you could then film.”

 

 

Gal Jackson, a current 2nd year Biomedical Engineering undergraduate student at UoR andnd the Secretary of the student Jewish Society, has translated a small section from her grandmother’s testimonial for us to mark Holocaust Memorial Day this year.

“I was born in Tomaszów Lubelski, Poland. When the war started, we were three kids: my sister Leah was the eldest, my brother Arieh, and me. I remember the bombing, it was midday, around noon. Mom was just about to leave to bring dad his lunch to the store; my family had a small grocery store on the main street. My sister Leah, who was already mature, started crying and didn’t let my mother leave. While my mother was deciding whether to go, dad already closed the store and came back home because there was a massive bombing on Tomaszów Lubelski, it seemed they bombed the Jewish neighbourhood. People ran to the fields for cover, I know because our house was on the outskirts of town. And since then, I think life never returned to how it was before.”

– Sarah Jackson

 

These images have been created by student representatives from the student Jewish Society, alongside our UoR social media team to be shared today.

 

 

 

Reading Council is hosting an in-person event which will also be livestreamed:

Holocaust Memorial Day
An evening of reflection to commemorate victims of the Holocaust will be held on Wednesday 26 January. The free event will be a mix of live and online elements, including speakers, choral performances, and candle lighting.

The event will begin at 7:30pm in the Council chamber, and will also be live-streamed on the Reading Council Facebook page. 30 free audience places are available, booked in advance and first-come, first-served. No walk-ins on the night will be accepted. For further information and to register for a place at the event please contact events@reading.gov.uk.

 

 

The UK Ceremony for Holocaust Memorial Day 2022 will be streamed online on Thursday 27 January at 7pm:

The Ceremony will run from 7–8pm. Register here to watch the Ceremony online.

 At 8pm, get ready to Light the Darkness with us. Households across the UK will be lighting candles and safely putting them in their windows to:

  • remember those who were murdered for who they were
  • stand against prejudice and hatred today

Light a candle and put it in your window at 8pm on 27 January 2022 (if you are able to do so safely).Use hashtags #HolocaustMemorialDay #LightTheDarkness

 

 

 

Welcoming the Year of the Tiger!

(This post includes Chinese traditional characters and phrases with Cantonese 粵拼 jyutping and Mandarin 拼音 pinyin pronunciations respectively)

 

Lunar New Year / 農曆新年 (nung lik san nin / nóng lì xīn nián) is on Tuesday 01 February this year. This is the Year of the Tiger.

When is Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year falls on a different date each year as it follows a traditional lunisolar calendar whose dates indicate both the phase of the moon and the time of the solar year. This coming Lunar New Year is on Tuesday 01 February 2022.

 

Why is it the Year of the Tiger?

Each year is represented by one of the 12 Zodiac animals. The zodiac system was originally connected with worship of animals and has existed in Chinese culture since the Qin dynasty which was around 2000 years ago! As such, the zodiac signs play an integral part in Chinese culture. Each animal has different characteristics and meanings which is often used to determine a person’s fortune and luck for the coming year and even their compatibility with other Zodiacs. For instance, those born in the Year of the Ox are said to often be decisive, honest, dependable, and hardworking.

The order the animals come in are:

rat (鼠 – syu / shǔ )
ox (牛 – ngau / niú)
tiger (虎 – fu / hǔ)
rabbit (兔 – tou / tù)
dragon (龍 – lung / lóng)
snake (蛇 – se / shé)
horse (馬 – maa / mǎ)
goat (羊 – yeung / yáng)
monkey (猴 – hau / hóu)
rooster (雞 – gai / jī)
dog (狗 – gau / gǒu)
pig (猪 – zyu / zhū)

(Image sourced from: https://img.meijingku.com/d/file/2020/02/25/3b1eb3eb6572fcbec8b09e9b01f1d605.jpg?x-oss-process=style/w_450-h_auto)

 

You can find out more about the Chinese Zodiac on this TED talk: The Chinese Zodiac, Explained – ShaoLan and on this Ted’Ed video: The Myth Behind the Chinese Zodiac – Megan Campisi and Pen-Pen Chen

 

Celebrations and Decorations

Lunar New Year is celebrated by more than 20% of the world! Many parts of Asia, including China, Hong Kong SAR, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam celebrate Lunar New Year as a national holiday. Usually, celebrations begin on Lunar New Year Eve and can last around 15 days.

