Advance HE Teaching & Learning Conference (2nd July 2018) Teaching in the spotlight: Learning from global communities

In this blog Kerry Sorby shares her reflections of attending sessions aimed at teaching professionals in the Health and Social Care sector.

Keynote Speaker:  Professor Christine Jarvis Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) from the University of Huddersfield shared a really interesting and thought provoking talk focusing on “Growing Global Graduates: Teaching for a Better World”.  She discussed the concepts of global citizenship, social justice and employability: these  are embedded into our Occupational Therapy curriculum here at York St John University. This also fits well with the concept of enabling students to become  digital citizens – reflecting my own area of research interest.

Ignite sessions:   These were a series of 7 presentations where speakers had 5 minutes to talk on their subject accompanied by 20 slides for 15 seconds each. This was a really good way to hear a succinct summary of a topic of interest. For example: The first session was by Dr Victoria Hewitt from Newcastle University (who I incidentally sat next to on the train journey to and from the conference!) She shared how palliative care can be considered through different lens: disease, age, social, cultural, spiritual and political.This fits well with our level one and two  modules which explore health, well-being and participation from different perspectives.

Amanda Miller, Carol Haines and Louise Henstock (a former YSJ  physio lecturer) from Salford University shared their experience of “Hi-Fidelity Interprofessional Simulation: Impact and practice” . This was an overview of a day for 90 final undergraduate students across 6 disciplines, including occupational therapy, that impacted positively on learning and confidence for the students involved.

Interactive breakout session: led by Dr Christine Slade and Professor Christine Brown  (University of Australia) and encouraged participants to explore how the JISC Digital Capabilities framework (2017) could be embedded into the curriculum. We already have some great examples of embedding digital health capabilities into our programme e.g. using Pinterest  to allow students to explore and present their meaningful occupations, enabling students to design and create new digital artefacts as part of their induction  to demonstrate knowledge about professionalism and being a healthcare professional student. I have come away from this session with even more ideas that we could use to develop students confidence and competence in this area. 

Parallel Session: Maria Birch (University of Brighton) demonstrated the use of “patchwork text” to enable students to understand the volume and complexity of information when  studying anatomy. She illustrated that by using a series of smaller learning tasks and reflective narratives, students can “stitch” together their learning “patches”,  receive peer and staff feedback to rework their artefacts and inform a summative collection of work. This aligns really well with our current pedagogy of using supported open learning tasks to prepare students for participation in workshops and seminars and the use of a portfolio as a summative assessment for our new programme.  We could continue to  use Diane Cotterill’s successful concept of a digital workbook to allow students to create their own range of resources (e.g. drawing, creating posters/videos)  to support their learning and confidence with anatomy.

Oral presentation: Maria and I shared how we have developed a community of learners through our social media platforms. We continue to develop a range of learning opportunities that enable our students to practice digital citizenship in preparation for posting on social media in a professional and socially responsible manner. It has enabled a passionate discourse that has connected staff and students with a wider audience within our professional field of practice.

My final session of the day was led  by Professor Christine Brown Wilson (Queen’s University, Belfast). She was passionate and enthusiastic as she shared her model of curriculum development which engaged multiple stakeholders  – this was an inspirational session as the programme team have  just been through the process of an internal and external validation. I hope that our stakeholders will embrace the opportunity to join in with our dialogue days in the forthcoming academic year. 

My final thoughts ……. 

I came away from this conference inspired by the dialogue that I had listened to and engaged with. My learning also provided affirmation that the new curriculum that we are developing for our Occupational Therapy programmes is innovative and will enable our graduates to be equipped to become employable global citizens.

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WFOT (World Federation of Occupational Therapists) International Congress 2018

Two of our senior lecturers (Hannah Spring and Fiona Howlett) and two of our recent graduates (Claire Connor and Celia Bentley) attended the conference from 22nd-25th May 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa to disseminate the findings from their final year Students as Co-Researcher (SCoRe) projects.

