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l 3 December 2019 Issue 371 The official student newspaper of the University of East Anglia | concrete-online.co.uk Established 1992
UEA introduces initiative
to tell parents about students’ mental health Bryan Mfhaladi and Chris Matthews News Editor and Editor-in-Chief
Mental Health Crisis The vice-chancellor’s mental health taskforce has announced during next semester students will be able to opt in to an initiative allowing UEA to inform a third party, such as a parent or guardian, about their child’s mental health issues. The taskforce is also introducing 15 other projects to support what the head of student services believes is a strong student support network at UEA.
The Vice-Chancellor’s task force was introduced in March, in the light of concerning mental health issues following four deaths in ten months on campus. The team is comprised of 11 people, including 2 members of the student union. Following a petition to address the mental health crisis at UEA vice-chancellor David Richardson said the university would be “immediately investing an additional £250,000 now for this year and from the start of August we will spend £1.4m in mental health and wellbeing services, a 63% increase in budget compared to this year.”
Andrew Cowan and Jake Huntley What do authors really think about teaching creative writing?
3rd December 2019
Editorial Strikes and student journalism Jess Barrett Deputy Editor
A community standing together Chris Matthews Editor-in-Chief
This issue is the last of the decade. So I thought we could look back at the first of the decade, Issue 237. It’s 12th January 2010. Labour are in power, and Concrete leads on the government’s budget deficit, which students worry could lead to an increase in fees. In 2010 the fees were £3,225 a year. Try not to cry. In fact, how about some laughter? Perhaps in a bid to ease students’ concerns, page 2 tells us about the then leader of the Lib Dems Nick Clegg’s promise to ditch tuition fees altogether. That turned out well. I wonder how the Lib Dems will do in this election. I’m still not sure they’ve shaken off the anchor that was the coalition. Find out what all the Norwich South candidates had to say in our Election Special on page 14. Now, onto a different subject. On the front page of this issue, News Editor Bryan Mfhaladi and I report how next semester students will be able to opt in to a scheme allowing UEA to tell students’ parents or guardians about their child’s mental health issues. Vice-chancellor Prof David Richardson set up his mental health taskforce after four student deaths in just 10 months at UEA. I’m glad the taskforce is taking some real action. There were worries when it was announced that it was more for show than anything
else. I believe this is one reason why there’s been a real surge in activity to promote mental wellbeing at UEA this year. As well as Concrete’s Mental Health Crisis campaign, Uea(su) are continuing to run their We Will Be Heard campaign, and STIGMA, a new “student led collaborate project”, as SU welfare officer Amelia Trew calls it, has announced a date for their first event. It’s moving but also reassuring to see so many in UEA’s community - both students and staff - coming together to help in the fight against this mental health crisis. The vice-chancellor’s taskforce has announced a total of 16 initiatives. Visit concrete-online. co.uk to see the full list. I’m especially glad that one of our manifesto points, to inform parents or guardians about their child’s mental health issues, has been included by the taskforce. Although this may not benefit everyone, I think it’s a real step up in terms of attitude. This university is faced with a mental health crisis, but now UEA is responding with a raft of considered and informed measures. I’m delighted with this issue of Concrete. Not only is it the last issue of the decade but it is a fantastic one too. Only a moment ago Deputy Editor Jess Barrett remarked how much the section editors’ design ability has grown in the past few months. Our team is doing a brilliant job, so well done to them! From Leia Butler’s interview with authors and UEA staff Andrew
Cowan and Jake Huntley (page 12) to Will Warnes’ piece on the Hong Kong riots (page 8) this issue is packed with gripping articles. As Jess mentions in her editorial, we went to the regional SPA conference last weekend, and met a great bunch of student journalists from other universities. Something that has shocked many in universities around the UK is the Bolton University accommodation fire. I’d like to extend our thoughts to the students in Bolton affected by the incident. You can find the full story on page 4, alongside a photo kindly provided by Ansh Sachdeva, president of Bolton SU. So that’s it for this decade at least. Have a good read of this issue, and good luck in all your exams and summatives. I for one know I’ll definitely need some!
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It’s the last issue of the decade and we’re going out with a bang! It’s crazy to think that we are now half way through our term as editors, to be quite honest I’m a little disappointed that it is going by so quickly. Concrete has become the most amazing element of my university experience. I have loved writing, editing, recording our radio show and attending various conferences. Last weekend, Chris and I attended the Student Publication Association Regional conference in the Midlands (who knows why our Norwich paper is classed to be the Midlands, but we can let it slide). We met lots of other papers and student journalists as well as listening to many esteemed professionals talk about their journalism careers, how they started and where they plan on going. Hearing about all of the different paths student journalists go down gives me so much hope for the future, writing articles and having them published is something I never want to give up, but I was worried I would have to abandon it for a different career path. Now I don’t have to. I’m excited to see where my fellow student journalists go, whether they go down the journalism path or fall into a different route. Reading through each issue gives me such a sense of achievement, holding something physical in your hands, knowing you created it, is so incredible. I’ll be sitting down with my cup of coffee for a big read through as soon as it is distributed around campus and I can lay my hands on a copy. Now there is no excuse for not reading Concrete – due to the strikes we all have a bit more time on our hands. Try to use this time wisely, catch up on your reading or complete our sudoku in Venue – whatever tickles your pickle. Speaking of Venue, check out Jo Castle's artwork on the front cover! Go on and have a gander.
ConcreteUEA Front page photo: Concrete/ Chris Matthews Cut out: Unsplash
The University of East Anglia’s Official Student Newspaper since 1992 Tuesday 3rd December 2019 Issue 371 Union House University of East Anglia Norwich NR4 7TJ 01603 593466 www.concrete-online.co.uk
Editor-in-Chief Chris Matthews firstname.lastname@example.org Deputy Editor Jess Barrett email@example.com Online Editors Alec Banister and Jack Oxford firstname.lastname@example.org News Bryan Mfhaladi email@example.com Senior Writer: Samuel Woolford Global Global Editor: William Warnes Senior Writer: Piriyanga Thirunimalan firstname.lastname@example.org Features Features Editors: Paige Allen and Leelou Lewis email@example.com Comment Matt Branston firstname.lastname@example.org Science Science Editor: Jake WalkerCharles email@example.com Travel Sam Hewitson firstname.lastname@example.org Sport Sport Editor: Jamie Hose Sport Senior Writer: Luke Saward email@example.com Chief Copy-Editors Nerisse Appleby Reeve Langston firstname.lastname@example.org Social Media Amelia Groves
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No part of this newspaper may be reproduced by any means without the permission of the Editor-in-Chief, Chris Matthews. Published by the Union of UEA Students on behalf of Concrete. Concrete is a UUEAS society, but retains editorial independence as regards to any content. Opinions expressed herein are those of individual writers, not of Concrete or its editorial team.
3rd December 2019
concrete-online.co.uk/category/news/ | @ConcreteUEA
UEA introduces initiative to tell
parents about students’ mental health Continued from front page The taskforce also funded recruitment of 18 new staff across Student Services in order to increase the support services over the summer and autumn. The opt in initiative would allow the University to contact a nominated friend or relative in the event of significant concerns about their welfare. A survey by the Higher Education Policy Institute this year found 81% of students would not complain if universities contacted their parents or guardians about their mental health. Vice-chancellor Prof David Richardson said: “I set the taskforce up and at the start we were reviewing what we needed to do, enhancing already strong provision and exploring the areas we need to address in order to put in place a whole institutional approach to tackle the challenge around mental health and wellbeing for the whole community. “Six months on we have done a lot. We have put in place projects to prevent, intervene and support, to create fora to have conversations, to embed wellbeing into the curriculum and to build on our research and do new interactions
into intervention and prevention.” Concrete launched the Mental Health Crisis campaign in September this year, and informing parents or guardians about their child’s mental health issues was one of five points in the campaign’s manifesto. The campaign has gained support from the mother of a UEA student who took his own life on university grounds, several MPs, and the Chief Executive of Norwich City Council. Other prominent figures such as mental health activists Stephen Fry, Sir Norman Lamb, and Brexit activist Gina Miller have also pledged their support for the campaign. UEA’s vice-chancellor also supports the campaign. In a statement he said: “Removing stigma and being able to have honest conversations about mental health is absolutely vital.” The taskforce has launched are 15 other initiatives, including working with universities such as Bristol to spot the best approaches to mental health, embedding wellbeing in the curriculum, and introducing a staff wellbeing and mental health strategy.
See all sixteen of the taskforce's initiatives online at concrete-online.co.uk
Photo: Concrete / Chris Matthews
Universities brace for claims Leia Butler News Reporter
Starting on the 25 November, over a million students faced disruptions as academics from 60 universities signed up to strike over their pay and working conditions and pension. UEA is one of the universities affected by the eight day strike as their workers strike over pension concerns.
“We hope the university will appreciate our loss of education time”
Photo: Concrete / Bryan Mfhaladi
University chiefs have moved to reassure students that extra lecture notes and online resources will be provided, however, this has not stopped many students starting online petitions to call for a refund in tuition fees.
Hundreds of students at Bangor University have started a petition calling for reimbursement for lost teaching time, which states: "As students, we support our lecturers who choose to take industrial action to protect their - and our - futures and interests. However, we feel that we should be compensated by Bangor University for the fact that we are missing time from our education as a result of the University's attitudes towards its staff." They have calculated that based on £9,000 a year tuition fees, each student should be reimbursed £380. Students at UEA, have also started an online petition in response to the Bangor petition which currently stands at over 1600 signatures. The petition was created by Alice Harvey who states: "We hope the university will appreciate our loss of education time and the impact of cuts to the pension for staff, and subsequently act upon it." Carol Costello, the spokesperson for the employers that are striking, said: "If [students] felt that the university hadn’t made appropriate arrangements then they would need to put in a request to their university for compensation.”
3rd December 2019
Bolton student accommodation goes up in flames Bryan Mfhaladi News Editor
Photo: Ansh Sachdeva
Students were evacuated from The Cube, an accommodation house in Bolton when a fire started at around 20:30 on Friday 15 November. The Cube is a private accommodation house located in Bolton Town Centre, which opened in 2015. Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said that two people were treated by paramedics on the day, as about 200 firefighters tackled the blaze which engulfed every floor of The Cube. The University of Bolton has supported students currently, moving them into temporary accommodation at the Orlando student halls and in some hotels. Prof George E Holmes DL, president and vice-chancellor of the university, said: "University colleagues have worked through the night to make sure support is in place for students over the weekend. We have also arranged to provide necessities such as toiletries for all students affected and are opening the university over the weekend so students can be supported. We will also provide food for them." Although no official information has been released about the cause of the fire or why it spread so extremely, the fire has brought back the concern of the safety of a highly flammable material. The material, High Pressure Laminate (HPL) cladding, is a form of cladding typically manufactured by layering sheets of wood or paper fibre with a resin and bonding them under heat and pressure. They sometimes include
additional chemicals to provide fire retardant properties. Following the Grenfell Tower fire in North Kensington, London, on 14 June 2017, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government conducted a test of a cladding system comprising HPL panel with fire retardant. The material passed and it was considered safe depending on the composition of the entire cladding system and how it was fitted. However, the Expert Panel said HPL panels of Class C or D were very unlikely to adequately resist the spread of fire. Buildings with these were then advised to take immediate action. They came to the conclusion that HPL cladding should be banned on
“We have also arranged to provide necessities for all students affected” new residential buildings of 18m or more. However, because The Cube is 17.84m in height, under current rules there would be no regulation stopping combustible materials being placed on the building. The Fire Protection Association has even called for a complete ban of combustible materials on all buildings - not just high rises. The government has been accused of downplaying the fire risk
posed by HPL cladding. According to the Guardian, officials dismissed pleas for the removal of HPL panels similar to that used at The Cube in Bolton just a month ago. In August, flat owners in high-rise blocks wrapped in combustible cladding in other parts of Greater Manchester asked the housing secretary for help to strip their buildings of all kinds of combustible cladding. The response was that money would be made available to remove only the specific kind of aluminium combustible cladding used at Grenfell Tower, and not the HPL cladding used in their homes. Following the recent fires, we sought a comment from UEA to see if they have used HPL cladding in any of their accommodation or were concerned about the safety of their buildings. In response to this, Customer Liaison Manager Corinne Ashwell said “We do not have any buildings on campus with HPL (high pressure laminate) cladding. Three of our residential buildings have ACM (aluminium composite material) cladding but this only covers relatively small areas of these buildings and, having been tested to BRE standards post Grenfell, this cladding was found to be compliant. Combined with robust, wellpracticed fire procedures and passive and active fire protection measures throughout UEA buildings, the risk of this ACM cladding is considered low risk.” Boris Johnson visited the scene of the fire on Saturday afternoon and briefly met students who had been evacuated.
in brief: Blind Student removed from Oxford News Builder leaves
Union innocent of wrongdoing £1m for UEA Jess Barrett
Lewis Oxley News Reporter
A blind student who was “violently” removed from a debate at the Oxford Union has been cleared of wrongdoing. The Oxford Union is the university’s renowned debating
“Unwelcome in the union, Oxford, even in the country” society. Onlookers filmed a security guard in an altercation with Ebenezer Azamanti, the student in question, before a debate was about to take place.
