NORWICH CITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME TRIAL

By Sean Meleady

Norwich City Council has backed calls for the government to support a pilot for Universal Basic Income (UBI), which would trial providing a monthly income to all residents of the city, following a recent debate at City Hall. City councillors argued that all residents should receive this fixed monthly amount regardless of employment status, wealth and marital status.

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EDUCATION AFTER THE PANDEMIC: REFORM AND RENATIONALISATION

By Howard Green

Tony Blair, upon his election into government in 1997, famously declared that his top three priorities were “Education, education and education”. At the other end of the century, Vladimir Lenin proclaimed that education that didn’t teach about life and politics was indeed a “hypocrisy”. Education has been a central focus of politics for over a hundred years, and today is no different. As the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted conventional ways of learning for many, the modern British educational system needs short term and long term reform if it is to adapt to the issues of the 21st century. With the advent of Zoom lessons and online assessments, now is the time to explore the full potential of digital technology as the new frontier of education.

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ONLINE LEARNING, COVID AND CLASSISM

By Kasper Hassett

Although UK universities boast that their online teaching provision is adequate to the current crisis, deep-rooted inequalities in the class system cause the poorest students to suffer the most. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, working-class students are faced with more challenges than usual, and are also less able to access online teaching than their middle- and upper-class peers. Despite their disproportionate struggle to engage with remote teaching, universities are refusing to show leniency with deferrals and adjustments, feigning blindness to a violently unjust class system. The response of universities to this pandemic is insufficient at best, and places those students facing hardship at an even further disadvantage.

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QUEER LONELINESS & THE IMPENDING MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

by Kasper Hassett

CW: mental health

Long predating the lockdown, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have reported feelings of isolation and loneliness at alarmingly high levels. This reached a point where ‘queer loneliness’ was dubbed an epidemic, and the mental health of the community overall was recognised as dire. With many now separated from their support networks during lockdown, queer people are experiencing new lows in their mental health. Additionally, much of the previously mentally healthy population is also struggling, and NHS services are suffocating from cuts, meaning that many queer people will miss out on vital mental health services as a complacent wider world focuses on going ‘back to normal’. Continue Reading

WELL-BEING FIRST: THINKING HEALTHY IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

by Sunetra Senior

A couple of weeks ago we were told of the extent of the Tory government’s negligence during a time of intense international crisis. They disregarded important information provided by advisory committees at critical moments as well as the crucial COBRA Meetings themselves, which are specifically held to ensure strong leadership at times of national emergency. According to the article in The Times, Boris’ earlier inaction has resulted in the number of deaths reaching six figures with the estimated mortality predicted to be 400,000. Of course, in addition to patently disregarding hundreds of thousands of lives, Johnson’s administration has also put the physical health of millions at risk with the virus running uncontrolled throughout the population for a whole month between 24th Feb when the recorded number of deaths skyrocketed, and the announcement of effective lockdown measures in mid-March.Continue Reading

THE NORWICH RADICAL IN 2019

by Alex Valente

2019 is drawing to a close, but the turmoil and trauma of this turbulent year show no signs of abating. As we wrote on the cold, miserable and particularly unfortunate morning of Friday the 13th,

in the coming months and years, many in this country and elsewhere will suffer under a Tory government led by a racist liar. Social services will be dismembered. Workers’ rights will be eroded. Vulnerable people will face violence at the hands of increasingly aggressive immigration authorities and police. All of which will be sanctioned, incited, and protected by the country’s highest authorities and institutions.

The turn of a decade is an important time to review, to remember what the good fight is actually about, and what type of work is expected from us, as people, as a community, as a society.Continue Reading

IN DEFENCE OF STUDENT POLITICS

By Bradley Allsop

The only way to make the word ‘politics’, that great indicator of all manner of corruption and trickery, more contemptible is to plonk the word ‘student’ in front of it. It almost feels like you‘re not pronouncing ‘student politics’ right if you do it without a sneer, or at least a shudder. Student politics has an image problem.

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#NOTENOUGH – UEA’S MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

By Jess O’Dwyer

Content warning: mentions suicide

Going to university is a challenging time. For many it is their first time away from home with full independence. New students are presented with countless opportunities and choices, many of which will shape and change them as people. For people with mental health issues, however, this challenge is often exacerbated.

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AN OPEN LETTER ON THE PERFORMANCE OF THE POSTGRADUATE EDUCATION OFFICER

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The following is an open letter, from a UEA Postgraduate SU volunteer who wishes to remain unnamed, received by The Norwich Radical on 13/03/19. We reproduce it here in full:

It is with deep regret that I write this statement concerning the conduct of one of our elected representatives at the UEA Students’ Union, with whom I’ve worked closely with over this past academic year: Martin Marko, the Postgraduate Education Officer currently standing for re-election. I feel compelled to write this given my responsibility and accountability to postgraduates at UEA as Chair of Postgraduate Committee. While I regret having to comment on Marko’s performance, his lack of professionalism has forced me into a position where either I remain silent and allow him to go unchallenged, or I speak up and make known my experience of working with him this year. It is important for me to make clear that this letter is in no way a comment on the Student Union’s electoral processes nor an endorsement for any other candidate. Nonetheless, given Marko’s decision to stand for re-election, I feel obliged to publish this letter.

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PROFIT BEFORE PEOPLE

by David Breakspear

Whilst going about my daily ritual of spending hours in front of a computer screen researching in a variety of areas, one of which being the criminal justice system, I came across this piece with the headline ‘Mental health trust takes back contract for more serious conditions at Norwich prison’. It was a report in an edition of the Great Yarmouth Mercury.

I have served as a prisoner for a good number of years at HMP Norwich, and as someone who has a complex mental health history, I came into contact with the mental health team on a regular basis. I was also a trained listener and would have dealings with the team as a third party on behalf of individual prisoners.

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UNITED IN THE FACE OF CRISIS – THE STUDENT LEFT NETWORK

By Bradley Allsop

Make no mistake – higher education in the UK is in crisis. After decades of uncertain policy and three successive Tory-led governments with a clear desire to marketise and corporatise our campuses, we’re left with a generation burdened with debt, with an explosion in mental health issues among students, with universities bereft of democracy and increasingly fuelled by precarious labour, with Students’ Unions that are often little more than marketing arms of their universities, and with continuing inequalities in educational attainment. The passionate learning, debate and inquiry that should be the soul of education has become little more than a thin veneer pasted over profiteering and corporate-style expansion.

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THE NORWICH RADICAL IN 2018

by Alex Valente

This past year has seen a global increase in horrible news stories. From the victory of the extreme right-wing in Brazil with Bolsonaro, to Italy’s rising black wave of fascism, to Russia and Turkey competing in totalitarian games, to the US and UK’s attempts to dehumanise the trans* community and migrants (no, there is no crisis), and the constant influx of horror that are the Trump administration and the Brexit shambles, we’re at a dangerous, terrifying, angering moment in history – and most mainstream media is complicit or silent.

I started one of our monthly emails in a very similar vein, back in October, and I’m sad to notice that not that much has changed since. Continue Reading

BEYOND BURNOUT: TOWARDS COMPASSIONATE ACTIVISM

By Anonymous

Being an ‘activist’ is a crucial part of my identity. It can be a difficult thing to be, in a society where ‘politics’ is a dirty word and its practice is often at best frowned upon, but I’m glad I’ve made it to this place. To be part of wider movements, making friends with incredibly talented, dedicated and inspiring people and, in my own flawed, stumbling way, trying to make the world a little bit better, is an enormous joy and privilege that not everyone gets to enjoy.

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FUCK FUTURE FINANCE – THE FRIGHTENING REALITY OF PRIVATE STUDENT LOANS

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By Lewis Martin

CW: mentions suicide.

Sometimes targeted adverts reveal to you more than you wanted to know. I’ve recently been experiencing facebook ads for Future Finance, a company that offers loans of up to £40,000 to students, with an interest rate of 17.45% APR for all the time that you’re studying. To put that in perspective, if you borrowed £7000 over 5 years, you’d have repaid a stonking £11,223 by the time you’ve paid it off. This eye watering example reveals both the current state of Higher Education financing and a frightening future that is increasingly intruding on the present.

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BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER: A REPRESSED SUPERPOWER, PART II

by Sunetra Senior

CW: abuse | Continues from Part I here

Both Analytical and Emotional Intelligence

Mystification: go to work in an office to endorse more of that analytical, grounded thinking.

