Opinion

Be Better: A New Blog Series on Men Being Better

This is a little announcement blog on a new series of blogs I intend to start writing over the coming weeks. With recent events it seems appropriate that more men need to stand up for what is right and good, and we need to limit the idea of machoism and simply help all to understand that women are women. They do not need to be handled, controlled, ‘owned’, they are a person like any other.

From nights out, to general attitudes, it is easy and constant to see that there are so many attitudes that men hold and stereotypes of men and of mens attitudes towards women that are so wrong out of date and out of place.

I intend this series to look at how men act in society and how simply put, we can all do better to act better towards women and call out those who act so simply disgustingly towards them.

As a man I feel I need to stand up to my own sex more, and help those understand how actions can be seen as derogatory, dangerous and straight up wrong. I do not want to be seen as ‘high and mighty’, I simply want to help all of us to become better, for all of us to benefit.

Keep an eye out for the blogs ahead.

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The Journey

Journey: A Return to Poetry

Below is my return to poetry, something I have not done in a very long while, hence its poor structure, weak rhyming and overall amateurishness. However, I still wish to share it as it helped to sum up my recent travels to India where I helped facilitate and a run a work trip out there for 30 young people who had won a scholarship to visit the country and communities in Rajasthan. Please do enjoy, and I hope to share more poetry as well as many more blogs to come!

Journey

A journey can be a stroll

A journey can be a drive

A journey can be a boat ride, a flight, a hike

Maybe even a fight

But, a journey doesn’t have to have a motion

It can be a moment

It can be a lesson

It could be a book, a film, even a question

See, a journey can be anything

We have all been on one

We may not have realised it yet

We may move on, move back, move onto that jet See, we may be flying away soon

But this could be something

This could be the start

This could be your refresh button or a change of heart So, can you see?

Can you see what’s ahead?

Can you see the potential?

Can you see the chance, social or financial?

See, your journey is your own

Relish in it

Continue it

Enjoy it

Believe in it

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Opinion

Opinion: Are Young People Really Represented Well Enough?

As someone who has been involved in student campaigning since the age of probably around 6-7, when I was first made part of the student council in primary school, it is safe to say I have always wanted to be represented and always wanted to represent others of my specifically younger, age. However, I cannot help but feel in these modern times young people’s voices are being miss-represented, or being missed out entirely. With every new law, every new election in many nation, the voice of young people is forgotten until a viral video shows a 9-year-old challenging a new leader or an 18-year-old appearing on Question Time. For me, this is no longer good enough.

No one is effected more by ANY change more than young people. Any law or change occurring today could affect them in ways they do not even understand, and in a lot of cases ways the government or bodies behind the change severely forget about that. It is made even worse when the biggest topics young people care about are simply ignored, as the only voices pushing these issues or topics in to the mainstream are young people themselves. This is topics from equal pay, which means a lot to new graduates, to climate change for young scientists as well as employment prospects and the young housing crisis. These opinions and voices seem to be ignored by all except extracts on Radio 1 and social media. They don’t make newspapers, they don’t make 6 o’clock news, and they do not make it to chambers of government. To be young and to put forward your voice for change seems to either go viral or go ignored. Those viral stories can create incredible applause and emotion, but through the very nature of being viral, disappear quickly.

I remember when I first started university a major change occurred to A-Levels, with quotes at the time from the Education Secretary stating that exams were easy and coursework didn’t test students enough. I found this faintly disgusting and hateful to say when I knew how hard people such as myself had worked over years to achieve A-Levels which would allow us to get in to university. Getting in to a university that had now tripled in cost and thus tripled my future debt. At this time I decided to write to the, at the time, Secretary for Education, Michael Gove. I was infuriated, how could these changes be happening? I asked whether any young people were spoken to during this time of hateful quotes and infuriating rule and law changes to education being put in place. I received a letter stating that of course young people were spoken to, with a panel of 20+ students debating certain topics. But why was this not opened to further discussion, for a further period of time including more voices and shown on a national scale as more ‘adult’ arguments are? This is where we need to look at not only increasing student representation at university, in schools, but most of all nationally and in government, whilst also looking at new ways at cracking this issue. Young people act, talk, connect, and overall live very differently to any generation before, it is the generation gap. Values of politeness and patience are always, and should always be taught, but this does not mean other values should not be changeable.

Every new generation has different values. No longer do young kids see diversity as an issue but as opportunity, no longer is technology the new frontier but the next lesson, no longer is going to university only for rich kids, yet through every generation representation has changed little. While universities have increased university budgets for representation and on many campus’ this does mainly improve, there are issues where the NUS still does not represent all and has constant battles with true representation and democracy, while students share their voice more and more via marches and campaigns, but governments seem to close their eyes and ears ever more. We now need to look at how we can take this initiative of young people and use it to make great change, via representation. Governments and government bodies need to talk directly with young people. Across the country, across the education level and across institutions. When young voices are properly heard, young change can happen. The earlier we start to make change, individually or as a whole, and showing young people the value we place on them and their voices, the more benefits we all get from it in the future. Representation of young voices has never gone far enough and now is our time to make our voices heard thoroughly and truly.

