Computer Security student goes the extra mile to help elderly


by Lucy Billington-Groom

As Christmas draws ever closer it’s the time of year that we feel the need, as a nation, to help those around us. I spoke to a De Montfort University student about the Square Mile project he’s involved with and why more of us feel the need to offer our services during the winter months.

William Dilling, pictured , a computer security student, has been regularly participating in drop-in sessions to aid the elderly in the use and understanding of technology for the past three months.

The project is run by De Montfort’s own Square Mile in which students visit community centres in Leicester and the public can come along and get help with their technology based issues.

The sessions are free and there is no sign-up required. With a varying attendance every session it’s a very relaxed and non-committal environment.

Each session is easy-going and takes on a question based structure and, if you have no idea on what to ask, they start with a basic walk through: how to log in, how to get on the internet, how to type, etc.

When asked about his motivation behind his volunteering William said: “It’s a real feel- good experience, not being from Leicester it allows me to feel more connected to the community and I feel like a real part of Leicestershire life.”

The project is called IT4Free and they provide a set of computers to work with or you can bring your own device: phone, tablet or laptop for specific help.

In recent years it has become more imperative that the elderly are able to access and use new technology, “everything is going digital,” said William, “bills, banking, and even more recently pensions which is a worry for many of the people that see me for help.”

William continued: “It doesn’t particularly help with my studies but does help build me as a person and makes me more unique in an employability sense.”

It’s around the holidays that traditionally people become more charitable. “It’s helping people in a time that is hardest,” states William, “it’s cold, it’s a time to share with family and if you don’t have family then it can be very isolating. No one deserves to be alone especially at a time dedicated towards family in such a large way.”

When asked about students being stereotypically lazy and selfish William replied, “I think we’re the same as everyone, I don’t think there is a difference young or old it’s how you were brought up, if you’re not helping people now chances are you never will.

“It’s you as an individual that makes a difference despite age, race or gender.”

So embrace the season of giving and perhaps give a little of your time this Christmas.

IT4Free can be found at Woodgate community centre on Wednesday 1.45pm-3.30pm.

Labour students help Leicester homeless at Christmas


by Alex Murray

Students at De Montfort University are to begin a drive to help the homeless in Leicester this Christmas.

The Labour Students Society are asking De Montfort students and members of the public to donate any spare items that will assist the homeless in this tough period.

With temperatures dropping and Christmas approaching, many on the streets will have a tough time over the festive period.

Jack Loveys, pictured right, said: “The Labour Society are aiming to help as many people as they can this Christmas with this appeal, with any donation being a massive help to Leicester’s homeless.”

In 2015, government statistics revealed that 3,569 people slept rough on any one night across England. This gets worse over the Christmas period, as money becomes tight for many people.

The society is looking for any non-perishable food items, with Christmas treats and Christmas dinner ingredients also helping. They are are also after any clothes, toiletries and gifts that anyone could spare for Leicester’s homeless.

Anyone willing to donate can bring their items to the final Labour meeting on Monday December 12. Alternatively, items can be dropped off at the Hawthorn Building Help Zone before Tuesday, December 13.

Jack also added “Any donation will help the cause massively, so please give what you can!”

Frustrated driver launches petition to cut cost of car insurance


by Liam Smalley

A teenager from Leicestershire has launched an online petition in the hope of cutting car insurance prices for newly-qualified drivers.

Jonathon Batson, 18, recently passed his driving test and was shocked when he was quoted £1,900 for his first year of driving.

He said, “It’s ridiculous, I’m working part time on a zero-hour contract whilst paying for university, it makes me regret learning to drive.”

According to the average cost of motor insurance for the 17-22 age group is estimated to be £1,277.

Jonathon, pictured, “When you spend every penny you have on buying the car, how do they expect you to afford an amount like that.

Jonathon currently owns a 2001 model, 1.3 Ford Fiesta and thinks the price quoted is too much.

“That’s why I started the petition, to help people like me and to put an end to the extortionate prices that we’re given.”

Jonathon’s petition has gained over 10,000 supporters in just over a week, and he is hoping it is the first to be discussed in parliament.

Jonathon, “I’ve seen petitions like this before, but they never make it to the 100,000 mark needed to be discussed in parliament.

“I really hope it makes it, because it’s an issue that affects so many young drivers.”

The government has commented on this issue before stating: “Responsibility for setting premiums rests with insurers.”

But Jonathon doesn’t believe that those in power are completely powerless, when made aware of this statement he said: “That’s ridiculous, the Scottish government manage to cover university fees, yet our government aren’t able to help spare us a few quid when it comes to insurance.”

Jonathon has decided to put a halt to his driving career and focus on his academic studies, at least for the time being.

Christmas cards help raise mental health awareness



by Sophie Sandberg

De Montfort University students are being urged to buy Christmas cards to raise the awareness of mental health problems.

DMU’s psychology society is this year selling seasonal greetings cards with the profit  donated to the charity  Mind.

Elizabeth Stokes, 28, chair of the DMU psychology society and volunteering coordination started the university’s first Christmas appeal dedicated to mental illness.

She found out about the organisation as she was searching the Internet for Christmas appeals that the society could support.

Miss Stokes says that mental illness is something that is an important issue to her and the other members of the psychology society: “Psychology is the field we want to go into and it is a passion for many of us students and society members. It affects everyone either directly or indirectly. There has also been a government cut in funding which has cut resources.”

Mind is an organisation with more than 140 offices around the UK that provides people with help and support to understand their mental condition and how to treat it.

Miss Stokes said: “I think it’s a charity close to many people as a lot of people experience stressful situations which can lead on to this, especially to students since a mean average of 36% can develop depression. Therefore, prevention is key.”

If you want to contribute to this cause you can buy your Christmas cards or make a donation on the lower ground floor in the Hawthorn building located on the De Montfort University campus, where you can find representatives from the psychology society.


Consider a career in mental health care


Lydia Campbell

by Olivia Mumby

It takes a certain type of person to work in the mental health industry, with many people’s prejudice stopping them from taking an interest in a career.

Many mental health workers agree that a shortage of staff is a problem many homes are keen to overcome.

Offering an inside look into the profession is Lydia Campbell, senior support worker at Acorn Close care centre, Shepshed. Acorn is home to 28 residents with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

When asked what she found most interesting about her role, Lydia said: “There is never a dull day. There are always challenges to overcome with the people we look after.”

Earning the residents’ trust takes time, with relationships building slowly. “Some residents have come from a bad past and have been put through different types of abuse.” However, Lydia said that making progress and making a difference to people’s lives was, “very rewarding”.

Staff often accompany the residents on trips out, such as to the zoo or the local shops. There is even a yearly residents’ holiday to the seaside which staff can attend.

It is clear that no two days are the same, as Lydia recalled: “One elderly male resident called 999 from his room in the middle of the night,” claiming that a murder had occurred, before we knew it an armed police unit turned up to search the building for a dead body! It was serious at the time but everyone laughs about it now.”

Although it is clear that those who work in this industry care deeply, many mental health workers believing that it is also clear that there is a real need for more staff.

There is a strong sense within those who work in this field that if more people opened their minds to consider mental health care as a career, then those who need help would be better supported.