This altercation resulted in what one onlooker described as Mr Azamanti being “dragged by the ankles” out of the chamber in a “violent” manner. The event has caused outrage. The Oxford University Africa Society (OUAS) said it made Mr Azamanti feel “unwelcome in the union, Oxford, even the country”. Mr Azamanti had reserved a seat at the debate, but security staff prevented him from re-entering the building after the debate had started. OUAS members captured footage of the incident. In Mr Anzamanti’s defence, Helen Mountfield QC said they were in ongoing talks to expose the Union’s “failings” in this case. The Union shared a tweet in its support for Mr Azamanti and has condemned the response from security. Brendan McGrath, the president of the Oxford Union, has resigned and issued an apology to the OUAS and Mr Anzamanti for “any reputational damage”.
About £1 million pounds has been left to a student scheme with the intention to help “the man on the street”, to aid non-privileged students at the University of East Anglia. The donor was William Hamlin, a builder who also rented five homes to students in Norwich. He died at the age of 76 in 2013. The donation will enable students to apply and bid for funding to kick start their business ideas. UEA’s vice-chancellor Prof David Richardson, said Mr Hamlin’s donation will enable students from all backgrounds to “create good in the world for many generations to come”. Students from less advantaged financial backgrounds can apply for a portion of UEA Enterprise Fund – from £7,500 to £50,000. Students will also be able to pitch business ideas to a group of professionals and UEA alumni in order to secure funding.
3rd December 2019
News UEA students paying more each year to see their favourite acts said: “It’s important to remember that everything we do to raise money goes back into providing societies with support, our independent advice(su) team and supporting campaign work. “The cost of gigs at uea(su) has undoubtedly gone up over the last 30 years but then, what hasn’t? We know that the cost to artists of touring has increased massively with shows more complicated than they once were back in the 70s. “The industry has also changed
- artists who used to make their incomes from album sales now have to use touring to make money not just promote their work, which means prices go up. Another big factor is that as our venue has got more well respected, the quality of acts we attract now are some of the biggest names in the industry and that does come with a cost.” S h e a d d e d : “I think the most important thing to note is that uea(su) does not set price for gig tickets, the artists and promoters do.” Students seem to be divided on whether the increase is justifiable or not. While some feel the prices are fair others feel they are too expensive. In a poll of Concrete readers, 72% said they were unhappy with the price of gig tickets at the LCR compared to 28% who voted they were happy with the prices.
unhappy with price of gigs tickets
Photo: Concrete / Roo Pitt
Bryan Mfhaladi News Editor
There has been a 936% increase in the average price of Uea(su) gig tickets since 1971, research has found. This means on average gig prices have increased by 7.57% each year. The research covers prices from 1971 to 2017. A ticket to see Mungo Jerry
in 1971 was 50p. A ticket to see Kodaline this year was £29.50. However, the inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), has increased by 9.44% on average in the same time. The CPI measures changes in the price of a shopping basket of typical consumer goods. According to CPI, inflation has risen 1277% since 1971. This increase in inflation has
meant that the cost of artists touring has increased significantly from 1971, leading to artists increasing the prices they are charging for concerts. The cost of advertising the tour, paying supporting staff, travel expenses, food, and accommodation for the artists have all significantly increased since the 70s. In a statement Uea(su) activities and opportunities officer Alicia Perez
“The industry has also changed” with streaming now being the way that most people listen to music
happy with the prices
High Court bans anti-LGBT from school
Monique Santoso News Reporter
A high court judge has ruled for the permanent ban of the anti-LGBT protests in front of Birmingham primary school that began after about 300 people gathered at the school gates in May. Activists protesting against LGBT equality lessons are said to
have, “grossly misinterpreted” what is being taught to primary school children. The school, located in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham, has become the target of a long campaign to end LGBT equality messages from being taught in the classroom. The protests had a negative impact on the students, residents, and staff, with over 21 teachers being treated for stress.
Most protestors are of Muslim faith and have carried banners stating: “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” These activists claim that the teachings contradict the Islamic faith and are not, “age-appropriate.” Local authorities maintained that the court’s action was not seeking to curtail the protestors’ right to free speech but wanted to contain their anti-social behavior. In the October hearing of the court, residents had
said that they were feeling alarmed due to the increasingly intimidating protests. School children had to be kept inside with locked windows to avoid the “intolerable” noise from them. Lead protestor Shakeel Afsar, his sister Rosina, and Amir Ahmed, all contested the need for a legal injunction. Justice Warby directed that the three named defendants are liable to 80% of the costs, which the
court heard is yet to be calculated. The judge reasoned that the award was not in full as part of the council’s claim for an injunction on the making of abusive social media posts against teachers, had been unsuccessful. Mr. Afsar has said that he was, “bitterly disappointed” by the court’s decision. Meanwhile, headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson has told the BBC that her staff would be, “over the moon.”
3rd December 2019
News Election Strip: Labour release manifesto Ellie Robson News Reporter
Labour has released its 2019 election manifesto, under the key slogan: ‘It’s Time For Real Change’. One of the most appealing promises is the 4.3% proposed increase to the health budget. Labour want to scrap hospital car parking and prescription charges and cut private provision in the NHS. Another hopeful proposition is the raise of the minimum wage from £8.21 to £10, with the promise that all workers over 16 will receive £10 per hour within the next year. In addition to this, Labour has also promised improved workers’ rights, which includes bereavement pay, and longer maternity and paternity leave. The big issue for most voters is Brexit. Labour’s policy is more complicated than a simple slogan, but essentially demonstrates the intention for the renegotiation for a new Brexit deal
"Improved workers' rights, which includes
Prince Andrew stripped of duties Monique Santoso News Reporter
On Wednesday, November 22 the Queen sanctioned her second son, Prince Andrew’s retreat from royal duties after a BBC interview on his friendship with late financier Jeffrey Epstein. The interview showed the Duke of York’s lack of regret over his friendship with the disgraced banker and televised his apparent lack of empathy for the victims of the case, which received much criticism. He said he deeply sympathised with sex offender
“Willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency”
The Duke had become a liability after his involvement in the case
damaged the royal family”
and had to resign from his royal duties. Prince Andrew, 59, said he had asked the Queen for permission to withdraw for the "foreseeable future". His resignation means that he will no longer receive an allowance from the
Epstein's victims and everyone who "wants some form of closure". Nevertheless, he added that he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations if required.”
Windsor. Companies such as BT and Barclays, which he has links with have joined the various universities and charities that are distancing their brand from him. Although the statement from Buckingham Palace said that his withdrawal is “for the foreseeable future” many find it hard to see what will bring him back. Prince Andrew also canceled his planned trip to Yorkshire.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
in brief: Prime Minister Johnson News Ambulance worker
delays cuts in corporation tax found firms pay on their profits at current levels indefinitely. It is currently 19% and had been due to fall to 18% on 1 April 2020.
bereavement pay" within three months, before putting this deal to a referendum within six months, with the alternative option of staying in the EU. The referendum results would be applied immediately. This new deal would give EU nationals who work in the UK the automatic right to stay. EU citizens residing in the UK would no longer have to apply to
"The money saved as a result of the delay will amount to £6billion"
"Labour's new proposal would remove worry for EU citizens" live and work in the country, due to a settlement scheme introduced by the Conservative government. Almost 2.5 million people have signed up to the scheme so far, leaving roughly one million to do so. Labour’s new proposal would remove worry for EU citizens in regard to deportation settling a huge Brexit talking point. Other key policies in the manifesto include the introduction of a National Care service, the bringing forward of the net-zero target for carbon emissions, and free bus travel for under-25s.
sovereign grant, an expense account that is funded by the government to cover the costs of travel, staff, bills and the royal palaces’ upkeep. However, he will still work on his business charity, Pitch@Palace, only without official support. According to royal commentator Peter Hunt, “this has damaged the royal family.” He added that the Duke has toxified the brand of the House of
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Samuel Woolford News Senior Writer
In an address to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Boris
Johnson has vowed in a statement to business leaders to delay cuts in corporation tax in order to fund ‘priorities’ such as that of the NHS and other public services. The Conservative Party leader declared he was going to keep the rate all
This policy is one which undermines the economic line that the conservatives towed in recent history, namely that of less corporation tax freeing up funds to be spent on public services. In his statement Johnson justified the move by stating the money saved as a result of the delay will amount to ‘£6billion’ in public spending. This news comes in the same week as the IFS criticised both Labour and The Conservatives in terms of their fiscal pledges, which they stated as ‘not credible’. Mr Johnson also used his speech to tell companies that he knew "big business didn't want Brexit" back in 2016 - but that his plan to take Britain out of the EU at the end of January would give them "certainty". At the same conference, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said it was "nonsense" to suggest he was antibusiness.
assault Ellie Robson News Reporter
An East of England Ambulance Service worker has been struck off after inappropriate behaviour towards a student. David Glenton, who acted as the student paramedic mentor between 2016 and 2017, touched the student's bottom when moving behind her in an ambulance. It was not until the first-year student described his language and behaviour to friends that she realised, "this wasn't normal" and was not part of ambulance culture, the tribunal heard. Witnesses for Mr Glenton said they did not see any bullying or inappropriate behaviour by him, and nor did the student appear to be scared. She ended up dropping out due to health related issues that resulted from Mr Glenton’s conduct. He was found guilty of sexual misconduct and abuse of his professional position by the Health and Care Professions Tribunals Service.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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3rd December 2019
‘An 18 year old schoolboy was shot in the chest, missing his heart by 3cm’
Brexit Box Sam Gordon Webb Global Writer
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
William Warnes Global Editor
“They’re using live rounds towards protesters”, Wing Yee Fan, a student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong tells me. “An eighteen year old schoolboy was shot in the chest, missing his heart by 3cm”. These are the scenes that swamp the city of Hong Kong as the protests over a controversial
“An Indonesian journalist was blinded in one eye” extradition bill was passed by the Chinese government in April. “Protesters are being beaten and, in early October, an Indonesian journalist was blinded in one eye after being hit in the face by a rubber bullet”.
