Life as a second year

Journo Party

Journalism party

Yep, you heard right. We’re now second year Uni students!

So, where did that last year go? I can’t believe how quickly it passed by. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun! We’ve had so many crazy adventures together so far, creating special and sometimes hilarious memories.

Let’s not mention the end of year Journalism party, I don’t think many of us can remember it anyway..drinking? Us? Nooo.
But seriously, it was such a good night out, the first time all of us were out together. We danced the night away to the musical talents of our Lecturer’s..interesting.

From left to right: Carrie, Amy, Emma and Gemma

From left to right: Carrie, Amy, Emma and Gemma

Our second year began last week and it was straight back to work. It was so nice for us to be together again, after we all went home for the summer. In the words of Emma: “I finally get to see you muppets again!”.

This year looks like it’s going to be an interesting one. We finally get to feel and act like real Journalists, covering important news stories, visiting Court (to report on that is, none of us are going to prison..I hope.) We also got to choose 2 modules of our own this year, which means we can study subjects/topics that we truly enjoy. I’ve gone for Magazine Journalism and PR which are 2 new interests of mine, but I’m excited to learn more! I know the other girls are really looking forward to learning more about their modules too 🙂

On assignment

On assignment

So that’s all to tell for now. This year is starting off great and we’re ready for the hard work that’s coming our way. The majority of us are striving towards our 100wpm shorthand exam, so fingers crossed we’ll have good news about that soon!

Thank you for taking the time to keep updated with us. I can promise you we’ll have some awesome blog posts this year as we’re looking forward to lots of adventures.

I’m going to insert some pictures from the Journalism party and from these last weeks underneath.
If you have any suggestions for posts or anything you’d like us to talk about then get in touch 🙂 x

#squadgoals 😉


From left to right: Aimee, Amy, Lauren, Gemma

From left to right: Aimee, Amy, Lauren, Gemma

Journo party

Gemma, Flora, Charlotte and Lauren on assignment

Gemma, Flora, Charlotte and Lauren on assignment

Flora, Charlotte and Amy

Flora, Charlotte and Amy

From left to right: Amy, Flora, Charlotte, Gemma, Emma, Lauren

From left to right: Amy, Flora, Charlotte, Gemma, Emma, Lauren


Stoke-on-Trent Mums Facing Lack of Breastfeeding Support Services

Breastfeeding mothers in Stoke-on-Trent are about to lose yet more vital support services after plans set to cut the Infant Feeding Team service are to take place from September 1st.

The financial cuts are set to come from Stoke-on-Trent City Councils public health budget.

The service, based out of Cobridge health centre, which was set up under the name Mum2Mum over 10 years ago, aims to help all breastfeeding mothers through a range of cafes and clinics.

They were also able to offer services such as tongue tie revision, which can be vital to establish long term breastfeeding, and ran a 24/7 helpline available 365 days a year.

Since March the helpline has been reduced to only office hours and facilities have merged with a support team in Leek to create a new, and reduced, Infant Feeding Team.

The new plans, set to take effect in under two weeks, will see the staff reduced further – to just 2.2 facilitators and one member of admin staff to support the whole of Stoke-on-Trent.

The helpline may also be scrapped completely. Clinics have now also been reduced to referral only.

The service has been under threat for the past few years due to budget cuts.

In 2011 MP for Stoke-on-Trent North Joan Walley expressed her concern for the funding of these services.

Graham Urwin, Chief Executive for Stoke-on-Trent NHS Trust, confirmed that they would continue their funding, which was due to reduce in 2011, for an extra financial year through the Department of Health.

In his letter he stated:

‘We are committed to investment in breast feeding and achieving the UNICEF Baby Friendly Award, which includes supporting Mum2Mum.’

This support network and professional advice has been vital to mums such as first time mum Nicola Ryan:

‘Their support was vital.

‘She probably would have ended up in hospital again and been tube fed for longer if it wasn’t for their support.

‘They also helped me emotionally as I relied on the telephone support out of hours too.’

Before Infant Feeding Teams were merged, the service provide by Leek Health Centre ran cafes all over North Staffordshire, including Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Most of these cafes stopped running in March.

