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The University was visited by BBC Newcastle’s Alfie and Anna at Breakfast Show for a timely ‘simulcast’ with the campus-based radio station Spark. 

In the run up to next week’s election, the presenters hosted a live radio debate with North East candidates and spoke to first time voters about what issues matter most to them, discussing everything from housing to Brexit.

The five candidates being grilled were Liz Twist (Labour, Blaydon), Emily Payne (Conservative Party, Newcastle Central), Thom Chapman (Liberal Democrats, Blyth Valley), Rachel Featherstone (Green party, Sunderland Central), Kevin Yuill (Brexit Party, Sunderland South and Houghton).

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Six first time voters put their questions to the candidates throughout the hour and there were three clear themes; Brexit, the environment and Parliament.

Alfie and Anna were assisted by Spark’s Ellie Marsh who sourced questions from young people from around the city and the surrounding area before introducing them on air.

She said: “It’s been a really great experience working in collaboration with the BBC, I’ve learnt so much and had so much fun doing it.

“It’s great to be part of a station and a university that gives students the opportunity to mix with industry professionals. As a result of the work we’ve been doing, I’ve been offered a week’s work experience at BBC Radio Newcastle which I’m very excited about.”

One half of the Breakfast Show duo, Anna Foster, was keen to express her enjoyment of the collaboration:

She said: “It’s a really nice change to come out of the studio and come to Sunderland. This is a great way to meet new people coming into the world of journalism and presenting.”


Spark, which simultaneously broadcasted the show, is a full time community radio station run by students from the University and volunteers from the local community. 

The station has received a lot of positive attention since its inception 10 years ago, winning three awards at this year’s 2019 Student Radio Awards.

A huge supporter of local and community radio, Anna pointed out the importance of stations such as Spark as they give people the opportunity to pursue radio careers while “doors are closing” at larger national platforms.

She said: “It’s super important for the BBC to work with young people and I’m amazed at how brilliant and hardworking they are at Spark.

“National radio stations will never cover local stories in the same way and that’s where we can have an advantage, we can really delve into local stories and local conversations in a way that they can’t. It’s about hearing people’s stories that you absolutely would not hear on a national radio station.”

The project was put together with the help of Catherine Peart, a former member of Spark and graduate of the University, who currently works as a producer at BBC Newcastle.

BBC Look North filmed the broadcast for a piece that will run in the BBC’s Look North evening programme.

If you missed it, you can also listen back to the whole show on BBC Sound.

Saturday 7 December, 10am-1pm - The David Puttnam Media Centre, Sir Tom Cowie Campus - To book, visit eventbrite

Who doesn’t love everything about film and media? What better way to escape the winter chills than by sitting back and relaxing in our 207 seater cinema and watching a movie on our big screen.

Afterwards, learn more about the makings of film and everything that goes in to creating a masterpiece. Look at film posters - the good ones and the bad and all things special effects. 

You might even start to think about how you can become a budding young filmmaker yourself and what you can study at University to help you!

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University Carol Service

Tuesday 10 December, 5.30pm-7pm - Sunderland Minster - Free and open to all

Join us at Sunderland Minster for the University's traditional annual carol service.

This year's University Carol Service is a seasonal celebration for all students, staff, and friends of the University.

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Sexual Health Drop-In

Student Support Services, First Floor, Edinburgh Building, City Campus - Wednesday 11 December

 Come along to our Sexual Health Drop-in at Student Support Services.

We offer advice, free contraceptives, and can screen for STIs.

No need to book a place, just come along.

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General Election 2019

Thursday 12 December, 7am-10pm

Don't forget to vote in the 2019 General Election.  Polling stations open 7am on Thursday 12 December, and close at 10pm.

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Did you Know?

  • Did you know that 18 year olds in England have only had the vote since 1969? 
  • People aged 18-34, ethnic minorities and disabled people are less likely to vote than older, white and able-bodied people. 
  • When women were given the right to vote in 1918, only those aged 30 and older could vote. 
  • Men and women have only had equal voting rights since 1928. 
  • Until 1832 only a small group of wealthy, male landowners could vote. 