Hannah and Fiona have kindly shared their experiences of presenting an oral paper.
The value and meaning of a community centre service for refugees and asylum seekers: culture, collectivism and application for occupational therapy

This presentation focused on presenting the findings of the first project we did with asylum seekers and refugees. The study aimed to explore and evaluate the value and meaning of a community centre for refugees and asylum seekers, and to identify the occupational preferences of the community centre users.

What did you hope to gain from attending the conference?

We travelled to the conference to present our research on an international platform. WFOT is the largest, most prestigious conference for occupational therapy with a delegation of around 3000. We aimed use the conference for networking opportunities and to meet colleagues with similar research interests.

Please summarise your main points of reflection

• We were surprised and delighted to find that there are many other researchers doing work in a similar area to ours
• We were pleased make new contacts with a view to collaborative teaching and research
• Our presentation was very well received and helped us to realise the importance of our work. Many people congratulated us and came to speak to us about it afterwards.

Do you have a highlight from the conference?

• Being invited by colleagues from Europe to collaborate on teaching and learning exchange opportunities for staff and students in the area of community engagement with asylum seekers and refugees
• Being invited to share data and jointly research/publish with established researchers in this area from Australia
• Seeing two of our recently graduated students enthusiastically use the conference as a springboard to developing and furthering their careers
• Having the opportunity to explore Cape Town and neighbouring areas to learn about the history, wildlife and culture of South Africa

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How Twitter Helped Make my Words Count –

In this month’s blog Emma Robinson (a final year undergraduate student) shares her experience of using twitter to support her learning. She has used twitter to help to develop her:
“Top Tips for Cutting out Words when Writing up Your Assignments”


As any student can tell you, writing up an assignment, particularly something as big as a dissertation, is an emotional rollercoaster. For me, it began with scepticism as I questioned “can I really write 5000 words about social media?!”.
Four months later, a week before the deadline, I was pasting my finished sections into the final document. I was in disbelief what a broad and interesting area it had turned out to be, and euphoric that I had time to proof read. This quickly turned to horror as I realised that my final draft was 6300 words. I had 1300 words to cut, and after painstakingly managing 300 I was at a loss. It all seemed too relevant.
My dissertation reinforced what I already knew, that social media can be a valuable source of support and advice, so I took to Twitter to seek the help of the global network of students, academics and professionals. After sharing my dilemma, I received so much valuable advice that an OT lecturer at York St John University suggested that I collate and share it.

Without further ado (as you’re aware I’m enjoying the absence of a word count for this blog), here are my 6 top tips for reducing the word count of a piece of work:
1. Read each sentence critically Ask each time:
-is the point clear?
-can this be more concise?
-does this add value to the paragraph/piece?

2. Take out superfluous words
How much value do the words “certainly”, “therefore” and “particularly” really add? Does the sentence make sense without them?

3. Check for repetition
You would be surprised how easy it is to unnecessarily repeat words, phrases and ideas throughout your work. You are very familiar with it too, ask somebody that knows nothing about the topic to check for this.

4. Use abbreviations
This can be appropriate as long as your first mention is written out in full. For example, I used five year forward view (FYFV) and social media (SM).

5. Active and assertive citing, rather than passive
For example, “Robinson (2018) argues…” (3 words) versus “It can be argued that …. (Robinson 2018)” (8 words)

6. Can a table or figure relay the information clearly?
This saved me a lot of words. Although it is not always appropriate, it is worth considering as these often do not apply to the word count.

Four days and copious changes of scenery and cups of coffee later, I was down to 4998 words. I cannot advocate social media enough as a space for collaboration, idea sharing, support and learning. To avoid writing too much, it is better to plan and write succinctly from the onset, although as a student still developing an academic writing style this is not always easy. On a practical note, I found that editing in short stints was more effective, together with moving to different rooms in my house, the library, a coffee shop, helped me to look at my work with a fresh perspective each time.
It may seem painful and impossible, but meeting the word count is always achievable. Whether you have 150 or 1,500 words to cut good luck, and I hope these tips are useful.

