Diversity Digest

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King's College London

Lessons From Auschwitz Universities Project  

Jemma Adams, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Consultant at King’s College London reflects on her recent participation in a new Lessons from Auschwitz Universities Project. Jemma previously led on the development of KCL’s religion & belief policy and continues to as as a link between the EDI & chaplaincy teams at King’s. The Auschwitz Universities Project is a collaboration between the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) and the Union of Jewish Students (UJS).


Recently I had the opportunity to take part in a new Lessons from Auschwitz Universities Project, a collaboration between the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) and the Union of Jewish Students (UJS). This universities project is a new initiative following the pattern of HET’s post-16 programme with the aim of bringing together campus leaders, both students and staff, to learn about the Holocaust and antisemitism, visit Auschwitz and reflect on how we can make our campuses safer for Jewish students. This year was the first cohort of the project and since taking part I have been sharing my learning and reflections with other members of the King’s Community. It has also been important to talk to my fellow staff and students about the practical actions we can take at King’s to tackle antisemitism, educate on the Holocaust and ensure our Jewish students and staff are safe and included in our community. In this blog I will share a bit about my experience on the project, my learning and some suggestions for further reading and action.  

Please note that the focus of this project and of this blog is the mass murder of 6 million Jewish men, women and children during World War Two. This is how the Holocaust is defined by historians, but that is not to deny the suffering of many other marginalised and persecuted groups during this period, including political prisoners, gay men, Sinti and Roma people and disabled people. These groups had their own genocide experience, and many have their own terms to describe this. I encourage you to learn more about this by looking at the links at the end of this blog.  

Do you remember when you first learnt about the Holocaust? If you’re anything like me, you will have an array of memories, feelings and facts around this topic that have lodged in your mind. For me there are two key ideas that stuck to me and are still vivid in my memory and emotions. When I learnt about the Holocaust in school, the first thing that entrenched itself in my mind was the idea of being prepared to flee and why not everyone had a suitcase packed and ready to go at the earliest opportunity when oppression and fear came into their lives. I thought how I would have a bag ready to go and imagined the things I would have packed, ready to leave in the night and escape to somewhere safe. The second thing was learning about the separation of families – people being sorted and split upon arrival at the camps and the terror that this must have evoked. My young mind grasped on to that fact and could not comprehend the trauma of being wrenched from the safety of family, separated from a parent and any sense of comfort. 

As I engaged in the Lessons From Auschwitz project, these ideas, as key markers in my own learning about the Holocaust, emerged again alongside a wide range of concepts and themes that I was able to unpack and reflect on with my fellow participants. Having not studied the Holocaust since school, I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to expand my understanding of these formative learning points and others.  

The project consisted of two pre-webinars where we discussed definitions of the Holocaust and antisemitism, learnt about the history of antisemitism and also had the privilege of hearing the testimony of a Holocaust survivor. This gave us the contextual grounding to prepare for our visit to Auschwitz and start to explore some key themes that emerged throughout the project. We then had a one-day visit to Auschwitz I (the concentration camp) and Auschwitz II (the extermination and slave labour camp) in Poland and were able to then reflect on our experience and next steps in a follow-up webinar. The learning and the impact of this project was broad and there are many concepts I continue to reflect on and which I could write about. I have chosen a few of these themes to share with you here.  

The Holocaust was not inevitable  

One of these themes, and connected to my childhood thoughts around fleeing the danger, was that the Holocaust was not inevitable. With the privilege of hindsight, we can look back and wonder why Jewish people didn’t escape to safety when their rights started to be removed, when they were excluded from education and government, when their businesses were attacked, when they were violently assaulted, when they were deported from their homes and forced to live in ghettos or when their countries were invaded by the Nazis. We know the final outcome of these persecutions, but people at the time did not, and how could we possibly expect them to imagine the horrendous outcome that did occur. Even the Nazis had not devised the Final Solution when the violence and discrimination began, or even when the first concentration camps were set up.  During this project, as we heard and read the testimonies of Holocaust survivors, we learnt how the people experiencing these horrors thought they were facing the worst, that they should not antagonise their aggressors and that it could only get better. The mass murder of millions of Jews was not inevitable. It was a series of decisions that led to the mass murder of Jews; decisions, collaboration and quiet complicity, which leads me to the second theme. 

Responsibility, culpability and collaboration  

Another key theme we explored in this project was that of responsibility and culpability. Of course, these policies and actions were instigated by the Nazis but murder on this scale was enabled through the collaboration of many other people. The Holocaust relied on the antisemitism that existed within Europe, on other governments handing over their Jewish populations, on other agencies like the railway system transporting Jews to the camps. The multiple decisions of multiple people who chose to take part in these actions. There may have been career implications for those who chose not to take part, but there is not a single case of someone being killed themselves for refusing to have a role in this industrialised murder. It was a choice and people made that choice.   

Dehumanising  

When you enter the buildings at Auschwitz I, the scale of the destruction of human life and the dehumanising process is displayed to you through the objects, clothing and possessions taken off the people who arrived there. Piles of shoes, suitcases, spectacles, disability aids and even human hair cut from the murdered corpses of those gassed to death. Jews were stripped of their identity and tattooed with a number. This dehumanising continued in the treatment they experienced and it’s important to note that half of the Jews killed in the Holocaust died from starvation or being shot – they were seen as subhuman by their murderers, not worthy of any dignity, respect or life.   