So far, two people have been killed in the violence that is encapsulating a city engulfed in a political crisis. The protesters yell “five demands, not one less!” They want the protests to not be categorised as a ‘riot’; amnesty for arrested protesters; an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality; an implementation of complete universal suffrage, and the withdrawal of the controversial bill. The bill, passed in April, would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China under particular circumstances. The uproar that has since ensued is due to concerns in Hong Kong that the bill would give Beijing greater influence over the city. People took to the streets to protest the decision and, after weeks of tension, Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam, suspended the bill indefinitely. However, fears still linger that it may be revived and the unrest has only escalated. Reports are beginning to emerge in the mass media of police brutality and the situation appears to have no end in sight. “On November 11th, an unarmed 21 year old was shot
by a transport officer. Protesters are being beaten despite not resisting. Things I never thought could
“Protesters are being beaten despite not resisting” happen in such a developed city are happening… the issue is so complicated because Hong Kong has a special relationship with China and problems are not going to [be] solve[d] overnight”. The violent clashes have resulted in numerous injuries, with security forces using live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas, and protesters have responded by throwing rocks at police. The violent clashes reached the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where Wing Yee is a student, two weeks
Polytechnic University of Hong Kong campus has been under siege with protesters refusing to leave the building. Police surrounded the area on November 17 and, according to the government, 1,100 people have left the campus since. A recent local election saw 17 of the 18 district councils in Hong Kong won by pro-democracy councillors. Speaking on the result, Carrie Lam promised an “open mind” and that she would “seriously reflect” on the vote that saw an unprecedented turnout of over 71%. Universities around the UK have had rallies in support of protesters, including a small demonstration at UEA. Wing Yee concluded by saying, “I understand that people from other countries may not know what is happening as Hong Kong as it is so far away… What I do hope is that protesters can stand with the protests and uphold the core values like freedom of speech… I don’t know if this article will raise something in UEA but I hope people who cherish freedom and defend human rights can stand with us”.
The Conservative Party are on course for an 80 seat majority, according to the latest polling figures by Opinium. According to the poll, the Conservatives have a 19 point lead over Labour with both the Lib Dems and Brexit Party MPs struggling in third and fourth place respectively. Having pledged to “get Brexit done” during the unveiling of the Party’s manifesto on Sunday, Johnson made it clear his desire to commit the UK carbon neutrality by 2050 as well as “Corbyn neutral by Christmas”. According to the manifesto, the Party pledge to “negotiate a trade agreement next year – one that will strengthen our Union – and we will not extend the implementation period beyond December 2020.” Skeptics need convincing. Mujtaba Rahman, managing director of the Eurasia consultancy tweeted: “why is it so difficult for UK politicos to level with the public? There’s no senior official in Bxl or EU capitals, who believe that phase 2 will be easy, no evidence to support the claim that a deal could be done by end - 2020. Incredible that history is repeating itself”. To add further insult to injury, Brexit guru Anand Menon has warned that French President Emmanuel Macron, pressured by his country’s businesses, could shut down Boris Johnson’s trade deal hopes. On Monday, Chancellor Sajjid Javid refused to say whether he would set money aside in order to prepare for a no deal Brexit. Meanwhile, Labour’s stance came under further scrutiny this weekend, with Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson describing Corbyn as a “bystander”, not a “leader”. Her comments come after Mr Corbyn told a Question Time audience on Friday that he would remain “neutral” over the issue of EU membership if a second vote were to take place. Mr Corbyn defended his position, stating that his neutral stance is a “sign of strength” and “maturity”. In spite of the Labour leader choosing to take the middle ground, his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has suggested he would back remain, having determined that he had “yet to see a Brexit deal that could beat remain”. Shadow education minister Angela Rayner also refused to commit the party to backing any future deal that Mr Corbyn plans to negotiate with the EU: “Well, that’s a hypothetical,’’ she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
3rd December 2019
concrete-online.co.uk/category/global/ | @ConcreteUEA
China’s re-education camps: Xinjiang Hannah Cottrell Global Writer
Following years of silence and denial of the existence of their internment camps, the Chinese government released a report addressing the matter on October 16, 2018. Built for the purpose of detaining Uyghur’s – a group of Turkish Muslims – the camps were depicted in the report as a place of study and re-education for individuals who feel they have lost their way. The government state that the aim of arresting citizens and detaining them in camps located in
“My hands bled from their beatings. Each time I was electrocuted, my whole body would shake” the western province of Xinjiang is to combat acts of terrorism before they have been committed. One
detainee said this in the video; “I’d rather not think about where I would be if I weren’t here studying. Maybe I would have joined the religious extremists and become a criminal.” However, there have been multiple reports of torture and mistreatment in facilities seemingly designed to erode the ethnic identity of individuals. Evidence from testimonies of detainees that have been released indicate the inaccuracy and fabrication displayed by the Chinese government in their broadcast. Mihrigul Tursun, 29, a Uyghur woman, spoke to US politicians on her experiences in the camps. She stated, “My hands bled from their beatings. Each time I was electrocuted, my whole body would shake, and I could feel the pain in my veins.” Unfortunately, Mihrigul’s experience is neither isolated or unique, and the United Nations estimates that there are around 2 million Uyghur’s currently being detained in Xinjiang potentially facing similar conditions. Patrick Poon, Amnesty International’s Researcher on China was questioned on the matter. He suggested that, “Many former detainees are afraid to talk
about what they experienced in the camps for fear of retaliation against them and their relatives.” For those who remain on the outside, the Chinese government have implemented strict screening processes throughout the province of Xinjiang in order to monitor and seize individuals without trial. Possessing material that expresses the Islamic faith or content that could be seen to threaten the Communist Party of China are some of the reasons why citizens are incarcerated. One woman was arrested for having WhatsApp on her phone, another for having a picture of a girl praying. Men and women are neither informed of their length of imprisonment, nor are they permitted any visitation rights from their families. On October 29, 2019, the UK released a joint statement alongside 22 other countries and addressed the High Commissioner of the United Nations Human Rights Council criticising Beijing for what they described as “disturbing reports of large-scale arbitrary detentions” and “widespread surveillance and restrictions.” A day later, 37 other
countries jumped to Beijing’s defence, praising China’s human rights record and dismissing the reported detention of Uyghur’s in Xinjiang. Nearly half the signatories were Muslim-majority nations, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria and Qatar, raising concerns to the absent solidarity demonstrated from these countries to members of their faith suffering at the hands of the Chinese government. When asked about this matter, Patrick Poon stated, “Many are afraid of making China angry by speaking up for their Muslim brothers and sisters in Xinjiang. It’s a shame to put economic considerations above human rights. They should at least call for China to allow independent access
to UN human rights experts to investigate what is happening on the ground in Xinjiang.” Patrick also suggested that, “We must not forget that countries that show support to China are those with records of serious human rights violations.” There is some room for optimism. Patrick from Amnesty UK notes that, “Due to international pressure, the Chinese government changed its narrative,” first denying the existence of the camps alltogether, then claiming they are for “vocational training.” He suggests this pressure can come from the testimonies collected from former detainees discussing their experiences in the camps. Patrick states that “their testimonies help to prove what is really happening in Xinjiang.”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
News from around the world Netanyahu charged with fraud Marco Rizzo Global Writer
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. The charges come after a turbulent period in Israeli politics as Netanyahu tries to hold on to his political career. Mandelblit announced the corruption charges “with a heavy heart” on Thursday 21st and included all the major accusations against the 70-year-old Prime Minister, who passes into history as the first PM charged in office. The Attorney G e n e r a l commented on his actions to reporters, saying that the indicting of a seated prime minister for serious corruption
charges is a “dark day for the Israeli public”. The 63-page indictment contains information on Mr. Netanyahu allegedly receiving luxury gifts and favours from millionaire friends-amounting to several hundredthousands of dollars--in exchange for political favours. The most serious allegation involves the promotion of regulations favouring telecommunication companies in exchange for positive coverage from owned media websites. He could face up to ten years in prison if convicted of bribery and a maximum of three for breach of trust and fraud. Opposition leader Benny Gantz has called this a dark moment for Israel, supporting the Attorney General and calling for Netanyahu to resign. So far, the response from Netanyahu has been to attack the allegations. In a televised speech he frequently referred to the process as a “witch hunt” and an “attempted coup”, calling for the investigation of the accusers. He has previously stated that he would not resign from office unless convicted. While there is no legal requirement for government
officials to quit while under investigation it would mean that Netanyahu would be subject to years-long court cases all the while being under incredible political pressure. The supreme court previously ruled that cabinet members under criminal investigation had to resign, although whether this ruling also applies to the prime minister has yet to be determined. Currently parliamentary allies are pushing for legislation protecting the head of government from investigation while in office. It could take months before the case is brought up to the district courts and even longer until a verdict can be made, with more time added for appeals. Netanyahu could still hold office for years unless the supreme court pressures him into resignation. Currently, Israel is in a political dead-lock as no party is able to gain a majority in parliament with a coalition. This is despite the two elections called in 2019, with a high chance of an unprecedented third call to the ballots by the end of the year. In this turbulent state of affairs, it is unknown if Netanyahu’s political allies will support him for another reelection.
Sri Lankan elections: a return to war time terrors
organisations of committing severe war crimes whilst in power and for having ordered the deliberate Global Writer massacres, rapes, and abductions of thousands of innocent Tamil civilians. He has also been accused On the 17th November 2019, the of ordering deliberate attacks results of the much-awaited Sri on civilian makeshift hospitals Lankan elections were announced, that were built in areas that were and Gotabaya Rajapaksa has declared to be ‘No Fire Zones.’ In claimed victory as the new the face of vast evidence proving grave human rights violations, president of Sri Lanka. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the Gotabaya and his brother Rajapaksa country’s Minister of Defence from still deny any atrocities committed 2005 to 2009 during the final stages against civilians, and Gotabaya has of the Sri Lankan Civil War and already declared a rejection to any played a large role in defeating the UN investigations in Sri Lanka. militant group, the Tamil Tigers, in Despite these alleged crimes, the May 2009 and bringing the 26-year Buddhist nationalist candidate still managed to secure a winning long conflict to an end. within the Sinhala During the final years of the majority Sri Lankan conflict Gotabaya acted population. However, much of the Tamil as the de-facto head of population in Northern Sri Lanka the military under remain in fear of potential the Presidency racial tensions that may arise of his brother, again. Within days of his M a h i n d r a victory Gotabaya has already Rajapaksa, and pronounced his brother, played a crucial Mahindra Rajapaksa, as the role in planning Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, m u l t i p l e signifying a staunch return operations. of the Rajapaksa regime, and He has since many watch in panic of been accused by what is to come the US, the UN of an already and several ethnically-strained human Photo: Wikimedia Commons country. rights
3rd December 2019
Raising and Giving society reveal all about their naked calendar Jess Barrett and Ellie Robson Deputy Editor and Features Writer
The Raising and Giving (RAG) society create an annual naked calendar to raise money for a variety of local, national and international charities, which is running for its fourth year. The creation of the calendar was inspired by the popular film and theatre show, ‘Calendar girls. The calendar aims to promote body positivity in addition to bringing groups of people together, all in aid of charity. The calendar is popular amongst sports clubs, but societies take a little more convincing to take part. RAG told us that they do not receive any negative comments about the calendar, and that everyone who takes part in the calendar enjoys doing so. Those who feature in the calendar often find that their friends are supportive too, lots of students purchase the calendar as a way
“It is a spirited way to raise money for some great charities” of showing their support, and are especially inclined to do so because the proceeds go to charity. Although there is not a vast amount of stigma surrounding the calendar, some societies do not take part. For example, students studying nursing or pharmacy refrain from it due to the public facing element of their courses. Which societies and clubs take part in the calendar is largely
dependent on how the committee feels about it, particularly the society’s president. It appears the involvement from committee members encourages others to take the plunge and get involved. Societies such as Livewire, rugby and most of the popular sports clubs get involved and strike a pose for the calendar. RAG also hold extended deadlines for those who want to get involved but need a little longer to pull a group of keen students
together – this ensures t h a t everyone who wants to can have a hand in raising money for charity. It will be available to purchase around the 9th December, costing £5. Be warned the club calendar often sells out, with the club and society mixed calendar selling quickly. The Raising and Giving society often make large amounts of money for their chosen charities. They have a history of raising between £150-500 each year. The chosen three charities this year are, One Water, The Children’s Trust and Kick Sergeant – the number of charities ensures the society raises money for a variety
of causes and increases their outreach from local, to national and international. RAG’s Publicity and Marketing officer Jodie Clark stated, “It’s an awesome idea as it is a spirited way to raise money for some great charities and for all different societies and clubs to come together which wouldn’t always happen.” RAG’s President, Aamna Khan revealed, “A lot of people
Photo: Jess Barrett
ask what Raising and Giving or RAG are, or what they do and truthfully when I first started university I didn’t have much of a clue, nevertheless I was curious. Thankfully Harriet, our current secretary and former president gave me the low down and now RAG are stuck with me! Unlike other charity societies, Raising and Giving is unique in that we work with multiple and varied
charity partners on a local, national and international level to raise awareness through fundraising and volunteering opportunities. We also collaborate with individual UEA students who want to support and fundraise for their own causes, giving them a platform for them to raise awareness for something they feel strongly about and want to make an impact themselves! RAG is committed, like all the dedicated charities at UEA, to making a positive difference no
matter h o w small. It d o e s what it says on the tin and then some. From Quiz and Chips to hosting massive challenges and events such as the Kilimanjaro trek and UEA’s Got Talent, RAG does it all. We are happy to announce our soon-to-be released and highly anticipated 2020 Naked Calendar. A RAG favourite and tradition all societies and clubs love to take part in. Our fantastic Publicity, Design and Marketing Leader Jodie Clark has been taking the lead in liaising with everyone who signed up and we have collated nearly all
the photos/consensual but tasteful nudes. Last thing really to do is get our pictures done! Pre-orders will be £4 and calendars will later be sold for £5! The funds raised from Naked
“RAG is committed...to making a positive difference” Calendar sales and all of our RAG fundraising events will be equally divided and donated to our three chosen charity partners this academic year. CLIC Sargent, our local charity partner works tirelessly with young people diagnosed and living with cancer. A cause that is personal to me, being a cancer survivor myself. The Children’s Trust, the UK’s leading national charity facilitates the rehabilitation of children with brain injuries and neurodisabilities by providing residential and community based rehab facilities for children and respite for their families. And finally, our international charity partner, The One Foundation, has one goal and that is to give everyone access to clean safe water by establishing sustainable wash and water services in the poorest communities in developing countries. All great and well deserved causes! I have got a fantastic committee who have already been smashing it out of the park with the hard work they have put in this semester to make an impact. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with. So, this a thank you from me to them!”
