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Inspiration and University Networks

Thank you to everyone for sharing your inspiring stories and advice surrounding this year's topic! We also have created a tab below about our University networks you can join. Here are your contributions:

Here are some of your inspiring stories on the topic of Mental Health in an Unequal World:

  • I always make a point of calling out casual sexism - be it a friend or an acquaintance, I have always found it important to do so to raise awareness of the issue.
  • Super proud of my daughter (8) who told her teacher and class at school all about the importance of smashing the patriarchy
  • During my degree I remember getting really overwhelmed and feeling like the world was an awful place (Politics and IR degree) and calling home to cry. My mum pointed out that one person can't change everything, so just pick one thing, focus on it and make that change. Since then, I have targeted my energy: trustee for a feminist charity, fundraising for Beat, Amabassador for WAGGGS on the future of the UN MDGs. This focus helps me to see the changes I can make, even when I feel disparing. It also happens that my focus has been on challenging inequalities.
  • For some people our world is a difficult place to navigate even though outwardly they appear and behave like everyone else. That is until something happens - and it might be something that other people might think to be trivial - that is just too challenging for them and they can no longer cope. Our daughter is one of those people. Sharing your life with someone who can struggle with life so badly can be exhausting and stressful as you never know when or what might lead to a desperate situation where they may become incredibly angry or incredibly upset. The worst times are when they withdraw into themselves and nothing you can do or say seems to help and you never know what state they will be in when they finally emerge. As parents, however, we have learned to remember that our daughter experiences life differently and to just be constant, be ready to help when a request comes and not to always try to offer a solution: in short be more of a coach! The occasional hug, some smiles and the odd "love you" from them is reward enough for patience and unconditional love.
  • My mental health proved difficult to manage during my PhD as I worked with a supervisor who was not very supportive of the adjustments I needed. I recently finished my PhD and have had my first paper published. With the support of family, friends and my therapist, I was able to fight to access the support I was entitled to prioritise my wellbeing.
  • It's hard, but where possible try to address words or behaviours that make you feel uncomfortable. I try to call out sexist, racist, homophobic and transphobic speech and behaviours in others when I come across it as some people don't seem to realise the impact of their words or actions until they are made aware. 

Here are a few words from our University networks:

Disability Network - we are a supportive community where you can come and share experiences, seek support and representation and make change. We also aim to raise awareness and visibility of disability issues at the University, to help promote a culture that supports disabled staff and students.

The Trans and Non-Binary Café - a space for trans, non-binary and questioning people, primarily in Exeter and the wider community. It is primarily a student and staff group, though it is also open to the wider community. The Café's primary purpose is to provide a place where members of our community can socialise, support and share ideas together. We try to keep this non-educational, so we ask that allies don’t attend our meetings unless they’re accompanying someone. That said, we don’t gatekeep on who can enter – anyone who feels they belong in the trans community because of their gender identity is welcome. If there’s one thing I’d like you to know about my community, it’s we are in a very difficult and tiring time. Common side-effects of living through these frightening times are a fear of going out, avoidance of public toilets, and being less trusting. In a media environment that is increasingly hostile to transgender people, I would recommend that if you read something about trans people, you also attempt to read something on the same topic written by a trans person.  

International staff and PG students Network - the aim of our group is to provide a space for people to connect, share experiences and information, and provide support to each other. We want to achieve this in a lighthearted way and with humour. It's certainly needed sometimes!

LGBTQ+ Staff Network - we believe it's important to help create an inclusive environment for all sexual orientations and gender identities within the University. We also want to offer a visible and accessible source of support as whilst many people may be comfortable with their own sexual orientation and gender identities and that of others, this may not be the case for everyone.

Parents and Carers Networks - our Parents and Carers Networks are supported by the Parents and Carers Network Committee, chaired by VCEG Champion for Parents and Carers, Professor Dan Charman. They are open to all staff and postgraduate students.

Women on Boards (WOB) - aims to provide further support to achieve gender equality at the University, in particular at the Executive level.