Before celebrations begin, it is tradition for people to clean their houses thoroughly, almost like having a big ‘spring clean’. Decorations are then displayed once the house is clean.

Decorations for Lunar New Year are predominantly red – the colour represents happiness and good fortune. People often decorate by hanging up art and calligraphy illustrating certain words and phrases. The most common is 福 (fuk / fú) – meaning happiness and good fortune. It can be written with calligraphy onto a square piece of red paper like in the image below. 福 (fuk / fú) is commonly put up on doors, windows and walls around homes, offices, schools, and stores.

(Image sourced from: https://img.meijingku.com/d/file/2020/02/25/3b1eb3eb6572fcbec8b09e9b01f1d605.jpg?x-oss-process=style/w_450-h_auto)

 

If you have studied or worked at the University of Reading for a little while, you may remember seeing or even picking up one of the 福 (fuk / fú) badges that were created in celebration of the Year of the Pig in 2019.

 

Paper Cutting Arts (窗花 – coeng faa / chuāng huā)

The Chinese character 福 is often incorporated into other decorations such as paper cutting arts. This is a folk craft that is usually seen on windows with the literal translation meaning ‘window flower’. The images on these decorations often include fish (a pun for blessings), grains (representing hope for a good harvest) as well as dragons and peaches (symbols from folktales and legends). The zodiac for the year is often the image on these decorations too.

Lanterns ( – dang lung / dēng lóng)

There are often different activities for each day of the Lunar New Year holidays, often including the lantern festival. Some places still release lanterns for the festival, but for environmental reasons, many people choose to simply display their lanterns at home. There are many different styles of lanterns that are displayed ranging from red spheres to dragons!

Red Packets

(Image Sourced from: https://marketingweek.imgix.net/content/uploads/2018/02/15170414/chinese-new-year-750.jpg?auto=compress,format,&crop=faces,entropy,edges&fit=crop&q=60&w=750&h=400)

 

Red packets (red envelope / Lai See 利是/ Hong Bao 紅包 / Ang Pao) There are many names for these little red gifts! But all of these contain money. It is tradition for many in the ESEA (East and Southeast Asian) community and diaspora to exchange these as a symbol of good luck. It is tradition for elders to give them to children in hope of passing on good fortune and blessings for the year to come. Younger generations also commonly give their elders red packets as a sign of gratitude and as a blessing of longevity.

 

Online Activities and Events
Lunar New Year is a time for family, and this is seen as the most important part of the holiday.

With the ongoing pandemic and various restrictions on travel, many continue not be able to see family and loved ones in-person. Nevertheless, where possible, some celebrations continue to take place in-person and some online!

See below for some of the online events we have come across!

 

  • Celebrating Chinese/Lunar New Year 2022 at SACLL

Friday 28 Jan 2022, 12:30-1:30pm

Online

You’ll be able to:

watch how UoR alumni celebrate the biggest festival in various places of China

play games

show talents

have fun

and hopefully win some dumplings

Sign up here to join us at SACLL to celebrate Chinese/Lunar New Year and the arrival of spring or contact SACLL Director Carrie Zhang:c.x.zhang@reading.ac.uk

Download the Celebrating Chinese/Lunar New Year 2022 at SACLL flyer here.

 

  • The Lunar New Year Early Years Learning Resource

Free resource accessible online here

(https://www.besean.co.uk/resources-posts/the-lunar-new-year-early-years-learning-resource)

In collaboration with Early Years and Primary education experts with a combined experience of over 25 years, besea.n have created a learning resource that takes the work out of lesson planning.

There are two packs available to download. One contains all the information and activities, the second is an image resource to support learning.