‘We earned it. We deserve it. We demand it.’ Jess Barrett Deputy Editor
University staff and members of the University and College Union (UCU) are taking strike action over changes to their pension called the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). The university staff who are striking are claiming the universities employers are ignoring pension experts and want staff members to pay more to assess the scheme. After the previous strike last year, both sides agreed to take advice from a panel of pension experts who lay independent from either side. The experts reached a different conclusion than employers as this will mean that a typical USS member will be roughly £240,000 worse off. The National Union of Students (NUS), MPs and others are calling
on employers to change their stance on pensions schemes and recognise the advice provided by experts. Those on strike are saying it is always the last resort. They believe they will be “short changed” if staff are deterred
“I have found it difficult my tutors aren’t accessible” because of poor financial security. Although it is understandable why staff are striking, students are left frustrated with the cancellation of two weeks’ worth of contact hours. Many students are also irritated that the strikes are falling at such
an influential point during the year, where our summative assessments are fast approaching, and students may require more support to help develop their essay ideas. Ellie Robson, a third year English Literature student has remarked, “I have found the strikes disruptive to my studies, particularly during the summative period. I have found it difficult [that] my tutors aren’t accessible. It’s a hard decision between wanting to support my lecturers, but also that I deserve the best chance to get the best grades I can and the strikes are obstructing that, however a lot of tutors are being considerate that its third year and are giving us additional materials to help.” Matt Branston 2nd year Politics student stated, “I think strikes are essential for maintaining worker’s rights and the university should feel ashamed their academics feel the need to do so.”
Photo: Chris Matthews/Concrete
3rd December 2019
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Silent night, spending the holidays alone Leelou Lewis Features Editor
Mental Health Crisis First year students seem to rush home over the holiday but the urgency of going home might still change for second and third year’s, this being dependant on their living situation and housemates. Second year English Literature student Ana Christodoulou, says; “I usually go home straight away, but this year I am planning on hanging around Norwich for a bit because of renting a student house”. However, living in a rented house rather than in student accommodation does not mean necessarily mean students stick around longer. I remember how my boyfriend
basically raced home last year despite having his friends and myself around for a few more days. Marco Rizzo, a third year History student, mentions having a job whilst studying inevitably keeps him in Norwich during the holidays, “I might spend most of it in Norwich and campus and would
“I’m sort of forced to spend more time in Norwich” only be able to spend a little less than a week at home, also train and coach tickets are expensive”. Fortunately, even as an international student I can
travel back home without it costing an arm and a leg or taking over half a day to travel. This year I am leaving university as soon as my last class is over. Second year English Literature with Creative Writing student, Miranda Gonzalez Farrington , highlights the hassle which might come with being an international student whose home is a popular tourist destination, “It’s also quite difficult to get flights and train tickets at a decent price for the exact dates that I would like, so most times it’s completely out of my control, and I’m sort of forced to spend more time in Norwich than I would even like to”. Last year I was not so aware of the events or things that were on offer for us still left behind because all I wanted to do was go home, as all my friends had done, and today I regret that. Campus, even Norwich,
during this time felt so I only saw the negative of it but there was so which could have been
empty. aspect much done.
“All I wanted to do was go home” Currently there is not much up on the SU’s site after university breaks up for the term but downtown and around Norfolk there are loads of events over the festive season. If possible, take a day trip out to Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden to explore the Christmas
Bauble Trail Anytime from the 30November to 5 January. Or venture out to Bure Valley Railway and enjoy a festive touch to Norfolk’s longest Narrow Gauge Steam Railway, an adventure available up until Christmas Day. In the city there will be opportunities such as seeing Beauty and the Beast at Maddermarket Theatre, the show running up until New Year’s Day. Up until the 21 December you can explore Christmas traditions in Strangers Hall and from then until the 1 January. Loads of restaurants and hotels offer great Lunches and Dinner deals during the festive season. There are several events in the city’s clubs for New Years but do not forget to keep an eye on the SU website as they are still subject to create and post events for you to attend around the university.
Entrepreneurial, Action and Us: Enactus empowers Norwich Monique Santoso Features Writer
So, you want to make an impact on the local Norwich community? Look no further than Enactus, a global non-profit organization that aims to create a better, more sustainable world.The catch, Enactus takes the form of a UEA society in this university; filled with a community of students dedicated to using entrepreneurial action to run social and commercial projects that lend a helping hand to two of Norwich’s most pressing problems: food waste and homelessness.“Next Generation Leaders” are the three words that Vice-President Anisya Djohar uses when asked to describe the student society. And indeed, they are. For the past three years, the society has been running two very successful enterprises, namely Budget Bites and Companions. The former focuses on tackling food waste by upcycling the unsold food they receive from Norwich Food Hub. After doing so, they hold popup cafes at the Hive which run on a “pay-as-you-feel” basis. These cafes happen every two weeks and have saved almost 300 kilograms of food waste and raised over £600. The latter is geared towards
improving social mobility among the rough sleepers in Norwich by providing sewing workshops for them to sew handmade pillows which will then be sold to the Norwich and UEA community. Companions also give out care packages to the homeless in Norwich, to aid them in their immediate necessities. All Enactus’ earnings are used to ensure the sustainability of their projects. By partnering with Under-
“There are total of 68 Enactus teams across the UK” 1-Roof, a local Norwich support and training outlet for the vulnerable and homeless, Budget Bites teaches workshops on-site to train the homeless in food enterprises. Enactus also provides them with a food hygiene certificate at the end of the workshop that will enable them to start their own enterprise. This is significant as Norwich is ranked as the second-worst
local authority in England for social mobility with only slight improvements every year. Former Budget Bites Project Leader Erine Novita said, “I am proud of how our society has progressed from the development league to the national league. To put things in perspective, there are a total of 68 Enactus teams across the UK. At the end of our year, we had to showcase our project to regional panelists and only the best 32 teams qualified for the nationals. Environmental, social, economic and sustainability were the key criteria and we made it.” Their biggest milestones include a £5000 grant from the Ford Motor Company for Companions and a BBC feature for Budget Bites that was accompanied by grants for food upcycling. Enactus UK defines the difference between “improving” and “impacting” in terms of the level of continued support that the beneficiaries receive. While improving someone’s life is classified as a one-time encounter to aid their present condition, impacting is described as a sustained interaction over 2 weeks that empower their lives through skills. Djohar said, “As of this year, we have improved over
1200 lives in the city through both our projects and impacted 10 lives.” Nevertheless, this success comes with its struggles. “One of the main struggles we encounter is member retention rates,” Djohar adds. “The inconsistencies that are present in our projects mean that they face unstable times, especially when the running committee hands them over to their successors.” Students at Enactus UEA are incorporated into every facet of the enterprises they run, not just reaching out to vulnerable populations. The entire society works together to help with marketing, business planning, and even the designing of pillows. They also hold meetings with various companies l i k e KPMG and
HSBC to help student members expand their ideas and practice interviewing skills. University is an exciting time to make a difference in the lives of others and explore our strengths.