The industrialisation of murder 

The other half of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust were killed in the gas chambers. These gas chambers represent the industrialisation of their murder. This method of murder enabled the Nazis to kill vast numbers of people every single day they operated, but it also created a controlling method to sanitise this process and make it easier for the perpetrators. As Jews were herded towards the chambers, they were told they were being taken to have a shower and the gas chambers at Auschwitz II were even built to include fake shower heads to cajole the victims into a false sense of reassurance – to keep them under control, to keep them quiet, to make it easier for those murdering them.  

Resistance, resilience and rehumanising  

During the project we also learnt about the acts of resistance from those at Auschwitz and other camps and I was struck by the resilience of anyone who even endured one moment in those places. Those who were selected to work rather than be taken straight to the gas chambers had to endure starvation, cramped conditions, extreme weather while wearing nothing but thin pyjamas bare feet, disease, hard labour, being separated from family and in many cases, not knowing if your family were dead or alive. How anyone survived in these conditions is beyond my comprehension. Walking around Auschwitz II was perhaps the coldest experience of my life and my constant thought was how it was possible for the inmates to survive for any length of time there. Despite these conditions and cruel treatment, many carried out acts of resistance – hiding babies born in the camps to try and keep them alive; smuggling in paper and pen to write their stories; sketching the scenes of the camp and hiding them for future liberators to find; enacting spiritual resistance through continuing to pray, holding hope, preserving cultural life and even organising education. These acts of resistance mean the Nazis crimes were recorded and that the stories of the victims were preserved and can be told. A key aim in the project was accessing these stories, learning about the individuals who were murdered, who suffered, who survived, and in doing so rehumanising those who’s humanity had been denied. A part of this process for Jewish people has also been about rethinking the word Holocaust and describing the event with their own Hebrew word. Holocaust means ‘completely burnt sacrifice’ – it is a Greek word which originally described a type of religious sacrifice. The connotations, therefore, of willingness and a sense of martyrdom is extremely problematic and many Jewish people prefer the word Shoah; a Hebrew word that means ‘catastrophe’.  

There are so many other things I could share about what I learnt on this project. I hope this has given some sense of the impact of this experience and I would really encourage everyone to read more, learn more and take part in this programme or anything similar if the opportunity arises. We all know something about the Holocaust already, some of us may have studied it extensively, but antisemitism is still very present in our society, as is holocaust denial. We should all take any opportunities we have to remind ourselves of this catastrophic human event and to combat antisemitism and holocaust denial through our own education and the encouragement of others to do the same.  


Here are some links and suggestions for actions and learning you can take forward:  

  • To learn more about Auschwitz and the Holocaust I recommend looking at/listening to:  
  • To learn more about antisemitism in our current society and media I recommend Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel – there is both a Book and recent TV documentary 
  • To learn about how you can support Jewish members of the King’s community I recommend you look at the Religion and Belief Policy and accompanying Religion and Belief Guidance. These contain information about how to support religious observance and the facilities and provisions that are available at King’s. 

More than Mentoring Scheme 2023 – Open for Applications!

Why do we run mentoring schemes?

We encourage all members of the King’s community to be involved with EDI activity which is largely about community, learning and development. Mentoring is a great opportunity to get involved as well as developing relationships with other colleagues and picking up skills which enhance career development. We know of the value and many benefits of mentoring, this scheme offers this and more: the opportunity to network and develop a community through training, workshops and events.


What is the more than mentoring scheme?

Our one-of-a-kind positive action scheme gives staff the opportunity to be paired with a colleague within King’s for mentorship. This is a fantastic chance to expand networks, build relationships and gain skills. Where possible, we match mentors and mentees with shared lived experience to enable a deeper understanding and connection between participants. Mentor pairs are encouraged to meet at least once a month for 6 months, from the end of February – end of July 2023.


What is the benefit for mentees?

For potential mentees, this is a great opportunity for you to connect with a mentor who can offer insight, advice, opportunity – and help you navigate the next stage of your career. King’s recognises that staff who identify as women, LGBTQ+ or have a disability, and those from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds are significantly underrepresented at senior level. Therefore, the More than Mentoring scheme prioritises these groups to take part.


What is the benefit for mentors?

For potential mentors, this is a great opportunity to give back, become a better leader, and refine your own skills and networks. A previous mentor on the scheme had the following feedback and encouragement:

“I enjoyed meeting my mentee and building a good relationship that hopefully we will take forward. Also, I enjoyed pushing myself to help and develop another colleague at King’s in any way I was able to”.

In the past, the scheme has received more applications to be mentored rather than to be a mentor. We would encourage all the King’s community to consider whether they could undertake the mentor role. It can be easy to doubt what you have to offer, but many of us have valuable skills which could be shared and benefit others.


What do previous participants say about taking part?

Anne-Marie Wylie, Wellbeing Manager took part as both a mentor and mentee and has shared her experience and encouragement to take part. Here is what she had to say:

“I really enjoyed being a mentor, it was something I thought might be outside of my comfort zone or I wasn’t experienced enough for, but it was a great way to develop my inter-personal skills and gain insight into the work of a completely different area of King’s (and also gave me fresh perspective viewing work through someone else’s eyes). I would encourage anyone to sign up to become a mentor, you will have unique experiences and perspective to offer someone else and you will probably gain the same for yourself. 

My experience of being a mentee was equally as enjoyable and beneficial; it was great having someone more experienced as a sounding board to discuss how to navigate different work situations, who was impartial but also understood King’s cultures and structures. It gave me the opportunity to talk through my own approach and consider different ways to manage situations. 