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Opinion

Saving the Environment Is a Big Task, but Student Campaigns are a Good Place to Start

One of the biggest worries and threats that face this world and every generation on it is how societies around the world treat the environment. However, it isn’t all bad news and sad faces. While many abuse the environment and treat it as though it’s a barrier instead of a gift, a growing number of people are becoming interested and active within the environment and the campaigns and support groups that work to conserve and save it. One of the biggest groups doing this are students.

Over my time at university I saw so much love for the environment and so much passion to save it from my fellow student friends. This passion for the environment has always been a part of me but until getting to university I didn’t realise how many other fellow-minded people there were! To arrive at university and see how many and how much people wanted to help conserve and fix the environment got me more enthused than I had ever been before and so a path was set to carry out environmental campaigning at university.

After two years helping on other peoples campaign at university in my third year I began to lead several campaigns. I found that the student body is enthused about our world and no matter what the subject people study, they are starting to understand that they will be impacted by things like climate change no matter what, unless we make a change. So far it seems to be working. In my first year I helped run a ‘Green Week’ at university to promote eco-friendly living, and environmental awareness. At this time no one was really interested, the events were poorly attended and many people didn’t even realise it was happening. Last year we ran a then-newly refreshed ‘Green Week’ and it was bigger and better than before. We had huge swathes of students interested in helping out, volunteering to run events and signing up for events. The message of environmental awareness and campaigns such as this are helping to increase that awareness I believe. In my three short years at university I noticed a huge growth in people engaging with environmental issues and wanting to make changes, it was phenomenal and so I decided to take this wave of hope to create even more campaigns to spread the word.

After our ‘Green Week’ we started a campaign to decrease waste across uni and increase the reusing of items. After learning about the high amount of reusable items that are wasted and how much energy goes into recycling products I decided to launch a scheme to educate students as well as provide opportunities for them to change how they use products. For instance, we added waste paper trays across campus to lower waste paper from printing something wrong, something small but it could make a huge difference. We also began offering reusable mugs at reduced prices in our SU shop so people don’t buy bottled water every day. It is simple changes like this that appear to grab people’s attention and set them on a path similar to me, to helping promote environmental change.

Even after this more campaigns were planned, not just by myself but a large range of students. We had campaigns based around fossil fuel divestment, green points for societies and increased cycling to uni instead of using your car. The great thing about all this though, and the thing that gives me most hope for our planet, is that all these campaigns are student run! These ideas come from first, second, third years and even master’s students. The growth in environmental promotion and campaigning is growing massively and really does show that we are in a better position than many people think. There is a passion to do something, and no one wants to simply sit down and let things happen now, not from what I have seen at university anyway. It is incredible and each campaign is having an impact, students are starting to get the message and share it.

Student campaigning is becoming ever more vital and it should give us all a little bit of hope. It appears to be happening nationwide with a variety of universities, so we can hope this current success extends into the future and the environmental issues we face now may begin to get tackled.

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Opinion

Opinion: Acts or Words? or Both?

In these times of intense uncertainty around the world it seems more and more people are acting in ways we haven’t seen in a long time, if at all. A to of this has been via the ever important and growing sector of the 21st century that is ‘social media’. In the space of ten years social media has gone from a thing few people use to a word that not just everyone knows, but uses several times a day in a variety of ways. It seems then, that we are in a perfect storm of social media development with an uncertain world filled with Trumps, the far-right and Brexit.

More than ever whenever a major event happens, like Trumps inauguration, we here more about it on social media than we do via the radio or TV. Our news now comes from twitter and Facebook sainted of newspapers. Now lets for a second ignore the whole ‘Fake News’ debacle, that is a whole other blog topic. This modern way of gaining knowledge of latest news means people can react instantly. You do not have to wait for the 6PM news anymore to get the latest updates on an event or just of the day. It means we can react as soon as something happens and can follow it on minute by minute in a way we have not seen before. It is not only a new way of consuming media but a totally new way of reacting to it. Previous generations would have read about something they disagreed with a day after it happened, and many of them would never have thought of writing a letter to share their thoughts and show their anger at whatever had happened, whether it was a new law or new type of rich tea biscuit. Modern generations though, well that’s a different subject.

A week or so ago President Trump decided to stop several government bodies from sharing social media in any way, especially in regards to climate change and the environment. This caused chaos, rightly so I believe, but the more amazing thing for me anyway, was what came next. Within 24 hours protests were being held worldwide, rogue twitter accounts for departments was set up, lawyers were in place, whole new NGO’s were seemingly created. That is an incredible thing and shows the power social media has given us. We can now contact people and put together whole groups of people for protests, petitions or whatever so quickly. Now of course, its taking sharing a post you are angry about to a new level and actually creating action.

