Diversity Digest

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King's College London

Help us to diversify academia

Did you know that less than 1% of professors at King’s are Black? 

King’s is committed to diversifying academia and supporting its students to achieve their career ambitions; however, we know there’s more to do. We are currently developing an initiative to support those from minoritisied ethnic groups at the start of the academic pipeline and need your input. 


We are developing a mentoring scheme that would pair students from minoritised backgrounds with an academic at King’s. The aims of the scheme are to: 

  • Instill confidence in students from minoritised ethnic groups that academia is a place for them 
  • Help mitigate against the disadvantage that those without sector connections can face 
  • Serve as positive action at the beginning of the pipeline to, ultimately, increase the number of academics from minoritised ethnic backgrounds 


Mentees would be students from a minoritised ethnic group who would like to explore a career in academia (the exact level of study is yet to be decided) and mentors would be King’s academics from any ethnic group. 

How can I get involved? 

The scheme is currently being developed and so we would love your feedback to help shape the details.  


  • Fill out our survey here by the 19th June 2023 and/or sign up to attend an online focus group: 
  • Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught students: 1st June, 12-1pm, MS Teams 
  • Postgraduate Research students: 6th June, 12-1pm, MS Teams 


If you have any questions please email jennifer.hastings@kcl.ac.uk 

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M.E. and me

ME Awareness Week takes place every May. ME or myalgic encephalomelitis which is also called chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a long term condition which encompasses a wide range of symptoms. You can learn more about the condition by visiting the ME Association’s website here. Hannah, a member of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion team here at King’s has take the opportunity to share her own experience of ME.

Imagine one day getting ill, something that feels a bit like the flu. You rest, you drink your fluids, you take your paracetamol. But days, then weeks go by and you never get better.

May 8th – 15th marks ME/CFS awareness week: This disease affects around a quarter of a million people in the UK and I am one of them. This Easter marked 7 years since I first developed symptoms and began a rollercoaster of losing what felt like my entire self before starting to rebuild a new person.

It is often described as an invisible illness, both in terms of symptoms and our physical presence in the outside world. We look normal because you see us on our good days – the rest of the time we can’t leave the house. We seem functional because it is a fluctuating ‘boom/bust’ illness, and busts tend to happen in private.

The ME Association summarises ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) as “a complex, chronic medical condition affecting multiple body systems”. With a wide range of symptoms and severities, no two cases are fully alike, but if you fancy knowing a bit more about my experience, keep reading!

The Day to Day: Bad Days

On bad days I cannot stay upright for very long. I have to lie down constantly; my head is so foggy I speak at a snail’s pace; I can’t remember what happened a moment ago; my face feels numb (I can only describe it as feeling like I am wearing my own face); my face and neck are nauseatingly hot whilst my hands are ice; I have headaches; I feel sick; I can’t concentrate; lights are too bright and noises are too loud – watching tv is too much.

These periods of ‘relapse’ or ‘crashes’ can be pretty tearful because I wonder what my life is now. Even though I know bad days don’t last forever, who knows how long this one will last? I feel overwhelmed by the tiniest tasks or changes in plans because I’m worried about making myself worse. On really bad days I can barely walk without dizziness and vomiting. I sleep for hours and it does not fix anything.

The Day to Day: Good Days

On good days I feel freer, less in the grips of my illness. I get quite a lot done; I get out and about; I cook exciting things for myself and people I love. On good days I feel like I am on top of things; my house is a little more organised and so is my brain. I spend time with people I love; I feel like I can manage my symptoms. I do exercise and have hobbies. I do not lose days on end to resting. I do not feel like I am walking through treacle.

On good days I may do more than one thing or get the most out of the one thing I do. I make smart decisions that mean I haven’t over done it for the next day. I am helpful and can take care of myself. I feel capable and smart and like a whole human being and the future looks bright.

Overcoming Challenges

The biggest challenge I have won with ME is probably with my own head.

