De Montfort celebrates equality with pride

By Sophie Sandberg

February 6 marked the launch of De Montfort University’s third consecutive LGBT History Month with DMU Pride.

The university has this year arranged a series of cultural and sports events spread across February and March to raise awareness for LGBT-related issues.

The aim is to create an environment in which staff and students can be themselves as well as educating people about tolerance and respect for the community.

photo-2017-02-06Nicolle Payne, 23, a third year Journalism student at DMU, has been a member of university’s LGBT+ Society since her first year and said: “I think it is important that the university acknowledges its LGBT students because it shows that we are able to express who we are as people while at university.

“It also helps educating people not only from the straight community but from the LGBT community as well.

“Coming to university I didn’t know who I was and then I joined the LGBT+ society and that made me grow as an individual and I learned a lot about myself.”

DMU has yet again been recognised in the Stonewall Top 100 Employers league, which
is an annual review of workplace culture specifically for LGBT staff.

Students, like Nicolle, saw that as proof of how open the university really is to the LGBT community.

This year DMU partnered up with local authorities and organisations such as the Leicester LGBT Centre, the Curve theatre, the Phoenix cinema and art centre and the Leicester Comedy Festival to make DMU Pride as engaging and eventful as possible.

The full schedule of the events can be found on De Montfort University’s website:




DMU students at the forefront of the Leicester Comedy Festival

By Matthew Knight

DMU students are helping run Peter Pizzeria’s comedy venue across the two-and-a-half week comedy festival.

The festival runs from 8-26 February and welcomes a wide range of comedy to cater for every possible audience.


Abigail Jade Taylor, an Arts and Festival Management student at DMU, is one of the students on the team.

She said: “Over the course of the comedy festival different venues are holding different kinds of comedy, so you’ve got big ones at De Montfort Hall like Jimmy Carr. There’s a lot of smaller ones that are trying out different material in smaller venues.”

In 2015, more than 780 events took place in 65 venues across the 19 days. There’s only room for growth and improvement, and the students at DMU are helping this happen.

Abigail added: “The first year students who are doing Arts and Festival Management at De Montfort are running Peter Pizzeria, so we’re in charge of the whole venue from when it starts to when it finishes. So we’re looking after the acts, making sure the audience is in, selling tickets and doing front of house.”

From the world-class comedian to the local-pub joker, this family friendly festival aims to have enough to keep you entertained for hours.

Abigail added: “Tickets range in price, some of them are free, and then you’ve got bigger comedians who are charging a bit more, but there’s something for everyone.”

Visit the website at for all the information about ticket prices and what’s going on.

Leah tackles sensitive subjects to write collection of short stories



leahby Sam Chambers

A former DMU Journalism student is putting pen to paper to write an interlinked collection of short stories.

Leah Stafford, who studied Creative Writing alongside Journalism, graduated from the university last summer, and was inspired to begin writing her tales following a final-year group project for the former that required her and two colleagues to write and publish a book.

Their publication concerned stories tackling the issue of mental health, and piqued Leah’s interested sufficiently enough for her to begin writing a fresh collection.

She said: “The book is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now.

“I’m not someone who writes happy things, I like taboo subjects – subjects people need to read about but sometimes can’t, stuff like mental health, or abduction or rape.

“I know it’s dark and sensitive, especially for those who have experienced the things I’m writing about, but I hope reading stories like their own inspires those people to be strong.

“I always wanted to write something like this so when we got set the assignment it kind of opened my eyes a little and inspired me to continue with it when I left.”

The as-yet-unnamed collection is still in the creative stage at present, as Leah attempts to balance writing with other commitments such as work.

She said: “I’m still at the writing stage at the minute. Last time, I wrote with other people whereas this time I’m doing it on my own, in my own time.

“Setting my own goals can be hard at times as I am so busy at the minute in my personal life, but having passion for writing pushes me to do that.

“I’ve written a few of the stories and I’m currently planning what I can do for the others.

“I want them all to have significance and link in some way. I’m not quite sure what that will be yet but it’s certainly going to be fun writing it all.”

Though still in the nascent stages of a writing career, Leah is already making plans for future efforts, explaining: “It’s going to take a lot of time to finally get the finished product but I’m already starting to have ideas for more books – so I’m just noting them down.”

Away from writing fiction, Leah has been busy writing for various online platforms, and plans to return to Journalism by studying for her NCTJ qualifications.

She said: “I’ve started my own blog (, so that keeps me up date with writing and getting my work out there.

“I love arts and entertainment so whenever I go see a show or a film or listen to a new album I’ll review it and send it out to online platforms.

“Whilst I’ve been writing reviews, I’ve realised I want to go on and become NCTJ-accredited so I have a better chance at doing what I want to do.”

Leah said her time at DMU has given her a perfect grounding for her fledgling career in writing, and even helps with aspects of everyday life.

She added: “The skills I learnt from both the Journalism and Creative Writing sides of my course balance each other out, fitting together to really help in everything I do.

“Having the stylistic skills and knowledge of how to tell stories from different angles really helps with writing the book.