3rd December 2019
What do authors really think Leia Butler speaks to published writers and Huntley, a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at UEA, is a professor of Creative Writing at UEA. Since receiving his PhD in 2007, he has written fiction for various magazines, journals and anthologies as well as Radio 4. While Cowan is a graduate of UEA with a BA in English and American Studies and an MA in Creative Writing, he is the author of six novels, which have been published in 12 languages, including Pig, a multi-awardwinning success. Both Cowan and Huntley teach creative writing on a dayto-day basis. Huntley claims the most important thing to remember when doing something creative is “your first attempt is not set in stone. Everything on the page is provisional. It’s just a draft, it can be made better.” He adds, “the key to creativity is getting something on the page, on the screen, on the canvas, and then seeing where you can go with it. It can always be improved.” Cowan builds upon this when discussing how crucial failure is in creative writing. “You can fail. You are allowed to fail. That idea that there is a critic over your shoulder is very inhibiting, and it can instil that fear of failure, which translates as perfectionism, which can translate as writer’s block.” He adds, “if you allow the critic into the room when you are trying to be creative, it is
going to inhibit you. The one thing that any creative person has to bear in mind is that they have permission to fail, and nobody is going to come along and punish them for failing.” Huntley tells me “creativity is about crafting and shaping,” and “redrafting and editing is the name of the game.” Cowan says writing is the process of, “constantly trying, constantly expecting you are going to fail, and constantly trying to fail better.” Cowan also tells me as a writer, it is best to consider a few different elements. “If you are a serious writer, I think perhaps you are writing for two readers. One is an ideal reader, which is kind of abstract, and a projection of who you are as a writer and a reader, you are writing for yourself. But you are often also writing for a specific person, someone you know, a friend, a publisher. If you try and write for a generality of people, you can become a bit overruled.” Huntley believes teaching creative writing courses at UEA has given him a better perspective on being a writer and impacted the way he writes. When running workshops, he says, “I’m very conscious that we are all practising writers together in that workshop. There’s not a hierarchy. We all write, and we are all in a position to offer a particular perspective on whatever we are talking about.” Huntley adds, “people will have suggestions, a l w a y s constructive criticism, it might be that three or four people have g o o d ideas of how to
approach the ending of that story that doesn’t quite work and I very often find that what I’m suggesting is exactly the solution to a problem I’m currently experiencing with my own work.” However, Cowan sees writing and teaching as two very separate practices. He tells me “being a writer informs the way that I teach, but I don’t think it works in the other direction. As a rule, I feel teaching and writing are two separate things.” Cowan says when reading a students work, “you are thinking, ‘how can I make that better’ and that draws on the same place that your own writing draws from and there is a danger that you are going to empty the well through your teaching.” He emphasises there has to be a separation between being in a writing space and a teaching space. He adds, “they do actually feel sometimes as if they are competing with each other than fuelling each other.” Cowan, however, tells me he often sees things in others’
work he admires. “Occasionally with a very good student in the MA programme, I will see something I admire and consciously have to stop myself from stealing it. Sometimes
“Occasionally I will see something I admire and have to stop myself stealing it. “ you’ll see something in a student’s work, which is technically brilliant, and you think, ‘how have they done that?’ You can learn from that. You are always as a writer learning from what you are reading, learning from other writers.” Huntley also thinks workshops are useful. “Things can come out of that which are really helpful and really interesting. Sometimes people say things that are really useful writing practises
to follow. For example, not perhaps writing a full draft of something and leaving dashes where you are not quite sure of something that is going to happen, but you know the following scene. I wouldn’t have thought about that myself if I hadn’t heard someone use that as a way of writing and I subsequently use that now myself.” Getting Cowan’s first novel published, Pig, was quite a challenge. “I sent it off to countless publishers and agents, and they all rejected it for being too quiet.” Even despite winning the Betty Trask Award amongst other literary prizes, Cowan admits, he “had a really inauspicious and unconfident beginning. My lack of confidence had been supported by all the rejections, and then the success happened, and I didn’t trust it. I didn’t believe it, so I didn’t allow myself to enjoy it. Ever since then, I’ve been a kind of reluctant writer. I’ve since then published seven books, and yet even now, I don’t think of myself as being naturally a writer.” He tells
3rd December 2019
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about teaching creative writing? UEA lecturers Andrew Cowan and Jake Huntley
me not all his writing is healthy and he is a perfectionist when it comes to his work. “I write a sentence, and I don’t trust it, so I rewrote it. I spend ages rewriting the same sentence over and over again to try and get it perfect. When I’ve got it just so, I go onto the next sentence. As soon as I’ve got the next sentence, I start to doubt the first one - does it flow? I go back and rewrite. I’m endlessly rewriting, and I’m an incredibly slow writer.” However, while many authors end up with several drafts of their work, Cowan only ends up with one. “When I get to the end it’s finished. I don’t do three or four drafts of a novel. It’s just one draft. Every sentence has been redrafted over and over. I know when I’ve finished a book, but I never know when to let go of a sentence.” Unlike most authors, Cowan tells me his favourite part of writing is finishing. “There is always at the end of something, that monetary lift and real euphoria having completed a project. I do know writers who
enjoy every moment and every work and like writing. I don’t. I find it arduous.” Cowan compares writing to “wearing a pair of really
“It is crucial that what we are getting is diversity in the arts” uncomfortable shoes for the pleasure of taking them off.” He explains his reluctant qualities as a writer allow him to be a better teacher. “I empathise with students lack of confidence and lack of selfbelief, and I know exactly where that is coming from. It is very common among writers, especially student writers, that they feel imposter
syndrome. They think any moment now anyone is going to tap them on the shoulder and say you’re a fraud, you’re a dreamer, you’re deluded, stop now.” Cowan tells me “a writer is someone who rewrites. It is crucial that you are always trying to improve what you’ve done. If you just write something and think ‘that’s pretty good’, you are unlikely to improve it and unlikely as a writer to develop.” When discussing where they hope to see the Norwich literary scene going in the next few years, both Huntley and Cowan draw highlight the importance of diversity. Huntley says, “It is crucial that what we are getting is diversity in the arts and I think that goes way beyond the institution of a university. I think that assumption that its only people who have access to certain kinds of privilege can be writers is pernicious and utterly wrong.” He adds, “It’s really important that we have a socially diverse and inclusive society. We learn more by access to
a plurality of voices than we ever do by hearing one monocultural voice echoing the same thing.” Cowan draws upon the direction UEA is currently moving towards, with “a greater diversity and a decolonised curriculum”, but Cowan wants the Norwich arts scene to do the same. He tells me, “What we are trying to do at the school is to embrace and promote diversity. But we want to see that spread also into the complexion of the Norwich lit scene so that there are more diverse voices being heard.” Huntley adds that to improve Norwich needs to move away from financial focus. “Understanding the arts in economic terms purely is misguided, reductive and just wrong. The arts doesn’t work like that. We could do well to see the arts in a more holistic way and understand social value and cultural value rather than seeing it through the restrictive prism of profit and loss spread sheets.” As a way of broadening the literature scene for the Norwich community, Huntley runs creative workshops helped by third year students in Norwich prison. He tells me “There are not that many courses in the country where part of your degree involves being seen as responsible enough to participate in creative writing workshops in category B and C prison systems. It’s always fascinating to bring two parts of the community together who may not have the chance to talk together.” He claims, “I’ve had a few times, people who for whatever offence they are in for, and they’ll produce a blindly brilliant and clever piece of writing. An older prisoner given an image of a rusting car somehow
abandoned in a forest used this as a metaphor for much older prisoners who have been in prison for decades and decades. It was a beautiful metaphor and could only have been his perspective that produced that.” Huntley says, “One of the points of commonality that students have come to recognise really early on, is that it is just like school. It is really wrong to think of people in prison as ‘them over there’ who have done something wrong and need to be locked away. It is really easy to come away from the workshop and think ‘but that person is so nice!’ Socially it is really important that these people are ‘some of us’ who have made a really bad life choices and have fucked up someone, but they are not ‘them over there’ separate from us, they are just some of us who have gone wrong in a particular way.” In terms of rehabilitation, Huntley thinks, “it is crucial that there is some kind of rehabilitation and an opportunity for engagement in the arts with education, and the prospect of what people may do when they are back in society. “If somebody has been taught something of a valuable skill, or employment opportunities or in a fairly broad sense, they’ve produced a poem or piece of art, or they’ve discovered the have a love for reading even, what that might do for somebody’s self esteem, is really important.”
Photos: Concrete/ Roo Pitt
3rd December 2019
ELECTION SPECIAL Brexit: Alexander Gilchrist To Alexander Gilchrist, “what the Brexit Party stands for is democracy and rights.” He says it embodies a range of “various different political spectrums,” referencing his own experiences of being “on marches at Burston with Jeremy Corbyn” as an example that the Brexit Party is not inherently hard-right. It’s about “changing politics for good.” He suggests reducing the number of MPs, reforming the “unelected House of Lords” and setting up an “official online forum” to give voters greater participation in Parliament would all be positive changes. Brexit is “the first step of many” to “change party politics for good.”
“I’m in it to win it here” “More proportional representation is required”
Conservatives: Dr Michael Spencer The Conservatives are making their successes the focus of their campaign.
“Fundamentally the NHS has never had funding cuts” “It’s in our nature to protect the poorest”
In the last few years their climate policy has been the most ambitious of any G20 country and they have a 2050 carbon neutral plan. They’ve also got a very defined Brexit policy, getting out with Boris Johnson’s deal by the 31st of January. Dr Spencer thinks healing the divide across the country is the most vital
Green: Catherine Rowett The Green Party have got their agenda in their name. The climate crisis is the most important thing for them right now, and they have the most ambitious and wide-ranging plan to stop in. They are promising £1tn over 10 years to tackle climate change. They also think they have the best Brexit plan – campaigning for another referendum and Remain. They want to stay inside the EU and fix what they can, rather than leaving and doing nothing. Their other policies include tackling inequality, further funding for the NHS, placing greater importance on mental health, and improving the educational system.
objective, and that we need to rebuild trust in politicians.
“The climate emergency is the big issue we have to solve now” “We need to spend wisely on a more equal society”
3rd December 2019
NORWICH SOUTH CANDIDATES Labour: Clive Lewis
“The NHS was built by the Labour Party and it will be defended by the Labour Party” “We’ve got a voting system that isn’t fit for the 19th Century, let alone the 21st”
A former journalist, Clive Lewis highlights Labour’s proposal for a national commission on fake news in the wake of the “Putinesque style of disinformation” adopted by the Conservatives in the wake of FactCheckUK. On Brexit, he confirms Labour’s position “as a remain party,” defending a second referendum as the best solution. “Simply revoking Article 50 doesn’t really resolve the underlying problems.” On the NHS, he proposes resolving underlying societal issues alongside a £1.6 billion “sticking plaster” investment into mental health, “because fairer societies are… healthier societies, and… most of the social science backs that up.”
“We’re talking about legalising cannabis for personal use, regulated by government”
Liberal Democrats: James Wright The Liberal Democrats are basing most of their campaign around stopping Brexit. If they win outright,
“We were a minority partner in a coalition government and we did make a mistake on tuition fees”
they will simply revoke Article 50, however if they are not in a majority, they will continue to campaign for a confirmatory People’s Vote. Other key policies concern marijuana legalisation, a ‘skills wallet’ to encourage retraining and education and the introduction of a proportional voting system. Norwich South candidate James Wright hopes that students can look past the ‘mistakes’ of his party regarding tuition fees and instead support them for their track record on other policies, such as equal marriage.
Remember to follow live updates on our Election Liveblog on Dec 12th at concrete-online.co.uk! Interviews conducted and hustings quotes compiled by Chris Matthews, Jess Barrett, Matt Branston, Jamie Hose and Emily Kelly
Comment Exercise your right to vote!
3rd December 2019
Photo: Oliver Shrouder
Photo: Wikimedia Photo: Commons Pixabay
Ellie Robson Comment Writer
Utilising your vote is crucial. Much as I hold my own political beliefs, I don’t care who you vote for. It’s about utilising that vote that you registered for. Maybe you are registered to vote, but made this registration due to a previous election, and aren’t planning to participate this time around. But quite simply, it isn’t acceptable to sit this one out. As a student, it is easy to believe the general public is as politically engaged as our community is,
but this isn’t true. Hopefully I’m preaching to the choir, and you’re all going to vote anyway. But I’d like to change your mind if you’re not. Make the most of the power you’ve been given and have your say. We need a stronger and more convincing argument than simply telling people “well if you didn’t vote, you can’t complain!”. If you don’t vote, there will be far more serious things to worry about, and they certainly won’t be solved by complaining. We need the electorate to be responsible and use their voice to advocate for the issues that are significant to them.
If you’re reading this article in a physical copy of Concrete, you’re probably a student at UEA and have access to online resources which can tell you who to pledge your vote to. If you’re reading this online, you’re already there. Look up the party manifestos and get reading. Educate yourself. Many people are calling this the Brexit election. This is partially true – the outcome of this election will have a significant impact on the decisions made regarding Brexit, and a large portion of voters will be making their choice based on this issue. Labour are promising a new deal and a second referendum,
if you disagree with the way the Conservatives have handled Brexit. However, there are an endless list of issues to consider, and Brexit is being used as a point of tension to make headlines and sway votes when the whole picture a party presents needs to be considered. Two of the most important of these are the climate and the NHS. To put it bluntly, if we don’t make the climate crisis a priority, we won’t be concerned with who’s running the country for much longer. Look into the environmental policies of your chosen party to confirm whether they’re prioritising this, and what their attitude is towards it. Equally, what is their approach to
the NHS? Its privatisation certainly isn’t going to help anybody. If you’re in your earlier years of university, look into education policies. You might find it’s worth voting if you think the chances you’ve had in education may be made inaccessible to others. The statistics for every election this century show more people didn’t vote than voted for any individual party. Stating you’re not interested in politics isn’t good enough. Can you honestly say you’re not interested in education, the NHS, Brexit, or the climate crisis? It’s time to get out and use your vote, it’s absolutely vital.
‘This invasion of privacy makes me sick to my stomach’ Jess Barrett Deputy Editor
Grace Millane was murdered last December. Her killer claimed it was an accident, the result of BDSM gone wrong. Many media organisations have used the personal details of her sex life to sell papers and garner clicks. This invasion of privacy makes me sick to my stomach. Ms Millane’s disappearance sparked international attention, and now the trial of her death has received huge amounts of interest and coverage. After being killed, Ms Millane’s body was stuffed into a suitcase and buried in a nearby wildlife range. Her murderer went on another date while her body lay in his car. That is one of the most degrading things I have ever heard. These are not the actions of someone with the tiniest shreds of morals or humanity.