At my lowest I felt like I wasn’t a whole person anymore, grieving for the life I had lost. With no cure or treatment and very little bio-medical research, I felt anxious and depressed about my body not following the rules and not understanding why. I tried to push through things for years and was constantly burnt out.

After CBT and an NHS support course, I felt a lot more informed about my symptoms but also this helped me get better at being kind to myself and allowing myself time to be ill and to recover. Not being angry at myself when all I can do is lie down and stare into space, not being so frustrated when I have to go home long before the party is over. Reminding myself that my hobbies (which I am not always well enough to participate in) are for fun and not to prove something to someone.

I don’t think society acknowledges or encourages the strength of conviction it takes to rest instead of push on – “Push through and it will be fine” or “well done for you getting your head down and just carrying on” are far more common narratives.

I’m learning to make my own way though, and although I still make mistakes, still have relapses and still get upset, I am doing okay. I have some wonderful people around me who give me so much love, and I’m learning to be someone who treats myself with kindness too.

Things I wish people knew

I wish people knew that I quite often feel terrible even when I look fine because my body’s response to feeling terrible is to pump me full of adrenaline as some sort of survival response. Saying “Oh you don’t look ill” is not the helpful encouragement or compliment that people may think it is.

I wish people knew that I’m not always smart about this… sometimes I make decisions based on my heart rather than my body. I often feel high enough on adrenaline to forget I’m ill for a bit but it just means that I forget to call it a day early enough and end up crashing even harder. I wish people knew that I often forget to self-regulate and so sometimes could do with a reminder.

I wish people knew that sitting at a cafe chatting is not the same as resting, that sitting on a sofa chatting is not the same as resting, that sitting watching tv is not the same as resting. That when your mitochondria aren’t functioning and your adrenal system is a mess, even SLEEPING isn’t the same as resting.

I wish people knew that currently there is no cure, or even medical treatment, only symptoms management strategies.

I wish people knew I would like empathy over sympathy. I wish people knew you can believe someone about their experience without fully understanding it.

I wish people knew how much their support and listening means to me. It has kept me feeling human through the worst times.

What I’ve learned

My advice to other spoonies (a term for people with chronic pain or illness – see the origins here) is to ask for help, to communicate and to be kind to yourself.

The times when I have felt the worst and the path in front of me has seemed impossible, expressing this to those closest to me made a massive difference. The amazing people around me, as it turns out, want to support me and make sure I am okay, rather than wanting me to run myself into the ground.

Communication has meant I do not feel alone, whether that means talking to my closest loved ones or ME support networks. I have learnt so much through this journey and I have those around me to thank. Asking for help has meant that when it seemed impossible to face things alone, I didn’t have to. Easing off on the pressure I put on myself to be a fully functioning human, saying it’s okay to eat toast and stare off into space sometimes. Me putting my health before my career and not feeling bad about it has made a world of difference!

It doesn’t make you weak to be part of a team. Make sure you are on Team You as well!

The sky is the limit:

I have still achieved a lot since being ill – I have consolidated my teaching skills, taken up (and paused) sports, fallen in love, bought and helped do up a flat, moved in, changed career and learnt a whole lot about chronic illness management.

At times, my next steps, goals and aspirations have felt fuzzy or unattainable. My goals for the next 10 years are pretty different now than they were 7 years ago. I still want to change the world for the better, I still want to lead and be involved in change. But I have to figure out some way to make that feasible whilst keeping myself happy and healthy. These days I know it’s okay to still aspire though, and to start putting wheels into motion.

What next for the future of ME/CFS? For a long time, ME/CFS has been little understood, and despite the large demographics it affects, historically there has been less than £1 of government funding per person per year for bio-medical research. However, in the wake of the massive surge of post-viral fatigue and symptoms after Covid 19, there is a little hope in our community that medical interest may begin to focus more on these types of illnesses. In the meantime, we hope that awareness at least will spread, and with that, understanding, empathy and adjustment.

If you are looking for any more insight into life with ME/CFS, you can learn a lot:

ME is just one of so many hidden disabilities and illnesses the affect so many people around us. Please keep listening.

