Homeless but not helpless

IMG_3777By Harry Daynes, Natalia Bolechowska and Cherelle Cawthorn

Homelessness in Leicester has become a major issue in recent years; in November 2011 there was 53 rough sleepers, the highest figure outside of London.

There is a conflicting debate between Leicestershire Council and the homeless network as to how much support is available to the homeless.

One 37-year old man named Peter became homeless when his business went under, he was unable to repay his mortgage and faced repossession.

He said: “[Leicester council] keep closing the hostels in Leicestershire and the more hostels they close the harder it is for homeless people to get rooms. It’s not ideal but there’s not a lot you can do. You’ve just got to do the best you can with what you’ve got.”

Walking through the streets of Leicester it is clear that there is an issue regarding the number of homeless people.

However, included in Leicester city council’s principles of their homelessness service they claim that anyone who is at risk of becoming homeless will be given advice and support to prevent this, wherever possible.

Despite this principle, support is not always available for those with certain circumstances.

Peter said: “I’m waiting for a room to become available at The Dawn Centre but because I’ve got a dog, they’ve only got a selected amount of rooms with kennels as they’re full.

“My children know I’ve gone through a hard time but they don’t know the extent of it, I try and stay in Bed and Breakfasts’ when I can but obviously that depends on members of the public and how generous they are.”

Leicester council claim that their homeless service costs £4.49 million per year but more funding is always needed.

One of the many events that raise awareness and funds towards homeless charities, such as Action Homeless, is the DeMontfort University Sleep-out in which students sleep on the steps of their student union overnight to raise sponsorship.

Although the feeling amongst the homeless is that the council and the government are not doing enough, a city council spokesperson said: “We always offer support to people who come to us in need of accommodation. They would get a full assessment of need from us, so that we can help them not just with housing, but with other problems they may be experiencing.

“We often support people to return to their previous accommodation, if it is safe and practical for them to do so. We also help people to start their own tenancies, and we have 85 units offering specialist accommodation with additional support with education, employment or learning to live independently.

“Our aim is to prevent homelessness, but we do also have plans in place to help anyone who finds themselves without a home, so that no-one need sleep rough in the city.”

Journalism student lands job before graduating

A journalism student from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has started a full-time job at a local newspaper even before graduating.



Katrina Chilver, 21, started this week as a trainee reporter at the Berkshire Media Group, which produces the Slough & South Bucks Observer, The Royal Borough Observer that covers Windsor and The Villager, all from their offices in Slough.

For Katrina, from Maldon in Essex, securing her ideal job came after only recently completing her final year studying DMU’s NCTJ-accredited Journalism course.

She said: “This was the second interview I went to and I got a really good feeling from the workplace and the people there – and then I found out I had got it!

“I have known since I started the course that this is what I want to do and to get the opportunity to work for a well-established newspaper that is at the heart of the community is exactly what I want to be doing.

“This is the perfect place to start for the career I see myself having.”

DMU’s Journalism courses have been accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) for almost 20 years and the undergraduate degree teaches students about reporting, subbing and design plus law and public affairs as well as shorthand.

Katrina added: “I would recommend the course to anyone with an interest in journalism because it gives you first-hand experience and prepares you for the world of work.”

She also been news editor of the university’s student-led newspaper, The Demon, for the last two years and was Midlands officer for the national Student Publication Association and says the experience gained in both has been invaluable.

Tim Cole, editor of all four publications, said: “Katrina came in with a very well-rounded and balanced understanding of what is required in the multimedia age of journalism.

“We asked her to discuss the value, problems and advantages of print and social media and she came up with very interesting views for what works best in each format.

“She was particularly keen to serve in a local context and her attitude was something we saw would fit in well.”

* Visit our state of the art newsroom on the next DMU open day
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As for the importance of NCTJ qualifications, Mr Cole said: “That is vital. We go through all the candidates – and we had an awful lot – and immediately anyone who has not done the NCTJ-course is excluded as it is so important.”

Programme leader and senior journalism lecturer John Dilley, himself an experienced journalist and former newspaper and magazine editor, said: “We are all absolutely delighted that Katrina has got the job and in giving her a reference I said that she will make a brilliant addition to the newsroom.

“Katrina marked herself out from day one as someone who wanted to go the extra mile and she has demonstrated that throughout.

“Being on an NCTJ accredited course is a huge advantage because of the attention to reporting, shorthand and the opportunities it gives to get out into the real world.”