Hidden Truth: having these two qualities in equal measure means you have constant access to an enviable social clairvoyance that does well in advisory and imaginative professions.

The twin pairing is an attenuated, ongoing version of psychosis which means you can control it and draw from it whenever you want. What’s more you can immediately translate profound ideas to those around you, having one foot in the cosmos and the other in the everyday. That same parental lacking when a person with Border Personality Disorder grew up, made them sharp to environmental clues in order to survive. As this person grows older, they will retain this attentiveness, accumulating little signs and symbols – politically, mathematically and socially –  to equip them to make impressive and perceptive connections and even predict sociological algorithms.

Additionally, you are likely to be excellent in the arts and in critical thinking because you process such a sensitivity to surroundings and are rapidly processing information and images. You can identify intuitive nuances that make great cinema and literature.

The world needs more dedicated artists, sociologists, researchers and socially conscious politicians, not bankers, marketing executives and legal crooks.Continue Reading

BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER: A REPRESSED SUPERPOWER, PART I

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by Sunetra Senior

CW: self-harm, abuse

As a homage to mental health awareness week (14th- 20th May), I have decided to write on an often misunderstood and underrepresented psychological health condition close to my heart, or more accurately my spirit.  Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD is characterised as a ‘behavioural disorder’, which is intrinsic to one’s selfhood, and because of its often abuse-induced origins, has been notoriously difficult to treat. It is not the expected actions or the very true fact that the condition is deeply ingrained that I take issue with, but the medical paradigm of dysfunction and negativity implied by the alliterative last acronym.

This pervasive perceptual context, reflective of the attitude towards many mental health issues, permits an entire trail of prejudice, extending to the defining symptoms of BPD. Common misconceptions are “attention-seeking, manipulative and over-emotional”.  This comes from the high numbers of those with BPD who self-harm, especially during their already tumultuous teenage years, their expressing the need for special care or extra-vigilance and seeming not to be able to cope with the interpersonal and social challenges that everyone else can.

It is time to not only put the record straight, but to add some fucking colour.Continue Reading

SOCIAL PRESCRIBING – CURING LONELINESS IN OUR DISTANCING SOCIETY

By Nicholl Hardwick, for The Grow Organisation

In contemporary Britain, our lives are pervaded with unique health and economic pressures. Capitalism, globalisation, Brexit and the internet have all contributed to a new era of loneliness, community isolation and disconnectedness. We may go days at a time without speaking or having sentimental engagement with another person. In particular, elderly members of the community frequently fall to the wayside as our distancing society ceases to encourage them to function as active participants.

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PRISONS BECOMING A DEATH-SENTENCE FOR ROMA

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by Jonathan Lee

Content warning: article contains strong language, ethnic slurs, and graphic descriptions of death, suicide, prison environments and torture.

On April 9th 2018, the day after International Roma Day, a crowd gathered outside the doors of the Murcia Regional Government building in Alicante, Spain. They were not there to celebrate, but to mourn and demonstrate about the unexplained death of twenty-eight-year-old Romani man, Manuel Fernández, on 22nd October 2017. His case is one of many unexplained deaths of Roma in prison.Continue Reading

EXAMS SHOULD BE ABOLISHED – HERE’S WHY

By Dan Davison

Examinations are woven into the fabric of student life. From the ‘Key Stage’ National Curriculum assessments I sat in childhood through to the tests I took as a Master’s student, every stage of my education has known the familiar cycle of revision, testing, marking and grading. It was not until I became a precariously employed university tutor that I realised how dangerously uncritical we are of that cycle. By this point it seems so natural to make people sit exams at various points in their lives that it scarcely occurs to the public consciousness that students and teachers might be better off without such a regimented approach to learning.

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A TRULY RADICAL NUS – BEYOND TUITION FEES #2

By Lewis Martin

It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

Over the last year the NUS has been a shadow of its former self, riddled with accusations of bullying from its President and marked by its failure to engage with the largest upswelling of campus activism this country has seen in years. It was bizarre enough that it refused to back demonstrations for Free Education last year, implying a denial that the end of tuition fees would be a benefit for students. But that pales in comparison to the extraordinary lack of NUS involvement in the recent UCU strikes. While its members joined the picket lines and entered occupation up and down the country, NUS chose to stay silent when our academic staff most needed their support. Continue Reading

HIGHER EDUCATION IN A POST-FEES WORLD – BEYOND TUITION FEES #1

By Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt

It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this new series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

Politics is in a very different place than a few years ago. Radical change feels possible, tangible, close. The Labour Party’s pledge to scrap tuition fees is one of many signs of this – welcome, and necessary to salvage higher education from the marketised juggernaut it has become. But just abolishing fees is not enough to fix all of higher education’s problems.

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BREAK UUK, WIN THE STRIKE – NATIONAL DEMO AT SUSSEX UNI

By Max Savage and Ellen Musgrove

“…in the short term I would be happy to reconstruct a social democratic compromise which aimed to decrease inequalities…I recognise that this will not remove the gross injustices inherent within capitalist structures. To reiterate, capitalism is the enemy, but neoliberalism seems to me to be worse than social democracy. Perhaps we should set our sights a little lower than capitalism and attempt to slay the neoliberal beast.”

– Adam Tickell, ‘Reflections on “Activism and the Academy”’ (1995)

Professor Tickell, once apparently an advocate of radical social reorganisation, is now Sussex University Vice Chancellor and one of neoliberalism’s torchbearers in the UK higher education sector. While it is tempting to conclude from this transformation that Tickle is a duplicitous, cowardly and parasitic individual, there is in fact a larger point to be drawn: very often our politics are not forged by our own choosing but by our position. Once you are earning an obscene salary and have turned a blind eye to staff on your campus earning under the living wage, perhaps neoliberalism isn’t so beastly after all.

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AN OPEN LETTER TO STEVE DOWNES, EDP.

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by Eli Lambe 

No, Soup Kitchens are not making Norwich’s “Homelessness problem” worse. It might seem that way to you, if you’re used to brushing the vulnerable off and not having to see the reality of more and more people’s lives. The easy solution – and the one that your newspaper and the local police like to peddle – is to force rough sleepers and vulnerable people out to the fringes of the city, where they’re cut off from their community and support and, most importantly it seems, you don’t have to see them.

What makes you think that your walking past the Haymarket every so often qualifies you to write about the lives of the people in the queue?Continue Reading

PLATONIC POLYAMORY: A 2018 VALENTINE’S CONCLUSION

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by Sunetra Senior

This Valentine’s Day was distinctive. In addition to the usual encouragement of self-love, and sending of gushing gifs amongst female friends, more people were sending greetings to family members and stressing the importance of acts of love within the community. Ash Sarkar, Senior Editor of Novara Media, said emphatically in a video message: ‘when you stop a charter flight from taking off and deporting asylum seekers, that’s love’. Perhaps an effect of delayed liberal mobilisation, after such angry right-wing resurgence, the concept of growing close to one another is being gradually – literally – redefined to be more liberal.Continue Reading

“TOO COLD TO CONCENTRATE” – THE STATE OF STUDENT HOMES IN 2018

by Lewis Martin

Last week, NUS released the 2018 edition of their ‘Homes Fit For Study’ report on the state of student housing in the UK. Whilst the findings aren’t overly surprisingly, they still present the stark realities of the standard of housing that students have to face. The report demonstrates the effect that poor housing can have on mental health and wellbeing – one student reported that “Sometimes in bed when it’s bitterly cold we all feel like crying…” and another even said that her housing was so cold she caught pneumonia. In a society where the focus is on growing private capital, the health of tenants often comes second.

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YOU’RE HAVING A LAUGH

by Alice Thomson

Life is hard. For everyone. We’re all trying to find some meaning to our lives, trying to figure out where we belong and what our purpose is. Amongst that, we see what is going on the world, either connected to us or globally. Our environment can be tough to digest.