Ms Millane was strangled. Her murderer took pictures of her and watched pornography while she laid dead beside him. He even fell asleep in the same bed. Ms Millane was a member of BDSM sites so the suggestion her death was unintentional is somewhat believable … until you hear about her body being kept in a suitcase and taken to his next date. He even googled the location where he buried her body before their date. I feel sorry for Ms Millane’s parents having to sit and listen to the injuries their daughter had suffered from, and then they had to sit through the court discussing their daughter’s sex life. The graphic details were then examined in the media to excessive levels. Ms Millane’s sex life shouldn’t have been discussed to the extent is has been. The claim she slept with another man the night before she
met her murderer is irrelevant. No, it’s beyond irrelevant. Sexual history shouldn’t be used to discuss what kind of person she was and the personality she had. It was distasteful to use Ms Millane’s sexual past in her murder trial. Victim blaming in high profile cases such as this holds a risk for those who report sexual harassment, assault or rape. In the future, many may be afraid or reluctant to come forward. Statistics for unreported sexual violence to police are already high, with 83% of victims not reporting incidents to the police. We shouldn’t see cases like this as a deterrent to report sexual violence. Instead of seeing this trial as a reason not to come forward and share your experiences, see it as a time when someone treated another appallingly and the courts have held them accountable.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Lucie Blackman Trust/Twitter Photo: Flickr
3rd December 2019
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Emily Webb Comment Writer
A secret report on the threats to UK democracy, whose release was blocked by Downing Street, includes many concerns relating to Russian conspiracy. In the report, it’s said that the Conservatives have been handed more than £5.67m in donations, £642,000 being received from Russian donors. Oligarchs and wealthy people within business are at the heart of this influx of money to the party. Amongst these donors are influential individuals with close ties to Johnson such as Alexander Temerko who has worked for the Kremlin’s Defence Ministry and considers Johnson a close friend he has gifted over £1.2m to the Tories in the past seven years. Johnson’s party also received
£200,000 from the wife of the former Finance Minister under Vladimir Putin. Lubov Chernukhin previously paid £160,000 for a tennis match with Johnson and also gave £135,000 for a night out with former Prime Minister, Theresa May. It seems such donors see more money in a match of tennis than most of us do in 5 years. Not only does it seem futile to believe these people want the best for you and me, but it also suggests what kind of person may favour another five years of Tory government. T h i s is only solidified w h e n compared t o L a b o u r ’s donations o f £218,500, m o s t l y received from people within the party
are the real party BoJo Labour of the environment
and not a plethora of business tyrants and Russian delegates. One donation came as Johnson refused to publish a report by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee about potential Russian interference in recent UK elections. The report was blocked due to Johnson’s fears that the information would damage his chances of winning the election on the December 12, and fearful he should be. Alarmingly, the committee also heard concerns about Alexander Lebedev’s involvement in the Conservative party. Lebedev, a former Russian spy and owner of The Evening Standard, has a son who is very close to Johnson. While Johnson was the Foreign Secretary, Lebedev’s son hosted him for parties in his castle in Italy. Concerns were raised as some have expressed fears over how guests have said “nothing is ‘off the menu’ from the moment you are greeted until the moment you leave”. Johnson’s private life may make him a security risk in regard to blackmail. “There is a danger that people will leak what they have over him or blackmail with it” a Cabinet minister in May’s government told The Sunday Times. As the election draws closer, Russia’s grip over Johnson seems to be getting tighter. The report only tells so much, however many are questioning how strong the hold may be, only time will tell.
Henry Webb Comment Writer
This is the first general election I can vote in. The issue most important to me is the climate emergency and I will be voting for Labour. This seems surprising to some people, as someone who cares about the environment you should vote Green, right? This too is what I assumed, and up until recently, I was actually a Green Party member, having voted Green in the EU elections earlier this year. The problem was while I supported Jeremy Corbyn and most of Labour’s policies, their 2017 manifesto lacked any clear environmental targets. It mentioned needing a sharp decline in natural gas use after 2030, instead of working to remove all fossil fuels as fast as possible. There were no figures given for how much they would invest in clean and renewable energy, and they even suggested protecting the offshore oil and gas industry. This year’s manifesto is surprising in its ambition. The new manifesto “aims to achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions by 2030”. This, at first, may seem like a way to appear to have a 2030 target (the same as the Green Party) while using vague terms like “substantial majority” to protect themselves. However, Corbyn is also proposing a £250 billion “green transformation fund” that would be used for renewable energy, clean infrastructure, environmental restoration, and to
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help fossil fuel industry workers transition to jobs in low carbon industries. Environmental policy no longer feels like an afterthought here, and, in fact, is the first issue discussed. There’s also the fact many of Labour’s policies will indirectly reduce carbon emissions - improving public transport and nationalising the rail network, improving the energy efficiency of homes, and a four-day work week. The Green Party, of course, share many of these environmental goals, and very similar social policies. However, they have unfortunately agreed to the “unite to remain” agreement with the Lib Dems, whose 2045 target fails to take the climate crisis seriously. The agreement, which sees each party not standing in some areas to combine the remain vote, risks a Tory majority in marginal constituencies. This is because it appears the strategy of the two parties seems to be to call Labour “not a remain party” despite supporting a second referendum like the Greens, therefore misleading remain Labour voters, and dividing the anti-Conservative vote. Labour have realised the need to take the climate emergency seriously, and their new manifesto reflects this. Corbyn’s vision for a socialist Green New Deal would improve the lives of millions and protect workers in a transition to a net zero future. The choice in this election is more damaging policies under the leadership of Boris Johnson, or a Labour government that works for people and the planet. I know which one I’ll choose.
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3rd December 2019
The science behind Instagram likes Jess Barrett Deputy Editor
Earlier this year, Instagram began to experiment with the removal of their ‘like’ feature; disabling users from seeing the number of likes other people had received. The experimental restriction has only been tested in Japan, Canada and Brazil, but now this is set to be rolled out in the US and the UK as well.
“Instagram has been linked to encouraging eating disorders” Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri remarked that the reason behind this movement was to ‘reduce anxiety and social comparisons’. In 2018, ‘The Economist’ released some research in which Instagram was labelled the worst social media platform for mental health. The research further highlighted that frequent users of the social media platform had a higher level of anxiety and Fear of Missing Out (FoMO), compared with those who
don’t use the platform or even those that use Instagram less. This study conducted by ‘The Economist’ found that Instagram users who spend two or more hours on Instagram daily have higher levels of anxiety compared to those using it less. Instagram not only affects the anxiety levels of its users but can also lead to users having increased levels of depression and has been linked to encouraging eating disorders on account of the common practice of using filters and photoshop to alter the appearance of users. Research reveals that Instagram potentially has a negative association with body image disorders. The editing and retouching of photos can lead to users feeling unhappy or uncomfortable with their own body, and the beauty industry capitalises on this. The beauty industry is growing faster than ever before and is estimated to be worth £27.2 billion in 2018 in the UK, with £8.7 billion of that through purchases of personal enhancement products. The Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) has also conducted some research about the impact that social media has on young people’s mental health. Their research showed that anxiety levels were heightened after you check your social media profile or your newsfeed. RSPH further announced that
Instagram instigates a culture where its users are encouraged to compare their profile, followers, likes and engagement with others. In a video produced by Adam Alter, a New York University Professor, Alter states that, “when someone likes an Instagram post, or any content that your share, it’s a little but like taking a drug.” He continues to describe the effect of likes on your brain, stating, “as far as your brain is concerned, it’s a very similar experience.” One interesting point that Alter makes about social media is, ‘it’s the unpredictability of that process that makes it so addictive.’ It’s important to recognise that the image of people that we receive on these social media platforms is the image that that person wants to present to the rest of the world.
“Seeing the best version of everyone else’s life makes you feel deprived” It is not an accurate representation. Alter corroborates this view: “Seeing the best version of everyone else’s life makes you feel
deprived.” It is important to recognise that social media can impact your health, whether that is your mental wellbeing or physical health; the short-term release of serotonin can lead to you craving interaction on social media platforms but lead to the apps having a negative impact on anxiety and stress levels.
Student receives 50k grant UEA is becoming hegdehog friendly for sustainable business Jake Walker-Charles Science Editor
UEA student receives 50k grant for sustainable business Climate change is an issue at the forefront of most students’ minds. Many of us are beginning to make lifestyle changes like becoming vegetarian and boycotting singleuse plastic wherever possible. UEA student George Bailey, however, has taken this one step further by starting up an environmentally sustainable business of his own. The nineteenyear-old has created a new range of sustainable glasses frames made from recycled fish nets. The student says that he aims to rid the oceans of harmful ‘ghost fishing nets’ which are fishing nets that have been discarded in the ocean by fishermen. These nets trap everything in their path, pollute the waters, kill marine life and can be nearly invisible to the naked eye. The nets don’t just trap fish, but also kill sharks, seals, dolphins and
sea turtles too. Hundreds of animals can be entangled in a single net: this is a monumental problem. Ghost nets make up at least 46 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Bailey’s initiative has won a £50, 000 grant from the University of East Anglia’s ‘Scale It’ which is a fund that makes investments for
“The current estimate for abandoned fishing nets in our oceans is 640,000 tonnes” social/commercial ventures looking to secure sustainable growth. This will enable the young entrepreneur to make an even bigger impact in the effort to rid the oceans of single-use plastic.
The second year Economics student plans to launch his eyewear range – named Coral Eyewear – in January 2020, which will feature six optical frames as well as a range of sunglasses. Speaking to the Metro, the UEA student stated that he’s “been inspired by the big characters in climate change such as David Attenborough”, and that he would “like it to come across that everyone can make a difference.” The current estimate for abandoned fishing nets in our oceans is around 640,000 tons. It is believed that there are around nine million glasses frames made per year. The plan is that manufacturers at a family-run factory in Italy will produce the frames by melting the plastic into an injection mold, and these will eventually be distributed to retailers. George Bailey has already been approached by a number of major retailers, independent opticians and individual shoppers who already want to buy his frames.
The Hedgehog Friendly Campus initiative is a national scheme run by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society designed to help universities become hedgehog friendly. Hedgehogs have declined in numbers by around a third since 2000. It is believed since the 1950s, the U.K. hedgehog population has diminished from 30 million down to around one million today. This is due to a range of factors including decline in habitat, overuse of pesticides reducing the number of invertebrates which hedgehogs eat, and urban areas fragmenting habitats. UEA has joined the Hedgehog Friendly Campus initiative by creating a group who attempts to help increase hedgehog populations on university grounds, and thus get UEA accredited as hedgehog friendly. Our campus is particularly green and so potentially provides large spaces of ideal habitat for the animals.
So far, most of the activities the group have carried out have been focused on raising awareness - you may have seen some of their poster campaigns, taken part in their quiz or bought a cake from at their fundraising bake sale in the Hive on 12 November. This has just been the start, and the group are looking forward to next semester when they will be carrying out hedgehog surveys, continuing our work with the Grounds team to help make their activities more hedgehog friendly, and continuing to raise awareness of how to protect hedgehogs. If this is something you’d be interested in, the group have a meeting on 10th December which everyone is welcome to attend, please send an email to hedgehogs@ uea.ac.uk for more information. In the meantime, there are ways you can help: leave a shallow bowl of water in your back garden or some dog or cat food, and if you see a hedgehog ‘sunbathing’, looking wobbly or unstable, or injured, pick it up using a fleece or towel and put it in a box with high sides and call BHPS on 01584 890801.