– See more at: http://www.dmu.ac.uk/about-dmu/news/2015/june/journalism-student-lands-job-before-graduating!.aspx#sthash.31vLbYcv.dpuf

Election Day Playlist

By Antonio Scancariello

With Election Day knocking on British doors, here is a list of five of the most important politically charged songs.

It is not unusual to hear politicians quoting specific songs or singers so here we look at the most powerful political songs from the past.

5. U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday

Probably the last popular politically charged song. Issued in 1983, recorded for the album “War”, it is about the “Bloody Sunday” during which 14 Irish protesters lost their lives during a demonstration in 1972.

“And the battle’s just begun/There’s many lost but tell me who has won”, the song went, before crying out its message of peace, quite a rhetorical one: “How long…How long must we sing this song…How long…” 

4. The Clash – Charlie Don’t Surf

Protest, or politically charged messages, and The Clash certainly go hand in hand. The first of their songs that would generally spring to mind would be “London Calling” and only few careful listeners would point out “Charlie Don’t Surf.”

Later on quoted in the Apocalypse Now movie, the title of this song original referred to the then-aging Cold War, the duality between USA and Russia, and their threats of a nuclear war.

Charlie is the stereotypical American and the fact he does not want to surf may mean the Western superpower will to never settle down and abandon its imperialistic policies.

The third verse of the song strengthens this interpretation:

“The reign of superpowers must be over/So many armies can’t free the Earth/ Soon the rock will roll over/Africa is choking on their Coca-Cola.”

One more hint: the song was included in the 1980 album called Sandinista! a word Margaret Thatcher’s imposed censorship on. The term referred to member of the Nicaraguan political party led by Augusto Cesar Sandino, whose army opposed the US invasion in the 1930s.

In the 1980s many political movements were inspired by the song’s rejection of the growing Western economic hegemony in the region.

3. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA

Quite unusual to see “The Boss” among politically charged authors, at least before Barak Obama’s election.

This song, however, did criticise the US political establishment of the 80s, between a misunderstanding and the other.

Lyrics like “Got in a little hometown jam so they put a rifle in my hand/Sent me off to a foreign land to kill the yellow man,” were undoubtedly written remembering the Vietnam War, which did not spare those who got back home either: “I’m ten years burning down the road/Nowhere to run, I ain’t got nowhere to go.”

However, the then US President Ronald Reagan, used its title during his rallies and mistakenly interpreting the song as a patriotic hymn.

No wonder Springsteen himself objected the president’s words carefully keeping the distances.

2. Bob Marley – Buffalo Soldiers

It is hard to leave Marley out of this kind of charts. The Jamaican reggae-man certainly said a word of two about politics, human and civil rights.

Songs like “Get Up Stand Up” or “Redemption Song,” certainly ring a bell or two. But probably Marley’s political and civil committment is best represented by the equally famous “Buffalo Soldiers.”

The song originally recalled the Union African-American soldiers who fought in the Civil War but also highlighted how they were treated like second class citizens many years later, in the 60s and the 70s.

“Stolen from Africa/Brought to America/fighting on arrival/fighting for survival.”

1.Bob Dylan – The Times they are a-changin’

Probably the most recognisable politically-charged singer, Dylan embraced a whole generation’s dreams and hopes in the 1960s and this song is its manifesto.

“This was definitely a song with a purpose,” he would later say. “The civil rights movement and the folk music movement were pretty close for a while and allied together at that time.”

That same year saw the arrival of the Civil Rights Act, putting an end to racial segregation in the US, as the New Statesman reported.

There are, however, some shadows on this song as it was sometimes considered a work of cynicism.

As reported by The Rolling Stones, when Tony Glover, a friend of Dylan, found a draft of the song in a typewriter, he said ‘What’s that shit, man?’

And Dylan responded: “Well, you know, it seems to be what the people like to hear.”

At any rate, this did not prevent him from framing a whole generation history in a 3 minutes folk-song.


  • The Who-Won’t Get Fooled Again
  • Peter Gabriel-Biko
  • Woody Guthrie-This Land is Your Land
  • Pete Seeger-Where Have all the Flowers Gone
  • Billie Holiday-Strange Fruit
  • Marvin Gaye-What’s Going On
  • The Special AKA-Free Nelson Mandela
  • John Lennon-Imagine
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young- Ohio

The rise of the cyber bully

By Rhea Turner

When most people think of the word crime, a mugging or a murder springs to mind. But there is a new crime on the rise and it is tearing lives apart.