My favourite part of the scheme was learning about the work of other areas, that I would likely never come across if it wasn’t for More than Mentoring. Through sharing our experiences and different perspectives, I learnt something from both my mentee and mentor and would tell anyone to take part to gain new ideas and perspectives”.


How to apply:

DHM 2022: #SelfCare

To mark UK Disability History Month Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Manager Jennifer Hastings explores the months theme Disability, Health & Well Being. Jennifer explores self-care, mental health and access to support provisions.

Events to mark Disability History Month and explore this years theme further are taking place across King’s and you can find out about these here 


 

Portrait of Jennifer Hastings.

Jennifer Hastings

Mental health has had quite the PR treatment in recent years. From Love Island alumnus Dr. Alex George being appointed as Youth Mental Health Ambassador, to influencers talking about their mental wellbeing against a backdrop of candles and White Company bedding. Whilst I applaud the efforts to talk more about our mental health, these discussions tend to stay in the realm of the more “palatable” symptoms; I imagine swapping stories of intrusive thoughts or manic episodes is likely to grind the conversation to a halt.  

It’s great that people are taking a more holistic view of health, and it’s true that we all have good and bad days. But living with a mental health condition (whether it has been diagnosed or not) is so much more than not feeling your best self. Mental health difficulties can be debilitating, and feelings of isolation, hopelessness, and desperation don’t simply dissolve away in a warm bath (however Instagram-ready the setting may be). The author and journalist, Bella Mackie, has written brilliantly about this, questioning whether our current focus on getting everyone talking about mental health has taken airtime away from those who are experiencing mental ill health.  

Accessing support for mental health difficulties can be tough, not least because over one million people are on waiting lists.  There’s also lots of reasons many people are reluctant to take that first step, such as booking a GP appointment or contacting a therapist. We may not prioritise doing so until the problem gets particularly bad, or maybe we’re scared to divulge such scary thoughts to another person. Perhaps we know that people experience support services differently, for example, Black people are more likely to be sectioned than White people. If you are struggling, Mind has some really comprehensive information on accessing support for the first time, including a section on racism within the mental health system. Staff at King’s can also access the Employee Assistance Programme and students can access the Counselling and Mental Health Support Service. 

As well as increasing access to timely support, we must also remain vigilant against the “medicalisation” of injustice and oppression. I recently attended a lecture by Professor Camara Jones, who spoke about the social determinants of health. These are the things that can impact on the likelihood of us becoming unwell but that we, as individuals, cannot control (e.g. poverty). Over 2 million food parcels were provided by the Trussell Trust last year; is it any wonder people aren’t feeling great? We’re also increasingly being presented with the concept of “self-care” through a capitalist lens, as if all that stands between us and our sanity is expensive skin care or cashmere pyjamas. 

This is not to say that self-care, whatever that looks like to you, is meaningless. Making connections with others, becoming absorbed in an activity that brings you joy and taking time to switch off are all key components of a happy life. The danger is when we use this as a plaster for holes in service provision and systemic injustice. So where do we go from here? Some of the above problems may seem insurmountable, however we all have a voice. You can use yours at the polling station, to sign petitions or become a Mind campaigner.  Mental health difficulties can feel like the most individual of struggles however sometimes collective action is what’s needed to make a change. 


Want to Learn more about Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King’s College London?

 

Race Equality Wrap-Up – Term 1, 2022/23

It’s important to communicate progress, especially when we can become preoccupied with daily challenges or jaded by barriers and push back. King’s is on a journey to become anti-racist and, whilst we’re certainly not where we want to be, we can (and should) celebrate our successes so far.  

Our Race Equality Action Plan guides our work, however we recognise the need to be flexible and react to the changing needs of our community. The below is not an exhaustive list; we know there’s lots of great work happening across King’s and so please do tell us what you’re doing in your area by filling out this short form


EDI Projects 

There have been a number of race equality projects undertaken by EDI this year. We have developed our first race equality allyship toolkit, which is a learning resource available to all King’s staff and students. It draws on various sources and is suitable for everyone, regardless of your prior knowledge. 

We have put together a race equality communications plan to ensure we’re talking to you about our plans, educating on racism and showcasing the achievements of Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic members of our community.  

We are developing a Maturity Model, which can be used to identify priority areas of work and encourage innovative practice within faculties and directorates. This has been out for consultation, and we are now incorporating the feedback we received.  

We have worked with the Alumni Team to add additional profiles to our Notable Alumni page on order to better represent the achievements of our Black communities. The intention is for staff to use this as a resource when considering external speakers, room names, etc.  

The Edi CAP (Combined Action Plans) has had its first meeting. This group is responsible for progressing the Race Equality Action Plan and the Athena Swan Action Plan. Combining the delivery of these plans enables us to streamline resources (as there’s significant overlap) and supports us to take an intersectional approach. 

Thanks to KURF (King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowships) funding, we were able to recruit a student to investigate King’s approach to Professors of Practice and whether this understanding could help diversify King’s academics. 

Training and Development 

Over the past year we have developed and delivered microaggression training to over 300 staff and students, received 216 applications for the More than Mentoring scheme and received 75 applications for the Aurora leadership programme.  

The B-MEntor scheme is currently open and spans a number of institutions so is a great way to build your network across the sector. You can find out how to get involved on our blog post. 

A snapshot across King’s 

We’re so pleased that Professor Camara Jones has joined King’s as a visiting Professor for the year. Camara has delivered a brilliant talk on race and health inequity, as well as a workshop for EDI Practitioners. 

FoLSM have organised this year’s Harold Moody lecture, which features Professor Stephani Hatch as the keynote speaker.  

