Birmingham Trip Reflection
On Wednesday the 14th of March a group of Lead Ambassadors on the University of Manchester’s Diversity and Wellbeing Programme travelled to the University of Birmingham for a conference and networking event. This event centred around providing each ambassador with the opportunity to meet and connect with like minded young people from both Birmingham University and Manchester Metropolitan University. After getting a coach to Birmingham, the event began with Lewis Toumazou, the Diversity & Wellbeing Student Ambassador Programme Assistant, delivering a short talk on the Speak Up Stand Up! Campaign which operates at the University of Manchester. Lewis spoke about how this campaign aims to increase knowledge and confidence within our student body to stand up against harassment, discrimination, and hate crimes. This talk informed ambassadors on how we can all act as ‘Active Bystanders’ to help form a safe environment in which we can all live, study, and work. I found this to be an important aspect to the event as it provided both the ambassadors and members of staff, with a useful insight into how we can all instigate change within our communities and peer groups.
Following this, the event continued with a short introduction from two members from the ‘brap’ charity. This organisation aims to turn equality into reality by working with like minded people, communities, and organisations. The team handed out one of their introductory resources to the ambassadors which included information cards explaining the origins of 10 commonly used equality terms, as well as advice on how to use them appropriately. The terms on the cards are listed here, Black, Asian, Mixed Race, Ethnicity, Black & Minority Ethnic, Religion or Belief, Disability, Gay, Homosexual, and Transexual/Transgender. This was a brilliant way to open up lines of communication and sparked a group discussion amongst ambassadors about the way in which the language we use on a day to day basis may be harmful and a hinderance to achieving equality.
We then all took part in an activity which asked us to stand up in response to a variety of statements delivered by the team. For example, one of the statements was ‘stand up if you feel like some equality issues are more important than others’, and in response around half of the room stood up, which was followed by an interesting discussion. Interactive activities such as this one are important in allowing people to understand and share personal experiences on how we have all been impacted in some way by discrimination, harassment, or hate crimes. This was insightful and came as a stark reminder that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in eliminating such inequality.
The final activity delivered by the brap team asked 15 volunteers to decide on how confident they would feel in response to various scenarios. For example, we watched a video on a racial attack being carried out at the University of Nottingham and my fellow ambassadors were asked how confident they would feel in getting involved in such a situation. The response was interesting and varied, sparking discussions regarding how and why each would react in different ways. Watching this video also acted as an important reminder that issues surrounding inequality are still heavily impacting university campuses. I found the brap team to be an amazing charity who inspired me to consider how I myself would respond if I witnessed some form of discrimination or hate crime on campus, or in my community.
Ending the day, we all moved over to the student union for food and drinks, allowing us all to mingle and network with each other. Overall, this day allowed student ambassadors, staff, and organisations to meet and discuss ways to overcome such pressing issues in our universities and society.