Your vote counts! The General Election takes place on Thursday 12 December.

Wednesday 18 December, 10am–12pm - David Goldman Building, Sir Tom Cowie Campus - Book via Eventbrite

Due to popular demand, we are re-running our Coding 101 session.

Coding is transforming the world, from the apps on your phone to medical devices that treat cancer.

Curious, intrigued or simply interested in coding but don’t know where to start?

Want to get involved and understand how digital skills such as coding, applies to you, your career or your job but don’t know where or how to begin?

Here at the Faculty of Technology, along with the Institute of Coding, we’re running a free, fun taster session for anyone who is interested in learning the basics of coding.

So if your'e a stay at home parent or someone who simply wants to know more about coding, why not come along and give our taster session a try – it might just open up a whole new world of opportunity and who knows where it might lead!

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If you haven't reviewed your University on WhatUni online - now is your perfect chance.

Your review will only take a few minutes to complete, and you will be automatically entered into a draw to a £250 food voucher - so don't miss out!

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Wednesday, 22 January, 9am–4.15pm - Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s - book via Eventbrite

The keynote speaker for the University's 2019/20 Research and Innovation Conference will be Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University and Knowledge Exchange Champion for Research England.

The Conference will also include contributions from the University Executive team and research community.

Please note, no lunch will be provided on this occasion. If you have a general query, please contact:

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Draft Programme

09:00-09:30     Registration

09:30-09:45     Welcome: Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

09:45-10:30     Keynote: Knowledge Exchange Framework: Prof Trevor McMillan, Vice-chancellor of Keele University and Chair of the KEF Steering Group

10:30-10:40     University Research Strategy: Prof Michael Young, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

10:40-10:50     University Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise: Prof Jon Timmis, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Commercial) 

10:50-11:10     Q and A session – morning speakers

11:10- 11:35     Break and networking

11:35-12:30     Supporting the Research Environment

  • Martin Finlayson, Head of University Research Office
  • John Fulton, Director of Postgraduate Research
  • Jane Peverley, Corporate Communications Manager
  • Natalie Bell, Head of Staff Development

12:30-13:45     Lunch and networking: Research student poster competition

Exhibitors – Research Professional, Research Design Service, Research Ethics System, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

13:45-13:50     Introduction to Afternoon Session: Prof Michael Young, Deputy Vice-chancellor (Academic)

13:50-14.50     Research Impact: 

  • Rachel Ramsey (University Research Office)
  • Ewan Clayton (FACI)
  • Kalliopi Dodou (FHSW)
  • Maggie Gregson (FES)

14:50-15:10     Break and networking

15.10-16:00     Supporting Interdisciplinary Research: Roundtable presentations and discussion                      

  • Angela Smith (Sunderland Gender Network)
  • Sarah Martin-Denham (Adverse Childhood Experiences Network)
  • Caroline Mitchell (Participatory Approaches to Research and Practice Network)
  • Yitka Graham (Health and Care Workforce Research Network)
  • Donna Chambers (Race, Class and Ethnicity Network)

16.00-16.15     Closing remarks and announcement of poster competition result: Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

16:15               Conference closes

An award-winning film company is to produce its next documentary in collaboration with the University aimed at tackling difficult decisions young people make.

TryLifeTV creates interactive educational films designed to educate young people on the consequences of their actions, taking on issues such as mental health, sexual exploitation, knife crime, drug use, loneliness, poverty and violence.

The company produces films and stories that engage with the lived experience of young people, using a youth work approach to enable young people to explore the outcomes of day to day choices and decisions and the consequences of them.

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TryLifeTV director Paul Irwin, a former youth worker, has so far created four interactive films with a further three in development. He turned to the University to support his next project - focusing on young people’s mental health and pregnancy, funded by the regional North East and North Cumbria’s Integrated Care System’s child health and well-being network (CHWBN) and the Perinatal Mental Health Network.

Paul, originally from North Tyneside, was heading down the wrong path until a youth worker, a University of Sunderland graduate, helped him turn his life around.