The packs are free to download, however, we encourage a donation towards our non-profit organisation in order to continue our work advocating for East and South East Asian communities, including the creation of educational resources.

 

Wednesday 26 Jan 2022 at 10:00 | Eventbrite

Part 2 – Chinese New Year Virtual Celebration (10:38-11:00)

Chinese New Year Cooking Show

Performance 1: Chorus (tbc)

Performance 2: Traditional Chinese dance (tbc)

Performance 3: Music ensemble “You Are the Miracle”

 

Friday 29th January 2022 – Daytime

Join in online with the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich for a fantastic new year celebration

 

Saturday 5th February from 5:00pm – 7:00pm

Chinese New Year celebrations, online again from Birmingham Chinatown! Celebrate Chinese New Year in the comforts of your own home yet again with an online celebration on

 

 

 

 

Is there religion in your Christmas?

By Rowan Watson, Chaplaincy Assistant, University of Reading  

A picture of three dolls depicting the nativity scene

Through working at the Chaplaincy, we experience a great variety of world views. Some students explain their strong belief in monarchy as the best form of government, others assure me that all life on Earth is evolving into crabs. One of our favourite topics of conversation is simply asking ‘What do you believe God is like?’. 

A popular answer is the description of a distant and uncaring being, living in the clouds. Occasionally God has been described to me as apathetic to our pain, watching His creations suffer and disdainfully refusing to do anything about it. It is no surprise that people with these views see Christianity as easily separated from the Santa Claus, Christmas Movies, Turkey and Roast potatoes parts of Christmas, but I don’t think this is entirely true. 

At Christmas, we Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, who we consider to be God on Earth. The key part of this for me is that God did not choose to be a distant being in the clouds – He saw His creations suffering and refused to ignore it. 

Christmas is about the incarnation. This means part of the indescribable God-ness of God being funnelled into human form. Jesus was fully God whilst also being fully Man. In easier terms, the incarnation is about God taking a human shape and moving into our neighbourhood, right next door. God draws near to us.  

Over the centuries, this idea has morphed into traditions about being generous to one another, opening our homes to guests and giving them the best we have. God is a close friend and treats us better than we deserve, so let’s treat others that way too!  

This part of Christmas has something more to say to those who experience a less joyful Christmas. When the night draws in and the cold confines us to our houses, winter can leave some of us withdrawn from our social circles. International students can find this time particularly challenging because of their UK friends returning home and campus shutting shop for the holidays.

A stained glass window depicting an angel and the Star of Bethlehem

Those with difficult family relationships face a different sort of loneliness. Being estranged from those who are meant to support you unconditionally can cause a lot of pain at Christmas. In the UK our cultural focus is around families and generosity, but these are not a light in a dark time for everyone. 

Not to mention that ‘isolation’ has taken on a whole new meaning recently. As I write, it is uncertain to what extent this will be a feature of our collective Christmases. I personally experience some of these issues, albeit not as severely as some, and so Christmas time can bring about a feeling of loneliness.  

I find that Christmas, at its core, sets out to tackle issues like these. We believe that God is so fond of His Creations that He chose to walk among them, and that this love continues. When I find myself feeling isolated, afraid and pessimistic about the future, I remind myself of that God comforts me by sitting beside me. I am loved by the Creator of everything in existence.  

And it is not only through God that we can find this comfort. Many Christians take this time to reach out to those in the community who are struggling. Some members of our community are offering places at their Christmas table for the most important meal of the year in this spirit, details on how to take a place at a local person’s table, are below. 

Beyond that, participating in Christmas festivities can bring opportunities to meet a new side of the community. If family cannot be part of your Christmas celebrations, a ‘friends’ style family embodies the spirit of the season and is just as joyful and fulfilling. I find that online celebrations can feel distant, but when a loved one is the other side of the world, it can bring them into your living room and allow you to celebrate together. 

Check out the University Chaplaincy list of What’s On in Reading this season, and go and seek God while He is near, either through religious ceremony or through a bottle of mulled wine with a friend on Facetime. He’s in both places. 