My last article was about the cuts the government is in the process of implementing to benefits for disabled people. I spent a lot of time researching the article and it really brought me down. I already knew it was a problem and needed to be spoken about, bknowledge,ut to learn the extent of the issue and read personal experiences, made me feel hopeless. The news can easily do that. Making it difficult, not only to take control and make positive changes to our environment, but to make those changes for ourselves. It’s a trick that’s as old as the book. Since the time people were able to establish a hierarchy, those on top kept everyone else in the dark to keep them in their place. Knowledge is power. Muddy the water of knowledge, and we disengage and disenfranchise the masses.Continue Reading

THIS IS MY LOVE STORY

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by Anonymous

cw: sexual assault, PTSD

There’s something weirdly intimate about being curled up in a corner of a bed, completely naked and sobbing uncontrollably, unable to catch your breath and being very conscious of the wet space between your legs where a warm body was just seconds ago. The face belonging to this body is now centimetres away from my face, asking too many questions, and panicking more than I am.Continue Reading

CHALLENGING MISCONCEPTIONS IN THE CAMPUS FREE SPEECH DEBATE

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by Bradley Allsop

Over the last 8 years, higher education in the UK has been subject to some of the largest and most invasive reforms in its history, guided by a deliberate, neoliberal project with the aim of crafting a marketised sector. This has set a new bar for invasive reforms that is now extending into the murky realms of the ‘free speech’ debate, with recently departed universities minister Jo Johnson proposing the illogical and frankly dangerous step of imposing fines on universities whose students’ unions fail to support free speech on campus.

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IT’S OUR ‘YOUTHQUAKE’ – WHAT WILL WE MAKE OF IT?

by Bradley Allsop

Young people can’t catch a break. On the one hand, we’re scolded and ridiculed for our apparent lack of engagement with traditional political institutions, which is generally assumed to be a result of our ‘laziness’ or ‘apathy’, with our disillusionment and distrust with politicians that have continually failed us apparently precluding our ‘right to complain’. On the other hand, when we do engage politically, in those rare moments when we do seek to take an active role in our futures, we’re painted as thuggish, fragile or naïve. In short, the message we continually get is: “engage – but not like that!”

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A CHANGE IS AS GOOD AS A REST?

by Alice Thomson

So much has happened in only a few months, for me personally as well as globally – let’s be honest, the the past year’s events in the United States of America alone of the past year would be tough to sum up in a 1,000 word article. I don’t think I could do justice to the topic.  As this is my first article in a while, I thought I’d focus on what I’ve been up to, to give you an idea of the reasons for my absence the last few months.Continue Reading

BEING A MAN 2017: PART 2

by Carmina Masoliver

cw: mentions of rape and addiction

For this second part on the Being a Man (BAM) Festival, I’ll be looking at the various panels that addressed men’s body image, different kinds of addiction, and the concept of masculinity – looking beyond gender as something binary, and taking sexuality into account.Continue Reading

BEING A MAN 2017: PART 1

by Carmina Masoliver

cw: mentions suicide, rape, abuse, domestic violence, sexual violence

I left this year’s Being a Man Festival with over fifty pages of notes and a hopeful feeling – inspired by the coming together of people of all genders to take part in a dialogue on gender and its many intersections. Events like this show just how much there is to gain from men addressing gender from a feminist perspective, as opposed to the toxic perspective of the MRA groups. Below are a few highlights from the weekend focusing, in this first part, on mental health and the role  of violence in men’s lives.

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WEEKENDS MATTER – WORK-LIFE BALANCE IN ACADEMIA

by Alex Powell

From the outside, it may appear that students and academics have pretty comfortable lives. We can largely work how and when we want. I frequently lie in past 10am and often come back home after just a 6-hour working day. But despite appearances, this doesn’t mean that we have it super easy. As I am finding more and more, maintaining a good work-life balance can be a real struggle – a struggle that academics and students around the world are all too familiar with.

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NO, YOU’RE NOT A FRAUD – IMPOSTER SYNDROME IN HE

by Alex Powell

Recently I’ve started teaching as part of my PhD, and through doing so I‘ve been learning a few things myself. The most striking thing I have noticed is how skewed and extreme expectations are for people in various academic roles. Why do we assume that a lecturer in any given subject should know everything there is to know about that subject off the top of their head?

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DESCRIBING INDESCRIBABLE

by Kev Walker 

Content warning: mentions death, PTSD. Poem contains graphic imagery.

The palate is thick, pungent. Ripe yet rotten. Though rotting has not yet began.
There’s shades of urea, undertones of copper, a hint of raw pork in a pan.
Whilst in this state, the freshness shocks, indeed it almost smells tasty
This matter should stink, not hint on the taste-buds, my skin hues quickly to pasty.
The ringing still clear, this taste in my lungs, broken marionette of gore
Doused in crimson and black, a stinkhorn mushroom, draped across sand on the floor.
The palate so thick, it stays in my nostrils, lies dormant for years at a time
Till a familiar smell, dilutes and hydrates it           waking hideous fears that were mine.
Defenceless against it, it shadows my being, my stomach a churning mass
Goosebumps for no reason and magnified senses, awaiting the gut wrench to pass.
You can’t fight or ignore it, it only adds to the fear, the sickly strength of its grip
Fills your heart with blackness, loss and frustration           exposes your soul with a rip.
It sleeps when it chooses, not at my will, but sleeps to allow it to wake
Refreshed and visceral, stronger than ever, my palms grip my face and I shake.


Writer’s Note: As a follow up to this poem, anyone suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or indeed any underlying mental health condition, can find support and advice through the following agencies. If this poem has highlighted symptoms to you or someone close to you, I encourage you to seek support. As a sufferer of PTSD, I can strongly recommend not suffering in silence. Even just being able to share and relate is part of the healing process. [Information regarding PTSD can be found on the NHS website. Support is available through Mind, with Armed Forces specific support available via SSAFA.]

Editor’s Note: The Norwich Radical believes, as outlined in our Founding Statement, that to ensure the longevity and prosperity of humanity, we must strive to build a world free from violence, conflict and warfare. We therefore stand in opposition to the militarisation of society, armed conflict resolution and imperialism. We acknowledge and recognise those who have served in armed forces and the trauma experienced by those involved in conflict worldwide, and strive for a world built not on the premise of war, but on co-operation.

Featured image: Wikimedia


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SURVIVAL

by Alice Thomson

When I think of the word survival, it conjures up many images. More often than not it’s an image of a character in a horror, thriller or zombie narrative, where the individual does everything physically or logically possible to live through the trauma and make it to the end of the film, or to the next episode. A person’s strength of will to keep living is what drives them to survive the zombie apocalypse, murderer or demon. These surviving characters are always physically and/or mentally strong, or become so quickly. Their motive for survival? They have future plans, information they must pass on, people that rely on them – in some way, their life holds value. Once this traumatic episode is over, they can get back to those lives. They survive in order to find peace, joy, fulfilment, happiness. To reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

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SELF EDUCATION, NEW SOLUTIONS

by Laura Potts

Schools stand as institutions of education, aiming to enhance and aid growth in various forms. Children growing through the school system will eventually leave as adults. However, in my generation, there is a trend away from exploring a key part of adulthood: continued self education.

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MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES. ‘AT LEAST IT CAN’T GET ANY WORSE, RIGHT?’

By Zoe Harding

Content warning: mental health, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, suicide.

This article is not written in the Radical’s usual style, with all the froth and fury about parts of society that might be ‘broken’ or ‘harmful’ or ‘dog-fucked beyond human comprehension by a swarm of grey-suited sociopaths inexplicably elected by a suicidal electorate’. There will be no solutions, no imprecations, no lights shone into dark places because everything’s fine.Continue Reading

BLINDED BY IDEOLOGY – TWO YEAR DEGREES REVISITED

by Lewis Martin

Back in March, the MinoriTory government announced the idea of running fast track two year degree courses in the hope of saving students money. Last week the Times Higher Education supplement revealed that surveyed students from lower socio-economic backgrounds would be more likely to take this option up if it existed. Could the Tories’ apparently hare-brained scheme in fact be justified?