King’s celebrated this year’s Black History Month with a calendar of events, including a talk by Professor Kalwant Bhopal on Black & Minority Ethnic experiences in higher education. 

Dr Ashwin J. Matthew, Dr. Peter Chonka and Dr. Rhianna Walcott published a report on the experiences of Black students in Digital Humanities. 

The department of Biomedical Engineering successfully applied for funding for the “Success for Black Engineers” programme. This aims to increase the number of Black Engineering students at King’s, as well as improve their attainment and wellbeing. 


Want to Learn more about Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King’s College London?

StellarHE Leadership Programme 2023 – Recruiting Now!

StellarHE is a targeted leadership development programme to support Black and Minority Ethnic academics, researchers and Professional Services staff. The programme has been designed specifically to develop and implement leadership strategies that reflect the unique challenges and experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic academic and professional staff across Higher Education.

King’s is dedicated to developing and supporting diverse talent and inclusive leadership and the university is committed to supporting members of the King’s community to take part in the StellarHE programme. The programme is for staff who aspire to operate at a senior, strategic level here at King’s and contribute to our institutional commitment to advance race equality.

The application process for the 2023 is now open!

Updated Deadline: 17:00 on Wednesday 18th January 2023


What is included? 

The scheme includes:

  • Ten one-day virtual workshops
  • Leadership diagnostics
  • Two individual Borderless Coaching sessions
  • One virtual Action Learning Set
  • Completion of a Leadership Challenge project
  • The programme also includes the opportunity to join the Beyond StellarHE Alumni network.

Key Programme Dates

  • 6 March 2023 Readiness Session
  • 17 March 2023 Managers Race to Action Session
  • 20 March 2023 M1 – Orientation & My Leadership Journey
  • 3 April 2023 M2 – Race Strategic Context in HE
  • 18 April 2023 M3 – Authentic Leadership, Identity and Race
  • 4 May 2023 M4 – Leadership Purpose & Vision
  • 24 May 2023                   M5 – Status Now – Leadership MoT
  • April/May 2023 Action Learning and Assessments – Factor8 & Borderless Coaching
  • 8 June 2023 M6 – iLead 360 – Cracking the corporate Code
  • Jun/Jul 2023 Action Learning
  • 12 July 2023 M7– Presence – iBrand & Communicating with Impact*
  • 13 July 2023 M8 – Career Strategy and Leaderships Signature*
  • September 2023 Coaching

*All the workshops are virtual apart from those annotated. Find out more on the StellarHE website.

Participants would be expected to participate in all of the sessions. 


Programme cost

The Equality, Diversity & Inclusion team intend to fully fund up to 1 place open to staff from across the university and part-fund 2 places on the scheme in collaboration with faculties & directorates. In addition, many faculties & directorates from across KCL have also committed to funding additional places should their staff be successfully selected. A list of faculties & directorates who have agreed to fund places will be added to this page in due course.

  • The programme fee is £4,495 + VAT per participant.
  • Successful applicants who are parents and carers are eligible for further financial support to enable them to participate from the Carers’ Career Development Fund.

Eligibility criteria

  • StellarHE is targeted at Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) individuals who aspire to senior leadership positions in Higher Education.
  • StellarHE is targeted at middle and senior managers – we advise that applicants are currently in roles grade 6 and above (see FAQs below).
  • Professional services, research and academic staff are all eligible to apply.
  • Staff members on fixed term contracts can apply for StellarHE as long as their contract continues at least 6 months after the programme has finished or you can provide evidence it will be extended.
  • You must be available for all the programme dates (see above)

How to apply

  1. Speak to your manager about StellarHE and confirm they are happy to support your application. If you apply the EDI team will contact them to ask for a supporting statement.

 

  1. Check that you are available for all the dates listed above and meet the eligibility criteria.

 

  1. Complete the expression of interest form by Midday Monday 16th January 2023.
You can apply for a place here.

How will my application be selected & assessed?

The answers in your application form, the personal statement and your manager’s statement will all be used to assess your suitability for the programme.

The application questions in the form will each be scored from 1 (does not meet the criteria) to 5 (significantly exceeds the criteria).

Your application will also then be scored against the King’s criteria.

The King’s criteria asses the strength of the application with regards to how the applicant demonstrates the positive impacts the programme could have on their career, their team and on race equality at King’s.

  • The impact of the programme on the individual and their career, i.e.:
    • Show they have proactively thought about career progression/development and how StellarHE will feed into this.
    • Demonstrate their capability and potential as a manager/leader.
  • The impact of the programme on the applicant’s team, department and King’s more widely, i.e.:
    • Show how they will apply learning to others, both locally and more widely.
    • What benefit this will have.
  • The impact of the programme on race equality at King’s, i.e.:
    • Demonstrate a commitment to Race Equality at King’s or externally (e.g., active membership of the Race Equality Staff network, personal activism in team/dept etc).

As you write your application you should think about how you are demonstrating these King’s criteria.

B-MEntor Scheme 2023 – recruitment now open!

B-MEntor is a cross-institutional London-wide mentoring scheme for academic, research and professional services staff from Black, Asian, Mixed and minority ethnic backgrounds. 

B-MEntor is run in partnership with Queen Mary University London, King’s College London, St George’s University of London, University of the Arts London, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The programme supports King’s Race Equality Action Plan, specifically our commitment to attract, appoint and invest in talent. 

There are two schemes-one for academic and research staff, and one for professional services staff. Please see below for information about each scheme and how to register your interest.

