Archive | June, 2011

I’m a graduate…get me out of here!!

9 Jun

The next generation eager to get into work

As a now 21 year old graduate awaiting the arrival of my university results, living out of a suitcase and between half a dozen houses facing the worst employment market since forever, it would be fair to say that my life is ever so slightly full of uncertainty. It’s a comfort to me that many of my fellow graduates are in the same position but not so much of a thrill that the very people I laughed, learnt and spent hours upon hours stressing out over deadlines with are now my competition.

I thought that the hardest part of my life to date was the third year of my degree, late nights, stress, tears and a touch of hysteria were all something me and my friends experienced, but nothing prepared me for what it would be like when I left the security of university, and went out into the world to make good use of my degree.

Sending out CV after CV to employers outlining why I would be an asset and not receiving any replies back is very disheartening, but not quite depressing as making it through to the interview rounds but then falling at the last hurdle…which seems to be happening to me a lot lately, as I chase an opening into the employment arena. You start to wonder what’s wrong with me? What could I have improved on? What did that person who got the position have or do…that I didn’t?

Sometimes it just doesn’t seem fair, when a wide eyed graduate who worked hard, full of ideas and dreams meets brick wall after brick wall, we all have so much to offer but in the current climate we just have no one to give it to. But were a hardy bunch and have been prepared for this by every lecturer and guest speaker we’ve ever encountered in our three years, and our setbacks are just that, only setbacks.

I’ve been off university for almost two weeks now and my results come out in mid-July, so far I’ve been fairly productive I’ve done a bit of spring cleaning and sent eight bags down to the charity shop, I’ve done chores for my nan and granddad and acted as tutor introducing them to the 21st century and to the world wide web, and I’ve made lots of arrangements and activities to make sure I don’t get complacent in the next few months, and keep myself busy.

It could be a while before I get a job….before my friends get jobs and before we all end up in the places we want to be, but ever the optimist I say to every graduate out there who feels just the same way I do, don’t give up! We know the score, things aren’t easy for us. So I’m announcing it officially, I’m a graduate, get me out of here! (And into a job if possible ) 🙂

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Body Pride

9 Jun

Body confidence, body respect and body hatred, all are ideas that most people are aware of or familiar with, the hot button issue within the fashion and media industry with thousands of books, classes, articles and websites devoted to helping people with these issues. So why are hundreds of people still suffering with feeling inadequate about their bodies and what can be done?

The Dove advert using 'real' women...more media companies are starting to cotton on and do the same

With statistics from the female body survey showing that the average woman in the UK thinks about the shape and size of her body every 15 minutes, and that a small 4% of women are completely happy with their body, it’s easy to understand why the diet industry is worth £100 billion a year with the amount of anxieties in women, and also men that it has to prey on. The Atkins diet, Cambridge diet and Weight Watchers are only some of the more popular diets that we have all heard of and most likely tried in desperation at some point to feel better about ourselves, however Lucy Aphramor a dietician and founder of the ‘Be Well’ course, promotes a different way of feeling good about who we are and our bodies, without the need for crash diets and extreme weight loss.

Lucy, a dietician working in Coventry with seven years experience has a different approach to health; her ‘Be Well’ course has captured interest from the local community and council. Her classes instead of berating people for their weight ‘promote good health at any shape and size.’

“The focus on weight as a measure of health has brought forward a number of assumptions, such as you have to be thin to be healthy” Lucy says “that you can’t be fat and be healthy and that weight is actually a reliable measure of health. Healthy people come in all shapes and sizes and the important thing is that people have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies, if they have that they’ll eat well and keep active.” Lucy’s passion for helping people overcome body hatred began after clients coming to her for help with weight loss, were no happier or healthier for losing weight.  “Body hatred and dissatisfaction can be found in people of all shapes and sizes, it’s not about trying to fix fat people but trying to fix the way society sees and treats people.”

Lucy’s approach may seem familiar, but she claims it’s far more than just a two dimensional ‘love yourself’ approach to tackling body self consciousness. “It’s working with people trying to get across the message that they and everyone else deserves body respect, not only helping people find acceptance but helping them deal with this sense of shame that they shouldn’t have. We look at social pressure, stigma and oppression”

Lucy’s crusade for ‘good health at every size’ has also gained recognition from other health professionals, Bally Dhugga, a nutritionist now working with Lucy agrees, that her approach is the way forward. “This approach is more structured and ethical, after meeting Lucy I’m now working with other health professionals to raise awareness.”

Bally and Lucy believe that discrimination due to body size is now so common place that it is unchallenged, and both are worried about the effect this will have on the younger generation, Bally has worked with children from local schools and revealed disturbing results. “We did some work with Colewisemen School on self esteem and body image, the kids couldn’t find anything positive to say about themselves, they were convinced that they weren’t good enough” Bally said.

To counter act this, Lucy is looking to the future and aiming to take her ‘Be Well’ course to schools, “we should help kids to start thinking critically about the messages society exposes them to, we could start with size and then there is always the potential to apply this critical thinking to other kinds of discrimination” Lucy says.

Shelia Barsden is a mental health worker who has seen firsthand what the effects of discrimination against size has on mental health in both adults and young children. “The prejudice from society about food and size builds and becomes a mental problem, children should enjoy being children and not worry about what their eating, working with Lucy I have become even more aware of how size and the issues that come with it are related to mental health, in a society where peoples self esteem is now dependant on how you look, depression is common.”

