Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Keele Sociology & Criminology student wins national award for commitment to student welfare

A Keele University undergraduate in the School of Sociology and Criminology has been honoured for his dedication to a student listening service.

Matt Bedding, who is in his final year studying sociology and criminology, was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the Nightline Association - a confidential listening, support and information service, run by students for students - for his hard work at a local and national level.

The 21-year-old joined Keele Nightline in his first year at the University and has held several posts, including welfare, social and policy officer and external coordinator.

During the past year he has been responsible for promoting the service to Keele students and staff, establishing strong relationships to ensure Nightline's continued success.

He has run numerous awareness-raising campaigns, including the launch of the new online listening service, for which he secured funding from the University.

Matt is also the regional coordinator for the national Nightline Association, line-managing eight regional representatives, and has recently been elected national non-portfolio officer. He has also been elected as the next Vice-President (Welfare) of Keele University Students' Union.

Sally Wood, charity coordinator of the national Nightline Association, said: "Matt has shown exceptional commitment to the national Nightline Association and Keele Nightline. His management of Keele has been incredible as shown by his dedication to the online listening service and outstanding call volumes recorded.

"He is a true asset to the national Nightline Association, having taken the position of regional coordinator part way through the year due to a resignation. His effort with the regional representatives has led to anincrease in engagement from Nightlines. This will stand the team in excellent stead to continue their development over the next year. "We are looking forward to working with Matt as an executive non-portfolio officer next year. He has unbounded enthusiasm and we are honoured to be working with him again."

Matt, who comes from Wethersfield in Essex, said: "I am so honoured to have received this award. Keele Nightline has been an integral part of my University experience and ultimately shaped my ambitions within the welfare provision at Keele. I have put so much work into Keele Nightline and am so proud of what I have achieved in the past three years. I cannot wait to stay involved."

For more information about Keele Nightline, see

Big week for Bill

The School of Sociology and Criminology is celebrating the receipt of a Keele Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching by its Head of School, Dr Bill Dixon. Bill was selected from a very strong field of 25 applicants. Over 120 nominations were received for the teaching year 2010-11 from students for staff across the University, with nine members of staff from the School of Sociology and Criminology receiving nominations.

The Week@Keele notes that "[t]he record number of nominations and the high quality of the applications testify to the excellence of the teaching at Keele, and the increasing institutional emphasis on nurturing and recognising excellence in teaching and supporting learning." The winners receive a prize of £1,000 and will be presented with their awards at a summer graduation ceremony.

Bill has also been making the headlines with an appearance on Radio 5Live's Morning Report, where he was interviewed about 'frontline' policing. This followed the publication of a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary on the deployment of the police workforce in 'an age of austerity'.

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding: Do you think the media presents Travellers fairly?

By Guy Woolnough, PhD student in Criminology

The recent series “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” on Channel Four has done a lot to raise the profile of the Gypsy/Traveller/Roma community in Britain and to take reporting of these issues away from prejudice towards balance. The comments on the Channel Four Website are surprisingly positive. Even though some facets of Traveller culture seem very alien and challenging to modern British mores, viewers seem to have responded sympathetically.

My own research has, over the last year, drawn me towards the Traveller community, because in my study of fairs in Victorian England I have frequently found references to Gypsies in the primary sources. The Victorian press invariably used pejorative terms when writing of the Gypsies. One example may suffice to illustrate the point. The Westmorland Gazette reported in October 1871: “This migratory tribe was largely represented (at Brough Hill fair), there being scores of camps along the fair hill, and as many children rolling about in the straw, or playing about outside, as would almost populate a young colony.” The same paper reported, in March 2010: “The detail of a policing strategy to combat crime and anti-social behaviour by Appleby Horse Fair travellers has been revealed at a packed public meeting in Sedbergh.” Which is more racist, the implication that these people might be advantageously dispatched to a remote colony, or the unquestioned equating of Travellers with anti-social behaviour and crime? You might test these statements for yourself by replacing the words “migratory tribe” and “travellers” with “asylum seekers” or some other group of outsiders.

This may explain why I feel positive about the Gypsy Wedding programmes; after at least one hundred and fifty years of negative reporting on Gypsy and Traveller questions, it is delightful to see a programme aimed at the general viewer that aims to be both measured and unprejudiced. It is even more encouraging when the public response is positive.
What do you think?  Do you agree with Guy that the public response to the programme was positive?   Do you think the programme succeeded in being measured and positive? Do post your comments...