The deadline to register your interest is Thursday 5th January 2023


Information for Professional Services staff 

The requirements for participation in the programme are as follows: 

  • Mentors must be professional services staff from any ethnic background, from first-line managers (managing one person) to senior management- this tends to be grades 6-8 
  • Mentees should be professional services staff up to the level of first-line managers (managing one person)- this tends to be grades 1-6- and self-identify as being from a Black, Asian, Mixed or minority ethnic background, i.e. not white European. 

The mentoring period will be approximately one year, and a training and support package is offered for all parties. The selection and matching of mentors and mentees will take place from mid-January.  

You must be available for the training on the following dates (all taking place online):  

  •  Mentees Thursday 12th January at 10:00-11:30am or Thursday 19th January at 10:00-11:30am    
  • Mentors Thursday 26th January at 2pm -3:30pm or Thursday 2nd February at 10:00-11:30am  

                  
Please register your expression of interest by Thursday 5th January 2023. 

Mentee Registration 

Mentor Registration 


Information for Academic and Research staff 

The requirements for participation in the programme are as follows: 

  • Mentors: must be at Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor/Reader or Professorial level. Mentors can be from any ethnic background. 
  • Mentees: should be at Post-Doctoral to Lecturer level and self-identify as being from a Black, Asian, Mixed or minority ethnic background, i.e. not white European. 

The mentoring period will be approximately one year, and a training and support package is offered for all parties. The selection and matching of mentors and mentees will take place from mid-January.  

You must be available for the training on the following dates (all taking place online): 

  • Mentors Wednesday 25th January at 10:00-11:30am or Wednesday 1st February at 2pm -3:30pm 
  • Mentees Wednesday 11th January at 2pm -3:30pm or Wednesday 18th January at 2pm -3:30pm 

                 
Please register your expression of interest by Thursday 5th January 2023. 

Mentee Registration 

Mentor Registration 


More more information please contact Jennifer Hastings, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Manager or email diversity@kcl.ac.uk, if you have any queries about this scheme. A complete list of FAQs can be found on UCL’s B-MEntor webpage.

Race Equality Spotlight – Dr Chiamaka Nwosu (Research Fellow, The Policy Institute, King’s Business School)

At Equality, Diversity and Inclusion we understand the importance of recognising the brilliant contribution of researchers from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds and have therefore committed to spotlighting their work.

This piece was authored by Dr Chiamaka Nwosu, a Research Fellow based in King’s Business School, to highlight the important work they have been carrying out as an early career researcher. Dr Nwosu specifically dives into their experience of being a researcher, the impact their expertise and research will have on the King’s community, and what they have gained from their experience as a researcher at King’s.


My main research interest has been shaped by my PhD which I completed here at King’s Business school. My research aims and objectives were to explore the factors associated with student Higher Education (HE) participation and attainment in the UK. I was particularly interested in how the student experience differs for students from minority ethnic backgrounds, and how this may impact their HE participation and attainment. I have recently published one chapter of my PhD research titled “Does Study abroad affect student academic achievement” in the British Educational Research Journal (BERJ) and currently in the process of publishing another chapter, which is currently under review.

Before joining the Business School as a Lecturer in Policy Evaluation and Research Fellow at the Policy Institute, I worked at the Widening Participation Department at King’s College, where I was responsible for conducting research on students who may be disadvantaged either due to their ethnic group or widening participation status such as being a first-generation student, coming from a financially disadvantaged family, or receiving a contextual admission offer. This is helpful in identifying disadvantaged students who may struggle with continuation, progression, and/or attainment.

Given that my PhD research and subsequent work on student experience, sense of belonging and self-efficacy among students from minority ethnic backgrounds was conducted using King’s as a case study, my research has direct implications for the university and provides recommendations to improve the higher education experience for students.

From an innovation standpoint, I have also developed KITAASTAT, a web-based statistical software package that makes it easier to understand the results from correlations, hypothesis tests & regressions. This term, I have introduced this as an additional learning tool for students taking the Research Methods module in the MSc in Public Policy and Management programme at the Business School and have received positive feedback from the students on the ease of use, and design of the software.

As a quantitative researcher, one of the biggest challenges to research is data access as data restrictions can severely affect the timescales of a research project as well as limit the quality and validity of the work being done. While working as a researcher at King’s, I have enjoyed certain resources that help moderate these data access concerns. For instance, the Information Compliance team is readily available to work with researchers who require administrative data for research purposes, subject to data protection regulations. Also, being able to work with experienced colleagues who have similar research interests has been extremely valuable as an early career researcher.

 

Further resources:

As part of our mission to more effectively communicate race equality initiatives across the College, we have not only committed to spotlighting the impactful contributions of our Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues, but using our platform to highlight resources we think would be beneficial to all staff.

We encourage you to explore the following:

  • The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) team have created an anti-racism and allyship toolkit which includes information and tips on race, racism, anti-racism and allyship. It can be used to support individual learning and/or as part of existing learning opportunities within Directorates, Faculties and Departments.
  • Consider taking Diversity Matters training, which has been specifically designed for King’s staff and updated in response to staff feedback and current staff training needs. Find out more on the EDI training webpages.
  • Request Tackling Microaggressions training for your department, faculty or team! These sessions discuss the formation of bias, how that manifests into microaggressions and what we can do to challenge microaggressions when we experience and/or witness them. This training does not occur on a scheduled basis and will need to be requested. If you would like us to facilitate a session, please get in touch at diversity@kcl.ac.uk.

Want to Learn more about Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King’s College London?