Here are some resources that I found useful:
Pat Thompson: Cut the Bloat
Josh Bernoff’s 10 top writing tips

Thank you to everyone that tweeted words of advice and encouragement, Emma

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Congratulations to Sarah Cooke ….. one of our graduates who has been selected as a UK finalist by the Case Management Society. Sarah shares her story with us…..

When did you study at YSJ?
I started studying OT at YSJ in 2004 and graduated in 2007. My youngest child had just started at primary school so the timing felt perfect because I could study whilst my children were at school.

What was your favourite aspect of OT at YSJ?
Being on placement! I loved being able to apply the knowledge and skills learnt at YSJ into the work place. I always thought I wanted to be a mental health OT but when my first placement was in an adult community physical setting I knew this area of OT was for me!
I must mention the support I received at YSJ – up until going to YSJ I had always struggled academically but was too stubborn to give up on my dream of a career as an OT. YSJ arranged for an assessment and I discovered I have dyslexia. The support I received from my tutors was amazing and a special thanks goes to the lovely Mary Craine (my study development tutor), who always believed in my abilities. I was delighted to qualify with a 2:1 in 2007

What are you up to now?
I left YSJ in 2007 and started my first band 5 temporary post with a community physical adult team. After 9 months I joined a physical hospital rotation working on the orthopaedic, rehabilitation and general medicine wards. After a year, a band 6 post came up with the community team so I jumped at the chance to go back to the team having a preference for community work. Over the years I developed a passion for working with individuals with neurological conditions and developing my skills in postural management.
Looking for a new challenge, I made the difficult decision last year to leave the NHS. I set myself up as self employed and started working in the private sector as a clinical case manager and independent occupational therapist. I was delighted to finish my first year as a Case Management Society UK finalist and was invited to attend the awards ceremony hosted by James Cracknell OBE double Gold Olympic rower. It was an honour to meet James and listen to his inspiring personal story about the brain injury he sustained when cycling across America, his recovery and the impact on his family. I would recommend reading his autobiography “Touching Distance”!

My advice to anybody thinking about making a career change is go for it!

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Our student-led OT society have arranged an exciting programme of sessions this year to compliment their programme of study.

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One example is the Virtual Dementia Tour. In this blog, Emma Robinson, one of our final year students, shares her experience of engaging in this experiential workshop.

The virtual dementia tour (VDT) is an evidence based experience that gives participants a simulated idea of what it might be like to live with dementia. For me, it was the single most valuable extra-curricular experience I have undertaken throughout my training. No written account can do it justice, you simply need to experience it for yourself! It’s effectiveness lies in its surprise, so this piece will not describe the VDT as you might hope or expect; but will attempt to give you an account of how it made me feel and more importantly how it has developed my beliefs and practices.

It would be easy to assume that this experience is only relevant if you are interested in working with those with dementia. Wrong. I completed the session, having previously found it difficult to connect with my reflexive side, in a frame of mind to evaluate every contact I have ever made with any service user. I have worked with people with dementia, learning disabilities, autism, brain injuries, mental health conditions and many more, and truthfully this experience made me realise that I have never truly empathised with any one of them; what I thought was empathy, was actually a superficial speculation of how they might feel. I now realise that empathy is about more than “putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes” or “seeing things from their perspective”. I feel that it is about immersing yourself in someone’s physical, psychosocial and emotional being, and attempting to understand how the complex phenomenon of bodily sensations, social interactions, relationships and feelings creates a lens by which they processes their world.

Without giving too much away, during the VDT I was met by an overwhelming sense of fear, confusion and vulnerability – this was not what I was expecting. The challenges of simple tasks, and the following analysis and explanation have allowed me to view human behaviour as “deliberate” and “logical”, whereas I have previously heard behaviour termed “random” and “challenging”. After my experience I was met by comfort, relief, empathy and emotion. On reflection I felt guilty that I had not been able to truly empathise, and angry that so many people in caring or therapeutic roles were likely making false assumptions.