3rd December 2019
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The impact of homelessness on health Olivia Johnson Science Writer
There is no confirmed number for how many people are classed as homeless across the UK. One reason for this is that homelessness is recorded differently across the country and also many homeless people do not show up in official statistics at all. Government street counts give a snapshot of the situation but not an overall view of the situation in the UK. The latest figures from these street counts showed that almost five thousand people are sleeping rough across England on any given night. This is a 15% increase on last year and more than double the amount in 2010 – nearly a decade ago. Teenagers and young adults account for 25% of households seeking help for homelessness across the UK. In comparison, people aged 65 and over make up 4% of all households known to be homeless. This data from April 2017 to March 2018 exemplifies the vast disparity of homelessness across the UK, but of course these statistics vary depending on what source
is used. Homelessness and poor physical health go hand in hand. It’s no surprise that not knowing where one may be sleeping from night to night can have an effect on one’s health. A report found that homeless people are 17 times more likely to be a victim of violence, with much of this violence perpetrated by members of the general public. More than a third of rough sleepers asked had experienced some form of physical violence and more than 1 in 20 have been the victim of sexual assault whilst homeless. The prevalence of infectious diseases is also reported to be much higher amongst the homeless population than the general population. These diseases include tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis A, B and C. The infection rates are often higher due to compromised immune systems, poor nutrition and hygiene and the frequent overcrowding of shelters. Furthermore, drug use and what’s referred to as survival sex contribute to this issue and makes avoiding infectious diseases difficult. In terms of health conditions, more than eight out of ten people
experiencing homelessness are reported as having a chronic health condition. These can include musculoskeletal disorders and chronic joint pain. These can be worsened by living on the streets and not having access to the medications needed to treat them or even healthcare for a diagnosis. Some people use drugs and alcohol to cope with the pain, leading to the development of other health problems. Without doubt, it is understood that homelessness can lead to the development of new health issues and exacerbate pre-existing conditions. It has been reported that up to 70% of homeless young people suffer with mental health problems and 33% have selfharmed at some point in their lives. Young people experiencing homelessness often face complex risks because of their situation. Government sources report that they are often at a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies and can come under pressure to exchange sex for food, shelter, drugs and money. Many homeless young
people have themselves reported suffering with drug and alcohol problems. Studies have suggested that aside from worsening existing health conditions, older people experiencing homelessness are more likely to suffer from depression or dementia. The risk to health for people who have lived on the streets for a long length of time is so great that the average life expectancy of a homeless person is
47 years for men. and 43 forwomen. This certainly contributes to the low proportion of over 60s who are homeless in national surveys. Homelessness, it would appear, is still a growing concern and one which is strongly felt throughout the country. Evidently in Norwich, the number of homeless people is rising. One can only hope that help is accessible for those who need it, especially in the winter season that is fast approaching.
The extinction of Africa’s plant life Monique Santoso Science Writer
According to a new assessment by the French National Institute of Sustainable Development, over a third of tropical African plants are on the verge of extinction. Deforestation, population growth, and climate change are happening at an alarming rate and these factors are posing a very real threat to Africa’s trees, shrubs, herbs and woody vines. Regions of western Africa such as Ethiopia, Tanzania and the
Democratic Republic of the Congo are the hardest hit. Plants, in fact, face a greater risk of being wiped out than many animals whose population statuses are well-studied globally. Only 8% of plant species have been assessed for preliminary classification, and therefore a speedy method of assessing their extinction risk is vital to their survival. The French National Institute for Sustainable Development is now working to focus on two International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria, one relating to population size reduction and another to habitat decline,
to develop a computer algorithm that can automatically classify the conservation status of plants. The findings of their study were published in Science Advances. Findings shows that the algorithm developed had classified 17% of the plant species in tropical Africa as likely to be under threat and 14% as potentially threatened. This equates to a total of 7 thousand species of critically endangered plants. Among some of the species greatly endangered are the Genyorchis, a plant native to Cameroon and Gabon whose habitat has been threatened by the
increasing level of deforestation. The Weinmannia, a tree that is
“17 percent of the plant species in tropical Africa [are] likely to be under threat” harvested for its wood and bark and can grow up to 20 meters in height
with a bole that is 100 centimeters in diameter, is also critically endangered. There are estimated to be less than 50 Weinmannia trees left because of the over-exploitation of their ferns. All life on Earth relies on plants to provide oxygen and produce food. With over 571 plant species wiped out since the start of the industrial revolution, global ramifications of widespread plant extinctions include the loss of biodiversity, followed by the threat of insect and herbivore extinction, which will cause irreversible damage to the food chains of which they are a part.
3th December 2019
Growing up and travelling with the army Ellie Robson Travel Writer
By the time I was nine, I’d lived in five different houses and three different countries. Until my early teen years, my dad was in the army, so living in one house until coming to university was a foreign concept to me. I was born in 1999 in Dundonald, a suburb of Belfast, and lived in Hollywood until 2001, when we moved to Portadown. My sister was born there in 2002, and in 2003 we relocated to Gütersloh, Germany. In March 2008 we moved to Preston, Lancashire, where I lived in England for the first time. We stayed here for just over a year until settling in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, where my family has lived since May 2009.
“Living in one house until coming to university was a foreign concept” As most of these experiences took place when I was very young, I chatted to my mum about army life and relocating every few years. Her father was also in the army, so she shared that she didn’t find it a hard life adjustment to make when she married my dad, as she grew up in similar circumstances.
She told me that, “Whilst it was not easy, it was easier than a normal situation where people move abroad because everything was done for us. The movers, a house, the soldier had a job immediately, on bigger camps there were schools, doctors, dentists. If there weren't then there would be arrangements in place, speaking the local language is never a necessity for the Armed Forces abroad.” One thing that we both found extremely helpful is that everyone around you is in the same position. Families of soldiers all tend to live within the same block of flats, or the same housing estate, so it was easy to make friends with the families next door and over the road. Socialising was made more comfortable as we all had similar backgrounds and understood that we could act for support systems for one another as extended family wasn’t around. “Things were easier in Germany because every child in the school/ preschool was a forces child or attached in some way i.e. child of a doctor or teacher who worked on camp. Pupils and staff were used to change and dealing with children going through separation and maybe worse,” my mum remembered. “For many years in the UK, forces children were grouped with Gypsy children by the government because of the constant moving and gaps in education. You didn't know any different so just accepted your life as the norm.” The practicalities of moving aren’t something that I have much memory of.
I have vague memories of long car journeys, but what stands out to me more was the social side of moving constantly. Most of us kids had fairly robust attitudes to our surroundings and the changing cycles of our social circles. “I feel that it made you more self-sufficient, accepting of differences in others and it broadened your horizons,” my mum told me, and I definitely agree. I’m used to meeting new people and having limited and inconsistent contact with my family, things that I feel made my 170 mile move to university easier than average. I mentioned earlier that my
“Living abroad meant that we always made the most of visits to England” mum’s parents were in the army. When we lived in Gütersloh, my grandparents lived in Varese, Italy, and I remember doing a lengthy road trip to visit them. Somehow, despite all of my moves, we never flew. In fact, I didn’t travel on a plane until this summer. It was difficult to be away from family, but also helped that my grandparents were rarely stationed in the UK and understood that my sister and I were being raised in an unusual environment, much as their children had been. Relocating didn’t always guarantee that we
were living with my dad. There were still times when he would be away on exercise and we weren’t able to see him for months. With both him and my grandparents, we would send letters, drawings, and postcards, as speaking regularly on the phone couldn’t be guaranteed. When I moved to university, we introduced the sending of cards as a way to keep in touch. My mum said that this helped keep us all connected and build a strong bond that is still evident today. Living abroad meant that we always made the most of visits to England. We’d have to visit as many family and friends as possible in a week so as to not offend anyone about who we chose to spend our limited time with. “This week was often spent being asked where we were going on holiday that year,” my mum told me. “We had to tell people ‘this is it’.” I was also told about one week where we did a cheeky seaside holiday in England without anyone’s knowledge. It could be tiring, having to make your holidays as productive as possible, and it was strange to have a holiday that was actually just us four. It sounds fun, getting to move around a lot, and constantly interact with new friends, but obviously there were times when it was pretty hard. My mum said that “The hardest year was 2006 when due to Iraq and courses, Dad was gone for 9 months. It was not easy, but I never felt too entitled to complain as I felt it was harder on your Dad not seeing you, at least we had each other. This made the last few years
difficult and whilst we had always said we would never live apart, buying a house, getting you settled into school and me in work was a
“Relocating didn't always guarantee that we were living with my dad” huge help to get us all transitioned into civvy street.” However, she also said: “Whilst there were always tears as Dad left and occasional tears during absences, I don't remember any great distress or issues caused by absences. It was what it was. We very much had an attitude of chin up, get on with it, but not in a detrimental way, just enough to keep going and have enough left over for the colleague or neighbour who needed to lean on you now and then.” I think this was the best attitude we could have had. The stereotype of growing up in the army is quite negative, but there are things that are overlooked. Getting to grow up in a variety of places was really interesting and gave me a unique experience during my formative years, and I feel much better prepared to deal with the difficulties that life can throw at you. My mum summarised her feelings, “The Army gave us an amazing life and great opportunities and I personally feel that that outweighs any negatives.”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Preparing for the picturesque Peru Nhu Ngo Travel Writer
“Yeah, you can go!” was not the kind of response I expected from my mother, who has been extremely strict ever since I was young, when I asked if I could go on a volunteering trip to a country that is tremendously far away from home – Peru. No one in my family seemed surprised about my decision – I went on my first volunteering trip to Taiwan when I was 15 and hopped on a plane to the UK to study abroad when I was 16. Travelling to the distant Peru sounds fairly reasonable, given my
previous travels. My older sister must be the most excited of them all. Peru holds a special place in our hearts, since it was where our all-time favourite Disney movie - The Emperor's New Groove - was set. Ironically, that was the only thing I knew about Peru and Cusco, the city I am heading to. I decided to dig in for a little research and turns out, Cusco was claimed to be a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. It was once the capital city of the Inca Empire back in the 13th century and it is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in Peru. The main reason behind Cusco’s attractiveness is due to how easy it is
to trek down to magnificent Machu Picchu from here. I also found out about the charm of the Rainbow Mountains, which I have not heard about before my research. As a partnership with the school of AMA, this trip requires me to prepare a number of workshops focussed around the media as well as some conversational English classes.
I came across some articles arguing that any kind of volunteering involving teaching English is considered to be unethical since it is just another form of cultural imperialism. As a foreigner whose first language is not English, I simply disagree. Although it is clearly wrongful to deem English as the ‘universal language’, speaking
English has opened many opportunities for me to learn more about the world or even for the world to learn more about me. Teaching these children English means giving them the key to access the world they did not have the chance to explore in the past. Christmas is around the corner so I may be the only one who is excited for summer to come!
3th December 2019
concrete-online.co.uk/category/travel/ | @ConcreteUEA
STAy away: my experience using STA Travel Emily BruzonEdwards Travel Writer
In August, my boyfriend and I went to America for a month. I, being organised and excited about going away, had booked the flights with the Student Travel Agency (STA) way back in December last year. Additionally, being so in advance this meant I managed to get the flights far cheaper and within my (poor) student budget.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons
All went to plan until two days before the flight. Two days before we were due to fly out and while choosing which travel neck pillow to buy for the flight, the thought crossed my mind to check over our flight details. I checked the status of our flight to discover it remained ‘unconfirmed’. I then rang STA to enquire about this to then be informed our first leg flight to Iceland had been cancelled. T h e
lady on the phone (clearly reading from a script) provided me with a couple options: a full refund or two seats on a flight leaving the very next day.