Since then some mums have taken it upon themselves to set up their own support groups where services are missing, but this does not offer the medical support that is often needed, such as tongue tie revision.

Samantha Medlock, mum to one-year-old Roxanne, helps to run her own peer support group in Chesterton.

‘Although we can’t provide specialist advice, we found that having a group of like minded mums who have been through the same difficulties was near enough as important as having a medical professionals help.

‘To have someone to say ‘it’s normal’ what you’re going through.’

As news of the cuts is spreading, having only been confirmed yesterday, more concerns are coming to light, including long-term health worries and overstretching in other areas of the NHS.

Nicola Keeling, a former chair for the North Staffordshire National Childbirth Trust, said:

‘I understand that many health professionals signposted to the Infant Feeding Team so they may find that they are more stretched and haven’t got the expertise to draw on.

‘Unless more health visitors and midwives are being brought in to help, I don’t see how mums will get the support needed.’

Sarah Page, a lecturer in sociology at Staffordshire University, who worked with Health Action Zone who helped to fund Mum2Mum, also has her concerns on its impact on the city.

‘With the wider financial cuts to families by the government I am concerned about the impact that reduced breastfeeding rates will have on a families economic well-being.

‘The savings from not having to buy formula or bottles or sterilising equipment is really helpful for all families.

‘By reducing the service there may be families pushed into having to make an unnecessary financial outlay due to missing out on information and support.’

However, the many mums that have been helped, many of whom have trained as peer supporters within the service, aren’t prepared to take this lying down.

An emergency meeting will be held on Monday 24th August at 10.30am at City Waterside Community Centre, Dresden Street, Hanley.

Jennifer Phillips, a trained peer supporter, said:

‘We want to come together to figure out how we can fight the cuts.

‘We want to coordinate the huge number of people who are upset and angry so we can stand together and make a difference.’

Anybody interested in attending the meeting to air their views is free to do so.

There is free parking and older children and partners are also welcome.

Refreshments will be available for purchase as well as toys for the little ones.

A Whole Bloody Mess

Aunt Flo. Surfing the crimson wave. Shark week. Parting the red sea. The great flood cometh. Lining the drawers. Leak week.

There are many a word or phrase for that certain ‘time of the month’ where we women supposedly turn into hormonal driven monsters, with a hot water bottle and some sort of ice cream/chocolate permanently attached to our side.

(I must admit, I have been known to wildly cry during this time if there are no chips left in the freezer or my dog looks at me funny).

Nevertheless, this monthly ‘delight’ is an essential part of being a woman. Unfortunately, there are some people (namely the ones running the country) who seem to enjoy adding to our little week of pain. You’ve guessed it: Tampon Tax.

Now, I’m about to do a little bit of maths so bear with me because I didn’t get that B at GCSE for nothing!

The average age of starting your period: 12

The average age of menopause: 51

Average cost for 20 tampons: £1.28 (and that’s just regular Tampax, I normally like to treat myself with the scented ones. Stay classy, girls!)

If my calculations are correct, than us ladies spend around £600 on tampons in our life-time. Now, 5% of that (ie Tampon Tax) amounts to around £30. Sure, in the span of 39 years, it really doesn’t seem that much. But I’m a student. I could live off ready meals for three weeks with that kind of money!

HM Revenue and Customs describe tampons as being ‘non-essential, luxury items’. For this reason they refuse to remove the tax.

I’m telling you now, David Cameron, if we really saw them as being non-essential then this country would be in an even bigger mess than you’ve already made of it.

I could try to begin a nationwide march; with a horde of hormonal, tampon waving women at my side. Or I could try to persuade the entire female population to uproot and move to Canada. (No tampon tax there!) Most likely though, I will just continue to whine through blogging; quite happy in the knowledge that a few might just read and agree.

Stay fabulous, girls! Let’s keep our voices heard.

Journalism with a side of poetry

At school, I was always the slushy, emotional one. The one crying at break because her boyfriend dumped her, or the one getting all riled up about social issues.

To accurately express this, myself and two friends set up a magazine called Newsflash, and thus, my love of journalism was born.