In terms of my future practice I now feel very passionately about true empathy and communication. Whenever I can I will advocate for environmental adaption, both physically and communicatively to improve service user experiences. I appreciate the importance of a positive, patient, empathetic and enabling approach, and the importance of goal directed co-occupations even more than before. It may seem aloof, but I cannot recommend the experience more, as it has certainly had a positive impact on my future practice. I now truly believe that empathy is not something to learn, read, or discuss; but something to live.

Due to the success of this event, The OT Society is arranging another session for semester 2, 2018. Details to follow.

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40 Years of OT at York St John – Hannah Pearson

Hannah Pearson studied Occupational Therapy at York St John from 2010 – 2013. She has written a blog post updating us on what she is up to now and about her time on the programme to help commemorate OT’s 40 years at York St John.

Hannah Pearson

When did you study at YSJ?

I started my degree course at York St John in 2010 when I was 26. I had worked for 5 years previously in Marketing and had previously done a degree in Politics. However I’d got to a point in my career where I didn’t want to be desk based anymore and wanted to spend time working with people in a more hands on role. I knew a couple of people who were OTs and after speaking to them and shadowing some OTs in hospital settings, it felt like something that was much more suited to me and my personality.

What was your favourite aspect of OT at YSJ?

It’s hard to pinpoint my favourite aspect of the course, but I loved the opportunities that were presented to me as an undergraduate. It felt like there were so many career paths to choose from and so much potential with the role, something I hadn’t really considered until I started the course. I enjoyed each of my placements which were all very different and showcased the different skills of an OT; including a placement in stroke rehabilitation, an acute mental health hospital, social services and a community memory service working with older people with dementia. I found both students and staff to be very supportive throughout my studies and always approachable. It was a great place to study in a fantastic city. Once I started the course any worries I had about giving up full time work to study again soon disappeared.

What are you up to now? 

I’m currently working as a band 6 in a mental health rehabilitation unit. I work within a fantastic MDT and together we work with patients in their recovery journey. For some that can be working to develop their skills to live independently in their own homes, for others it might be working with them to develop their routines and looking into vocal rehabilitation, and other people may come to us for a more intensive period of assessment to determine where may be an appropriate place for them to live in future. Two days are never the same in this job and I love that I am now working with people and helping them to live the life they want and no longer chained to a desk!

Any favourite memories of your time with YSJOT?

One of the highlights would have to be our graduation ceremony at York Minster and having that feeling that the three years of hard work had all been worth it!

The YSJOT team is aiming to compile 40 blog posts, one from each cohort for the 40th anniversary. If you are interested in contributing please contact us via email: George Peat – g.peat@yorksj.ac.uk , Maria Parks – @m.parks@yorksj.ac.uk or Kerry Sorby – k.sorby@yorksj.ac.uk

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A Student’s Perspective – Kimberley Dutton

Having just completed her Occupational Therapy studies at York St John university and looking forward to graduation in November, YSJOT student Kimberley Dutton has kindly written about her experiences on the programme, living in York and plans for the future.

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What did you do prior to studying at YSJ?

I began my first job as community care assistant when I was 18 for about a year before moving to a nursing home where I worked for five years. I also did lots of volunteer work as a community first responder.

Any favourite memories of your time at YSJ?

Too many to choose from! From making cups of teas in first year, singing Christmas carols in the Minster in second year, and having a bake-off in my dissertation group in the final year, it’s been an eventful three years! And of course finishing with the OT ball, a brilliant night celebrating all our achievements.

What has been your most enjoyable year at YSJ?

Third year has definitely been the best year for me. Dissertation, placement, helping organise the OT ball, celebrating handing in dissertation with beer and pizza, helping out at the YSJOT 40th Anniversary BBQ, attending the RCOT annual conference (and passing university!) have been some of the highlights.