 

 

What’s on this Christmas? 

Events collated by the University Chaplaincy and shared in good faith. For more events see: https://www.whatsonreading.com/ 

 

Market Yard 

When: 26th November – 23rd December  

Where: Reading Printhouse 

What: Market Yard is transforming into a unique space to socialise, eat and drink 

Cost: Free 

More information here: https://www.marketyard.co.uk/ 

 

Winter Wonderland 

When: 13th November – 3rd January 

Where: Hills Meadow by Reading Bridge 

What: An exciting Christmas adventure for people of all ages that includes ice skating, Santa’s grotto and a variety of food and drink 

Cost: From £12 

More information here: https://www.facebook.com/outdooricerink.co.uk/ 

Book tickets here: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/ice-skating 

 

The Invisible Dress Exhibition 

When: 28th November – 5th January  

Where: HUMOS, Caversham 

What: ‘The Invisible Dress’ refers to the scents that we use to complete our look. This exhibition combines fashion illustration, perfume and floral arrangements. 

Cost: Free 

More information here:
https://whatsonreading.com/venues/humos/whats-on/invisible-dress 

 

Twilight Trail: Biscuit Town 

When: 3rd – 31st December 

Where: Abbey Ruins and Forbury Gardens 

What: An accessible open-air light trail experience 

Cost: From £8 

Book tickets here: https://web.livingreading.co.uk/twilight-trail-2021 

 

The Snow Queen 

When: 3rd – 24th December 

Where: South Street Arts Centre 

What: A new play, based on the original story by Hans Christian Anderson about two best friends and a dangerous journey across Scandinavia  

Cost: From £12 

Book tickets here: https://whatsonreading.com/snow-queen 

 

A Christmas Carol 

When: 3rd – 31st December 

Where: Reading Rep Theatre 

What: A live performance of the Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol, performed by Reading Rep Theatre 

Cost: From £14 

Book tickets here: https://www.readingrep.com/a-christmas-carol/ 

 

Forgetful Elf Trail 

When:4th – 23rd December 

Where: Reading Museum 

What: Help the Elf find his lost belongings around the museum. Includes writing letter to Santa and Christmas craft pack 

Cost: £3 per pack 

More information here: https://www.readingmuseum.org.uk/holiday-fun-reading-museum 

 

Beauty and the Beast 

When: 4th December – 3rd January 

Where: The Hexagon 

What: An exciting pantomime featuring Justin Fletcher, also known as Mr Tumble 

Cost: From £15 

Book tickets here: https://whatsonreading.com/beauty-and-beast 

 

Student Christmas Day Lunch 

When: 25th December, 1-2.30pm 

Where: Our Lady of Peace church hall 

What: Turkey lunch hosted by Chaplain, Sister Vivian (10 spaces). Booking essential: email with food allergy details before Friday 17th December 5pm to: v.onyeneho@reading.ac.uk 

Cost: Free 

 

For times of (free) Christmas and Carol services, Google your nearest church. 

 

General

Reading Museum 

What: Archaeology, Art, History and Natural History. Café and shop. 

Cost: Free 

Opening times and more information here: https://www.readingmuseum.org.uk/ 

 

Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) 

What: History of English farming and country life. Garden, café, and shop 

Cost: Free 

Opening times and more information here: https://merl.reading.ac.uk/ 

 

Want to be hosted for a meal or receive hospitality from a local family during the break? 

Friends International connects international students with local hosts. Download the App: https://www.friendsinternational.uk/international-student-app/ click on “Local Link”. 

 

International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day (IHRD) is observed every year on 10 December – the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

To mark International Human Rights Day (IHRD) 2021, several staff members across UoR have written blog pieces about protected characteristics and their importance.