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SOLIDARITY WITH INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

by Alex Powell

Not too long ago, a series of news stories began emerging. These stories documented the fact that the government’s estimates for the number of international students who outstay their visas were greatly exaggerated. Despite this, the government has continued to push two convictions. Firstly, that it is appropriate for international students to be included within wider immigration figures, and secondly, that immigration is too high and needs to be cut. These dual premises are having a hugely detrimental impact on the experience of international students, so it is important that other students do all we can to show solidarity with our fellow students and push for changes to this policy.Continue Reading

POLITICS AND POWERSLAMS – REACTIONARY NARRATIVES IN PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING

by Chris Jarvis

CW: sexual assault, racism, ableism, violence, sexism, suicide, murder, mental health

Professional wrestling is big business, and there’s none bigger than the monolithic World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). In 2015, its revenue totalled over $650 million dollars, whereas the second largest promotion in the world – New Japan Pro Wrestling – saw a comparatively paltry $30 million. WWE is a cultural and economic behemoth, with profound power and influence wrapped into its carefully crafted and tightly managed brand. Its most successful exports go on to become major cultural icons – film stars, stand up comedians, talk show favourites. WWE alumnus Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the world’s second highest paid actor with a barrage of accolades to boot. Dave Bautista has followed in the footsteps of the ‘People’s Champion’, with a major role in the third highest grossing film in 2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy. In 1999, Mick Foley published the first instalment of his autobiography – Have a Nice Day – which shot to the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Given the sheer scale of WWE’s operation and the wide reaching influence of its product and performers, it comes as little surprise that the company has built an extensive corporate social responsibility marketing operation. John Cena has granted more ‘wishes’ for the Make a Wish Foundation than anyone else. In 2015, WWE heirs apparent Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque and Stephanie McMahon founded Connor’s Cure, a charity dedicated to researching pediatric cancer, after 8 year old WWE fan Connor ‘The Crusher’ Michalek tragically passed away in 2014. Most recently, programming of Raw and Smackdown were interspersed with fundraising vignettes for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Given the sheer scale of WWE’s operation and the wide reaching influence of its product and performers, it comes as little surprise that the company has built an extensive corporate social responsibility marketing operation.

Beneath the shimmering veneer WWE have created, though, lies a murky and unpleasant history. Continue Reading

“HI, HOW ARE YOU?”

by Kev Walker

Content warning:  mentions substance misuse, mental health, homelessness, conflict

It’s all bling and totter, down the lights of the highstreet, drunk by the train journey there
Cackles and shouts, tales of shagging and swearing, cosmetics squeeze out the air
Bravado and vanity, beer and wine, heading for the first open club
Boys strut with their chests out, showing a leg, only thoughts are of getting a rub.

He’s crouched in the corner, a-top a damp box, wrapped in a half soaking doss-bag
A dog by his side, as companion and protector, a mucker to share a sparse nose-bag
He shakes with the cold, but also the comedown          the cider has long since left him
A blot-out, a release, from the pain in his mind and the mess he now finds himself in.Continue Reading

IGNITING STUDENT ACTIVISM #3 – WORKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE

by Bradley Allsop & Calum Watt

Rarely in our lifetimes has there been a more exciting time for young people to engage in politics. Change is in the air and nowhere else offers more opportunities to engage in this conversation, to learn valuable skills and to help shape society than university campuses. This series of articles seeks to offer some guidance for those aiming to ignite student activism at their institutions. Drawing on our experiences as campaigners we hope to highlight some common challenges and give you some advice on how to combat them.

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SORRY, ARE YOU A TRAVELLER?

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by Jonathan Lee

Content warning: article mentions antigypsyism and racism

“The Gypsy and Traveller community complain that they don’t get enough media attention, but crime watch is on TV every week.”

This was the name of a team at a pub quiz I attended in Oxford recently. When it was read aloud, half the pub laughed and jeered. The other half remained silent, either through complicity or complete indifference. No one challenged the offending team, no one called out, no one made a disapproving noise. When the woman behind the bar saw my apparent discomfort, she asked:

Sorry, are you a Traveller?”

Unsure whether she was apologising for the hate speech coming through the pub’s speaker system, or for the actual ethnicity itself, I answered:

Yes I am.”Continue Reading

IF I WERE IN CHARGE…

by Alice Thomson

Let’s be honest – I’m sure if I was actually in charge of the country I’d be rubbish at it. The role of Prime Minister does not appeal to me. It’s not exactly your 9-to-5 kind of job. The stress and responsibilities you’d have, not to mention the impossible decisions you’d have to make, would turn me into a quivering wreck. And that’s before your character is picked apart by the media. As a disabled person, roles like that of PM are particularly inaccessible. Trying to live your own life with chronic pain and minimum spoons is hard enough without attempting to run a county as well. That doesn’t mean I can’t spent time on trying to imagine a better world. And I reckon I have a few good ideas from such imaginings – though everything is always much easier from the comfort of your armchair. Sports fans shouting advice through their televisions at some of best trained athletes in the world comes to mind.

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BLACK WOMEN AND THE FUTURE OF RNB

by Candice Nembhard

Whether it’s Janet Jackson in a purple latex suit, TLC in a spaceship or Aaliyah in the headlights of a motorbike, it is no secret that visual and artistic concepts among RnB artists were undoubtedly ahead of their time. The late nineties/early noughties saw many artists make use of developments in CGI/Camera Technology, fashion, specially-designed sets, and shooting locations. Directors such as Hype Williams and Dave Meyers, noted for their work with Missy Elliot, have gone onto make iconic if not classic visuals young music lovers still reference to this day.

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WILL UEA DO WHAT’S RIGHT FOR PHD ASSOCIATE TUTORS?

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by Maddie Colledge, UEA SU Postgraduate Education Officer

Following a steady drip of complaints to the SU in recent years, the Postgraduate Committee have this year steered me to focus my efforts on launching research into the experience of our PhD Associate Tutors (ATs). We already knew some of the issues that our ATs face and had brought them to the University’s attention, but in light of little change since then, it seemed a full review was needed. Following the publication of that review, I’d like to share our findings with you as well as our plans for the future (the full report can be found here).

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ELITISM REFUSES TO DIE – THE UNIVERSITY FUNDING PROBLEM

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by Lewis Martin

Last month, Freddie DeBoer wrote about the failure of the university system in the United States to equally fund different institutions across the country. Looking specifically at Connecticut, DeBoer shows how Yale, one of the prestigious Ivy League universities, fuels social inequality by receiving public funds as well as other sources for revenue whilst other, more accessible community colleges are “cut to the bone”.

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MANCHESTER AND THE SORRY STATE OF BRITISH JOURNALISM

by Zoe Harding

CW: article contains descriptions of the Manchester terrorist attack, racist discourse, links to images of war crimes.

The official threat level after the terror attack in Manchester is back down from Critical to Serious, and the country has started to move on. The news cycle seems to have been slightly shorter, as well; at time of writing the front page of the BBC News website is largely concerned with technical problems at British Airways and I-kid-you-not a cheese rolling competition.

I’d love to say that this particular terrorist incident didn’t incite the usual wave of hate and disgustingly inappropriate coverage that tends to follow such events, including random hate crimes, thundering headlines and political manoeuvring. I’d love to.

But The Daily Mail exists. And The Sun. And the political climate in the UK has become sufficiently toxic that even without those two, the response was nonetheless as unpleasant as any I’ve seen.Continue Reading

PERSPECTIVE

by Alice Thomson

CW: abuse

Point of view is surprisingly important. As a child, I was always being told by my mother to ‘put my feet in another’s shoes’. It’s surprisingly difficult for children to actually do this.

According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, children between the age of 2 and 7 are in the preoperational stage.  During this stage, children are egotistical in the purest sense. They display Centration and Egocentrism which means the child has a tendency to focus on one aspect of a situation at one time and they have an inability to see a situation from another’s point of view.Continue Reading

WHY I DISAGREE WITH THE ‘EXIT FROM BREXIT’ FLOAT IN NORWICH

by James Anthony

Content warning: article mentions suicide, and features a carnival float depicting suicide

To mark the arrival of BBC’s Question Time in Norwich on Thursday, a rather controversial float turned up in our city. Created for a festival in Dusseldorf, an impressively sized and eerily lifelike representation of the Prime Minister with a ‘Brexit’ gun in her mouth, was rolled around nearby streets to attract attention and to supposedly draw support for the pro-EU cause.

While I can appreciate the enthusiasm behind the protest, I can’t help but think it’s the wrong way to go about building a campaign focused on ensuring a future close to Europe.Continue Reading

THE UK POSTGRADUATE STUDY CRISIS MUST END

by Bradley Allsop

Postgraduate study and research is a vital part of the higher education sector and yet in the UK it is in crisis, riddled with multiple, endemic problems.