“Journalism certainly helped with my confidence and being able to talk more openly with people, which helps with my communications in everyday life.”




Leicester is to hold a ‘StoryFest’ celebrating the 50th anniversary of BBC Leicester

By Elliot Leadbetter

Leicester StoryFest is a festival looking at all aspects of the art of storytelling, celebrating 50 years of BBC Radio Leicester.

The event is completely free and begins on Friday 3 March at 10am, with workshops being held at Leicester Cathedral and BBC Leicester which will continue through until 8pm on Saturday, with many professionals attending the event to talk and get involved.

David Hayward, lecturer in Investigative Journalism at De Montfort University and a former BBC producer, is one of the festival organisers, alongside Fran Acheson from the BBC Academy and Kamlesh Purohit of BBC Radio Leicester.

He said: “I think storytelling is fascinating and I think there is a real art to it which everybody should be able do.

“This event is a celebration of stories from the 50 years of BBC Leicester to the great story of the Leicester Cathedral.

“A whole range of things are being covered such as telling stories through the art of music.

“There will also be a number of professional BBC journalists, such as Hugh Sykes, who is a well-respected journalist, discussing how to tell stories through the radio.”

Friday 3 March

  • 10am-12 Cathedral stories at Leicester Cathedral – creative writing workshop for children
  • 11am-4pm Stories of Leicester Food Fair, BBC Leicester – sample the tastes and tales of the best Leicestershire food, from cheese to pies, bread to cider and preserves to Gujarati specialities
  • 1-2pm Smart Phone Stories, BBC Leicester – bring your smart phone to learn how to capture the best video stories
  • 2.15-3.15pm Sound Stories, BBC Leicester – award winning radio journalist Hugh Sykes talks about weaving stories for radio
  • 3.30-4.30pm Sneaky Tales and Undercover Stories, BBC Leicester – BBC investigative internet expert Paul Myers shows how to track and trace stories and secrets on the internet

Saturday 4 March

  • 10am-4pm Every picture tells a story, Leicester Cathedral – children’s activities including dressing up as a Roman soldier and studying the stories in the cathedral windows
  • 10am-4pm Peregrine Scavenger Hunt, Leicester Cathedral – find out about the peregrine falcons hidden in the cathedral gardens (bring your binoculars!)
  • 10am-4pm Name the painting, Leicester Cathedral – local artist Kirsteen Thomson is seeking suggestions for a title for her painting of King Richard III, which will be on display for one day only
  • 11-11.45am & 1.30-2.15pm How to bury a medieval King, Leicester Cathedral – Canon Pete Hobson tells the inside story of the reinterment of King Richard III
  • 11am-4pm Stories of Leicester Food Fair, BBC Leicester – sample the tastes and tales of the best Leicestershire food, from cheese to pies, bread to cider and preserves to Gujarati specialities
  • 11am-12 Smart Phone Stories, BBC Leicester – bring your smart phone to learn how to capture the best video stories
  • 12-4pm Virtually real stories, BBC Leicester – Drop in on the VR film experts from the National Space Centre and experience the new story telling medium of all-around vision and sound
  • 12.15-1.15pm Stories Without Words, BBC Leicester – Mark Ashford, head of guitar at Birmingham Conservatoire, leads a guitar masterclass and explores how the art of storytelling can add resonance to music
  • 2.30-3.15pm A Leicester Story: Joseph Merrick, the ‘Elephant Man’ by new author Joanne Mungovin, at Leicester Cathedral
  • 3-5pm Drop in to the story of Leicester City, BBC Leicester editor Kamlesh Purohit goes behind the scenes for a live broadcast from a Foxes match. Session runs throughout the broadcast, so just turn up!
  • 7.30-8.30pm Toward Stillness concert, Leicester Cathedral – the cathedral choir, DMU Gospel Choir, Vickers Bovey Guitar Duo and DMU Demon Theatre Society join forces for a concert telling stories, in words and music, about evening

Despite all events being free of charge, please register and book sessions on the Eventbrite web page to help organisers plan for how many people will be attending.

Petition fights to prevent tuition fees increase

By Chloe Hewitt

A petition has been set up calling for the government to review plans to further increase university tuition fees.

In England, the total amount of fees an institution can charge a student is set to rise due to inflation.

Sitting at £9,000 currently, some universities, including De Montfort University, will be increasing the amount that they charge students to study at their establishment.

DMU will charge students from the start of the 2017/18 academic year £9,250 – but only those entering their first year.


Discussions took place for the increase to affect all students at the university but was overwhelmingly rejected.

The petition against the increases was set up by Zahra Walji and within days reached 100,000 signatures, meaning it is set to be debated in Parliament.

It is calling for fees to return to the £3,000 that students were once charged before rapidly increasing in 2010 to the £9,000 students are faced with today.

The amount of signatures the petition has is increasing by the minute, unsurprisingly considering the amount of people who are often put off by the idea of going to university due to the high fees to do so.

To sign the petition and fight the proposed increase, go to: