University lecturers’ union to start further six days of strike action

By Juniper Rose

University lecturers are to resume their strike action from tomorrow (WEDSMarch15) to run every day until Wednesday next week.

The dates for the continued strike action by lecturers’ union the UCU were announced on February 28 while talks continued over pay, working conditions and other elements.

Standing together: UCU strikers and students supporting them at Leeds University

Various strike days had been held in November and February but were then paused while talks took place, although action short of a strike continued.

UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said the reason for these further strike dates was to “focus the employers mind as talks come to a conclusion.”

Talks and negotiations are set to come to a close at the end of this week and the start of next week, but Ms Grady said employers need to have “on them the maximum amount of pressure” in order to push for a better outcome for staff following negotiations. 

A researcher at De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester, who did not want to be named, said, until the workload on staff is addressed, they felt no real progress could be made in the dispute.

They said a workload survey provided to DMU by the UCU branch provided “shocking results” from teaching staff.

“The survey shows shocking results in particular about health damages to staff due to the current workload system,” they said, giving the example of block teaching as a method of teaching which is “very problematic” in relation to workloads.

They added: “I hope that by seeing their teachers on strike, the students can reflect about their teacher’s determination to fight for a better university.

“I am sure no students likes to see their teachers stressed, tired, and unable to spend five extra minuets to talk about an assessment, their worries, or to explore career options.”

The union says many lecturers are in support of the strikes as the workload, pay, working conditions and casualisation of contracts are having a massively negative impact on staff as well as the quality of education they are able to offer to their students. There has also been an overwhelming amount of support for the strikes from university students. 

Matt Reay, a Politics and International Relations student from the University of Leicester, said: “I feel the progress was somewhat getting better despite the fact that unions have felt the need to go for more strikes.”

He added that the union’s actions display that “clearly the demands need to be met to ensure a greater education for those who pay for it and those who are providing it.”

He feels the strikes have had a “somewhat interesting effect on students,” with most seeming to support the strikes, but others wanting a full and fair education because they are paying money for it.

Matt believes the inadequate pay being given to university staff is something that universities need to work on to “ensure their lecturers are fairly paid for their work.” 

Alex Burt, a Politics and Sociology student from the University of Leicester, said they do not feel they are in a place to comment on the progress made before the announcement of upcoming strikes.

They added: “However, I do hope they are closer to a resolution so that the disruption and instability can end.

“The strikes will have an obvious impact on studies, but so does unsupported and overworked staff.”

They also complained that the support offered to students by universities was poor and it was unclear what students are actually being offered.

“In a marketised system, students become cash cows while staff become a drain on the profit margin rather than being treated as the lifeblood of the university that they are,” they said. 

‘Run for Redfern’: more than 60 joggers join Leicester fundraising challenge in memory of much-loved former DMU student

By Alfie Linville-Sibley

The second annual ‘Run for Redfern’ arrived at the steps of the De Montfort University student union at the weekend as scores of joggers honoured the memory of much-loved DMU alumnus Adam Redfern.

The air was filled with cheers and applause on Sunday as students, staff, and Adam’s friends crossed the finish line, blazing red in their ‘Run for Redfern’ tees, after the completing the 5km course across Leicester from Victoria Park to the heart of the DMU campus. 

More than 60 runners took part in the run, raising up to £1,500 for the Adam Redfern Memorial Fund, which provides a student scholarship and aims to make DMU a ‘heart safe campus’. Adam died of a sudden heart attack while out jogging in March 2021. He was just 28.

After starting at 11am, all the runners were over the line by noon. Following the race, Adam’s parents, Christine and Ian Redfern, gave a short speech to the runners in the DSU in front of a banner bearing a picture of their son.

“We wanted to give everybody a chance to run and remember Adam this year, and seeing this growth in just one year is amazing,” Ian said.

The first ‘Run for Redfern was held in 2022, with eight of Adam’s friends running on a sponsorship basis. Between them, they raised £3,000 for the memorial fund.

Elgan Hughes, one of those original eight, said: “Seeing so many students sat in the Union on a cold Sunday morning like this is amazing. After last year we realised Adam deserved something bigger to remember him, so we decided to open it up to everyone this year.”

“Hopefully next year everyone that’s here today will bring a friend along, and then the same will happen the year after, that’s the ultimate goal,” Elgan said.

“It was a big job to organise this, between the council and the staff at the Union and De Montfort everybody involved was fantastic. Hopefully, we’ll see you all again next March for an even bigger Run for Redfern,” Ian Redfern said.