DHM 2022: Invisible disabilities, Autism and the entangled link with Wellness-

In our latest blog to mark UK Disability History Month Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Consultant Adam Perry explores this years theme ‘Disability, Health and Well Being’. Adam reflects on his own lived experiences of wellness as a person living with invisible disabilities. 

Events to mark Disability History Month and explore this years theme further are taking place across King’s and you can find out about these here 


The lead image shows a large red heart on a yellow background. The heart contains the text 'Disability, health and well being'. A large crack runs down the length of the heart, separating the words.

The concept of wellness is interesting and what that means to people seems incredibly variable. When I think of wellness, I think of mental and emotional wellness. Which can be much harder to have agency over, particularly when wellbeing is inextricably linked to culture, attitudes and perceptions.  

This leads me to reflect on my own experiences of wellness, as someone with invisible disabilities.  From my experience, with invisible disabilities it can be incredibly difficult to get people to listen, let alone adapt. It can feel like listening and making adjustments is considered optional/nice to have. Maybe this is because if a condition isn’t visible, people can distance themselves because they aren’t confronted by the impacts?  

I have Asperger’s syndrome, a form of Autism. Many people have heard of Autism, but if honest, people likely have limited awareness which is influenced by stereotypes. This is reflected in a YouGov poll commissioned by Autistica, which found that across the UK there is a real lack of understanding surrounding Autism. This means that in practice, people tend to not consider that presentation and experiences of the condition can differ greatly between individuals. I manage my condition well. I have strong relationships, strong interpersonal skills, am deeply empathetic and navigate nuanced and unclear situations regularly. As a result, it can be unclear to people why I may be asking for adjustments because the challenges I face do not impact the other person.  

To truly include a person with Autism, one needs to be open to listening, be prepared to view people holistically and be prepared to make changes to the status quo or preferred ways of doing things. This may mean embracing the fact that the person experiences challenges which are not personally tangible because of one’s own experiences of the world. People can struggle with this, perhaps feeling a little resentful that they need to change their approach, rather than the person with Autism. The irony is, that Autistic people change their approach to fit in, every day. I think the misconception surrounding Autism being a learning disability (which it is not) has a role to play here. It can be easy to view the person as deficient in some way or characterise them as inflexible… which I have certainly experienced. Yet the reality is that looking through the lens of the Social Model of Disability, people are disabled by barriers in society, not their impairments. Autistic people are not asking for people to share the same view of the world, rather, to try to understand their view of the world.  

Having to battle to be listened to and heard, to be considered and supported is hard. To regularly monitor that hard fought adjustments are consistently applied is challenging. To do this, whilst trying to manage other people’s comfort and perception of you and your ability/credibility is exhausting and erodes wellbeing. Whilst this is based on my lived experience, I can confidently say that it is not an isolated experience. One only needs to look at the fact that The Autistica Employment Plan  highlights that only 2 in 10 Autistic people have a job to see that there is a systemic issue here, and one which needs action.  

The good news takeaway? You can positively impact individual experiences and shift culture by taking simple steps such as: 

  • Truly and empathetically listening to who have invisible disabilities 
  • Committing to advancing your own learning 
  • Avoiding making assumptions about people’s abilities, instead consider creating psychologically safe spaces to have honest dialogue 
  • Being proactive in ensuring that support is put in place and consistently applied 

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DHM 2022: Disability Inclusion At King’s – learning from our mistakes, progress and priorities

This year’s theme for UK Disability History Month is ‘Disability, Health and Well Being’. This theme invites us to consider how barriers to inclusion affect disabled people’s wellbeing and it also prompts us to reflect on how far we still have to go at King’s to make sure our environment enables disabled members of our community to flourish.  

Events to mark Disability History Month and explore this theme further are taking place across King’s and you can find out about these here 

In this blog, our Senior Sponsor for Disability Inclusion at King’s, Professor Richard Trembath (Senior Vice President Health & Life Sciences and Executive Director of King’s Health Partners) reflects on the progress we have made in the past two years, the challenges we still face and our priorities going forward.  


Professor Richard Trembath stood in front of display cabinet containing books.

Professor Richard Trembath (Senior Vice President Health & Life Sciences and Executive Director of King’s Health Partners)

Disability Inclusion has been a priority in the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy since 2019 and, to support this, a Disability Inclusion Action Plan and Maturity Model were developed in consultation with King’s staff. King’s also has a dedicated team to support disabled students, the Disability Support & Inclusion Team, and I am pleased to share some of their work below as well.   

Two years ago, we published a blog ‘How far have we come, and how far have we to go?’ in which we reflected on progress on Disability Inclusion at King’s. In that blog myself, and colleagues from EDI and Access King’s were able to share progress in key areas. This included my appointment as Senior Sponsor to ensure disability inclusion is championed among senior leadership and also significant steps forward on digital accessibility and Equality Analysis. Since then, we have continued to make progress and further embed disability inclusion at King’s but we have also faced challenges and have learnt some important lessons along the way. To mark Disability History Month this year I wanted to reflect both on the positive steps we have taken forward but also on those difficult lessons.  and how we plan to learn and grow from them.  

Learning from our mistakes 

At King’s we understand disability through the Social Model, which means we want to focus on removing barriers to create an inclusive work and study environment. While this is our aim, the theme of this year’s Disability History Month calls us to reflect on how well we do this and what the impact is on our disabled staff and students’ wellbeing. Particularly in the last two years we have been confronted with the challenges of making a large historic estate physically accessible to our community. The shortcomings of our buildings and the ability of our processes and structures to find quick and satisfactory resolutions to these barriers, and others, has come to the fore. I hope you will see in the priorities at the end of this blog post that there is work underway to learn from our mistakes, understand where things aren’t working and make sure we work together to overcome these challenges.  

