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Puppies Visit Ulster University Coleraine Campus to Calm Students During Exam Season.

The Causeway Coast Dog Rescue Service visited Ulster University’s Coleraine Campus to offer up some stress relief with a bundle of puppies for the students to cuddle. The idea was thought up by Ulster University Student’s Union where similar events are happening across the campuses. This is the second time the puppy’s have come for a visit and it is one of the most popular events on the University’s calendar.

The students are able to come to a room in the campus to talk to the rescue team and meet the wonderful puppy’s from the rescue centre. The aim is to show young people how important it is to be responsible when adopting or buying a dog. As all of the puppies brought to the Coleraine Campus have been rescued by the Causeway Team. The team are hoping that these event’s will help people to see how major an issue animal abuse is in Northern Ireland.

Out & About mentoring for LGBTQ women

Out & About mentoring for LGBTQ women

As public opinion towards the LGBTQ community in Northern Ireland continues to positively grow Dr Gail Neill tells Nikki McKeown how its not all what it seems and how we are politically lagging behind the rest of UK.

LGBTQ rights in Northern Ireland continue to be the least advanced in the UK and although the LGBTQ community in Northern Ireland is now more visible than ever young people are experiencing isolation within society and even within their own families.

Dr Gail Neill explains The Out & About program will provide free one on one mentoring for 30 young women a year.

At this time Youth Action Northern Ireland has extended their Out & About mentoring programme to LGBTQ women aged 16-25. This programme is based on having an informal, supportive relationship with a youth worker and the benefits that can arise from this.

Out and About is a personal development programme and a support space for young women who want to get information and advice outside of the gay scene.

It gives young women the chance to find out more about their gender, sexual orientation, their rights and to meet other young people in a safe space.

“We work to try and include the most marginalized women within society to ensure that those who are most often overlooked- their voices are heard”, explains Programme Co-ordinator Dr Gail Neill.

“There is definitely a need for a space like this for young women” says Gail. “On one hand things are changing very positively in Northern Ireland – a recent poll showed that 70% of people were in favour of equality marriage”.

“All this makes it feel like things are fine yet on the other hand in NI- there are still high levels of LGBTQ hate crimes that go unreported. Politically we are lagging behind the rest of the UK continuously using religious discourse for politicians to deny or stall a way forward.”

Three years of funding has been given to Youth Action by the Esmee Fairbairn foundation and this will allow 30 young women a year to go through the programme.

Young LGBTQ women can access one to one sessions where they can seek support to identify and overcome personal barriers they are facing.

One of the young people availing from the programme is a girl from a very rural area, she has just recently ‘came out’ and her first action point is simple to meet some LGBTQ friends.

Statistics from ‘Still Shouting’ –research published by Youth NI and Cara-friend looks at the negative impact of growing up in a homophobic society.

The reports show that statistics for self-harm have risen 26% since 2003, eating disorders face no change in over a decade and attempted suicide has dropped by a mere 4% in 13 years.

Statistics from ‘Stll Shouting’ by Youth Action NI and Cara-Friend

 

“In a 13 year period you’re led to believe things are moving forward but actually the experiences of young people are still entrenched in homophobia.”

“Research then shows the impact of growing up in an environment like that. For example LGBTQ women have a less positive experience at school. They face trans and homophobic bullying and as a result of not wanting to be outed or wanting their parents to find out there is less reporting of this at school”.

In terms of accessing information, support and services- Gail explains that young LGBTQ people remain invisible. They don’t have the same kind of support around their sexual and mental health.

“In a piece of research that we did in schools one pupil said ‘even if it had of been mentioned it would have helped me feel more normal’, -for young people- it just contributes to feelings of being different like it is a secret and they have to remain invisible”.

Out and About is a personal development programme and a support space for young women who want to get information and advice outside of the gay scene.

One of the young women on the programme told me how the mentoring programme has ‘changed her life’. “It was the casual part of the programme that interested me, I didn’t want to sit in a room and talk about my problems for an hour and a half”.

“The programme has made me feel a lot more confident I’m more comfortable in my own skin and have made a new friend in my mentor,” said the women.

Out & Mentoring reaches out to young women with a casual approach- meeting can take place over a cup of coffee or during a walk

Youth Action NI want to avoid a ‘counselling like scenario’ as this can reinforce the idea that there is something wrong with the individual- that they are the problem instead of society.

Our aim is to make the programme as accessible as possible- not many young people will put their hand up and say I want to come and sit and talk with you for 90 minutes jokes Gail.