Lucy, Bally and Shelia all agree the media could do more to fight prejudice “the media could be promoting more positive messages” Lucy comments “but the real danger is the health messages that lend credibility to the idea that you should be thin, that diets work and that to be accepted or valued you have to be thin.”

“Children are becoming more body conscious earlier” Bally says “teachers aren’t trained for this and are struggling, what is worrying is that companies are making money off of peoples suffering and that isn’t right is it, it’s about people’s lives and people are suffering.”

Lucy’s class should remind us that we all deserve respect whatever our shape or size, and that much like discrimination against race, gender or background, discrimination against size is just as much a crime and a violation of our human rights. We should have pride in our bodies and ourselves and that diets, self help books and websites can tell us what to think about ourselves and what to change about ourselves, but you know your body best, and should trust it.

The future of journalism

9 Jun

As a person among many living in the twenty first century, I have often taken journalism for granted, it has always been part of the background of everyday life with many never even realising what a constantly developing fixture it is in life, however it is professionals working hard in the industry to provide this information and create new outlets for news, who have first hand experience in how journalism is always reinventing itself.

News is available from so many different media outlets that no one has to go further than pressing a button on their phone to be up to date on the latest events, the public are spoilt for choice of where their news comes from, which has not always been the case.

New media outlets have changed the face of journalism by allowing easier access to news and giving opportunities for any computer user to publish their own information, but with information so easily found we have to ask ourselves will the journalist become redundant, will more traditional outlets of news such as newspapers become unrecognisable in an effort to keep up with the changes or non existent, and what will journalism become?

Changes in journalism are to be expected as the world and people in it develop, this means that journalism is always changing; every person in this world has played a part in altering journalism, when they opted to listen to the radio rather than pick up a newspaper or go online, they changed the way people access journalism. Journalism is defined by the people of its generation in its constant endeavour to provide the public not just with current events in the world but with the information they actually want, for example celebrity news is now more in demand than it would have been in the 1950’s, which shows how journalism is also defined not just by which media outlet the public chooses to use but by what information is in demand. This aim of catering for what the public want can claim responsibility for the specialist magazines and websites, and this aim has also contributed to the creation of a range of newspapers aimed at different readerships, such as the Coventry Telegraph whose aim is to provide news only of interest at the local level to the Guardian which covers everything from international to finance and politics.

This is what makes journalism great; it constantly meets the challenges of keeping current with the public and is shaped around us, the future of journalism will not depend just on the internet as an outlet making newspapers extinct or any other emerging media outlet, it will be decided by the public and by today’s aspiring journalists.

Within universities and colleges lies the future of journalism, being taught what it means to be a journalist by those who have experience in the field, learning from those who have made journalism great and adding to it their own passion and drive to make their mark and put their own stamp in what has always been a developing field.

The future of journalism will be defined by the aspiring student journalists who will in the future add to what journalism becomes, the public who are always shaping what we see as news and choosing what media outlets they want to be their main source of news, and the future of journalism will contain the one element that never changes and is what I consider the foundation of journalism, which is the aim to supply the demand of the public for knowledge.

There is a future for journalism which we can be proud of holding on to the founding principle of journalism no matter how much it has changed, the future of journalism will not be defined by the dieing out of the newspaper or the age of the Internet supplying news, but rather by the people and the passion of the journalists of the present and the future.

The future journalist?

Love Never Dies Review

9 Jun

The Phantom and Christine together again....

As soon as the curtains lift within minutes myself and every member of the audience is completely captivated by the stage as mist, lights, acrobatics, dazzling costumes and music take us away to Coney Island New York. The new playground and domain of the Phantom, as a regular theatre goer I find myself becoming harder to impress, but the extravaganza of a spectacle that is Love Never Dies utilises top technology and techniques to take the audience out of their seats and into the play, in a way this play feels like a personal experience, like my very own trip to Coney Island where the Phantom waits for me.

The holes in some of the plotline left even some of the most diehard Phantom fans slightly sceptical and critics (myself included) unconvinced that it would ever match the glory of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s previous production ‘Phantom of the Opera’ a personal favourite of mine. However considering this production on its own merits, Love Never Dies truly is worth seeing.

Ten years on from when we last saw the Phantom, Christine and Raoul much has changed, now married with a son Gustave, Christine and Raoul are far from wedded bliss with debt, gambling and drink problems shadowing their lives. The Phantom after escaping from the Paris opera house with Madame Giry and her daughter Meg, now runs a popular show on Coney Island but remains unhappy, pining for Christine to return to him, and ‘sing for him once more.’ The Phantom, under the guise of the mysterious Mr Y invites Christine to perform at Coney Island, where he intends to make her his once more. Of course as usual, things are not as they seem and without ruining anything for potential viewers it’s safe to say Mr Lloyd Webber has a few surprises in store for you!

No viewer could fail to be enchanted by the sheer beauty of this production, Phantom fan or not, sumptuous duets and solos from the talented Ramin Karimloo (Phantom) and Sierra Boggess (Christine) will have hearts wrenching and lifting all at once, along with amazing musical numbers from the cast, and some spell binding scores from the orchestra. All comes together to enthral the audience and have them under its spell, one of the most impressive points of the production is how the magic of it all stays with you and not just a few of the audience members as well as me, left humming bars of the songs, and rushing to the theatre shop to buy the CD and take a small part of it home with us.

Love never dies brings romance, intrigue and the world and mind of the Phantom to life for the public to enjoy, and given the chance it may become as treasured by theatre veterans and virgins alike, as its prequel has been.

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