Adam Redfern

The memorial fund keeps Adam’s memory alive by creating opportunities for students with a flair for journalism, media or sport through a scholarship, allowing third-year students the chance to pursue their passions.

Adam, who has been described as “the best of DMU in one person”, was a Journalism (BA) graduate who went on to work as part of the Student Union and later joined DMU’s social media team.

Christine Redfern said: “The first scholarship has gone out this year to a film student, and seeing what she’s doing with the opportunity is amazing.”

The memorial foundation is also aiming to fund the installation and related training for on-campus defibrillators to make DMU ‘heart safe’ and raise awareness for SADS (sudden arrhythmic death syndrome), when someone dies following an unexplained cardiac arrest.

Runner Richard Bowden, a former colleague of Adam’s, said: “Adam was always looking for opportunities to support students. He made lots of DSU roles paid so students would be more rewarded and the DSU would be better staffed.”

Click here to make a donation to the Adam Redfern Memorial Fund.

Adam Redfern’s legacy continues with second ‘Run for Redfern’

By Molly Lee

A second ‘Run for Redfern’ in memory of De Montfort University (DMU) graduate and staff member Adam Redfern will be taking place on Sunday (MARCH5) to raise money for charity.

The 5km fundraiser run will begin at 11am in Victoria Park in Leicester and will finish at the Students’ Union (DSU) building on the DMU campus.

All money raised by the run will go towards the Adam Redfern Memorial Fund which was established after Adam’s died following a cardiac arrest.

The fund strives to give students with a passion for media, journalism and sports opportunities to improve their future careers.

Adam was a well-loved member of the DMU community, both as a student, a DSU Executive Officer and later as an employee working for the university’s communications team.

Elgan Hughes, Head of Membership Services at DMU, said: “I had the honour of calling him a friend. Adam had a huge passion for making a positive difference and he always put others and students before himself.”

Family, friends and colleagues of Adam hope that his legacy will carry on through DMU in the years to come, especially with the university’s initiative to become a Heart Safe Campus.

Paul Hindle, Associate Director of Communications at DMU, and a close colleague of Adam, said: “The real success would be that long after I’ve left DMU and all of the people who knew Adam have left DMU, the prizes and the scholarships under his name are still going strong. Certainly, as far as his colleagues go, we will never forget him.”

Since Adam’s passing, DMU has increased publicity about the location of defibrillators on campus and how to use them.

Ian and Christine Redfern, Adam’s parents, said: “The sudden and unexpected nature of his passing left a huge hole in our lives.”

They added: “For obvious reasons, shining a light on cardiac risk in young adults is something very close to our own hearts.”

The fundraiser run and the memorial fund have had huge successes since their establishment and organisers hope to continue Adam’s legacy for future generations of DMU students.

Places for the event can be booked via the DSU website here:  with an entry fee of £5.

Candlelit vigil in Leicester for Brianna Ghey, 16, who was stabbed to death in Cheshire

By Shaikha Rahimi

Many similar vigils have been planned across the UK

Brianna Ghey (Image: Cheshire police handout)

Leicester will join cities across the UK in paying tribute to transgender teenager Brianna Ghey, who was fatally stabbed in a park.

A candlelit vigil in memory of the 16-year-old will be held at the Clock Tower in the city centre at 5.30pm on Saturday. It is one of many vigils being held throughout Britain to honour her memory.

Brianna, a Year 11 pupil from Birchwood, Warrington, was found on a path in Linear Park, in Culcheth, Cheshire, last Saturday. Police said she had been stabbed several times.

A boy and girl, both aged 15 and from Warrington, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared at the Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday after being charged with murder. 

The provisional trial date has been set for July 10.

Vigils organised by members of the LGBTQ+ community have been held in cities such as London, Glasgow, and Belfast. Leicester’s vigil for Brianna has been organised by a number of groups, including Enough is Enough Leicester.

Following her tragic death, Brianna’s family paid an emotional tribute to her, describing Brianna as “strong and fearless.”

They said that a “massive hole” had been left in their family after her death. The full statement issued through Cheshire Police said: “Brianna was a much loved daughter, granddaughter, and baby sister.”

People attending the vigil on Saturday are encouraged to bring candles, signs and tributes.

‘My father died of a drug overdose when I was four years old’

Sometimes I’d like to imagine my dad as a billionaire or a spy working on secret missions around the world or a superhero, doing good things and helping others, writes Madi Bowman.

