Forget mince pies – I’m hoping friends, family and colleagues will donate to this great cause instead

Even before I was ill, baking was not my strong point – so when the charity Headway asked me to organise a ‘Mince Pie Morning’ to raise funds for its Christmas appeal, it was a fairly solid “no”. That said, I did want to find a way to say ‘thank you’ for the help they have given me over the past few weeks. For those who may have missed the news, I was taken ill in July and had a Colloid Cyst removed from my brain – something I described in an earlier post.  

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Listen to the Rotten Retro Time Machine Podcast Project

A few years ago, in another life a was a writer, journalist and stand-up comedian. During that time I wrote the Old Romantics Column for the Lincolnshire Echo with my friend Stu Wilde. On the stand-up scene we were joined by another friend, Gary. Lockdown does strange things to people and we thought a podcast about the good and bad old days might be a way to celebrate the Old Romantics era and do something positive while disconnected by the pandemic. So I invite you to take a nostalgic journey through the past with The Rotten Retro Time Machine and take in the best and worst things that happened in the past 40-odd years. If you enjoy the show please consider making a donation to  YMCA Lincolnshire, which provides emergency access accommodation, known as the Nomad Centre, the only direct access night shelter in Lincolnshire.

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Promoting Sustainable Development in Lockdown

One of the key responsibilities for being a United Nations Academic Impact Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) Hub for SDG 16 is to promote Goal 16 and all the Global Goals. The lockdown period has seen lots of opportunities for us to deliver projects on the ground to support our communities and also to join lots of conferences and online discussions. Although it doesn’t quite match being there in 4D, it means most are recorded and can be shared. I thought I’d post some that I have taken part in. Some times things don’t go perfectly, but then again, neither do the ones in real life.

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Capturing the true scale of homelessness in Leicester

Yesterday I was asked to present an example of my public engagement work to a small group of academics and third sector workers to demonstrate how university and community partnership working can create impact. From my list of recent activities I chose the work #DMUlocal did with Professor Jo Richardson, a housing researcher, from the Faculty of Business and Law, to try to measure the true scale of homelessness in Leicester and thought I should share it here.

The Project:

I felt it was a good example of how De Montfort University (DMU) had worked with a leading charity and other agencies to capture the true scale of homelessness in Leicester and how best to tackle it – and its impact led to almost 40 people off the streets and into accommodation.

Mark Grant, CEO of Action Homeless, briefs volunteers and students at DMU
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DMU and Leicester Prison – the ‘inside’ story…

Heading home from a night spent at the Times Higher Awards with a banging headache and a huge feeling of disappointment probably isn’t the best time to update this blog, but it might help me get a few things off my chest. Naturally being shortlisted for a national accolade and not walking away the prize is a bit deflating. Even though the judges thought we weren’t number one, I thought I could share some insight into De Montfort University’s work in Leicester Prison, so at least I’ve told you how good it is. Since I am trying to theme my blog posts around UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 – let me point out that work in prisons forms an important part of the targets. The UN indicators recognise that poor prison conditions and prison overcrowding point towards systemic deficiencies in justice systems.  Reforming the penal system and prisons is high priority across the world, as well as access to justice. These areas include a lack of access to legal aid, alternatives to imprisonment, youth crime prevention programmes, offenders’ rehabilitation; social reintegration measures, as well as the overuse of pre-trial detention. The programme at Leicester Prison very much focused on offenders’ rehabilitation and social reintegration. The idea was, and continues to be, that by working with staff and the men inside the prison, the university might be able to influence a different path to reoffending upon release.

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