“All went to plan until two days before the flight” We opted for the seats, only to then be told they actually were no longer available. So, this threw us into a situation of utter stress working out how we can get a flight to begin our h o l i d a y. W e ended up finding l a s t minute flights to Iceland with British Airways at double the rate of what we had paid for the whole original service to America. From here we were forced to
deal with the situation STA had left us in and then chase up the refund once we settled in America. Fast forward a month and we finally got a reply about the incident and were directed to STA Travel Cares. I informed them of the whole situation and received no response (for around a week and a half) until I tweeted the company complaining about their support. Since then they have passed me from team member to team member with no coherent information or understanding of the situation. They then finally built a case for me and said I would have a result in 28 days. At this point, very frustrated and disbelieving they would ever get back to me, I set a reminder for when the 28 days was up. When the time came, I received nothing. In my growing rage towards STA I emailed and told them the time period was up, and I w a s expecting t h e verdict
p r o m p t l y. They
r e p l i e d saying they could send
the refund for the original flight but provide no compensation for the extra cost for the new (double the price)
“This threw us into a situation of utter stress”
lastminute.com flights, which had to be purchased because of their own incompetence and lack of information. As the current situation stands, I am still being passed to different team members and being told they can do nothing for me other than the original refund that I had to chase on numerous occasions. My whole experience with STA’s Care Team was appalling and in no way supportive to students (as they claim). So, I am writing this (as they still refuse to compensate for their mistakes) as a cautionary tale for anyone thinking of booking flights through STA.
coming soon: a new way to report hate crime & harassment launching campus-wide by friday 6th december
3rd December 2019
UEA men’s football UEA Pole-A-Thon
Photo: Oli Povey
Oli Povey Sport Writer
UEA men’s first team got back to their winning ways in the league after an inspired performance by goalkeeper Tom Smith ensured the one UEA goal was all that mattered for victory. Bradenham Wanderers spurned a huge chance to get ahead early on after Smith saved a penalty,
“UEA can take pride in the result and the chances created” given away by Captain Henry Clark, before saving again from the rebound. The threat was not over as
Bradenham shot again, this time cleared off the line by midfielder Josh Pond. Bradenham would not have such a chance again and UEA scored soon after with a scrappy goal at the other end. A cross was not cleared by the opposition defence and the ball dropped to Jake Conway who fired high into the roof of the net. The second half had a glut of chances that neither side could capitalise on. The U’s created a lot down winger Luke Young’s flank, who could have made it 2-0 had a lastditch tackle from a defender not saved the visiting team. Smith was called into action again with more saves but could do little as a low shot from the away side agonisingly slipped past him, only to luckily deflect off his post and away. Another huge chance fell to midfielder George Maw who could only place his first-time flick wide after good work from substitute Jenson Bark on the left.
With both teams tiring the U’s played a nice passing move through the Bradenham midfield but the final effort from Charlie Thompson was fired wide.
“Smith was called into action again with more saves”
Bethan Reid Sport Writer
The annual 24-hour Pole-a-thon will be held from 7am on Tuesday 3rd December all the way through to 7am on Wednesday 4th in the hive. We will be raising money for the eating disorder charity BEAT who we have worked with for the past 2 years on this same event. People passing by can donate £1 – or however much they would like – to try out pole, this year we have done it in first semester so, if it turns out you love pole you can try to grab one of our new beginner spaces going on sale in January! BEAT is an eating disorder charity founded in 1989. Their aim is to be there to support anyone affected by an eating disorder whether it’s the person experiencing the eating disorder themselves or their close family and friends. They want to destigmatise the illnesses as well as offer as much support as possible through helplines which are accessible 365 days a year and also offer awareness training in schools and workplaces. As body confidence and positivity is such a big part of our pole fitness club, we feel that BEAT is a really important charity for us to support.
As said, this will be the 3rd year we are doing this event, over the past 2 years we have raised over £700 for the charity and hope to massively add to this total this year! During our 24 hours there, alongside pole we will have a bake
“Art society will be joining us... for some speed life drawing” sale during the day where all sales will also go to BEAT. Art society will be joining us between 6pm and 8pm, for some speed life drawing of the members on the pole. Adding to the importance of body confidence in our club, we have a new social media campaign launching called ‘Every Body is a Pole Body’ to demonstrate that no matter who you are or what body type you have you can do pole. So, even if you don’t think you can do pole, for whatever reason, come along to the hive on the 3rd December and try because you’d probably surprise yourself.
UEA can take pride in the result and the chances created. The UEA reserve team nearly racked up a cricket score after smashing Costessey for six at their own ground. Forwards Chris Ariwa, Kenta Yamamoto and Zak Harkin scored a hattrick, a brace and a goal respectively, while attacking midfielder Oscar Pettit claimed a hattrick of assists for UEA.
Photo: Oli Povey
Photo: UEA Pole Fitness Club
3rd December 2019
concrete-online.co.uk/category/sport/ | @ConcreteUEA
Is there a place for Latin club dances to success UEA Ballroom and
political activism in sport? in Leicester and Nottingham Claire Bilsborough Sport Writer
UEA Ballroom and Latin Club have had a busy term, with two competitions: Leicester Friendly competition in October, and Nottingham Varsity in November.
“I’m over the moon about how well our club has done” With painfully early starts, hours of practice, and lots of blisters, our competitors still put on their best performances for each competition. The Leicester competition was our first of the year, and for many of our members, it was their first ever dance competition. This is what makes our results so incredible: as a team, we received 44
Photo: UEA Ballroom and Latin Dance Club
call-backs, and ten finals! Nottingham Varsity was our second, and also one of our most competitive competitions of the year. Once again, our beginners absolutely smashed it! With a 3:45am start, we headed off to Kings Hall in Stoke-on-Trent, ready to start dancing from 9am. We received 32 call-backs and four finals at Nottingham. One of our couples had only been dancing together for two weeks and reached the finals in both Jive and Cha Cha. Furthermore, Hannah Jones and Cameron Willson, competing in the ex-student category, also came first place in both the Ballroom and Latin sections! Cameron Willson, President, says: ‘I’m over the moon about how well our club has done in our first two early competitions!’ We’re looking forward to our next competition, UEA Friendly, which takes place on Saturday 25th January 2020, and is open for anyone to come and watch!
Luke Saward Sport Senior Writer
The allure of sports for most fans stems from a desire for escapism, an opportunity to get away from the stresses of everyday life and become immersed in supporting their favourite team. As a result, it certainly seems the consensus that the majority of dedicated sports viewers do not watch the events for the political demonstrations that sometimes occur during them. Many feel the two should not even be remotely analogous, seeking a clear divide between the worlds of politics and that of sports. However, this is simply impossible. Politics today plays a major role in sports as it has done for generations, and it will continue to do so far into the future. Some connections are clear, with the most successful sports teams in America often invited to the White House to meet the President (although this is not always welcomed by some stars). Less obvious are decisions such as the relocation of certain sports teams, but politics plays a major role in this too, often determining how the new stadiums are funded and built. Another aspect – particularly in American sports – which is often the site of political protests, is the playing of the national anthem. It is here that Colin Kaepernick’s story began, with his progression from sitting out the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner to kneeling during it, an image that has become symbolic after further political protests in the 3 years since. The former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers did so to protest against the police brutality and racial inequality that is so rife in American society. He is not the first to do so. Sixtime NBA MVP Kareem AbdulJabbar boycotted playing on the men’s Olympic basketball team for the same reasons in 1968. Instead, he worked with underprivileged children in New York, teaching them basketball in an attempt to keep them safe. In the 2019 Pan American Games, fencer Race Imboden took a
knee after winning a gold medal and hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised a fist akin to Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who struck that iconic pose in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. For this, the two athletes were given 12 months’ probation from their respective disciplines, with the International Olympic Committee expected to be even stricter. However, even this pales in comparison to the tragic impact that Colin Kaepernick’s decision to protest has had on his career as a professional athlete. NFL players – unlike those in the NBA – do not have fully guaranteed contracts. Thus, when Colin Kaepernick left the San Francisco 49ers in 2017, reports have estimated that he may have received less than $40 million of the six-year, $126 million contract he was awarded three years prior. Admittedly, this is still a substantial fee, but – with that
“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” accepted – it is clear that it is a far larger loss for an individual that was awarded that contract for leading his team to consecutive NFC championship games and one Super Bowl. Far worse than these earnings though, Colin Kaepernick lost his livelihood. President Trump directed NFL bosses to “fire” those who would not stand for the national anthem and whilst many stopped short of this, Kaepernick has not been re-signed since. The argument that he would be a distraction for most teams due to his political activism is strong, when it is considered the focus that elite athletes must be able to have on their game alone. However, when it is considered that Kaepernick has received
support for his actions from throughout the sporting world, this certainly seems a peculiar position to adopt. A player debatably good enough to start for a mid-tier team and beyond any doubt of the quality to be a back-up for any NFL team, has found himself jettisoned from the league without any viable point of re-entry.
“The allure of sports for most fans stems from a desire for escapism” It is then, clear as day that Kaepernick’s actions had a monumental effect on his life. But were they worthwhile? They certainly had an impact on a global scale. The NFL now has a new national anthem policy, allowing players to remain in the locker room if they prefer. Despite this, kneeling or sitting leads to team fines, with the option to fine the individual players or personnel for the infraction. This motion was passed with a unanimous vote, but the owner of the San Francisco 49ers abstained from voting. Theodore Roosevelt once referred to the office of Presidency as a “bully pulpit”; the perfect platform from which to influence the opinions of the public. Sportsmen and women too have heightened stature – though not elevated to the same extent – so it is vital that sports play a role in politics and in challenging the political elite. It is only right that they should be allowed to use their celebrity status to pursue what they believe to be just goals, spreading awareness of modern day tragedies. In fact, they should be heralded for doing so as their own financial risk. As Kaepernick’s subsequent advert with Nike stated: ‘Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything’.
3rd December 2019
UEA Swim Team set to surpass last year’s record performance
Photo: Isabel Harrison
Jamie Hose Sport Editor
The President of UEA swimming has expressed his delight over the team’s recent performance at BUCs short-course. Over the weekend of the 16th November, a team of 38 swimmers, including 15 new freshers, went off to compete at Ponds Forge in Sheffield. The event was a marked improvement on last year, with UEA scoring 12 points, landing them in 29th place overall, up from 32nd place last year. Swimming is a very intense sport, but the UEA team shows no signs of slowing down, with 9 new personal best times secured by team members over the course of three days, and the mixed medley relay team finishing within the top 15. Olivia Neale swam the backstroke, Rikke Nagell-Kleven the breaststroke, Harry Jones the
butterfly and Simon Newton the freestyle, with the team making an overall time of 1.53.10. The women’s open 200m medley relay B-team went on to make it into the finals for their event. Together Olivia Neale (backstroke), Megan Pirrie (breaststroke), Rikke NagellKleven (butterfly) and Hannah Binning (freestyle) cracked out a
“As President I could not be more proud of how the team performed” time of 2.02.59 to take 9th place. Both Neale and Nagell-Kleven also made it through to individual finals events. Neale made the 50m
backstroke B final, coming in 6th with a time of 29.46, and NagellKleven was up for both the 200m individual medley final and the 50m butterfly B final, taking 10th place for both events, with times of 2.22.72 and 29.33 respectively. The male swimmer of the weekend was Sean Watson, who swam the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle events, as well as making an appearance on the men’s 200m freestyle relay B team. Ben Friar, the president of UEA swimming, said: “Sean Watson had impressive swims all round, particularly in his 100m Freestyle where Sean broke his PB for the first time in 8 years. “Sean also swam a great split for the Men’s Freestyle B team relay.” The female swimmer of the weekend was Rikke Nagell-Kleven, who competed in the 50m and 100m butterfly, and the 200m individual medley, and was a part of both the women’s 200m medley and freestyle
teams, and the 200m medley mixed relay team. Nagell-Kleven, a postgraduate
“We are determined to build upon these acheivements” studying MSC business management at UEA, said: “As always, competing with the team in Sheffield for BUCS short course last weekend was a great pleasure. “Everyone did really well, and it was especially nice to see some swimmers doing their first competitive race in years, performing personal best times. “As well as an astonishing team effort, where we managed to qualify
for the B final in the women’s 4 x 50 Medley Relay. “I am extremely happy with my own swims, making an A final in the 200m Individual Medley and the B Final in the 50m Butterfly.” Friar, a 3rd year law student, also expressed his delight at the team’s performance. “As President I could not be more proud of how the team performed over the weekend. “We made 3 individual finals thanks to some exceptional swims from Olivia Neale and Rikke NagellKleven. “Last year was our most successful year on record, making the finals at BUCS Teams for the first time ever along with all of our relay teams making finals at BUCS long-course so this year we are determined to build upon these achievements. “Our accomplishments this weekend are certainly a step in that direction.”