Cyber Bullying is the new crime on the block. Statistics show that a shocking half of adolescents and teenagers have been bullied online, with the same percentage having engaged in cyberbullying and more than 1 in 3 young people has experienced threats from cyberbullies.

Cyber bullying is invading people’s technology and their homes. And the impact it is having is devastating. Like any form of bullying, victims can be left with low self-esteem, confidence issues and isolate themselves. Unfortunately this is not the worst of it.

In October 2006, Megan Meier an American teenager was found hanging three weeks before her 14th birthday. An investigation into her death found that her suicide was attributed to cyber bullying through social network Myspace.

Codie Wileman, 19, is a student from Church Gresley who knows only too well how cyber bullying can damage people’s lives. She was cyber bullied by someone she knew for over a year on social media platforms including ask fm and facebook. During this time Codie was labelled ‘weird and fat’ as well as an ‘attention seeking ugly sl*t’ and told to ‘slit her throat as it would be better for everyone if she was dead.

She said: “Cyber bullying is emotionally destroying. It was the worst year of my life. I felt unwanted and often went to bed hoping that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. Because its on the internet it is public and I constantly felt like I was being laughed at. I didn’t feel like I had the freedom to wear what I wanted or be myself.

It was so mentally draining. Cyber bullies don’t think about the scars, the pain and the consequences. The problem is they probably don’t even realise what they are doing and maybe they would think twice if they knew that cyber bullying is a criminal offence.”

Codie advises victims of cyber bullying to report it and hopes that by doing so they will raise awareness of the dangers of cyber bullying and the seriousness of the crime. She said:           “Tell someone before it gets too late, don’t allow some low-life on the computer to define who you are.”

Codie also has a message for the cyber bullies. She urges them to think before they act, she wants them to know that they are destroying lives.’

Emma Riordan, 26, is a community manager from Mackworth, Derby. She monitors social media activity in the video games industry and has witnessed vile acts of cyber bullying which has resulted in trauma for people she knows.

She witnesses cyber bullying on a daily basis in her job but was shocked when a colleague of hers was abused personally on twitter.

She said: “She was the victim of abuse on a scale I’d not seen before. They were insisting she was a fraud and impersonating someone else, calling her ugly, telling her she should kill herself before someone else killed her to do the world a favour. It was horrible. From the nature of the tweeting, the person behind the abuse was clearly suffering with some sort of mental illness or issues but it was still disturbing to see.”

The experience opened Emma’s eyes to the strength of social media platforms and the anonymity they provide for bullies. She said: “These cyberbullies feel that by masking their identity they can get away with appalling behaviour.

“Those who hide their identity perhaps feel they can say things online that they couldn’t bring themselves to say in real life. And because the abuse is carried out privately rather than in public with witnesses, that the victim is less likely to speak out.”

Cyber bullying can have many long -term effects and has the ability to make victims feel very alone.

Emma said: “The abuse goes directly to the personal devices with which victims rely on in their everyday lives, it violates them. And can go unseen by the victim’s relatives.”

But what happens when the tables are turned on these bullies?

Brenda Leyland, 63, committed suicide after being exposed as a troll who targeted the family of missing girl Madeline McCann. She tweeted about Kate and Gerry McCann 4,220 times in a year accusing them of neglect and playing in a role in their daughter’s disappearance. Shortly after being confronted by a news crew on her tweets, Mrs Leyland took her own life.

Such tweets, messages and threats are prominent in todays technologically based culture, and increasingly in gaming, but Cyberbullying is not a game. It’s a crime.

If you are the victim of cyber bullying and would like some support contact: http://www.cybersmile.org/helpline

Case Study

A 24-year-old English woman, Michelle Chapman, was recently sentenced to 20 months in prison after bullying herself on her own Facebook page. She created multiple fake accounts and posted crude, hostile remarks on her personal Facebook page, with the purpose of framing her mother and stepfather.

Chapman set up multiple profiles in the names of her family members, and sent herself many abusive messages over the course of a year, many of which, were of a “very unpleasant sexual nature.”

As strange as this case is, it’s had real and harmful effects. The marriage between her father and stepmother deteriorated in the wake of the allegations, and several other relatives of Chapman’s had their lives disrupted by police.

“People have suffered a great deal of distress as a result of your wicked behavior,” the ruling judge in the case said.

My Relationship with: Depression

By Rhea Turner

As I sit across from Anna I can see the fear etched on her face. She fumbles with her hands and looks shiftily around the room. She is about to address one of society’s biggest taboos as she tells us about her difficult relationship with Depression. This is Anna’s story…

“Growing up everything was normal. I had a family and friends and I had dreams and aspirations like everyone else. I would never in a million years have predicted the path that my life was going to take.”