 

 

Sex

Professor Rosemary Auchmuty, Professor, School of Law

 

When the Equality Act was passed in 2010, it swept up all existing non-discrimination legislation into one statute. Of the categories of discrimination it encompassed, sex was the first to be recognised.  Until just over a century ago, women – members of the female sex – were barred from a whole range of jobs and public offices, excluded from educational and social opportunities, and could not exercise the vote or stand for Parliament.  In 1918, thanks to long feminist campaigns, some women got the vote, and could become MPs; in 1919, thanks to more long feminist campaigns, the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act was passed, opening many professions (including law) to women for the first time.   But the Act said nothing about treating them the same way as men were treated: so women continued to be paid less than men and were routinely dismissed (or passed over for appointment in the first place) because they were or might become pregnant.

Twentieth-century feminists built on the legacy of nineteenth-century feminism by campaigning not only for equal educational and job opportunities but for legal measures that took account of the actual physical differences between men and women. For example, women’s reproductive role meant that, in order to enter the workplace, they needed access to contraception and abortion as well as childcare arrangements.

Only in 1975 did the Sex Discrimination Act make it illegal to discriminate against women in education, employment, and the provision of services.  These provisions were subsumed in the Equality Act 2010 in recognition of the fact that sexist discrimination was still ongoing, and that it would take many more years for women to catch up with men because of their long history of exclusion and discrimination.  (These are similar arguments to the justification for ‘race’ to be a protected characteristic.)  Not only this, but earlier victories tend to be lost in bad times or through backlash: if the current pandemic has shown us anything, it is that women have suffered worse in terms of pay and job security than men and that they still carry the heaviest burden of care and domestic work.  Differential treatment is still often justified precisely on the basis that only members of the female sex get pregnant and give birth.  So this is one reason why we need ‘sex’ to be a protected characteristic in law.

A second reason to protect sex in law is the recognition that women suffer disproportionately from sexual abuse, violence, and exploitation, and that these are acted out by male bodies on female bodies.  (Here, too, we see similarities with racist abuse and violence, also protected by the ‘race’ category in the Equality Act.)  Every woman on this university campus is alert to the possibility of sexual danger and probably all have experienced it.  Having a ‘sex’ category permits the provision of female-only spaces for women’s safety and protection and also to meet the needs of religions (religion is another protected characteristic in law) that require the segregation of male and female bodies in certain contexts like toilets or changing rooms.

There have been moves to replace the category of ‘sex’ in the Equality Act with a new category, ‘gender identity’.  But gender identity is quite different, since it does not necessarily map on to biological sex.  It does not recognise women’s long history of exclusion and discrimination on biological grounds or the specific roles of female bodies in reproduction and as objects of sexual abuse.  So we need to keep ‘sex’ in the Equality Act and, with it, the recognition that being a woman is more than simply an idea: it is a physical reality, with social consequences; and for both those reasons it needs protection.

 

 

 

 

 

International Human Rights Day 2021

International Human Rights Day (IHRD) is observed every year on 10 December – the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

To mark International Human Rights Day (IHRD) 2021, several staff members across UoR have written blog pieces about protected characteristics and their importance.

 

Reflecting on Disability targeted violence

Dr Yota Dimitriadi, Associate Professor, Institute of Education

 

I was born with a physical impairment, the result of medical complications during labour. My twin sibling did not survive. I never thought of myself as Disabled and grew up in a family that encouraged me passionately to explore the world and try things out (a social model of disability) in spite of the world around me telling me what I could not do (a medical model of disability). Some family friends called me ‘hook arm’ or ‘The Beggar’ in a loving attempt for me to change the way I used my impaired arm and fit in! The personification of difference and vulnerability became the language they used to encourage me to fit in. These were considered acts of love rather than ableist attitudes that needed to be challenged.