“What we want to do is create environments where women can talk about things when it arises in ways that are comfortable”.

Mentors are based in Belfast, Derry and Fermanagh with a Northern Ireland wide remit and there is no cost for the programme.

For more information: Visit youthaction.org

See similar articles: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/lgbtq-pride-parade-washington-dc-los-angeles-donald-trump-resistance-lgbt-a7785106.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/06/12/2016-deadliest-year-lgbtq-pulse/373840001/

13 Reasons Why – Review.

 

 

If you haven’t heard of Netflix’s new series 13 Reasons Why, then you’ve probably been living under a rock. The aptly numbered 13-part series tells the story of 17 year old Hannah Baker; a teenage girl who has committed suicide, leaving behind 13 tapes directed at 13 different people, telling them how they contributed to her suicide. Each person must listen to the tapes in consecutive order and not pass them on until they have listened to each one.

The series is based on the Young Adult novel by Jay Asher, yet somehow manages to be embarrassingly out of touch with teenagers. In what world do 17 year olds say ‘FML Forever’ as a friendship catchphrase? Try lowering your age demographic to 7 year olds if you want this to resonate. Not to mention Hannah’s cheesy one-liners: “Once again you and the point are complete strangers” she sasses at Clay, in a laughably out of place Wednesday Adams-ridden tone. Its moments like this when I really can’t help but agree with characters who say that Hannah was a drama Queen.

The series manages to be more of a ‘tour de fail’ than a ‘tour de force’ as it tries to tackle a number of contentious issues such as voyeurism, bullying, rape, sexuality, addiction, suicide, and gun violence. This sickly concoction of tragic topics leaves little room to give each one the attention it deserves and leaves the viewer feeling unsatisfied. The main criticism I have is that the main issue -that of suicide – is robbed of its complexity. The show is based on the premise that other people’s actions can be the cause for suicide and ergo if you are nice to people they won’t have any reason to commit suicide. This message is of course reductive, and untrue. It seems somewhat beyond belief that the show gives not even one nod to mental illness or the word depression.

Indeed, some mental health charities have warned about the show’s misrepresentation of suicide and some schools have even sent letters home warning parents not to let their children watch it. Despite this, the series has worryingly still proven to be hugely popular. Ultimately, 13 Reasons Why falls at the first hurdle because of its simplistic portrayal of suicide and this poor execution of its primary concern makes it a no go for me in terms of TV viewing.

Free Fire (2016) Review

When an unlikely group of people are brought together in a black market arms deal, unforeseen coincidences set two gangs against each other in this action comedy.

 

Set entirely in a derelict umbrella warehouse in Boston during the 1970s, director Ben Wheatley has emulated Quintin Tarantino’s ‘Reservoir Dogs’ with the plot and setting mimicking the 1992 cult classic.

 

With a hilariously mismatched assortment of characters, Free Fire opens with lowlife junkies Bernie (Enzo Cilenti) and Stevo (Sam Riley) meeting IRA men Frank (Michael Smiley) and Chris (Cillian Murphy) who have employed their services in order to move the weapons the wish to procure.

 

Ord (Armie Hammer) and Justine (Brie Larson) act as intermediaries introducing the ragtag gang to the ill-assorted weapons dealing partnership of Martin (Babou Ceesay), an ex-black panther and Vernon (Sharlto Copley), a South African still firmly aligned with apartheid ideology shown in his dealings with his partner.

 

Just as agreement is reached and the weapons are in the process of being exchanged Martin and Vernon’s henchmen Gordon (Noah Taylor) and Harry (Jack Reynor), turn an unseen dispute the night before into the hilarious stalemate that characterises the rest of the film.

 

The hazard laden environment contributes to the confusion of this close quarter shootout, and whilst violence is the key element to the interaction between characters, it is not overtly gory until the finale.

 

Wheatley has created side splitting characters that remain lovable despite their seriously skewed moral compasses. The dialogue between those shooting at each other remains playful and upbeat regardless of the violent circumstances.

 

The movie is not without its face palm moments in which character dialogue is sloppy and unrealistic such as when IRA man Frank proudly remarks that he is from, “Holywood, County Down, Northern Ireland.”

 

Throughout the film, camera angels mimic the cramped conditions each character is placed in, making the audience sympathise with the severity of danger that all parties are in. The vibrant colours and striking uniqueness of the cast’s clothing contrasts to the damp, grimy and depressing setting.

 

Wheatley’s ability to develop each individual makes it difficult for the audience to select one character they wish to leave the victor, and the continual movement between mayhem and reconciliation, leaves viewers on the edges of their seats.