Paul said: “I’m so excited to be back in the region creating our next interactive film. This next episode will cover teenage pregnancy and mental health as the main themes. Austerity has meant severe cuts to services for young people but we still need to engage with them about serious health and social issues. 

“When we created TryLife we didn’t anticipate how quickly it would spread on social media. We now have 7,100,000 on Facebook and are reaching 188,000,000 people on social media some weeks. TryLife’s global success has taken us around the world, even to Hollywood where we are creating an interactive project in South Central with the producer of Bladerunner. 

Trylife’s latest film will be produced at Sunderland’s campus, engaging students from a range of disciplines who will have an input into the subject on perinatal mental health, covering a range of stories from the importance of breast feeding and available support services, to the realities for young women in care dealing with pregnancy, young fathers and parenting, to disability and parenthood.

As part of the University’s cross-faculty collaboration on the project, academics have also been funded to produce an impact study and evaluation of the film once it is finished in spring next year.

Paul said: “This is the perfect opportunity to get on board with this production. We’re looking for raw talent in acting, music and film production to help create the latest episode. We also need support from professionals to help shape the issues covered within.”

Dr Rick Bowler alongside Dr Amina Razak in the Faculty of Education and Society and Associate Professor, Dr Caroline Mitchell from the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries have been leading this project on behalf of the University.

Rick said: “We are delighted to be enabling Paul’s latest film production. This is an interdisciplinary youth work, community media and public health approach to tackle the realities of perinatal mental health and young people. It has led to a University-wide involvement alongside a wider regional partnership. All those involved recognise the importance of getting out public health messages.

“This documentary will be an important educational resource for young people, who can identify with the various storylines.”

He added: “I believe Paul and his team offer an ethical approach to making films that takes cognisance of not exploiting or commodifying young people. The films tell stories about situations young people do find themselves in, however uncomfortable they are for the rest of us.

“Paul Irwin has a participative approach in making these films. For our own students, studying youth work, social work, creative writing, performance art, education, digital media and health, this presents engagement with industry alongside learning opportunities within an interdisciplinary approach to young people led solutions to public health concerns.”

Mike McKean, CHWBN Clinical Lead, said “I’m delighted the film focuses on mental health as our network members identified this as their top priority, and it is being delivered in a way that is relevant to our young people of today.”

Heather Corlett, CHWBN Programme Manager, added: “We are delighted to see this innovative approach to engage young people and professionals take shape. It demonstrates real integrated working. We have already worked with partners across the system and that approach continues with Paul’s connection to the University of Sunderland - a great way to ultimately improve outcomes for our young people together.”

The CHWBN believes that ‘all children and young people should be given the opportunity to flourish and reach their potential and be advantaged by organisations working together’ and is working hard to develop an active membership to come together to tackle its priority areas.  

To find out more about TrylifeTV click here .

To find out more about the CHWBN click here

@wearcyw @trylifetv @NorthNetChild

Dr Amina Razak, Nicky Kaur (Trylife Director), Dr Rick Bowler, Dr Caroline Mitchell, Dr Floor Christie, Jane Eland (Development Manager Sunderland Youth Work Consortium), Heather Corlett (CHWBN Programme Manager), Aman Sharma (TryLifeTV Film Producer), Karen Lightfoot Gencli (Sunderland Public Health Practitioner) with TryLifeTV Founder and Director Paul Irwin

For more than 20 years, artist Marjolaine Ryley has told her own stories, and those we all share together, through the lens of her camera.

Now 92 photographic works, covering the University of Sunderland Senior Lecturer’s career, have gone on display.

The “This is What I See” exhibition is currently running at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, based at the University’s National Glass Centre.

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Through her intensely personal images, writings and artefacts, Marjolaine tells her own story in the hope that others can connect to the life journey she has taken.

Every topic which touched her – and our own lives – is covered from family, to relationships, to pregnancy, loss and parenthood.

In part of her work, Marjolaine takes us back to her childhood. Growing up in a squat in south London, the young artist witnessed first-hand a counter-culture side of life that would influence her work for years to come.

In later works, including 'The Thin Blue Line, The Deep Red Sea', Marjolaine would charts her heartbreaking journey through several miscarriages.

In more recent years, the artist has brought alive her personal sense of attachment to the environment and nature

She said: “Over all these works I evoke different times in my life and how experiences during those times have shaped me.

“I show not only how I connect to what has happened to me, but also how I connect to the world around me.

“When I stand back and look at this exhibition, over the career I have had, I feel proud that I’ve been able to tell these stories and make these connections.

“I hope that when people see these images and artefacts they can in some way relate to what’s happened in their own lives, and on their own journeys.”

‘This is What I See’ also includes an entirely new series of photographic prints and writings that has taken three years to bring together.

The exhibition runs at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art until February 3, 2020.

Students from Fashion North, based at our mediaHUB at Sir Tom Cowie Campus, have created a guide to festive fashion in The Bridges.

The free magazine offers festive fashion, and some words of wisdom from style blogger (and MA Public Relations graduate) Laura Ferry, who gives her insight into plus-size fashion and self-confidence.

Read Bridges Sunderland festive fashion magazine online now, or pick one up in town:

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Emma’s a dementia champion

A Sunderland campaigner has been recognised in a national awards ceremony for her work transforming people’s perceptions of dementia and helping to improve patient care of the condition.

University of Sunderland Pharmacy graduate Emma Boxer has been named a Dementia Friends Champion of the Year finalist and runner-up in the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Awards 2019.

The awards celebrate and showcase the achievements of individuals, groups and organisations across the UK who have led the way on creating dementia-friendly communities and improving the lives of everybody affected by dementia.

The Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.

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Pharmacy graduate Emma carried out research at the University of Sunderland which found that targeting healthcare students before they enter professional practice could be the key to increasing high-quality care and greater understanding for dementia patients

Emma’s research was prompted after becoming a Dementia Friends Champion herself and hosting a series of successful awareness presentations on campus to pharmacy, public health, adult nursing and mental health nursing students. Following the session she asked students to complete a survey to find out if their knowledge and understanding of dementia has improved and whether they felt it would benefit them and their patients when moving into practice.

Emma said: “It was really lovely to be involved in the awards, there are so many people doing such great work for the Alzheimer’s Society and I felt very privileged to be invited to join them for the day.

“It was really inspiring to hear about the work people have been doing this year, especially those who are living with dementia.

“I came away feeling more motivated than ever to keep going with my work surrounding dementia and I hope that my work with the university and patients in practice can help make a difference to people’s lives, even if it’s just a little.” 

Andrew Sturrock, Principal Lecturer and Programme Leader of MPharm, said: “Emma is an excellent ambassador for the Dementia Friends initiative.

“She has worked hard to enhance the teaching of dementia across a range of healthcare programmes at the University, helping to prepare students to think about dementia differently and preparing them to entering professional practice.

“Emma is a fantastic role model to all of the healthcare students at the University, and we are delighted that she has been recognised for her achievements.  We look forward to continuing to work with, and support this initiative further.”

Speaking earlier this year about her research, Emma, 23, said: “The results of my work were certainly enlightening and highlighted a significant increase in students’ knowledge surrounding dementia after the session.

“We concluded that Dementia Friends training has a place and improves knowledge across a range of healthcare courses. The results demonstrate that education could be used to improve dementia-friendly healthcare professionals. This also shows the importance and success of the Dementia Friends session, as in only a short time period there was such a significant change in student knowledge.”

Emma, from Washington, who graduated in July 2018, became an academic pre-registration pharmacist, spending her week split between a community pharmacy, Burdons in Whickham, Gateshead, and working as an academic tutor in the University of Sunderland’s Sciences Complex. She became a Dementia Friends Champion after sitting in on a dementia session in the final year of her course.

She said: “It was a real eye-opener, learning not just about the science, but the personal impact the condition has. It gave me an understanding of how I might interact with dementia patients who I’m prescribing medication for safely and understanding their own anxieties and fears, rather than dismissing them. I wanted to roll out what I’d learned to others.