The final year has certainly been challenging but in a good way; made me be more creative, think more critical and outside of the box. What I’ve really enjoyed is the group work; mixing and working with other students that we hadn’t had the chance to work with before. Considering we’re a large cohort of I think about 80/90, we’ve all gotten to know each other quite well and mixed in various social activities to suit everyone. Somehow we even managed to squeeze at least a quarter of the cohort into one house to have a giant Christmas dinner. Everyone bought crackers, cooked something festive and wore Christmas jumpers to get in the spirit!

What do you think the OT programme excelled at?

Getting the students interested in research. I’ve been very fortunate this year to be involved in a great SCoRe project as part of my dissertation- ‘The value and meaning of a drop-in centre for asylum seekers and refugees’. It was a great experience being part of a research team and collecting and analysing real evidence. It really highlighted how important research and evidence based practice is needed for our profession, and something I would like to do again in the future. Never did I ever think I would want to get involved in research!

A few weeks ago I got to witness 3 members of the research team disseminate our findings at the RCOT annual conference in Birmingham. they did a fantastic job and really gave justice to the asylum seekers and refugees we worked with. It was also great to listen to fellow students and lecturers present their research.

Outside of the programme what are your interests?

This year I set myself a new challenge to get running. It started in January with another OT student to take our minds off of deadlines and dissertations. It definitely keeps me mentally and physically fit, it helps that York is a beautiful city to run around! Last week I completed the Humber Bridge half marathon which was fantastic and a big achievement for me.

Any plans for the future?

Tomorrow I am flying to South Africa for 6 weeks to volunteer with children, before moving down to Essex to begin my first job as an Occupational therapist!

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40 Years of OT at York St John – Senior Lecturer Stephen Wey

Next year’s Year 2 Coordinator Stephen Wey studied Occupational Therapy at York St John from 1990 – 1993 and returned as a lecturer here in 2006. He has kindly wrote a blog post for us sharing his memories of his time studying and working with YSJOT for the 40th anniversary.

Stephen

When did you study at YSJ?

I specifically chose YSJ because at the time it was one of the few colleges offering a degree programme. I was in the very first cohort of the degree programme, we started out in 1990 when it was a diploma but with the aim of upgrading to honours degree as soon as it was accredited, which was in 1991.

What was your favourite aspect of OT at YSJ?

Many things, it was such an exciting and inspirational programme. Spending a whole module devoted to exploring the intersection of creativity and occupation in the arts faculty, inspirational seminars with Linda Finlay, writing a letter to Gary Kielhofner and getting a reply! Getting to complete a phenomenological study of multiple sclerosis for my dissertation. Being introduced to dance as a therapeutic medium in my second year on placement. And most of all the warmth and supportiveness of the whole teaching team, without whom I would never have got through it. I’m pleased to say YSJ has never lost its human touch!

After qualifying I spent a couple of years on a mixed rotation which was a wonderful grounding in all things OT, then chose to specialise with people with cognitive impairment, particularly dementia. Was privileged to be involved in developing some highly innovative services including a team pioneering intensive home-based treatment and rehabilitation services for people with dementia, telecare and falls services, and eventually got offered the chance to share some of my experience through CPD at YSJ, then eventually teaching on the undergraduate programme too.

What are you up to now?       

I have currently become a student again, just in my first year of a doctoral programme (research into dementia and occupation of course), my supervisor is Nick Pollard who will be delivering next year’s Casson Lecture at the annual conference. I continue to be interested in creative approaches, both as an artist and musician myself, and in dance groups with people with dementia here at YSJ in collaboration with a colleague from the dance faculty. I’m involved with initiatives to promote YSJ as a ‘dementia friendly’ campus and am just starting to deliver dementia friends information sessions as a dementia friends champion. I also continue to offer CPD events on enabling participation for people with dementia and falls interventions. I think it’s necessary for us practitioners to maintain a close connection with the wider community and practice contexts and believe that this outward focus and sense of connection has always been a central aspect of the ethos of YSJ as an institution.