 

My physical impairment is not too obvious and over the years I also became very good at covering it. Covering became my norm and I did all I could not to draw attention to my difference. Whether my approach as a young person was right or wrong I do not know but it shaped me and made me good at problem solving. I did not want to be pitied for the physical things I could not do [though it got me out of P.E. sometimes]. I did not want to be seen as ‘weak’, as history had shown to me what happens to the ‘weak’. Over centuries the economic justification for forced sterilisation, overmedication, involuntary euthanasia, killing of Disabled people happened as they were seen as less worthy and their lives less valuable or as a solution to wider social problems. The Eugenics movement and the pass of the ‘The Mental Deficiency Act (1913) in the UK encouraged further ableist approaches that some people are better than others and as a result their lives are worth more than others. The ‘idiots, the ‘imbeciles’ and the ‘feeble minded’ were ostracised and institutionalised.

 

Negative and overgeneralised portrayals or accusations of Disabled people in the press, especially during times of economic crises, as ‘welfare recipients and favoured in access to resources’ (Hall, 2019: 9) contribute to demonisation and mistrust towards disabled people that can lead to further discriminatory approaches and hostility. Such press coverage isolates Disabled people more, perpetuates stigma around disability and becomes part of a wider set of barriers of a disablist society.

It may also lead to microaggressions, that unfortunately several disabled people experience every day. Sometimes it can also lead to more overt expressions of disapproval in private and public spaces: from name calling to physical attacks on them, their property or their support dogs. 10 out of the 21 crimes that were reported to the police daily in England and Wales in 2019-20 involved an act of violence against a disabled person, including assault and harassment (Leonard Cheshire, 2020). Quarmby’s study (2015) reported on offender motivations ranging from disabled people been seen as ‘benefit scroungers’ to ‘jealousy of the perceived ‘perks’ of disability’, such as having an adapted car or being accused of being ‘in the way’, for instance on the buses. For some Disabled people violence, harassment and exploitation is not the result of random hateful strangers but happen systematically within institutional care and domestic contexts (Sin et al, 2009).

Targeted violence and abuse against Disabled people are not new and research into disability hate crime is in its infancy. However, while disability hate crime incidents have increased by 11.5%, only 1.6% of all cases receive a charge (Leonard Cheshire, 2020). Many times disability hate crimes go unreported because Disabled people may be scared, isolated or because they have no trust that they will be taken seriously, treated with respect or supported when they report these incidents. The idea of vulnerability associated with Disabled people also positions them as having to expect some degree of discrimination as part of their daily lives and shifts the focus away from the impairment in such crimes. Roulstone and Mason-Bish (2013) discuss that as a result, assumptions can be made by the police that perpetrators are motivated by an individual’s perceived vulnerability rather than their impairment and the motivated crime is a result of disablist attitudes.

 

I am here today having a voice because of the actions of other people before me who were imprisoned, castrated, killed because of their difference or in their attempt to fight for equal rights to life and work. As we are celebrating the UN International Human Rights Day in 2021, we are celebrating the otherness that we all have. Recognising, reporting and raising awareness about disability hate crime may not change the prejudice against Disabled people but it will highlight that disability rights are human rights. Disabled people have been in the periphery of social action for centuries. Without their active involvement in challenging misconceptions and in decision making processes, prejudice, mistrust and hostility against them will remain. This is why the disability movement motto is ‘Nothing about us, without us’.

 

 

 

 

References

Hall, E. (2019). A critical geography of disability hate crime. Area, 51(2), 249-256. https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12455

Leonard Cheshire (2020). Reports of violent disability hate crime continue to rise as number of police charges fall again. https://www.leonardcheshire.org/about-us/our-news/press-releases/reports-violent-disability-hate-crime-continue-rise-number-police

Quarmby, K. (2015). To combat disability hate crime, we must understand why people commit it. The Guardian, 22 July. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/22/combat-disability-hate-crime-understand-people-commit

Roulstone A., & Mason-Bish, H. (2013). Disability, hate crime and violence (eds.). Routledge, London

Sin, C., Hedges, A., Cook, C., Mguni, N. & Comber, N. (2009). Disabled people’s experiences of targeted violence and hostility. Equality and Human Rights Commission, London

 

International Human Rights Day 2021

International Human Rights Day (IHRD) is observed every year on 10 December – the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

To mark International Human Rights Day (IHRD) 2021, several staff members across UoR have written blog pieces about protected characteristics and their importance.