The magazine, to everyone’s shock, was a huge success, quickly going into free-fall, gathering a fan-base, students submitting their own poetry, letters, and drawings, eventually ended up being sponsored by Curry’s, with regular competitions.

We were delirious with our success, and I was immensely saddened when it came to an abrupt at the end of Year 11, when we were forced to go our separate ways.

Up until now, my poetry had always been a private, rather secret hobby of mine. I consistently and endlessly commiserated over my crush-of-the-moment at the time, alongside my family problems, and feeling so teenagerish and misunderstood. How fanciful, no?

And yet – and yet.

During my second year of college, I finally grew up a little, and met someone who I deeply cared for.

Instantly, my writing had something of more substance and quality to it, and a door opened a little.

It was then that I began to seriously consider the idea of a book. And although the relationship crumbled and fell, I didn’t stop writing.

I still haven’t, so I’m very happy to announce the e-release of my book, The Right Words, which will be available on Kindle tomorrow!

Here’s the link:*Version*=1&*entries*=0

London 2012 Legacy Comes To Staffordshire And They Need You

There is no doubt that without the help of over 70,000 games makers and volunteers the London 2012 Olympic games would not have been such a huge success.

Simon Reeves from Stafford was just one of those dedicated games makers and he is now leading the team to set up a volunteer programme in Staffordshire.

As part of the 2012 legacy programme a national charity, Join In UK, was launched and our local branch has now arrived here in Staffordshire.

The charity encourages people to volunteer within sports clubs and organisations to help them succeed.

“We are get people to partake in sport and hopefully find the Olympics champions of the future,” says Simon.

“We can’t all be Olympic champions but Olympic champions need a support network.”

Volunteering is open to every sport and every type of volunteer and there has never been a more exciting time to get involved right here in Staffordshire.

“With the Olympics in 2012, and even the commonwealth games in Glasgow and in Manchester, we showed the rest of the world how to do it right.

“Now we’re taking it back down into the community level and seeing the kids going forward in the future.”

In just a few short months over 100 clubs have already signed up all over the county, from swimming teams to boxing and athletics clubs.

Staffordshire will also be hosting the UKs very first Ironman 70KM Triathlon in June, including swimming at Chase Water and cycling through Cannock Chase.

Events like these take more than 700 volunteers over six days to help with everything from marshalling and first aid, to helping to set up and monitor registration.

It isn’t just coaching volunteers that most clubs are looking for.

“It’s transferrable skills,” says Simon.

“It’s not always about teaching the kids. Just somebody who is computer literate.

“From an administration point of view to a small volunteer run sporting club, those sorts of skills are an absolute godsend.”

Even solicitors to help with legal advice, somebody to look over the accounts or help with transport, there are numerous roles for any skills set.

Through Join In’s own research conducted by Hidden Diamond, they found that every volunteer enables an average of an extra 8.5 people to participate in that club.

There is also a ‘social value’ to sports volunteering of around £16,000 per volunteer.

The research also found that the value is not only to the sports clubs but also to the volunteers themselves with volunteers clocking in at 10% higher self-esteem than average.

There is a huge focus of finding the right position in the right club to enable volunteers to be involved for longer and gain a bigger benefit.

“We would find a club for any volunteer and fit them into that club, giving them the introduction.

“We have a chat and fit them in.

“We wouldn’t just say, oh, phone this number.”

Simon’s final advice:

“Do it!”

So, if you want to get involved and try something different then visit or contact Simon Reeves on 07858222414 or

You can also find them on their Facebook Group – StaffsVollies

Happy Volunteering!!

20 Things I’ve Learnt So Far!

Hello again,
It’s been a little while since I have written on the blog. I won’t go into the boring reasons why!!
But seeing as our first year is coming to an end *cry* I felt like now was a good time to write down what I have learnt so far at University.

It’s nice to document these kinds of things, and some of this may even help people who are planning to go to University soon!

So, seeing as I’m a lover of a good list I thought I’d put one together, here goes:

1. It’s ok to feel sick with nerves on the first day, but it really won’t be as bad as you first think!

2. It’s great to be closest to people who are different than you. We have a lovely group of friends and we’re all so different. Different ages, different commitments and are from different places.

Gemma, Lauren and Aimee

Gemma, Lauren and Aimee on a news day!