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Ramadan Reflections: Shabnam

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and traditionally begins and ends based on the sighting of the new moon. This year, Ramadan is expected to run from Wednesday 22 March to Thursday 20 April 2023

During the month we will share some Ramadan Reflections from members of the King’s community. As Ramadan draws to a close we hear from Shabnam Nawaz, a Senior Teaching Fellow at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery, who has written a poem.

We are now within the last ten days of Ramadhan, and they hold a special significance for Muslims. This is as Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Decree) falls within these days. This night is thought to fall on an odd night, and possibly the 27th night. It is when God revealed the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Laylat al-Qadr is one of the holiest nights of the year for Muslims, as one night’s worship is equivalent to 1,000 months (83.3 years). For this reason, many Muslims will aim to stay awake and pray through the night during the last ten days of Ramadhan.

I wanted to share a poem that I have written with you all about Ramadhan:



Ramadhan happens but once a year,

A month to pause, abstain, and reflect,

Mealtimes move to before sunrise and after sunset,

A time to focus and realign one’s faith,

Daily contemplation about those less fortunate,

Hunger, thirst, and tiredness keep one grounded and appreciative of the basics in life,

Anticipation in waiting for iftar (opening of the fast) is a daily occurrence!

Nice foods, prayers, adorning ones best clothes, and precious moments with friends and family await us on completion, with Eid insha’Allah (God Willing).

If you would like to share your own reflection of the holy month of Ramadan please email diversity@kcl.ac.uk

Supporting students & staff during Ramadan

We have produced resources on the support available for Muslim students and staff during Ramadan and guidance on maintaining health while fasting, along with more information on the month and how staff can support our Muslim community.

You can also find guidance on support for students on Student Services Online:

We should all be mindful of this important event for the Muslim community and be respectful of colleagues and students who are fasting and some of the challenges they may experience.

For any queries, please contact the Chaplaincy team, or either of our Muslim Chaplains, Imam Abdul Mumin Choudhury or Romana Kazmi.

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Ramadan Reflections: Ehsan

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and traditionally begins and ends based on the sighting of the new moon. This year, Ramadan is expected to run from Wednesday 22 March to Thursday 20 April 2023, which falls in the revision and assessment preparation period for many students. 

Ramadan is considered one of the holiest months of the year for Muslims and commemorates the Qur’an being revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and many Muslims will be abstaining from food and drink during the sunlit hours.

It is also a time when Muslims are encouraged to increase their good deeds, from acts of charity and community engagement to increasing good values such as generosity, solidarity, kindness, patience and forgiveness.

During the month we will share some Ramadan Reflections. As Ramadan commences we hear from Ehsan Khan, a Senior Lecturer in Nurse Education at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery. 

Ramadhan used to be a time of trepidation and caution for me when I was young.  I am a big foody and not being able to eat or drink during the daytime hours FOR A WHOLE MONTH! was daunting.  However, I always used to get through it. What I learnt over the years is that Ramadhan is like no other month, there is a collective spirit in people partaking in this annual blessing, people are blessed with patience during this month that helps them endure the fast.   

Ramadhan is a core practice in Islam and Is mandatory on all able-bodied and minded people.  There are many exceptions related to health and medication, as well as dispensations for travel.  The duration of the fast is from the dawn till sunset. It is desirable to wake up in the morning before the dawn to eat something before the fast begins.  The fast should be finished promptly on sunset. 

Although the focus of the fast tends to be on abstaining from food and drink, people fasting also need to abstain from other activities which are mainly considered morally undesirable or religiously sinful.    

Ramadhan starts and finishing with sighting of the new moon, this causes some uncertainty on when Ramadhan may start and finish.  As Ramadhan is linked to the lunar calendar, the start date shifts by approximately 10 days each year. Therefore, for countries far from the equator, fasting can range from 12-odd hours in the winter to up to 21 hours in the summer, as the start date is earlier every year.   