 

Age

Professor Arlene Astell, Professor in Neurodegenerative Disease, School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences

 

If anyone doubted the need to include ‘Age’ as a protected characteristic in the Equality Act, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a harsh spotlight on the needs of a large sector of the population. First, as we all know the majority of excess deaths from COVID-19 have occurred among older persons. The loss of life has affected millions of people across the world, with many heart-wrenching stories of families unable to visit their loved ones or even attend their funerals. Yet a shocking analysis produced by the UN Secretary General in September 2021 examining the impact of COVID-19 on older people, reported a rise in ageism and stigma towards ageing and older persons. The scale of this problem is quantified in another UN publication, their Global Report on Ageism, which suggests that half the world’s population is ageist, yet this is somehow regarded as “more acceptable” than discrimination against other groups. These findings indicate a major need for continued education and challenging of negative stereotypes and attitudes towards ageing.

 

Evidence of ageism is widespread in all aspects of life. For example, older workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic are finding it difficult to get back into employment as employers prefer younger candidates. This has major implications for an individual’s identity and sense of purpose which are increasingly important as we live longer and need to plan for life after paid employment. There is a huge difference between being able to proactively decide to reduce the time one works and being forced into early retirement, not least from a financial perspective. Additionally, older people actively resist stereotypes of ageing and try to continue to live the life they want.  For example, in my work around technology adoption, we have found that most people want to remain independent and be able to look after themselves and will use technology that helps them to remain at home. They are well aware of ageing stereotypes and will reject devices that make them look or feel dependent, frail or incapable.

 

In terms of ageing stereotypes, one condition – dementia – seems to epitomise the negative attitudes towards old age. I have worked with people living with dementia for my whole career, and it is a topic surrounded by myths and misconceptions. These are always unhelpful, and some are even harmful in terms of the lack of understanding about what people living with dementia experience and what they need. In terms of their human rights, people living with dementia struggle to enjoy them because they are excluded in many different ways. Dementia is an irreversible progressive brain disorder which means that over time people have difficulty looking after themselves. As with many other conditions, they come to rely on other people to provide care and support. However, the way people with dementia are viewed and treated is very different to people living with cancer or diabetes.

 

The explanation seems to because dementia relates to losing memory and other aspects of cognition, such as attention and concentration. From this we see the adoption and perpetuation of attitudes towards people with dementia that they are incapable and infantile, and viewed as unaware and unknowing of how they are being treated. What is most concerning is how easily these attitudes are taken on board and persist across society, suggesting that dementia matches and reinforces prevailing views of old age.

In respect of technology use, the pandemic has highlighted global inequalities associated with ageing. Specifically, the pandemic has seen the movement of many services including healthcare and banking, to online. Whilst this has been driven by the necessity of reducing human contact to reduce transmission and some would argue this is a positive change,

older adults are most likely to not have internet access or necessary equipment for using online services. For example, a report released by the Older Adults Technology Services, Inc. (OATS) and the Humana Foundation in January 2021 found that 42% of the over 65s in the United States, roughly 22 million people, lacked broadband access at home. In the UK, the picture is even more stark. Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that 67% of the 3 million people who are offline are aged 70 or over with another 32% aged between 50-69. These figures reflect the picture worldwide.

 

In recognition of the importance of addressing the ‘Digital Divide’, the theme for 2021 International Day of Older Persons was “Digital Equity for All Ages”. This highlighted economic and social inequalities as the major drivers of the digital divide as individuals largely rely on self-paying for devices and internet access. The widespread implications of this digital divide include lack of access to digital healthcare (including telehealth and apps for managing chronic conditions), social services and public health information, plus increased risk of social isolation. Challenging digital exclusion requires political will to ensure equitable access to the Internet and devices. It also requires training, resources and support for reaching older people and tackling of persistent stereotypes that they do not want or cannot use digital tools. IN 20 years of working with technology and older adults, including people living with dementia, I have always found them keen to try anything new.