It is incredibly easy on social media to just share your frustration. Heck I do it  a lot when I see headlines that baffle me, but the key element is not just sharing but acting upon. Instead of simply saying ‘man this is bad’, sharing a post and then moving on, why not look what what you could do to make it better? Whether it is starting a petition, organising a march, putting together a law case or anything, it all could make a vibrant difference to our world. Social media has not only given us the ability to instantly see the latest going-ons but gives us the opportunity to act faster and in whole new ways to before. What I am simply, trying to say is that we all need to do more than just look and move on. We need to act on anything that we truly do believe. There is so much we can do with so many resources at our fingertips, so let’s make use of it.

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Nature

Nature: Ways To Get Out Into It More

At the moment it is cold outside, extremely so in the UK in fact, and while our nature seems to be at more risk than ever (Thanks Trump, however kudos to the National Park Service). So I thought it is as good a time as ever to share some of the ways I get out in nature every day of the year, as well as specifically some ideas for winter.

  1. Walking and running!

Walking in nature anywhere at any point in the year is truly beautiful! No matter if it is a field full of sheep or a coastal walk, not only does it give you a nice bit of experience and gets you the all important fresh air we all need, but also gets you to see the true beauty of nature. Running during this time of year is even better, although be warned to always wear gloves this time of year! I forgot mine on my run yesterday and nearly lost a hand.

2. Photography

Photography is a great way to get out in nature and not only learn a new skill ,whether it is using your smartphone or a dedicated SLR camera, while also properly appreciating nature and the amazing shots it can give you.

3. Exercise outside

Taking a similar idea from point number 1, exercising outside, whether it is doing yoga and pilates or bodyweight exercise is a great way to get healthy and get outside. This is very much a summer based idea but is a far nicer option then sitting in the gym for an hour a day. Why not take your mat outside, and exercise in your garden or maybe in a nearby field. Either way it is a lovely way to be outside and see and hear nature while getting fit yourself!

4. Read and write!

My personal favourite thing to sit out in nature and do. From reading whatever book of the moment on a blanket in a local woodland, through to writing your first chapter of your novel by a river. Not only is this a lovely way of reading and writing, but being out in nature only gives you more ideas and creativity!

5. Volunteer

My personal favourite way of getting outside during Spring and Summer! Volunteering with any organisation gets you out and about, learning new skills and meeting new people. Volunteering outside with organisations such as the National Trust takes this even further as it gives you a healthy balance to your life and is also something to add-on to the CV.

In all these are just a few simple ways of increasing the time you spend outside. Every one can be done by anyone and most can be done at any time of the year. I hope this small bit of inspiration takes you away to nature!

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The Journey

The Journey: “I Want to Dedicate my Life to Helping Those Less Fortunate than Myself”, the Quote that Started it all.

I started this blog over two years ago. Now across that time I have blogged relatively infrequently but have always kept my ambitions of this blog, and my life, the same. From early on in Year 11 this same ambition has kept on burning on within me and has kept me driven throughout everything.

This ambition is something I simply tell myself whenever I think about what I want to do with my life and why, from the smallest changes to the largest decision. I have turned this in to a simple quote that stays with me every day, that quote simply being:

“I wish to dedicate my life to helping those less fortunate than myself”

Now yeah I know, this quote may seem overly simplified and meaningless to many. It is hugely generic and spreads across so many different ideas, but nonetheless I use it as a constant reminder of who I am and why I do what I do, why I make the decisions I make. For instance, fresh out of uni many people would just apply to whatever job pays most or gives them the best chance of getting employed. Maybe somewhat controversially, I have not and will not do this. Instead I look to what I truly want to do to my life. For every job advert I see I think, “Would this allow to make positive change?” Would it help me to leave behind a legacy of progress and not just inheritance? Yes that’s a big way of looking at every small opportunity but it is just how I have to think. If I am honest I feel very lucky to have found this true meaning of what I want my life to be. It does make life hard in some ways, knowing that I have such strict limits on what I will and won’t do. However, I already feel this quote has defined my life and led to some of the greatest decisions of my life. It has led to me travelling Colombia and Europe to learn more about certain cultures and open my world view, it has led to me focussing on implementing a charity body to help those at constant risk of disaster, it has led to me forming several groups at university to help make local communities a better place. These are just a few examples, but this singular quote is what is behind me that constantly pushes me forward and gives me hope for my future. It is powerful what a few words can do.

This quote was shown to me through the teachings of one of my greatest role models in life, an old teacher of mine who worked so hard and showed me the true gift that humanity is. How beautiful it can be, as well as how cruel and wrong it can be and what we can do to combat it. To illuminate the wrong doings of governments, to combat hate and discrimination and to fully realise my own potential. Without this quote, or the teacher that helped me create it, I would most likely done a degree in something I didn’t enjoy, at a university I didnt truly love and would not have had the bravery to try to create change nad combat hate, something I aim to do for every day I live.

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