One aims of this month is to recharge the person spiritually, so there is an attempt to spend more time in prayer and acts of worship.  There is a special prayer called the Tarraweh, that is offered after the evening prayer.  This prayer can be offered in congregation or at home.  Thus, this month provides a Muslim with time to return to their religion and establish or re-establish acts of worship that will carry them through the year till the next Ramadhan. Ramadhan is also a time for charity.  Any act of charity during this month is magnified in value.  There is a small mandatory charity paid during the month of Ramadhan to ideally reach the needy by the end of Ramadhan.   To celebrate the end of Ramadan there is a day of festivity known as Eid,  this entails a morning prayer and then gatherings with friends and family. 

Overall, the month helps the Muslim to gain self-control and discipline,  experiencing hunger and thirst teaches empathy and consideration for the less fortunate in society. Importantly linked to this, for many, Ramadhan is the deadline month for payment of Zakat a mandatory charity of 2.5% for those who are eligible to pay.  This money is ring fenced for the needy and less fortunate. It is ideal to give this money to those close to you first, such as friends or family that fit the criteria for receiving zakat. 

If you would like to share your own reflection of the holy month of Ramadan please email diversity@kcl.ac.uk

Supporting students and staff

At this time of year, fasting throughout the day combined with disturbances in normal sleep patterns can leave individuals feeling more tired than normal, particularly mid-afternoon and towards the end of the day. It is also the case that towards the latter part of the day some individuals who are fasting might feel a little light-headed.

We have produced resources on the support available for Muslim students and staff during Ramadan and guidance on maintaining health while fasting, along with more information on the month and how staff can support our Muslim community.

You can also find guidance on support for students on Student Services Online:

We should all be mindful of this important event for the Muslim community and be respectful of colleagues and students who are fasting and some of the challenges they may experience.

Supporting students preparing for assessments during Ramadan

Ramadan will have ended by the time Assessment Period 2 starts, so it is not likely that students will be affected during exams as a result of fasting. However, staff are encouraged to be aware of students who could still be affected, especially in revision classes and the revision period.

Students who are on clinical placements may also need specific support to ensure that they can meet their clinical learning and assessment requirements whilst maintaining their religious observances.

Where an assessment or revision class has a specific timing, this should not clash with the time of breaking the fast in the UK. However, if you are in a different time zone then this may be a problem – please contact the Dean’s Office as soon as possible if this is the case.

For any queries, please contact the Chaplaincy team, or either of our Muslim Chaplains, Imam Abdul Mumin Choudhury or Romana Kazmi.

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Endometriosis: Back pain, dizziness, nausea, must be my cramps kicking in again!

March is Endometriosis Action Month. Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women and those assigned female at birth in the UK according to leading charity Endometriosis UK. Jess an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Administrator here at King’s shares her own experience.

Back pain, dizziness, nausea, must be my cramps kicking in again!

Whether you call it “Aunt Flo”, “that time of the month” or the “crimson tide”, people who menstruate have different experiences with their period. For some, it is a slight inconvenience (how does it feel to be God’s favourite?). While for others, it is a living nightmare of misery and torment (can you guess which category I fit into?). My name is Jess, I am an EDI Administrator, and I am writing this blog to share my experiences of expected but undiagnosed Endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a chronic illness which is characterized by the presence of tissue resembling endometrium (the lining of the uterus) outside the uterus. It causes a chronic inflammatory reaction that may result in the formation of scar tissue (adhesions, fibrosis) within the pelvis and other parts of the body[1]. Endometriosis can cause many symptoms including those I have mentioned and infertility.

I have had painful periods for over 15 years and had various symptoms that include severe pelvic and back pain, headaches, loss of appetite, nausea and presyncope (feeling faint). These symptoms can become overwhelming and can take over my life. I’ve missed so many days of school, lectures and often take time off work due to spending days at a time in bed with crippling pain. As you might imagine, popping a couple of paracetamols never seemed to help. I think morphine might be more suitable!