Firstly, there are systemic problems with postgraduate study in terms of who even gets through the door. Research has shown that, graduates who are women, from certain ethnic minority groups or from lower socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to go on to study at postgraduate level. This is a social injustice in itself, and raises serious questions about the cultures and systems that exist within both academia and society more generally, but it is also to the detriment of academia: academia thrives on diversity.Continue Reading

FUCK OFF, TERFS: DISPATCHES FROM THE INTERNET HATE MACHINE

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by Zoe Harding

Content warning: article contains strong language and mentions transphobia, rape, death threats, online harassment, homophobia, biphobia and bi erasure.

So this week a friend of mine said something on Twitter about accepting transgender people as people, regardless of genitalia. One of those reasonable discussions that occasionally ensue on the internet ensued, and ended with her getting dog-piled with sufficient angry, hateful messages to nearly crash her ageing iPhone and accusations ranging from homophobia to gaslighting and advocacy of corrective rape. While the barrage of tweets from a dozen accounts was polite by online discourse standards (for ‘polite’, read ‘no swearing but massively condescending, dismissive, pompous and worryingly intense’) the death threats and abuse that followed in private messages was significantly less so.

Once more, my friend had attracted the ire of the TERFs.Continue Reading

MENTAL HEALTH – THE GOVERNMENT’S MYTH

by Nicholl Hardwick

Content warning: article discusses mental health, depression and anxiety.

The mind has been described as ‘the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought’ The mind controls the ways in which we relate to the world outside of our own heads, or in other words, the way we connect with reality

A state of ‘good mental health’ is when an individual is able to not only psychologically manage, but also thrive in the world around them. We live in an increasingly complex society with unique pressures, therefore, good mental health means that an individual is able to understand society cognitively and respond appropriately to everyday situations with the expected level of emotion, concentration and understanding.

However, this is where it becomes tricky. What society expects from us and what society tells us are two very different things.Continue Reading

UEA CLOSES COUNSELLING PROGRAMME

by Lewis Martin

On the 25th of April, Professor Richard Andrews, the head of the School of Education and Life Long Learning (EDU) at UEA, announced the closure of the university’s counselling programme. This means that all courses surrounding the subject of counselling, including a PG diploma and an MA, will no longer be taught at UEA as of the beginning of the 2018 academic year. Andrews described this as a ‘difficult decision’ resulting from ‘low demand for the course’. This closure is especially significant, not only to UEA but to the wider Norwich and Norfolk area.

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THE GORMLEY CASE

by Tony Moore

Content warning: article mentions suicide.

World famous art comes to campus and it looks wonderful, works subtly with Lasdun’s buildings to eulogise their monumental quality whilst highlighting the interplay of light with the elements.

What’s not to like?

Then those pesky snowflake students start moaning that the figure might be perceived as about to jump and could be a ‘suicide’ trigger.

What is not to like, is that the snowflake students are fundamentally right to make their views known: they are confronting an authoritarian, elitist art work imposed on their community from ‘above’.

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REVIEW: ENMUJECER FESTIVAL / IWD 2017

by Carmina Masoliver

CW: sexual assault, gender violence, abuse

Initially lamenting that I wouldn’t be in London for International Women’s Day, missing the annual WoW festival at the Southbank Centre, I was pleased to find out that Córdoba has a whole month of activities to mark the occasion. Whilst the practicalities of striking weren’t feasible – for example, I cannot afford to take a day unpaid and no unions exist for the work I do. I was informed that there would be a walk-out between 12-12.30pm, and this happened to be when my break between two classes fell. I used it to do some grocery shopping, so not particularly radical.Continue Reading

‘I FEEL LIKE I’M NON-EXISTENT’ – THE LIFE OF MATURE STUDENTS

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By Lewis Martin

Imagine a mature student.

I’m guessing many of you are picturing someone middle aged, married with two to three grown up children, who can now afford to go back to university to get the career change they’ve always wanted but couldn’t get when they were growing up. This stereotypical view of mature students has a detrimental effect on the Mature Student community.

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IS THE GOVERNMENT KILLING YOU?

by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions violence, execution, massacre, abortion, domestic violence

‘For example, what does the billboard say,
 Come and play, come and play
 Forget about the movement’

Freedom – Rage Against The Machine

A UN-declared famine is threatening the lives of over a million people in South Sudan, with 100,000 of those facing immediate starvation. It has been six years since a famine was last declared, but the difference is that this famine is the result of structural violence.Continue Reading

QUICKER ISN’T BETTER – PROFIT BEFORE HEALTH IN TWO YEAR DEGREES

By Lewis Martin

Last week the government announced plans to allow students to complete an undergraduate degree within two years instead of the usual three. To facilitate this fast-track system, universities will be permitted to charge £13,000 a year in tuition fees for these courses. As many have already noted, it’s easy to see what this announcement really is: another step in the marketisation of higher education. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt described it as ‘another misguided attempt to allow for-profit colleges access to UK higher education.’ The government have become less and less tactless when it comes to putting profit before the education of students.

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WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT PERFECTIONISM

By Alex Powell

Perfectionism may seem like a fringe issue – a few of us are self-proclaimed perfectionists, but that’s just a personality trait, right? Maybe not. Issues of perfectionism have had a dramatic impact on my studies, and I have seen it increasingly manifested amongst the students around me. It is a key indicator of many other issues which students face in the modern university environment.

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TRANSITION UNIVERSITIES – THE STUDENT RADICAL #8

A decade and a half into the 21st century, many believe that the metamorphosis of student into consumer is complete. The student activist and the radical student movement are consigned to history. Despite the hiccup of the anti-fees protests in 2010, the modern student is more concerned with getting their money’s worth in education than they are about changing the world.

So some would have you think. Over the two years since the first run of this series, the student movement has grown further in depth, diversity and scope. This new set of articles seeks to explore the student campaigns that are redefining our time: what they have achieved, what they mean for the student movement, and their impact on the Higher Education sector as a whole.

By Maria Cooper

I went to university in St Andrews, Scotland. Well, in a sense I went to two – the old conventional institution you’ve heard of, and the far more inspiring Transition University of St Andrews. Transition started out for me as something I just did to survive – it was cheaper to grow food than buy it, cheaper to swap clothes and books than buy them, and being outside planting trees or mending bikes was a life-giving contrast to the stuffy library and theoretical learning that otherwise filled my days. Besides, many of my friends and I often felt that sort of depression so prevalent among students. What difference am I making in the world? Who cares about yet another essay, being read by one tutor and then put on the pile of student pride or shame never to be looked at again?

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REVIEW – TRANSGENDER KIDS: WHO KNOWS BEST?

by Zoe Harding

On the same night Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? aired (Thursday 12th), an apparently rather excellent documentary named Hospital exposed the difficult conditions under which the modern NHS works, bringing it to the attention of the nation that if you get sick and go to an NHS hospital, you’ll be treated by a doctor who’s working shifts more commonly seen in 19th-century coal mines while the Prime Minister calls them lazy. It was quite good. The subjects of Hospital (doctors) seem to have loved it. No such luck for the subjects of BBC2’s other documentary that night, however. Continue Reading

MY CONFESSION

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by Alice Thomson

It’s January, and we all know what that means. Short days, cold weather, no money and January Blues. For many, this can be a tough, unhappy time of year. For some – especially those with mental illnesses – it can be even worse. One in four people suffer with depression. I am part of that one in four. This is for them, and for those want to try to understand.

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THE NORWICH RADICAL YEAR IN REVIEW 2016

by The Norwich Radical

2016 was a bleak year for many. Across the world, the forces of liberty, of social progress, and of environmental justice lost time and again in the face of rising fascism, increased alienation, and intensifying conflict. That notwithstanding, there have been moments of light. In the Austrian Presidential election, the electorate confirmed the independently Green candidate Alexander van der Bellen; the #noDAPL water protectors gained a soft victory in early December; in fact, there is a full list of positives from the past year, if you want cheering up.

2016 saw our team expand to more than 25 writers, editors, and artists as well as host our first ever progressive media conference, War of Words. Our readership has grown from 5,000 per month to more than 6,500 per month. In total, nearly 80,000 people have read content on The Norwich Radical website this year.