Sometimes it would be fun to think about what birthday cards he might have chosen for me, or what his favourite songs were.

Sometimes I wonder what it might have been like to draw both my parents on art days or address Father’s Day cards to him, rather than just my mum.
Sometimes I wonder what my parents were like when they were together. Did he love her, my mum? Did he love me? Why wasn’t he there to drop me off at school like my best friend Molly’s dad?

I used to wonder how much I looked like him. I still don’t know what he looked like as an adult – and I never knew why there were only pictures of him as a child. Sadly, the truth about my father wasn’t anything I’d ever imagined. The truth was he was a lonely, homeless drug addict who spent his last day on earth face down choking on his own vomit.

My father died from a drug overdose when I was four years old.

Missing someone you don’t know is a strange feeling. Nobody wanted to talk about my dad when I was little. To my nan, his mum, he was an angel who did no wrong. To my uncle Andy, my dad’s younger brother, my dad threw his life away. Andy was angry and upset with the path my dad had chosen. My mum says he was abusive ex who had abandoned her through her pregnancy.

To me, he was a stranger. For years I was told I was too young to know what happened. And as much as I tried to find out about him and the sort of person he was, it made me wish I could go back to pretending he was on a spy mission, like Tracey Beaker used to do.



He was very troubled, I know that. And sometimes I wonder what could lead a person down the terrible path my dad decided to take. I know people deal with pain and guilt in different ways. Maybe he thought he could never live up to being a good father, which is understandable. But the saddest part, for me, is that he never tried.

My mum has never talked to me about my dad. The mention of his name in my house turns on a tap of emotion that we don’t know how to deal with. So we don’t. I don’t talk about him. We don’t touch that tap. It seems easier that way.
My mum was only 16 years old when she had me and she’s always said ‘we grew up together’ and we have always been close because of that.
She always told me that she loved my dad but the best part about him was me.

My nan has shown me pictures of my dad but, as I said, they were always photos taken from his childhood. Although he died in 2006, I have only seen pictures of the youth he was before the drugs, the homelessness and the bad influences. I don’t know what he was like after that. My nan won’t talk about that. She is in complete denial that he even took drugs.
I used to ask her how he died, and she’s said things like it: ‘Oh, it was an accident at work.’ I used to believe that until I grew older and my questions got better and she couldn’t hide the truth from me. She’d never taken me to visit his grave as she was worried I’d get to upset. She would cry just looking at pictures.

I’ve never had a conversation with my uncle about what happened to my dad. The only time we spoke about my dad was when we went to visit his grave. If I’m honest, I’m scared to ask about him now because I fear what the answers will be.
My uncle Andy is a doctor. He was the clever one. He did well, he worked hard, he got the top grades, went to university and now he has his own business. He was the successful brother. The good brother. I have other uncles but I’m not allowed to see them and Andy doesn’t speak to them either. I don’t know why.

When we visited his grave, it was a strange feeling. There were no flowers. I remember the sky was blank and I felt, as I looked up at this vast expanse of nothing, the sky reflected exactly how I felt.
I didn’t shed a single tear at my dad’s grave. I felt nothing.

The weirdest part was that, for years, I had been using that graveyard as a shortcut to my best friend’s house. I had walked past my dad’s grave so many times and I never knew. I couldn’t believe I had never noticed his name. We stood there, me and my uncle, silent for a while. I remember feeling awkward that I wasn’t more emotional.

I think my uncle felt awkward about his emotions, too. He explained how it had been difficult to visit his brother’s grave because of the resentment he held. But, he said, he had started to realise he needed to be there for me as I’m the only part of his brother he still has. This, his responsibility to the daughter my dad never knew, is what helped him come to terms with his death.

I think I have a natural need to look for the good in people because of my dad.
Everyone makes mistakes and everything has a price. I believe his mistakes have given me a muddled sense of my own identity.

I know, too, that there is more to this story I don’t know. Do I need to know it? Sometimes I think I do. Sometimes I don’t. It’s difficult.

I’m angry that I never had that father-daughter bond. I’m disappointed that he didn’t try harder to turn his life around – if not for him, for me. Did he not care? How could he be so selfish?

The truth is I’ll never get to hear his story. I’ll never hear his reasons, in his own words  – what does his voice even sound like? – and even though I wonder, constantly, if I want to know, I know I never will, and that’s the sad bit.
What a waste.