Square Mile volunteers get to know their local community


A hot lunch and a range of thought provoking discussions were on offer today at the Leicester Centre for Integrated Living’s latest Social Media Café.

LCiL, on Andrews Street, teamed up with DMU Square Mile volunteers for the event to provide visitors with talks from Seven Trent Water and the police, as well as a meal from The Real Junk Food Project Leicester.

John Coster, the project manager for LCiL, said:  “We had a good turn out today and it is great to see volunteers and people from the community immersing themselves.

“It is still early doors but obviously people are willing to come in and be introduced to what a community should be.”

Social Media Cafés run every Friday from 11am-3pm with a different theme each week such as ‘Health and Wellbeing’, ‘Products and Services’ or ‘Get Yourself Active’.

Jasper Pan, 20, a second year Economy and Finance student, said:  “I came to volunteer because my friends recommended it.

“I had also heard that it is an opportunity to help people and I really wanted to do something for the community.”

It is not just information provided though, with The Real Junk Food Project on hand each week to show people what you can do with ‘waste’ food.

Alison Preston, 29, a founder of the Real Junk Food Project in Leicester, said:  “We are on an environmental mission to reduce food waste.

“The Real Junk Food is a community interest project with bases all over the country and everyone can help in some way, whether it is scraping plates or playing music in Buskers Corner.”

The volunteer project intercepts food destined for the landfill and uses it create delicious meals sold on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis, allowing customers to spend what they think it was worth.

However, the cafés are just one of the things LCiL does to empower disabled people and organisations to tackle disability and equality issues across society.

There are already a host of events planned for the coming months, most notably a 24 hour newsroom that will run from December 2 at 6pm till the same time on December 3.

Taylor Crosby, 22, Events and Social Media Co-ordinator and graduate of DMU, said:  “We are encouraging students in psychology, politics, education, health and social care and anything else to get involved.

“This event is to raise awareness about disability and we are looking for students who want to learn and can go to companies and say ‘I know about disability and this is how you can improve.’”

For more information on how to volunteer with the Social Media Cafés visit http://www.dmusquaremile.our.dmu.ac.uk.

To get involved with other LCiL events visit http://www.lcil.org.uk.

Canal Clean-up success & it’s just the beginning!



A canal clean-up took place this week as De Montfort volunteers got involved in an ongoing project to tidy Leicester’s waterways.

The programme, run by the Canal and River Trust along with DMU Square Mile, aims to make some of Leicester’s places more attractive for people and wildlife alike.

Tom Freeland, 41, the Volunteer Co-ordinator for the Canal and River Trust, said: “This is an opportunity to get involved in taking an area that gets a bit of punishment, that suffers from people dumping rubbish or vandalism and making it somewhere people care about.”

The session on Thursday is the first of many that will take place each week until November 25 and involves activities such as planting flowers, clearing entrances and litter picking off and on the water.

Mr Freeland added:  “This is an ongoing job, you have to keep at it, but it does make a difference to have that regular work and interest.

“We saw this as a really good opportunity to work with Square Mile to gain different sorts of volunteers.

“This will be the fourth group of students from DMU we have had down and we have already done some nice stuff.”

Along with the satisfaction of helping their community, volunteers also receive professional training, a Higher Education Achievement Report and a Square Mile certificate.

Chandini Patel, 21, a first year Education Studies student, said:  “I like volunteering and helping the community so I thought getting involved with Square Mile would allow me to give back to those who need help and support.”

The project has so far attracted the attention of many international undergraduates like Education Studies student Quinn Franklin, 18, who called the canal a ‘vital aspect’ of Leicester and said he wanted to help improve an area he walks every day before returning home to America.

Chenxi Hu, 20, a third year Business and Finance student, said “It is a very good experience to do different types of volunteer work.

“This is a new project for me and a way to do a service for the people of Leicester and I hope in the future I can do more Square Mile volunteer work.”

For more information or to get involved visit http://www.dmusquaremile.our.dmu.ac.uk.

Journalism tutors deliver WW1 lecture as part of DMUlocal launch

War research: from left are David Penman, John Dilley, Dr David Clarke and Professor John Young

War research: from left are David Penman, John Dilley, Dr David Clarke and Professor John Young

Two Journalism lecturers who are conducting a four-year WW1 research project have played a key role in the launch of DMUlocal.

Programme leader John Dilley and senior lecturer David Penman delivered a lecture at The Venue – with the help of first year Single Honours journalism student Simon Sansome.

The event on November 11 – particularly poignant as it was Armistice Day – also included a lecture by Dr David Clarke from Sheffield Hallam University as well as an Immersive Electroacoustic Music performance created by DMU’s Professor of Composition, John Young.