In 2017, The Norwich Radical will turn three years old, with plans to grow our team and publication more than ever before. We’ll also be returning to Norwich to bring debate and discussion on the future of the media, with War of Words back for a second year. Continue Reading

A CYCLE OF FEAR AND UNCERTAINTY – MENTAL HEALTH AND JOBHUNTING

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By Liam Hawkes

“You interviewed well but unfortunately we just didn’t feel that you were right for this particular position.”

These are the words that no one seeking employment wants to hear. Looking for a job, especially during times of uncertainty and instability, can be a terrifying prospect. My own recent experience of this has got me wondering about the connection between job seeking, rejection and our mental health.

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KATRINA IS NOT OVER

by Tara Debra G

(Content warnings for 2005 Katrina disaster, mentions of suicide, and PTSD).

I wanted a break from research. Spending an evening at a bookstore to clear my head seemed like a good idea. Living and studying in New Orleans can be exhausting. Researching a dissertation on the Katrina disaster of 2005 is a privilege – but also a daunting task. I walked around the shop happy to not think of anything for a while, but then I saw the heading ‘KATRINA’, and I couldn’t resist. The section consisted of only a few books, titles that I already knew, tucked away on a bottom shelf near the back. I was shocked by the lack of choice. This is New Orleans, after all. Even if I was in the gentrified, college-dominated Uptown, surely this area still had something to say on what happened. I ran to the store clerk and asked if they had any more books on Katrina, and he replied: “We used to have tonnes of them. But after time people forgot. People stopped caring.”

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WHITEWASHING OF MENTAL HEALTH

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By Julian Canlas

TW: Mental health, racialised violence, racism

The first session at the psychotherapist is always tough. Your psychiatrist is a lanky white man presumably in his 50s. There’s a mosaic of framed medical certificates hanging behind his desk. You’re an 18-year old brown-skinned boy slumped back on this armchair that’s supposed to feel comfortable, but really the fake leather sticks coldly against your sweaty back. He asks about various aspects of your life to get a better evaluation: family history, school, suicide, self-harm, homelessness. He tries to sound nice—this condescendingly sweet falsetto undermined by the mechanical typing in of your diagnosis. Every time you spill yourself, you feel the room closing in.Continue Reading

ARTS IN ASIA: A REFLECTION

by Carmina Masoliver

I spent four months in South East Asia; two and a half were spent working in Vietnam, but I also got to go to Thailand, Laos, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. Although it has been the longest time I’ve been away from the UK, it would be impossible and presumptuous for me to generalise the arts in the whole of South East Asia, or even just one country. Instead, this will be a reflection on the things I experienced whilst travelling.Continue Reading

5 APPS AND WEBSITES TO BUST YOUR INSOMNIA

TW: Mental Health, Insomnia

By Robyn Banks

Insomnia is a bitch. It plagued me during my time at university, and many of my friends too. Although I had always had problems sleeping, the long grind of the school day would often wear me out enough to see me getting a few good hours each night. Not so at university – days with only one or even no lectures stretched out endlessly, and with nobody phoning home if I didn’t turn up to lectures, gone was the motivating fear that got me out of bed each morning in the past. The prospect of managing my own time, which had seemed like heaven in my first term, had become a living hell. Bedtimes got later, and mornings became later, until I was essentially nocturnal- living whole months at a time in the miserable dark, unable to access any daytime facilities. Sound familiar?

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FRESHERS’ GUIDE #2: ECSTASY AND THE SEROTONERGIC SQUAD

by Robyn Banks

Ecstasy, or MDMA, has long been a popular student party drug. Despite being relatively safe for use, not many people understand the chemical change in the brain that comes with being high on MDMA, and the rise in students being medicated for anxiety and depression threatens to make a once rare overdose in to an all too common event.

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MY MENTAL HEALTH AND POKEMON GO

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by Daniel Delargy

CW: depression

Since graduating from UEA, things kind of went downhill for me. I graduated with the grade I wanted, but I was stuck as to what to do next. I had no job, no sense of personal accomplishment, deteriorating relationships, and to top it all off I moved back in with my parents and felt ashamed because as the eldest child, I had this expectation that I had to be this success story which my siblings could look up to.

My old habits started returning. I tried to get back into an old hobby of mine, running – but quickly dismissed it. I hid myself away.Continue Reading

LONE-WOLVES AND STATE WARRIORS

by Joshua Ekin

Content warning: mentions suicide, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, mass shooting, murder

A massacre in an LGBT+ space, by a Muslim, with a legal gun, and alleged connections to Daesh. It’s easy to see how contemporary American anxieties converge in the political aftermath of the Orlando shooting. The media response to this — the largest massacre in modern American history — exposes how truth is controlled by the present political regime.

For those who do not spend their days fretting about radical social discourse, homophobia can be difficult to define. Before Obama legalised same-sex marriage federally, it dominated the media conversation, establishing rights as the fulcrum of group empowerment. While the LGBT+ movement focused on this, statistics revealed that LGBT+ kids across the world were entering sex-work and committing suicide at an alarming rate. If such statistics were ever mentioned, it was to bolster marriage as the unequivocal endowment being denied to the LGBT+ community. The institution Australian Marriage Equality claims that the ‘higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, early school leaving, conflict with peers and parents and suicide ideation [are] all directly related to the discrimination.’ Marx might have called this ‘bridal false-consciousness.’Continue Reading

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: NORFOLK’S MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

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by Hannah Rose

Last week I met with two mental health campaigners following an RSA-hosted event at St Michael’s Church called: ‘Combating Norfolk’s Growing Mental Health Problem.’ The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts (RSA), Manufactures and Commerce is a fellowship-led organisation, whose aim is to encourage “the sharing of powerful ideas to deliver a 21st century enlightenment.” I’d gone in the hope of being enlightened.

Sadly, I was not.

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WRITING OVER THE ACRONYM

by Chris Jarvis

Content warning: mass shooting, homophobia.

In response.

At midnight they dance the devil’s dance
Gleeful in their deviance

As sun rises
Their hearts Pulse in the ecstasy
Community and camaraderie

Unprovoked and unannounced
Space safe no more

Oh hold your breath then count to ten
Then fall apart and start again

All the way to forty nine
Mommy I love you.

*Continue Reading

WE’RE HERE. WE’RE QUEER. AND WE MATTER: THE HIDDEN FACE OF THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY

by Julian Ignacio Canlas

Content warning: mentions racism, homophobia, suicide, arson, massacre, mental health 

On June 12th 2016, a mass shooting happened at Pulse, gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, USA. 49 people were killed and 52 injured, mostly of Latinx descent. Across the world, lgbtQ+ communities and allies have been organising vigils and other events to express support and condolences.

‘Look, you don’t understand this because you’re not gay,’ Owen Jones said, before storming out of a Sky News debate on the massacre, after the two presenters refused to see the incident in a lgbtQ+ context.Continue Reading

REVIEW – EMILY HARRISON’S ‘I CAN’T SLEEP ‘CAUSE MY BED’S ON FIRE’

by Carmina Masoliver

I have seen Emily Harrison share her work countless times at Burn After Reading events, and at my own night, She Grrrowls. She never fails to amaze me in the way she is able to articulate herself, speaking out about mental health issues – amongst other subjects – interwoven with links to gender and class. When I read lines about imaging someone loves you ‘when you simply asked/during a routine blood test, ‘Emily, how are you doing today?’ I sort of imagine she’s what I would be like if I were an extrovert.

The first couple of poems are familiar to me, and it’s hard not to picture Harrison on stage delivering these words, because as much as it’s incredible to be able to read the pieces, seeing them live is an important part of the way the text works, as it tends to be with Burning Eye Books – the go-to publisher for writers who refuse to remain on one side of the page/stage divide.Continue Reading

BLACK STUDENTS’ CONFERENCE 2016

by Julian Ignacio Canlas

On May 28-29th, the Black Students Conference happened in Bradford, where black student delegates across the country congregated together in the conference hall of Bradford Hotel.