3. Even though you’ve only known them for 8 months, you feel like you’ve known them for life!

4. We all hate early mornings, but eventually they become bearable. Even if Shorthand starts your day from Monday to Friday.

You can still function on limited hours of sleep, even if you think you can’t. You have too, you just get on with it.

6. You’re not going to be as good as other people, but that’s ok. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.

7. You will feel like you’ve been thrown in at the deep end for a while. That’s just part of it, it’s a big step from College, A-Level’s etc.

8. As I live at home I travel everyday by car. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, the 45 minute journey every morning makes me despise driving!

9. Yes the amount of crappy food I have eaten in the last 8 months is ridiculous. But you need something to help you function through a Law lecture, right?

10. Not everything will go to plan. People will let you down, technology will go wrong, it’ll be frustrating!

11. You learn the art of sleeping with your eyes open. Trust me..

Alton Towers Trip

Alton Towers Trip!

12. When you tell people you’re doing a Journalism degree the response is usually ‘Oh that’s different!’ or ‘Oh that’s interesting, and brave!’

13. Speaking in public, presenting and talking on the phone becomes second nature. It really isn’t as scary as it first seems.

14. Cool opportunities will come your way.
I’ve managed to have a story published on the University’s online news paper, spent a couple of days at Alton Towers, had a voice coaching session (speaking, not singing, don’t worry!) and met a lot of interesting people. That’s just a few things!

15. At first you care about what you look like, after about a month you really don’t. The ‘I could’ve cared, but I didn’t, look’ is popular right?

16. You tend to bond with people over subjects like food, taking a dislike to other people, relationships (or lack of them) and your Lecturers choice of ties. Yes, really.

17. You’re actually a little more independent than you thought. Even though I still live at home I’ve found that handling my own money, sorting transport and going about my daily routine has made me more independent (and happy to be).

18. Shorthand is important. Like very.

Gemma, Flora, Charlotte and Lauren In Car

McDonald’s Trip!

19. A Facebook group message between your friends can be vital in a number of ways. Support, revision help, a quick ‘pick me up’ solution, a place to moan and bitch and somewhere you know you won’t get judged (no matter what you send).

20. Essay’s, exams and assessments are all part of the journey, but don’t let it bring your first year down. There are many other times where you’re learning new skills, enjoying them at the same time.

So that’s 20 of the main things I’ve learnt at University. I’m not an expert, but I hope it is interesting to anyone going to Uni soon.

I’ve enjoyed my first year at Uni, I feel like I’m growing as a person and I’m enjoying the journey. I’ve made some amazing friends, had some awesome opportunities and above all, I’m doing what I love!

Please go and read some of our past posts and check out the work from the other girls. More posts to come soon 🙂

Thank you for reading 🙂

Places I MUST Visit Before I Kick The Bucket

I used to think I was never big on travel, especially not anything that requires me to be stuck on a big metal tube in the air (AKA an aeroplane) for more than 4 hours. And the funny thing is I’m not scared of flying at all! I just get very, very bored sitting still for long periods of time.

But since then, my fascination in different customs and cultures and passion for discovery was ignited. Listening to my family and friends sharing stories from their travels and studying ancient history and classical civilisations in college struck me with awe and ambition.

 So, without further ado, here is my (extremely long) list of places I wish to travel to in my lifetime.

  • Sicily
  • Corsica
  • Bora Bora
  • South Korea
  • California
  • New York
  • China
  • Japan
  • Morocco 
  • Indonesia 
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Jamaica 
  • Hawaii
  • Barbados 
  • The Bahamas 
  • Bermuda 
  • Seychelles
  • Tahiti 
  • Fiji
  • Maldives
  • Mnemba Island
  • Cook Island
  • New Zealand 
  • Alaska 
  • Canada 
  • Peru
  • Mexico
  • Portugal 
  • Cambodia 
  • Chile
  • Egypt
  • Lebanon
  • Burma
  • Bolivia
  • Jordan
  • Nepal
  • New Guinea 
  • India
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • Qatar
  • Abu Dhabi 
  • Dubai
  • South Africa
  • Mozambique
  • Madagascar
  • Iceland