 

A hilarious ode to high tension standoff’s featured in movies such as ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’. Free Fire stands strong as an enthralling action comedy that captivates audience members despite the singularity of its setting.

Ed Sheeran – “Divide” album review

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Following the success of his 2014 Grammy-winning and best-selling album, the Suffolk singer-song writer, Ed Sheeran has returned with yet another chart topping sensation. Released on 3rd March 2017, the album “Divide” allows us to delve into the life of Sheeran as many of the tracks feature snippets of his childhood, love-life and rise to fame.

“Divide” features sixteen tracks and to round it off, there is even a track exclusively dedicated to Sheeran’s 26th birthday.
Whilst many would argue that the album gives off an “ego-maniac” vibe, at the same time, with his bright ginger hair and adorable, quirky nature, we can’t help but excuse Ed for now!

The album is introduced with “Eraser”, a declaration of intent, mixing hip hop with a chorus of layered vocals (where Ed shows off his rapping skills). The track also addresses – in minute detail – the trials of Sheeran’s life, career and status in the industry. The lyrics mention everything from “singing in the Lord’s house” as a child and the dramatic shift of being without, “a nine-to-five job or a uni degree” to winning international awards.

However, unlike previous projects, Sheeran takes time in his new album to reveal his Irish heritage. The track, “Nancy Mulligan”, is a full on Irish traditional song whereby Sheeran pays tribute to his grandparents, particularly his grandmother (who the track is named after) from County Wexford, Ireland.

This track features Belfast based traditional band Beoga who also feature in the song, “Galway girl”, which depicts a blend of Irish folk tradition and Ed’s signature acoustic pop style. In his lyrics, Ed channels traditional Irish folk storytelling by describing an encounter with a vivacious Galway girl in a bar who “played a fiddle in an Irish band” and danced the night away with him. The instrumental influence is clear in the track, resonating with that of Van Morrisons, “Irish Heartbeat” with the similar fiddle and uileann pipe sounds.

The album features many incredible songs. However, I must admit, the track, “Castle on the hill” (a guitar-driven pop song that pays homage to Ed Sheeran’s upbringing in the English countryside town of Framlingham) is my preferred track of the whole album. The reason being, it is one of those songs whereby you cannot help singing along too, with its catchy beat including Ed’s impressive guitar rifts.
Since disappearing off the radar, Sheeran has returned with his finest album yet in my opinion. It is both well-timed and rip-roaringly fun, another example of his still-evolving craft.

For more information:

http://www.edsheeran.com/music

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ed-Sheeran/e/B001LHZOLG

https://www.youtube.com/user/EdSheeran

Staggering Student: Whats the rush?

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It’s no secret that we students regularly enjoy a drink or three, despite being aware of the damaging effects on our health. Being a student myself I know first hand that the aim of the game when hitting the tiles is to get as drunk as possible before heading out, and even more when you get to the club. But when did drinking to have fun become drinking to get drunk? -Sasha Wylie reports

Health officials and concerned parents advise us not to mix drinks or to drink on an empty stomach. They don’t realise it’s exactly what we’ll do if it means getting very drunk, very quickly. The aim of the game is to get messy – at any student pre-drinks there will be at least someone who says: “I want to get absolutely smashed tonight.”

The NekNominate craze that infiltrated our Facebooks is a prime example of peer pressure among students leading to excessive drinking. While it may be a minority who take it too far by guzzling bottles of spirits, thousands of likes and shares on Facebook of NekNominates validate and actively encourage this behaviour.binge-drinking-photo-2

It’s worth asking why we students feel the need to drink so excessively. Being sick or thrown out of a club is no fun. And the mammoth hangover and loss of dignity the morning after just isn’t worth it. In an article below, student Claire Whittle, 25,  got breast cancer due to her student binge drinking.

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Like many teenagers away from home for the first time, student Claire Whittle threw herself enthusiastically into the heavy drinking university social scene. What happened next, she believes, should serve as a warning to all young women.

At the age of 25 she was diagnosed with breast cancer although there was no family history of the disease. And she is convinced that alcohol was to blame.

Print ad for new alcohol awareness campaign

She says she has not touched alcohol since her diagnosis and is about to begin an MA at Middlesex University studying the effects of drugs and drink in society.

‘My oncologist actually said to me I mustn’t ever have another drink as it could raise the risk of my cancer returning,’ she says. ‘I only hope my story serves as a warning to any other young women who binge drink that it might be affecting your health in a way you might never have imagined.’