John said: “We were proud our lecture was part of the DMUlocal launch and the accompanying Research Festival, and we are particularly grateful to Simon, who spoke the words of the Frontline soldiers which have formed a major part of our primary research methodology.”

John and David’s project shows how local newspapers maneuvered round Lord Kitchener’s draconian press censorship laws and produced articles that rivaled the war poets for powerful imagery.

They are focusing their attention on two market town weekly titles which have been published in their respective communities for well over 100 years.

Each week they are blogging extracts in real-time from Leicestershire’s Market Harborough Advertiser and the Ashbourne Telegraph in Derbyshire and are being followed and published by the present-day newspapers too. They are also comparing and contrasting the coverage from national newspapers and current-day academics.

John added: “Millions of words have been written about the First World War but it’s fascinating seeing how the first-time chroniclers of history – the journalists – covered the conflict.

“What’s even more interesting is the way the national papers were shackled by Kitchener and his infamous Press Bureau – commonly referred to as the Suppress Bureau – which meant both soldiers and their families back home knew they were being peddled a lot of spin.”

David said: “Local paper editors got round the hogwash by using the remarkably honest – and graphic – accounts of life at the front written by soldiers in letters home to their market town families.

“There was certainly no shortage of material – around 12 million letters were sent home every week – and the readers truly believed the accounts because they either knew the soldier or knew of his family.”

John’s weekly blog can be found at http://newspapersandthegreatwar.wordpress.com/

and David’s weekly blog can be found at


Curve Theatre hosts backstage tour for students

Front row - DMU arts ane entertainment journalism students at Curve

Front row – DMU arts and entertainment journalism students at Curve

Third year Arts and Entertainment Journalism students spent the morning at Curve Theatre in Leicester as part of their studies into cultural forms such as drama, music and film.

Staff at Curve hosted a tour of the main space as well as the studio theatre and took part in a Q&A with DMU students who heard how programmes are selected and planned more than two years in advance and how specific shows are sold to the public.

Curve associate director Suba Das led the tour and discussions along with communications officers Jonathan Fraser and Nicola Allen, who herself was a student from the very first Arts & Ents cohort from two years ago.

Mr Das answered questions while sat on the set of Curve’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire, while the media team described how they pitched and secured a special Leicester Mercury supplement to promote the theatre’s world premiere last spring of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole.

Module leader Andy Plaice said he believed that journalists interested in writing about the arts have to know their subjects inside out. “Part of that means learning what goes on behind the scenes at a big regional theatre like Curve – who funds it, who is the audience, what they produce and why.

“Feedback after the visit was terrific with several of the group saying they had no idea such a lot of work went into planning a production, from the smaller ones with a limited run to large-scale shows in partnership with people like Cameron Mackintosh.”

The visit coincided with DMU’s theme of employability. Recent cases of other journalism students sampling the world of work include Rachel Fernie’s stint at Fabulous magazine, Mollie Mansfield at NME, Mark Farmer who went to the Hinckley Times and Itunu Para-Mallam who, with her business partner, launched DK Online, www.diamondkelekeloonline.com which “aims to redefine beauty and empower generations through lifestyle, fashion and features”.




Free De Montfort IT sessions support Leicester community



IT4Free began again this month with Square Mile volunteers providing basic IT training to communities around Leicester.

The sessions, which take place at Woodgate Resources Centre and Fosse Neighbourhood Centre on Wednesdays (1.45-3.45pm) and Tuesdays (9am-noon) respectively, aim teach a variety of core computer skills.

Thomas Bannister, 20, a supervisor of the scheme and second year Computer Science student, said:  “So far everyone has said the sessions really helped them so it has been very successful.

“The volunteers have been extremely helpful and it is brilliant to have students from a variety of courses.

“Anyone can come in and ask any query that they can think of and we will do our best to help.”

The project began in 2011 and has so far helped dozens of people of different ages and technical ability with tasks such as email, using Facebook and buying online.

Janet Docherty, 67, a retiree, said:  “I think this was a really good idea where you got one-to-one time with a nice person who explains a lot of different things.

“I did not really want to go into a class because it would be like going back to school so it is lovely that people are prepared to give up their time.

“I have so much technology sitting there waiting to be used and my grandchildren said ‘come on, get smart’, so this is a new start for me.”

The first session was held last week and this week saw many people return to Woodgate Resources Centre with further questions for Square Mile Volunteers.

Sabina Patel, 19, a second year Accounting and Finance student, said:  “I love helping people so IT4Free was perfect to get involved in.

“I heard about DMU Square Mile though some friends who did it last year and loved it so I thought I would try it to.”

Students who get involved will receive free IT training along with a Higher Education Achievement Report and a Square Mile certificate.

For more information or to get involved with IT4Free visit http://www.dmusquaremile.our.dmu.ac.uk.