The YSJOT team is aiming to compile 40 blog posts for the 40th anniversary, if you would be interested in contributing please contact us via email: George Peat – g.peat@yorksj.ac.uk , Maria Parks – @m.parks@yorksj.ac.uk or Kerry Sorby – k.sorby@yorksj.ac.uk

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Spring Into Action

Soon to be third year student Becky Nicholls shares her experience on the 2OT504 module and how this inspired her and fellow students to setup the successful ‘Spring Into Action’ campaign.

Springintoaction2

As part of one of our level 2 modules, 2OT504 Health Well-being and Participation: Communities, a volunteer from the Stockton-based Refugee and Asylum Seekers Project (RASP) came into talk to students about marginalised groups of people and the contribution that occupational therapy can make to their participation.

RASP is a charity that provides refugees and asylum seekers with the practical and emotional support they need to integrate into the local community. The speaker was assisted in their presentation by three service users who had bravely volunteered to recount their displacement and asylum-seeking experiences.  I don’t believe any amount of preliminary reading or seminar work could truly have prepared us for hearing these narratives.  The three individuals had different occupational and cultural backgrounds but had all witnessed and been in very real danger of persecution and violence in their home countries.  Terrorism; religious war; repressive political regimes; forced marriage…the list goes on.  Ultimately, the terrible details that force a person to flee across continents in a cramped fridge cannot really be conveyed in a blog post written from a position of relative safety and privilege. Such details were visibly challenging even for the service users to reflect back on.

An emergent theme from their narratives was the dissonance between what they had hoped life in the UK would be like, and the harsher realities of being an asylum seeker.  Their British lives had few material comforts and many hardships: damp, sub-standard accommodation; no income bar restrictive payment cards for food; legal preclusion from employment; aggressive and confusing correspondence from the authorities; and long periods of living in uncertainty, waiting for court hearings or the outcomes of tribunals.  Bound and gagged in this way, none of the individuals were able to participate in the meaningful activities that characterised their former occupational lives.  One had been studying plasma physics at doctoral level.  Another had been a qualified teacher.  Another had parented a number of children.  Their position as asylum seekers in the UK required them to spend long hours – days – months – quite literally doing nothing whilst waiting to hear whether they had been granted refugee status.

My friends and I left the presentation brooding on a cocktail of emotions that we had not quite anticipated.  We felt angry with the social and political structures that simultaneously create and conceal such injustices.  We felt frustrated with media rhetoric that frames asylum seekers and refugees as opportunistic.  We felt sad that these skilled and willing individuals are prevented from living life to its fullest.  We felt ashamed that a wealthy country like the UK does not provide more adequately – or, dare I say it, humanely – for its vulnerable members.  Perhaps most soberingly, we reflected that we had no similar points of reference in our own lives.  None of us could quite fathom the enormity of leaving behind everything that’s familiar and heading into the complete unknown.

The volunteers at RASP do tremendous work in supporting asylum seekers and refugees to navigate the bureaucratic minefield of asylum.  There is not the scope within this blog post to detail the many ways in which RASP attempts to plug the chasms left by statutory social provision.  Its charitable role ranges from the practical to the pastoral: assisting individuals with tribunal preparation and travel; providing the everyday sundries that a weekly food payment card cannot buy; and offering much-needed kindness and emotional support.  The charity does what it can within a complex and obstructive policy landscape.

It was off the back of this talk that a group of YSJ occupational therapy students put their heads together and decided to launch a university-wide campaign to collect toiletries, stationery and other miscellanies for RASP’s service users.  ‘Spring into Action’ was launched on the 8th May with the particular support of Dr Hannah Spring, Frances Dodd and other staff members who have been faithfully spreading the word via social media.  It is to the library’s immense credit that they allowed a collection box and balloons to be placed at the service desk for the remainder of the academic year.  In just over a fortnight we have seen generous donations filling up this box, to the extent that it has already had to be emptied twice.  I cannot write this post without taking the opportunity to thank those of you who have taken the time and trouble to contribute to this excellent cause.  If there’s one thing that occupational therapy has taught us, it’s that seemingly small things can make the biggest difference to a person’s sense of dignity and quality of life.