I’ve had many visits to the doctors over the years regarding my pain, but it was never carefully considered by medical professionals. It wasn’t uncommon for it to be brushed off by my doctors who would say things like “oh it’s normal to have a bit of pain every now and then” or “just take some ibuprofen and you will be fine. Don’t worry, I will prescribe you some painkillers, or you might want to think of taking birth control”. Don’t get me started on the doctors who suggested I exercise, have a healthy diet, or try yoga. On my worst days, I can barely stand up straight, let alone correctly execute a downward dog!  Unfortunately, I have come across multiple stories from people who have had similar experiences (for more information, please see further resources section).

You feel like you are constantly being fobbed off and hurried out the door with a new prescription you know will never work. There seems to be a lack of urgency when it comes to gynaecological matters. It’s no wonder why it takes on average 8 years on to be diagnosed with endometriosis[2].

Often, this comes down to the misogyny present within the medical profession and the lack of awareness of issues that largely effect marginalised genders. Our pain can sometimes be overlooked, and we are expected to push through and get on with it with little support. Caroline Criado Perez a British Journalist and author of “Invisible women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men”, explains that women are routinely under-represented in clinical trials, as it is thought that periods obscure results, and that medical research proposed by women, for women, is not allotted the same funding as medical research proposed by men, for men.

Conversations around menstruation and the effect of painful periods are being discussed more, and some companies are arranging adjustments for their staff; Spain has recently become the first EU country where it is legally required for staff to be provided with paid menstrual leave if requested.  Following a similar initiative which started in Japan in 1947. At King’s our menstruation policy allows adjustments to be put in place to support staff with painful, or inconvenient menstruation symptoms, which affect their quality of working life. Our policy allows for more flexible working, which can be explored further and discussed with your manager.  The purpose of this blog was to raise awareness of chronic illnesses associated with the female reproductive system that has an impact on so many people such as myself, and to reassure others going through a similar experience, that you are not alone. If you feel that you are being ignored by the healthcare system, you should always strive for an appropriate solution that gives you the assurance that it will be properly investigated.

You can also read more about our Menstruation Policy and our Menopause Policy, which includes important resources that may be useful.

Further Resources and reading


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Race Equality Week: It’s everyone’s business

Race Equality Week takes place between the 6th – 12th February 2023. The week is a an annual event brining together organizations and individuals to tackle barriers to race equality within the workplace. This years theme is ‘It’s everyone’s business.’ In this blog we explore how members of the King’s community can get involved.


Race Equality Week takes place every year, seeing organisations and individuals join forces to further race equality in the workplace. This year’s theme is “it’s everyone’s business”, which is the approach we have taken to tackling racism at King’s. This doesn’t negate the effects of power and privilege- a person’s individual impact can depend on a number of factors- however it does enable us all to take responsibility for creating an anti-racist institution.   

So how can you get involved? 


Leaning and development 

On an individual level, you can ensure you have completed the EDI e-learning module on WorkRite. There’s also a range of other training opportunities available to you, from Diversity Matters to Active Bystander. The EDI training webpage has more information. For self-directed learning, take a look at our race equality allyship toolkit, which is designed for the whole of the King’s community regardless of prior knowledge.  

Give something back 

If you want to take things a step further, why not consider being a mentor? More than Mentoring is our scheme for women, disabled, LGBTQ and Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic staff. We’ve had significantly more applications for mentees than mentors, and so the deadline to apply to be a mentor has been extended to the 19th February.  

Let us amplify your work 

King’s Race Equality Action Plan covers a range of areas, from inclusive recruitment to tackling the awarding gap. We also know there’s lots of brilliant work happening outside of this plan, which we would love to hear more about. Tell us what you’re doing to progress race equality in your area and if you require any support. 

Report racism 

John Amaechi defines culture as ‘the worst behaviour that you tolerate’. By taking the approach of racism being everyone’s business, we can see that we are all responsible for the culture at King’s. If you have experienced or witnessed racism (or any form of bullying, harassment or discrimination), you can report it (anonymously if you prefer) via Report + Support 

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LGBTQ+ History Month 2023

What is LGBTQ+ History Month? 