We listened to BME activists and journalists discuss about their own experience of oppression, institutional racism, and the hard, arduous path that led to Malia Bouattia’s victory as the first black female president-elect of the NUS. This included renowned journalist Gary Younge, who delved upon the progression of black activism and condemned the forms of racism existing in right and leftwing media. Younge later received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

We went through rounds of motions and amendments. We voted for our new committee members, including the Black Students Officer, now Aadam Muse. Most contentiously, we debated about political blackness and its relevancy or outdatedness within the movement’s campaign structure.Continue Reading

THANKS JEREMY, BUT I DON’T WANT YOUR SYMPATHY

by Finn Northrop

Trigger warning: Rape, sexual assault and domestic violence

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, and each year this presents a fantastic opportunity for huge numbers of committed activists to not only raise awareness of a variety of mental health conditions but also to promote self-care and self-help methods, and to give people the bravery to seek help – whether that means reaching out to close friends or taking to the step of going to their GPs and seeing what services are available to them.Continue Reading

TACKLING THE STIGMA OF MENTAL HEALTH IN ASIA

by Faizal Nor Izham 

Disclaimer: mentions suicide, depression, physical and mental abuse

Tackling the stigma against mental illness is arguably gaining ground among Western students and in Western society in general. However, the task of helping to achieve widespread understanding and acceptance of mental health still remains highly stigmatized in Asian cultures, regardless of which region of the world they’re in.

There may be increasing discourse on the human rights of the mentally-unwell, as well as the demand for their social inclusion and the need for resources to tackle mental health, but the issue remains seriously ignored in the developing world, or even among diasporic Asian communities in the West. In fact, what the dialogue really needs to address is the larger issue at hand that mental health-related problems are still exceptionally stigmatised in Asian society.Continue Reading

RADICAL MENTAL HEALTH, AND WHY WE NEED IT NOW MORE THAN EVER

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by Emma Draper

Disclaimer: mentions loss, bereavement, depression

Until 2013, the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) incorporated a ‘bereavement clause’ into the criteria for major depressive disorder, excluding patients from a diagnosis of clinical depression if they suffered bereavement in the last two weeks. Put simply: if someone you love has just died and you cry all day and can’t eat and everything is terrible — well, that’s a healthy and expected response which we call ‘grief’. The removal of the clause by the American Psychiatric Association was contentious, with accusations made that psychiatrists were trying to ‘medicalise’ mourning. One commentator called it the most controversial decision since the removal of homosexuality from the list of psychiatric disorders in 1973.

For me, this illustrates a lot of pertinent questions about how we think and talk about mental illness. What does mental wellness look like? How do we draw the distinction between the normal fluctuations of a healthy mindset and ‘pathological’ functioning? Does having the authority to categorise what mental states are ‘normal’ give psychiatrists social and ideological influence beyond their remit?Continue Reading

MY AFTER DARK EXPERIENCE AS ANOTHER STUDENT’S LIFELINE

Disclaimer: mentions suicide

by Olivia Davis

Nightline is unique.

A phone call at 3AM under normal circumstances as a regular student would result in a sigh or occasionally, slight frustration. However, at Nightline it is an opportunity for a student to reach out when they may be feeling at a low or a vulnerable point in their life. As a volunteer listening service operating at over 50 universities in the UK with over 2000 student volunteers, Nightline operates as a reliable network for fellow students.

Norwich Nightline is open for both UEA and NUA students, 8PM-8AM everyday of term, regardless of exams or holidays. “We’ll listen, not lecture” is the main policy volunteers abide by in our mission to provide others in need of guidance.Continue Reading

STUDYING YOU: STUDENTS WITH GRIEF AND MENTAL ILLNESS

by Candice Nembhard

When I was in my last year of primary school, I experienced the death of a pupil in the year below; her name was Demi. She had epilepsy and was known to have regular fits, but they were often manageable and not entirely life threatening if responded to sufficiently. I distinctly remember one lunch time as I headed towards the playground, that I passed by Demi having another fit. Teachers and paramedics cornered me off, so as not to make a bigger scene and I ran off to the playground to inform others. Of course we were all concerned, but were mostly pacified in the knowledge she was in the best possible care.

The next morning at school, my teacher informed us that Demi had died. She was only 10 years old — they had been unable to restart her heart. In that moment, I felt a level of responsibility.  I saw her in her last moments and passed it off as another episode that would soon rectify itself to see Demi in good health.  Counsellors came into school and assemblies were given, but they did nothing to attend to the hurt and regret I felt for not being able to do more. I know that Demi’s condition was never my immediate concern, but there was always that part of me that took on the blame for witnessing her final moments. For many pupils including myself, it was their first experience with death and consequently grief.Continue Reading

GLOBAL POVERTY: THE GROWING ACCEPTANCE OF HARVESTING ORGANS

by Gunnar Eigener

A 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal about human organs for sale showed a glimpse into yet another aspect of human nature, particularly of the wealthy and elite, that demonstrates our willingness to exploit just about anything possible. It talks about how in the West many people need, yet die, as a result of waiting for organ transplants, especially kidneys and livers. Somehow, this leads to the justifying of creating a global organ marketplace with imagined safeguards in place that would prevent exploitation. Never does it seem to occur to the authors that this entire suggestion is exploitative as they end the article with the belief that, despite initial horror at the idea, eventually ‘the sale of organs would grow to be accepted’.

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NORMALISING CBT; MAKING VISIBLE MENTAL HEALTH

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by Sunetra Senior

If your friend says ‘I’ve started going to the gym’ it is considered undisputedly positive; if they tell you ‘I’m getting CBT’, suddenly the atmosphere becomes tense. They seem to feel awkward as they tell you, and you don’t quite know how to react. They might as well have told you they’ve contracted an STD. But Cognitive Behavioural Therapy — a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave — is only good for you.  It is evidence of a sensible choice. And yet, sweating, starving and interfacing with an inanimate, rectangular scale every morning, is more attractive to people than sitting in a comfortable chair and talking leisurely with someone you trust.Continue Reading

THE TRANSLATABLE NATURE OF ANXIETY

by Liam Hawkes

There’s something about the nature of anxiety which makes it a distinctly personal, solitary thing. Anxiety in its many forms is an insidious creature which so easily permeates even the most confident of personalities. We can see in the press about the terrible nature of mental health care in the UK at the moment, and the pledges towards the improvement of the system. When we see that 75% of people receive no help with their disorders, or on average people wait for up to 10 years before treating their anxiety. Is it not time to think a little more deeply about our own experiences and whether they are translatable?

Things change, people change, and anxiety is a coping mechanism. It is a method of mourning for past experiences or uncertainty future events. Existentially speaking, it is inescapable. It is the acute awareness of one’s own mortality. In this sense then, existential anxiety and anxiety in general seems to exist for a perfectly understandable reason. However, the debilitating nature of the disorder can sometimes be so intense that it cannot be expressed. And does this suggest something which is not inherently social about the experience? Which could perhaps make it untranslatable.

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BOTCHED BODIES

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Trigger Warnings: Eating disorders, self-harm

by Sunetra Senior

The main appeal of Leslye Headland’s underrated 2012 film ‘Bachelorette’ was how it treated commonly stigmatised women’s disorders such as bulimia, self-harm and nymphomania. Rather than treading delicately, the comedy-drama shows the three main characters, close friends Regan, Katie and Gena (Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fischer and Lizzy Caplan) – each with their respective ailment- in an unapologetic, borderline celebratory way.

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FASHION AND FOOD: THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT ATTACK EATING DISORDERS HEAD ON

by Jess Howard

While some may see it as a separate entity altogether, fashion is unquestionably a form of art. From the creative process that designers progress through to create high fashion pieces, to the advertising campaigns used to sell them, fashion design influences the masses. But this is where the industry often encounters conflict: thousands of people are being diagnosed with eating disorders each year, and many are pointing their fingers at the fashion industry, for its insinuation that thinness represents the epitome of beauty.

In an attempt to combat this, France recently passed a bill stating that fashion models must prove they are healthy weight in order to appear on runways and in advertising campaigns. Failure to comply with this new ruling could lead to up to 6 months in prison and a £54,000 fine. Further more, magazines and advertising campaigns will now be required to make it clear to consumers that their images have been retouched. The purpose of this bill is to attempt to dramatically decrease the percentage of people in the country who develop anorexia, but is this going to work?Continue Reading

THE CONSEQUENCES OF WAR

by Gunnar Eigener

When soldiers go to war, they face a grave peril. On the battlefield they face a danger that most of us back at home have no comprehension of. If we follow the logic of the Government regarding their policy of airstrikes in Syria, it is likely that boots on the ground may very well become part of the military intervention to defeat Daesh. Once again, young men and women will be asked to put their lives on the line for their country and for democracy. Irrespective of your view on a particular military venture, such men and women deserve our respect, but should our government really be sending our armed forces into war yet again, if they aren’t able to uphold their promises to look after them and guarantee their welfare when they come home?Continue Reading

SELF CARE: ADULT COLOURING BOOKS

by Jess Howard

TW: Suicide, self-harm, anxiety.