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It’s true that we have fewer responsibilities as students, but we owe it to ourselves and our health to know where to draw the line.

A radical new project has been designed to tackle the culture of binge drinking at universities across England and Wales, launched by the government and National Union of Students.alcohol vectors 2 v3

Seven universities have signed up to a 12 month pilot scheme to encourage responsible drinking among students.

Loughborough, Nottingham, Manchester Met, Liverpool John Moores, Swansea, Brighton and Royal Holloway universities are hoping to gain accreditation under the NUS Alcohol Impact Scheme for their work in promoting responsible alcohol policy and practice. They will aim to reduce alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder and prevent health harms.

If you are concerned that alcohol consumption may be affecting your health, ring Drinkline on 0800 917 8282.

Related articles can be found here and here

 

The Ulster Elks secure a place in the final Irish Hockey League spot

 

Louise Wright in action
Louise Wright in action

It was an excellent end to the season for the Ulster Elks, as they have secured a place in the 2015 Irish Hockey League after a nail biting win over the Catholic Institute. The wild card play-off took place at Jordanstown yesterday, when the Elks won over a 4-2 penalty shoot-out.

The game remained goalless until both sides scored a point each to level at 1-1 on extra time. Kirsty Lammey had initially put the Elks ahead with a stunning reverse stick shot in the 63rd minute, but the Limerick team responded with Naomi Carroll scoring a penalty corner 2 minutes later.

The heroine of the game had to be the Jordanstown goalkeeper Rebecca Davidson, as she made 2 phenomenal saves on the penalty shoot-outs. After the game she said “I am so happy that we have made it through to IHL, we’ve trained harder than we have ever done – and to get through just shows our hard work has paid off”.

The Elks held their nerve in the shoot-out by scoring all 4 stokes, with Danielle Wilson scoring the final point after the successful attempts by Louise Wright, Stephanie Jamieson and Dawn Axon.

“We dominated most of the game but it was one of those days when I thought we were never going to score” said Elks coach Ricky Lee.

“But it’s great to be back in the IHL as we want to improve year on year and it’s important to be in it with changes in the format coming into effect the following season”.

The last time that the Elks had qualified for the Irish Hockey League was 4 seasons ago. They have struggled to find the same form as they had in 2010, due to a number of their key players retiring.

 

 

Co. Couture, a wee treat.

As you descend the old stone steps from Chichester Street into the tiny shop the hit of heady chocolate greets your senses.   Co. Couture chocolate shop is making a name for itself in on the Belfast food scene.  The Guild of Fine Food awarded their Irish Whisky Truffle the coveted 3 Gold stars in the Great Taste Awards 2008.  Last year, they achieved runner up in the Observer Food Monthly Awards. 

The chocolaterie specialises in gluten free and dairy free treats, opting for raw natural ingredients on a small scale as opposed to mass production.  Although the premises are mainly taken up by Deirdre’s, the owner and chief chocolatier, kitchen there are two small tables for those wishing to sit in.  The surroundings are not the cosy and exotic Chocolat film set I thought they would be.  Think more, Tim Burton’s Willy Wonka, all white and minimalist.  However all the staff, Deirdre, Pascaline and Megan are warm, and their demeanour mellows out the sharp contrasts of black walls and white furnishings.

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Co. Couture is famed for the hot chocolate, the only hot drink the shop does.  When ordering, you can choose from a selection of different ‘sides’ to accompany it.  The choice is between a standard fare of milk, dark and white chocolates or more elaborate bakes.   These delicacies include salted caramel brownies, cookies and Florentines.   The girls make things to order and offer a very popular chocolate master class.  The drink comes with homemade marshmallows and cream, all for an acceptable £2.50.

While waiting the impressive chocolate creations provide ample distractions, an ornate chocolate shoe, giant Easter eggs filled with a rich chocolate mousse and various other imaginings from Deidre’s mind.

The drink itself is pleasant, not as rich as it should be.  As the hot chocolate it is the only drink the shop offers, it could potentially underwhelm.  The service was lackadaisical, but pleasant.  The food was spectacular.  The homemade chocolates were of other- worldly quality, I had a selection of the salted caramel brownie and a dark chocolate ganache.   TrufflesEach melted in the mouth and as we were eating Megan brought out freshly made chocolates, the smell was intoxicating.

I highly recommend a visit for anyone with a sweet tooth or last minute gifts.  Co. Couture thoroughly deserves the accolades it has been given, a definite stand out on the Belfast food scene.