Anna was just 17 when she met and fell in love with Anthony Steel.

“He was 24 and the cheekiest most caring man. I was head over heels.” Their relationship developed quickly and it wasn’t long before Anthony was asking for Anna’s hand in marriage. “Everything was perfect, and when we found out I was expecting we were over the moon. I wasn’t scared for one minute.”

The pair were driving to Anna’s first ante-natal scan when tragedy struck. The couple, alongside Anna’s mother were involved in a serious collision with a lorry. The crash claimed Anthony’s life and left Anna and her mother critically ill.

Anna’s life was turned upside down. “I had lost the love of my life and my world was just turned on its head. I was in the hospital for a really long time and when I got out everything was different.”

After being discharged from the hospital Anna was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and post-natal depression. She says: “I just couldn’t cope. I was a mess and I struggled to look after myself and care for my daughter.”

Anna knew something wasn’t right but tried to hide it. “I tried to act normal, it wasn’t until I had a huge panic attack in a supermarket I admitted to myself that I needed help.”

Her depression spiralled when Anna was forced to nurse her dying mother, watching as her health deteriorated.

Anna reacted by walking into violent relationships and financial difficulties.

“My life as I knew it was gone and I couldn’t cope with the past. I didn’t realise it at the time but I was allowing myself to be punished. I blamed myself for Tony’s death and I didn’t believe that I deserved to be happy.”

“That’s when the anxiety started to get the better of me. It became bigger and bigger and It began to take over my life. I stopped going out of the house. My relationships suffered and I lost a big part of myself. I gave up on me.”

“I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t look after myself. I couldn’t be around people. I became claustrophobic in the most open of spaces. The smallest detail like picking up my children from school would trigger a panic attack.”

As Anna’s anxiety and panic attacks developed she was diagnosed with Agoraphobia, a condition which is defined as an extreme or irrational fear of open or public places. She was prescribed with a number of anti-depressants including amitriptyline and citalopram, and beta blockers to help with her anxiety.

She says, “There is no way to explain a panic attack. It was the scariest feeling, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, like people were closing in on me and I was going to die.” Her depression and anxiety was so bad that she became confined to her home. “I literally spent the last twenty years of my life trapped in the same four walls.”

It was when Anna hit ‘rock bottom’ that she decided to take control of the disease.

“I became paranoid. There were moments when I felt like I needed a way out. For me the worst time was when I thought I could hear voices coming from the television. They were speaking directly to me. They were telling me to hurt myself. I decided then that I couldn’t go on like that. I had wasted half of my life and I was ashamed of the person I had become.”

For the past year, Anna has been attending counselling sessions and has slowly been working up the courage to leave the house. Two weeks ago she went to her city centre for the first time in 16 years. “I reached a point where I had to step up. I wanted to be better, for myself and for my kids.”

Anna thinks it is important to share her experiences with depression with others. “People can be quite ignorant. There is such a stigma attached to depression and mental illness. I think there is a lack of understanding, education and awareness around the subject. When I was really ill, people said awful things to me. They told me that I was lazy and just using my illness as an excuse but no one would choose to have depression.”

High Profile cases such as the suicides of actor Robin Williams and footballer Gary Speed have highlighted the extent to which people hide and suffer in silence and Anna has urged people who feel low and depressed, to seek help.

“If you cannot talk to a friend talk to a stranger. Don’t be afraid, there is help available and by suffering in silence you let depression take hold of you and control your life.”

Although there is a long road left ahead Anna knows ‘there will be good days and bad days’ but she is ‘determined to not be a victim of depression anymore.’

Thankfully for Anna, today is a good day and she is hopeful that there are plenty more left to come.

For more information, visit: http://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/depression.php

Or call: 0845 790 9090

 Did you know…?

  • Women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression in their lifetime.

  • Men and women experience depression differently—while women tend to experience sadness and guilt, men often feel restless or angry and are more likely to turn to alcohol and drugs to cope.

  • Only 50% of people actively seek conventional treatment for depression, although a majority of people do find some relief through treatment.

  • Depression causes unnecessary suffering and is a risk factor for suicide.

  • Women and adults between the ages of 45 and 64 are most likely to meet the criteria for major depression; however, over 3% of youth ages 13-18 have also experienced a debilitating depressive episode.

  •  All statistics sourced from: http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/conditions/anxiety-depression