Before sharing those priorities and the positive progress we have made in the last few years, I wanted to start with this acknowledgement that we know we don’t always get it right and we are sorry when our progress is not rapid and responsive enough to meet the needs of our community. We are extremely grateful to our staff and student community who are so generous in sharing their experiences, their concerns and frustrations and help us to understand the impact of this work on their experience at King’s and their wellbeing. In so doing, you push us to do better and we thank you for that.  

Another key area that you have told us needs to improve is how we communicate with the King’s community about the challenges and progress in disability inclusion. I hope this update goes some way to provide insight into the work in this area and I am also pleased to share that we have new pages on the Disability Inclusion Hub to provide more transparency on the Disability Inclusion Steering Group and our Disability Inclusion Action Plan and Maturity Model. 

Progress  

I am delighted to share some of the key areas that have progressed in the last two years. The activity below reflects work from teams across King’s under the four strategic pillars of Disability Inclusion Action Plan:  

  • Leadership, Governance & Culture   
  • Policy, Process & Procedure  
  • Local Experience  
  • Data, Outcomes & Evaluation 

Under each of these four pillars are a range of objectives that aim to address the structural inequalities that impact disabled people at King’s. Work to fulfil these aims is being carried out across King’s. Below I have highlighted some of the key progress that has been made in the last year.  

Leadership, Governance and Culture  
  • The Disability Inclusion Steering Group (DISG) includes key leaders from across King’s whose work focuses on disability inclusion or who can help us embed disability inclusion projects and practices across the College. The DISG now needs to move forward at pace with delivery to a number of key objectives and needs to ensure disability inclusion is connected to our governance structures and has recognition at King’s.  
Policy, Processes & Procedure  
  • Following previous work from the EDI Function to promote Equality Analysis in King’s policy changes and projects, Estates and Facilities are embedding Equality Analysis into their Capital Projects handbook to ensure the big projects involving new buildings for King’s campuses consider the impacts on marginalised groups, including accessibility and inclusion for disabled staff and students.  
Local experience  
  • The Disability Support & Inclusion team have enhanced the support of disabled students through a range of actions including:  
    • Ensuring engagement with the student voice by conducting a student survey in summer 2021. The results of the survey have informed thinking of the DSI Service Strategy and the changes being introduced to better support disabled students in 2022-23. 
    • Working with Residences to review and enhance the Additional Accommodation Requirements (AAR), ensuring appropriate accommodation offers are made to disabled offer holders and students.  
    • Collaborating with faculties and departments to improve adjustments provisions and process for students around assessment and coursework.  
  • A range of new resources have been created to provide information and support to King’s staff and students:  
  • The Centre for Doctoral Studies, with support from the Disability Support & Inclusion team, have developed a reasonable adjustments process for PGR students and are committed to reviewing and continuing to improve this process.
  • The Digital Education Accessibility Task-and-Finish Group have developed the Digital Education Accessibility Baseline. This KEATS course outlines the core principles for digital education accessibility and gives guidance on how to apply them to teaching and learning material. A valuable accompaniment to this course is the Digital Education Blog which provides post offering insight on how different teams across King’s are applying the Baseline.  
  • Access King’s, the Staff Disability Inclusion Network at King’s, has continued to flourish and provide an invaluable space for staff to find community, support and advice. Special mention must go to Abbie Russell who has been integral to the success of the Network since its inception – Abbie steps down as Co-Chair this year and her passion, integrity and collaborative spirit will be much missed. However, Access King’s will no doubt continue to thrive and help hold myself, the EDI Function and all those working on disability inclusion to account.  
  • Disability Inclusion has been embedded in two new EDI training courses introduced by the EDI Function:  
    • The Introduction to Equality, Diversity & Inclusion e-learning module launched in April 2022 to provide a baseline introduction to the Equality Act 2010, discrimination and EDI at King’s.  
    • The relaunch of Diversity Matters training in October 2022 following the procurement of a new training provider brought in to deliver a new version of the training based on revised learning objectives and consultation with the King’s community.  
  • Estates & Facilities have renewed King’s membership with AccessAble who provide accessibility audits and information for King’s campuses. Access Guides are provided for all King’s buildings and audits of King’s sites are now being used to review and implement accessibility improvements.  
  • King’s took part in a Student Disability Adjustments Passport Pilot which was led by the University of Wolverhampton. The passport is being developed by the Department for Education and aims to help students transition into employment with the support they need to succeed. Through our involvement King’s students were able to directly influence how the scheme is developed.  
Data, Outcomes & Evaluation  
  • The Personal Circumstances Form and Guidance for the Academic Promotions process have been updated to better support disabled staff members going through the promotions round and we hope to have more influence on this process to ensure it is disability smart.  

Priorities 

Based on the lessons learnt from staff and students not getting the adjustments and support they need, many of our priorities and actions for the next year focus on improving how this is delivered at King’s and how the governance for disability inclusion ensures responsbility and accountability are clear.  

The Estates & Facilities Directorate have started to introduce a range of new initiatives to improve how accessibility issues are dealt with and how disability inclusive practice is embedded in estate projects and design. A new group is being created to enable specific accessibility challenges to be overseen by the key people who can make decisions and progress adjustments. They are also introducing an accessibility category on the help desk ticket system to ensure accessibility issues are easy to report and are processed quickly to enable swift resolution. Alongside these changes to address existing issues, E&F are also proactively working to embed inclusive design to prevent such issues arising. There is also work underway gathering staff views on office and open plan workspaces, with the aim of improving the accessibility of these spaces.   