It seems incredibly apt to start a blog about LGBTQ+ History Month with some historical information.  

First formed and celebrated in 2005 by Schools OUT co-chairs, Paul Patrick & Professor Emeritus Sue Sanders, LGBTQ+ History Month is an annual celebration held in February to raise awareness and challenge the prejudice faced by the community. 

Each year has a theme, with the 2023 theme being #BehindTheLens– LGBTQ+ contribution to film and cinema. 

Why is LGBTQ+ History Month Important? 

The attitudes to and position of LGBTQ+ within society has evolved over the years. Whilst inequality and hostility can still be a feature of LGBTQ+ peoples day to day lives; rights and protections today are a significant improvement on those of 50 years ago. These rights haven’t appeared by coincidence, they have been the result of individual and collective campaigning and acts of courage to destigmatise, challenge inequality and take up space which was often not forthcoming. LGBTQ+ History Month educates and celebrates this, along with spotlighting the diverse contribution LGBTQ+ people have made to society.  

What are the key milestones? 

A vast amount has changed, certainly too much to include everything in a blog post. Stonewall has a guide to the key dates for LGBTQ+ equality which is well worth a read.  

To provide an sample of the breadth of events covered on the Stonewall LGBTQ+ Timeline: 


  • 1967: The Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised sex between two men over 21 and ‘in private’. 
  • 1988- 2003: Section 28 was introduced by UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher and was only repealed in 2003. The Act prohibited schools maintained by the local authority from promoting homosexuality, publish material related to homosexuality or teach about homosexuality as an accepted family relationship.  

Gender recognition- 

  • 1951: The first known changing of a birth certificate in recognition of gender confirming surgery took place.  

Family life- 

  • 2004: The Civil Partnership Act 2004 was passed in the United Kingdom, giving same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as married straight couples. 
  • 2005: The Adoption and Children Act 2002 came into force allowing unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, to apply for joint adoption. 
  • 2014: The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force, with the first same-sex marriages in England and Wales taking place on 29 March 2014. 


  • 1983: The UK’s first national lesbian and gay TV show, One in Five, was shown on Channel 4. 
  • 1990: The first professional football player, Justin Fashanu comes out as gay. He later dies by suicide. 


  • 2009: Stonewall conducted the first large-scale study of lesbian and bi women’s health. 
  • 2011: The Department of Health lifted the lifetime ban on gay and bi men donating blood, although a 12-month celibacy clause was still in place for men who have sex with men to be eligible to donate. There has been further relaxing of the rules in recent years. 


  • 1961: The Stonewall riots took place in America – they were a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ+ community against a police raid on the Stonewall Inn. This key event triggered the modern LGBTQ+ liberation movement in the US and beyond. 
  • 1972: The first Pride was held in London, attracting approximately 2,000 participants. 
  • 2020: Religious leaders from every major faith came together in a show of unity to urge the UK government to legislate a ban on conversion therapy. 

How can I get involved? 

What is happening at King’s? 

There are a number of events held by Proudly King’s, KCLSU and faculties across the institution. A planner of events can be found here.

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.   


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!

*Update 10.02.2023*

We have been blown away by the response to the launch of this years More than Mentoring scheme, since going live in January over 200 people have completed our expression of interest form.  To date 2/3 of those who have applied want to be mentees. We are now looking for more volunteers to sign up to be mentors. Thus we have extended the application window for mentors only to 19th February 2023.

You can still sign up to be a mentor. The expression of interest form will remain open until Sunday 19th February 2023. We are no longer accepting applications for mentees.


Please contact the team using diversity@kcl.ac.uk if you have any questions.

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:

  • Deadline to express interest to be a mentor is now Sunday 19th February 2023.
  • The deadline to apply to be a mentee has now passed.
  • If you have any questions please contact the EDI team using diversity@kcl.ac.uk
  • Complete this expression of interest form.

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?


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