A year ago, hearing the words adult colouring books would have conjured up bizarre images of decorating mildly pornographic imagery with gel pens and coloured pencils. Fast forward to the end of 2015 and colouring books designed specifically for adults has become the new craze. From Harry Potter-themed books to those focused on the 1960s, almost everyone has encountered this new fad at some point. But where does it stem from, and does it really work?Continue Reading

IS AA THE ONLY WAY?

by Eve Lacroix

The meeting of the surgeon Dr. Bob S. and stockbroker Bill W., both hopeless alcoholics and members of the Episcopal Oxford Group, proved to be a turning point in the history addiction treatment. They built on the Oxford Group’s evangelistic Christian values with the added formulation that alcoholism was not simply a moral failing, as American society considered it, but a physical and spiritual malady. They broke away from the Oxford Group, creating the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s and starting up a regular meeting. Their vision differed from the Oxford Group in that it stressed that addiction is incurable.

Groups popped up all over the country, and today you can find AA meetings everyday in most cities in community centres and churches, in prisons. Specific groups are male or female-only meetings, homosexual-only meetings, and AlAnon meetings are open for friends and family members of alcoholics. Programmes following the same format also exist, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous… AA and NA are such an institution that Stateside, to reduce a DUI, many people who do not consider themselves alcoholics attend court-mandated meetings, receiving, in AA speak, “a nudge from the judge.”

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A THOUGHT ON SELF CARE THIS WINTER

By Sam Naylor

The Christmas month has arrived. For some this realisation comes with a groan as materialism and capitalism grips the nation tightly, churning out ‘heartfelt’ Christmas adverts for supermarkets and the repetitive spew of songs from Christmas pasts. Though I am guilty of a deep-rooted love for the festive period, where family and friends merge in the winter landscape. December is also the month for many University students where deadlines loom overhead, either intensifying the stressed-out mentality or acting as a dampener to the winter wonderland. The juggling act to keep all the tasks moving smoothly begins to experience shakes and wobbles. Now I’m not saying that being a student in the UK is the hardest life (though the scraping of maintenance grants and proposed change to nursing and midwifery tuition payments will certainly make matters much worse), but it isn’t just Netflix and takeaways either.

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NORMALISING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES: A LOOK INTO COMMUNITY CARE

by Eve Lacroix

Between 2010 and 2015, budget cuts to mental health trusts in England have seen a decrease of 8%. Statistics reported by BBC News and Community Care revealed this meant almost £600m less funding despite a 20% rise of referrals to community mental health teams. Social worker Terry Skyrme works in a crisis team functioning in Norfolk and Suffolk. In 2014, he decided to start a campaign to improve services in the area, booking a room for 100 people, and seeing 300 turn up. With not enough hospital beds available, some people suffering from acute mental health distress are instead made to sleep in prison cells.

Sleeping in a prison cell is an unsettling image of social exclusion that comes with suffering from these often invisible illnesses. Yet, the mental health charity Mind estimates 1 in 4 people will suffer with a mental health issue in their life. With 50 million prescriptions being written for antidepressants in the UK each year, sufferers come from all parts of our communities.

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EQUALIMANIA

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by Sunetra Senior

For my first article, I thought it would be fitting to explore the relationship between two neglected areas of society that I feel passionately about: the representation of women and mental health issues. Deep down, the thought of a connection existing between emotionality and the female sex might evoke those uncomfortable, backward cultural connotations – women as fragile, women as prone to hysteria, and on the softer side of it, women as the ‘gentler’ sex.

However, bringing Freud into the discussion in general might not be so wrong because the real problem, the ongoing obstacle for both those with depression, bipolar, borderline personality disorder and the whole host of legitimate clinical disorders that I couldn’t possibly all list here, and the limitations that women still face day-to-day, is the wider, ideological practice of repression: namely society’s refusal to acknowledge the significance of psychology itself. Continue Reading

WHEN RESPECT GETS PREJUDICED PART 2: PEOPLE WHO CALL OTHER PEOPLE NEGATIVE

by Robyn Banks

Last time I ranted about people in the corporate world who hold everyone to extraordinary levels of time management and efficiency because the God of capital accumulation dictates that it must be so. This week I want to rant about the flip side of that coin, self-care culture. You know what that is. Articles that pop up on your newsfeed such as ’10 ways nobody should make you feel’, ‘tips for looking after yourself’ and ‘How to get negative people out of your life’, right? People involved in this crap might call themselves ‘highly sensitive people’ and talk about other people as ‘energy vampires’ or as ‘toxic’. You know who they are.

This might sound all fine and dandy, if it wasn’t just as dogmatic and unyielding as corporate culture and also just as susceptible to replicating societal inequalities as every other movement. And the people who suffer most when others act on this ideology are the very people the movement claims to be protecting- people with mental health issues. If you struggle with low moods and feel that it’s important to keep negative or toxic people out of your life, think about how it feels to be struggling with low mood and characterised as a negative or toxic person.

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WHEN RESPECT GETS PREJUDICED

by Robyn Banks

Last year, I dropped out of uni. My life was falling apart around me, I’d run out of new excuses for extension requests on my assignments, I was failing to meet any of my responsibilities. My finances were in chaos, I wasn’t eating and I was totally failing to prioritise by continually allowing my grades and self care to slip in order to meet my obligations to other people, which I was barely doing anyway. I was always late, I couldn’t sleep, I managed to check my emails about once a month and consequently fell further and further out of the loop. I pushed my friends away, clawed them back, worried they all hated me and yapped on and on about just how irrevocably miserable I was. I was afraid of my lecturers, assuming they all had some kind of report card about me in their heads in which they totted up all of the missed classes, late assignments, and failings on my part and were sure to judge me for it. I became so depressed I couldn’t get out of bed, so I asked if I could drop out and try the year again in September.

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TRIGGER

by Cadi Cliff

In response.

Troup County, January 26th 2015, 5

What is it about the rifle, the pistol, the Ruger 22?
Protection you can prop, old-school, by the front door
keep walking the perimeter of your picket fence
come on boy, let’s have some father son timeContinue Reading

WHY IS THE ‘TERRORITST’ LABEL SO NARROW IN THE MEDIA?

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by Faizal Nor Izham

The recent Charleston shootings on June 17th — in which nine people were shot and killed inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church — has raised eyebrows from all quarters as to why suspect Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, has not been labelled by the media as a ‘terrorist’ for his hate crimes.

The reason being, as offered by several news outlets, is that convenient labels such as ‘terrorist’ or ‘thug’ would automatically be applied if the attacker were Muslim or black. However, Roof, like many other ‘lone killers’ the United States is becoming increasingly known for, has instead been given labels such as ‘mentally ill’ and ‘angry loner’.Continue Reading

BE AWARE OF MENTAL HEALTH, NOW MORE THAN EVER

by Aaron Hood, UUEAS Students with Disabilities Officer

Mental health has always been an immensely important issue, I don’t know about you but I think something which effects as many as 1 in 4 people ought to be taken somewhat seriously. Given the results of the election the issue will be more important than ever. Heartless welfare cuts, draconian welfare sanctions, and secure and dignified work becoming even sparser. In such desperate times we will need each other more than ever.

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TACKLING MENTAL HEALTH – NOW OR NEVER

by Faizal Nor Izham

In the aftermath of the Germanwings crash, Britain’s call to take mental health more seriously has never been more relevant. German pilot Andreas Lubitzmade headlines for killing himself and 149 others in a plane crash after reportedly going through a bout of depression (which he is said to have suffered from since 2009). Although the perpetrator of the March 24th crash was a non-Briton, this nevertheless makes the issue of mental health more urgent no matter which part of the world you’re from.

Tackling mental health is met with stigma across cultures. Terms to describe individuals are often derogatory, if not downright offensive — words like ‘loony’ and ‘nutter’ will often be tossed around a little too casually. Despite calls from celebrities such as Stephen Fry to take the matter more seriously — Fry has long made his battle with bipolar disorder public — efforts to combat the stigma in the public sphere will always be a tricky issue.Continue Reading