Disability Support & Inclusion and the EDI Function are working together, with support from Strategy, Planning & Analytics, to ensure disability inclusion is effectively embedded in governance at King’s and responsbility and accountability for this work is clear to the whole King’s community. It is important that disability inclusion is effectively connected to the new Staff and Culture Strategy Committee and the priorities of King’s Strategy 2026.        

The EDI Function will prioritise improving the processes and support relating to staff disability adjustments. This will include the launch of the Staff Adjustments Passport as well as training and guidance for line managers and other key staff members who play an important role in the adjustments process. The EDI Function will also review King’s Disability Policy to ensure it meets the needs of the King’s community and includes Workplace Adjustments more clearly. 

As mentioned at the start of this blog, communication has also been highlighted as a key priority and the EDI Function will work with colleagues across the College to improve how we share updates and issues and keep our community better informed. The EDI Function will continue to utilise the Disability Inclusion Hub to provide updates and they will also commission new blogs about disability, accessibility and inclusion at King’s.  

Celebrating key dates, such as Disability History Month provides the opportunity to shine a light on the contributions and experiences of disabled staff and students in our community has always been a priority for many across the College. Access King’s have a fantastic range of events planned for the next year and there is also work underway to find a permanent home for the Neurodiversity at King’s display created by the KCL Neurodiversity and Mental Health Student Society.  

I am confident that with the commitment of so many, that the changes and developments outlined above will help us to better respond to the needs of our community. I hope this update has been helpful and has given you a sense of the fantastic achievements that have been made alongside the important lessons we have faced.  

If you would like to learn more about Disability Inclusion at King’s you can go to the Disability Inclusion Hub (for staff) and the Disability Support & Inclusion (for students) intranet pages.  

 


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Trans Day of Remembrance 2022

Sunday 20th November is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Consultant (lead for LGBTQ+ Inclusion), Adam Perry, explores the statistics and significance of this day. 

CONTENT NOTE: Transphobia, Violence and Murder, Discrimination, Sexual Violence


Transgender day of remembrance will be taking place on Sunday 20th November. This is an international day which takes place to remember and honour trans and non-binary people who have been murdered because of transphobic violence and hate crime. The day originally started in 1999 by trans advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honour Rita Hester, a trans woman who was killed in 1998.

Violence directed at trans and non-binary people for exercising their basic right to exist within society is sadly not uncommon. Transrespect versus Transphobia  run a Murder Monitoring Project which started in April 2009 as a cooperation between Transgender Europe (TGEU) and the academic online magazine Liminalis – A Journal for Sex/Gender Emancipation and Resistance. Information from the Murder Monitoring Project Name list estimates that between October 2021 and September 2022, 327 trans and non-binary people have been murdered globally. Sadly, these numbers include a UK citizen, with a 28-year-old being fatally stabbed in Downpatrick. The data is based on internet reports and activist reported data, as it is challenging to obtain accurate numbers. The actual number is likely much higher.

It is important to acknowledge that the trans and non-binary community is not a homogenous group. It is vital to use an intersectional lens to understand transphobia and trans violence. Of the 327 people who tragically lost their lives to transphobia:

  • 95% were trans women or trans feminine people;
  • Where occupation was known, 50% were sex workers;
  • 65% of the reported murders were Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic*;

*The Trans Murder Monitoring Project uses the term ‘racialised people’ to refer to those that have been negatively racialised or racialised as ‘other’, within King’s and the UK, we would use Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, although we understand that there isn’t one ‘perfect’ term.

Whilst the focus of Transgender day of Remembrance is on honouring those who are no longer with us, it would be remiss to not acknowledge that murder is just one of the risks of harm faced by trans and non-binary people. At current, media and political discourse is polarised and at times, dehumanising. This can exacerbate the already bleak statistics on transphobia. In the UK, the Galop Hate Crime Report  found that 29% of trans people had been subject to physical violence, whilst 17% had experienced sexual violence. A 2018 Stonewall report into LGBTQ+ students experiences in universities found that 7% cent of trans students were physically attacked by another student or a member of university staff because of being trans and 39% of trans students would not feel comfortable to report this to university staff. The alarming reality is that transphobia (and the harm caused by this) is a feature of our society, and likely exists within our university community.

Show Your Support:

King’s is committed to ensuring trans staff and students are part of a supportive and inclusive work/study environment, and do not face discrimination on the grounds of their gender identity. We are collectively responsible for creating and maintaining a safe and inclusive community. There are several ways in which you can show your support:

  • KCLSU and the Chaplaincy team are holding a vigil Friday 18th November; 5.30- 8pm at Kings College Chapel, Strand Building, details of which are here.
  • Check in with your trans and non-binary students and colleagues. Transgender Day of Remembrance can be an emotionally challenging day for many members of the community.
  • Educate yourself on trans identities and transphobia:
    King’s Trans Matters Toolkit is a good starting point with resources to help managers learn how best to support trans and non-binary staff and information for students and staff on transitioning at King’s.
  • Attend KCLSU Trans Awareness Week festival events.
  • Register your interest in a Trans Matters Training session for your department/faculty by emailing diversity@kcl.ac.uk.

It is important to look after your wellbeing. Transgender Day of Remembrance can be emotive. If you find yourself grappling with unexpected feelings or distress, please do contact the King’s Counselling and Wellbeing Service or the LGBT Switchboard which is available from 10am-12am every day. 


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