Springintoaction1Most importantly, the end of term does not herald the end of Spring into Action, since the Occupational Therapy Society at York St John has voted to carry out further fundraising activity for RASP next academic year.  We hope for and intend these endeavours to be occupation-focused and aimed at facilitating service users’ participation in activities.  Current ideas in the pipeline include the provision of sports equipment to offer an outlet for pent-up energy; toys to add colour to the lives of the many children who access RASP; and educational resources to aid any eventual forays into further education or employment.  These ideas are still relatively nebulous and will no doubt benefit from the time and thinking-space afforded by a long summer break!  In the meantime, we welcome any related ideas and encourage initiatives that will make this charitable partnership a long-term one.

Thank you, once again, to everyone who has backed this campaign and made it the success that it has been.  Thank you to the RASP volunteers for the amazing work they do in supporting vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees.  And thank you to the three service users for so courageously sharing your stories; we take our hats off to you.

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YSJOT40 Anniversary BBQ

On the 3rd June York St John hosted a barbeque to celebrate 40 years of the Occupational Therapy programme being taught at the university. Social Media Graduate Intern George Peat has written a blog post covering the day.

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With the sun shining and bunting strewn across the university grounds the scene was set for a jovial day of celebrating the Occupational Therapy course. Doors opened at Holgate reception at 12:00 where a steady stream of guests consisting of alumni, current students and their families. Guests could collect their YSJOT40 commemorative badges, grab a complimentary glass of prosecco and reminisce with old friends. There was also plenty to do such as observe current student’s posters, note down memories of their time at YSJ on the Memory Board and look through the archive photo album which contained some humorous pictures.

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Now that everybody was settled in, Vice Chancellor Karen Stanton began the speeches by discussing how the university has grown over the years and its role in the community; Head of Health Sciences Frances Dodd then spoke about her experiences with the OT team, proceeding to thank staff members and mentioning notable members present in the audience, then Director of Occupational Therapy at YSJ Alison Wadey spoke about how the programme continues to grow. Frances then invited members of staff who helped organise the event to the front and gave them a present each (which was really appreciated, thank you Frances!). Throughout all of the speeches the audience were happy to chip in by cheering and applauding the numerous cohorts mentioned which created a buoyant, light hearted mood. Accompanying the speeches was a rolling stream of photos depicting our rich heritage.

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With the speeches over the barbeque could begin on the Student Union’s lawn allowing everybody to relax listening to a range of musicians in the sun whilst eating a burger and later on a YSJ cupcake or two. The York St John African drummers kicked off proceedings featuring OT lecturer Karen Wilson!, followed by Josh Makuch (my social media predecessor), Jodie Kime (level 2 student) and Jonny, Waifs and Strays  (Maria Parkes – senior lecturer and Diane Neville-Beck – YSJ graduate OT) and the Ukulele Sunshine Band finishing off the day.

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Tours of the campus were also available being led by current OT students. They lead their groups to the Library, De Grey to see the current OT teaching rooms, and Phoenix Court (the original OT teaching quarters). It was great to hear the guests talking about their memories of the old York St John building such as how the Crush café was the place to be, there used to be a swimming pool, and how much Phoenix had changed from ‘back in the day’. I was also pleased to overhear a guest say that ‘it’s a pleasure to hear enthusiasm about OT from our young tour guides’. Phoenix Court was clearly the favourite destination with official photographer inundated with requests for group photos outside the building.

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At 4pm the day came to a close. It was a delight to see so many generations of OT’s come together to celebrate the programme’s anniversary at York St John. I would like to say thank you to all who were involved in making the event happen, there are too many to name but you know who you are, but most importantly to the guests who created a really lovely atmosphere and were a pleasure to meet. We will hopefully see you at the 50th in ten years time!

To view all of the photos from the 40th anniversary event you can find them on our YSJOT Facebook page.

 

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