“In my session I use the example of a game of bingo to demonstrate and dispel some of the common myths around dementia, especially how patients’ perceptions can change. How to find solutions and help them live a better life.

“Contrary to popular belief, dementia is about more than memory loss, patients may also have issues with their speech, perception and motivation. This means that healthcare practitioners must be confident and competent to adapt their methods and consultation skills to ensure the best outcome for this patient group.”

Emma has submitted her research for publication and believes more research needs to takes place to assess the impact delivering these sessions have on patients, in relation to their interactions with healthcare professionals.

About Dementia Friends

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.

Dementia Friends is about learning more about dementia and the small ways you can help, from telling friends about the Dementia Friends programme to visiting someone you know living with dementia

For more information go to:

A Sunderland graduate whose work examined the human rights of Muslims across the world has won a national excellence award.

Mariam Kattab won the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) Awards for Excellence in the features category. The awards are open to students, trainees and apprentices in news, sports, top scoop, features and multimedia categories.

This year’s ceremony took place at the Stadium of Light as part of the NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Conference, which was hosted by the University.

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As a young woman, Mariam Khattab watched revolution unfold in her native Egypt and dreamed of becoming a journalist. Mariam, 23, graduated with a First Class degree earlier this year.

As part of her final project at Sunderland she produced a portfolio of work exploring human rights across the globe - from the UK Muslims who have been shunned by their families and communities for their homosexuality, to the photojournalist and Time Person of the Year who was jailed for criticising his home government, and the star-crossed couple who found love after persecution at the height of the Arab Spring revolution.

The stories make full use of interactive multimedia elements to create powerful narratives and Mariam has developed a vast network of international contacts as a result.

Neil Macfarlane, Senior Lecturer in Online Journalism, said: “Mariam showed dogged persistence to get these stories, and often needed to conduct interviews over secure networks with people who still live in hostile environments. She showed real bravery to even contemplate a project on this topic, as this kind of robust reporting could carry significant risk to herself and her family back home. 

“Mariam’s tenacity is inspiring. This portfolio demonstrates the kind of exemplary reporting she is capable of, and I have no doubt she will go on to have a brilliant career, wherever that may be.” 

Also nominated were Theofanis Pegkas, for News Journalism and Jason Button for Sports Journalism.

Metro services disruption

The RMT and ASLEF, the trades unions that represent Metro train crew, have again rejected an offer of a 15% increase in pay despite Nexus today offering improved rostering arrangements. Unions have said they will press ahead with an overtime ban.

It will mean that Metro services on some days are likely to be busier than usual and operate less frequently. Passengers are advised to check for information before they travel via and on Twitter @My_Metro, where full details will be posted from Friday morning.

Metro is aiming to protect peak ‘rush hour’ services as much as possible, though some disruption is inevitable. There may also be occasions when trains are cancelled at short notice due to lack of cover when a member of train crew becomes unavailable at short notice.

During the overtime ban Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, will publish the predicted level of Metro service frequency in advance of each day.

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Where can I keep up to date with all the latest information?

Passengers can keep up to date at and by following our daily updates on the Metro Twitter account: @My_Metro.

Each day we will publish details of the following day’s expected service level on and on social media so passengers can plan ahead.

Public health pioneer honoured

A champion of public health in the North East has been honoured by the University of Sunderland.

Jackie Nixon graduated with a Masters degree in Public Health from Sunderland. She has worked with the people of Sunderland for 12 years, within the third sector, the NHS and local government.

She was awarded an Honorary Fellowship in recognition of her outstanding career in public health and commitment to tackling health inequalities

She said: "I feel very humbled to be here today. I'm really passionate about Sunderland and the people who live here.

"After 12 years working in public health, I remain as determined as ever to help those in our communities who most need our support and compassion.”

For the last 12 years Jackie has worked in Sunderland on projects including Delivering Race Equality within Mental Health, NHS Health Checks, Suicide Prevention, tackling homelessness, creating smoke-free parks.

She has also worked closely with the University, carrying out vital research into those who become isolated and lonely within the city.

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