02-2010 Press Releases

26/02/2010: Queen’s welcomes UN expert on disability law
26/02/2010: Kinoteka - 4th Polish Film Festival at QFT
26/02/2010: Belfast-based research on older men’s learning launched in Australia
24/02/2010: Hares more numerous in Irish Coursing Club Preserves than wider countryside
23/02/2010: US Economic Envoy in high-level meetings at Queen’s QTV Icon New
23/02/2010: Study highlights sustainable footprint of chemical companies
22/02/2010: Nobel Laureates and Olympic medallist to be honoured by Queen’s
19/02/2010: Fashion SWOTs save lives at Queen’s QTV Icon New
19/02/2010: ‘Big Brew’ for Fairtrade
18/02/2010: Innovative loyalty card to improve health in East Belfast
17/02/2010: Over one fifth of P7 children physically bullied at school
15/02/2010: Local business leaders urged 'innovate to succeed'
11/02/2010: Queen's helps produce archaeological ‘time machine’
05/02/2010: Senior churchmen visit Queen’s
03/02/2010: Queen’s young medics go back to school!
03/02/2010: Human Rights in Haiti
02/02/2010: New partnership for Queen’s and Madras Christian College
02/02/2010: Splash for charity cash at Queen’s Sport
02/02/2010: Gene could predict tamoxifen treatment failure
01/02/2010: Arts awards underline Queen’s commitment to cultural development – VC
Queen's welcomes UN expert on disability law
Professor Brice Dickson
Professor Brice Dickson

The Chair of the UN Committee on Human Rights for Persons with Disabilities has visited Queen’s to discuss disability law.

The Human Rights Centre at the School of Law, along with Disability Action, welcomed Professor Ron McCallum, who spoke at the Disability, Discrimination and Human Rights Conference.

The Conference focused on local, national, and international developments in disability law. It attracted delegates including disabled people, policy makers, legal professionals, representatives from the Bar of Northern Ireland and local Human Rights, Equality and Disability organisations. 

Professor Ron McCallum, led the speakers, discussing provisions of the UN Convention on Human Rights for Persons with Disabilities, illustrating how it could lead to an alteration of the Common Law.

Professor Brice Dickson, Director of the Human Rights Centre at Queen’s School of Law, said: “This event was an excellent opportunity for the School of Law’s Human Rights Centre to engage with civil society and members of the legal community in Northern Ireland in order to enhance awareness of crucial developments in the law relating to the rights of people with disabilities. It was wonderful to hear from a range of really expert speakers, including the leading authority on disability issues at the United Nations.”

Dr Colin Harper, Manager of Disability Action's Centre on Human Rights for People with Disabilities added: “There have been many developments in disability law on a local, national and international level.  The Conference has highlighted the need to ensure greater integration of such developments into domestic legal work and to ensure the rights of disabled people are upheld.”

Monica Wilson, Chief Executive of Disability Action stated: "Regardless of jurisdiction, abuses on the grounds of disability infringe upon the human rights of disabled people. Public authorities must uphold these rights and legal practitioners must understand the needs of disabled people and the legal measures which protect their rights.”

At the conference, Catherine Casserley, Employment and Discrimination Lawyer, Cloisters Chambers, focused on European Developments highlighting how disability is now recognised as requiring protection from discrimination, in the same way as race and gender under the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty.

Louise Curtis, Senior Lawyer, Equality and Human Rights Commission discussed developments in domestic disability discrimination law, while Pat McConville, Head of Legislation Unit, Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety (NI), provided an overview of proposed legislation for Northern Ireland, with particular reference to the Mental Health Law Reform.

For more information on the Human Rights Centre at Queen’s visit the website.

For media inquires, please contact Anne-Marie Watson, 028 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk

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Kinoteka - 4th Polish Film Festival at QFT

The true-life tale of a daring escape from Auschwitz, a classic from controversial director Roman Polanski and Poland’s answer to Trainspotting are just some of the films being screened at QFT as part of Kinoteka on Tour – 4th Polish Film Festival. 

The showcase of the best in new and classic Polish cinema will run at QFT from Friday 5 –Thursday 11 March.

Susan Picken, Head of QFT said: “This year’s Kinoteka programme reflects the quality and diversity of both new and classic Polish cinema.  We are delighted to host the festival for a fourth year and look forward to a fascinating series of screenings.”

Festival organiser Eva Grosman said: “We are absolutely delighted with the continuous support of QFT and the appreciation of the Polish cinema by audiences in Northern Ireland. Being a part of the Polish Cultural Institute’s flagship project Kinoteka enables us to bring some of the very best of the Polish cinema to Belfast and also provides an opportunity for Polish people to cherish and share their own cultural heritage with the local community.”

The festival opens with Little Moscow (Friday 5 March), a chronicle of a tragic love between a Russian commander’s wife and a Polish officer.  The story is based on director Waldemar Krzystek’s memories of growing up in Poland’s ‘Little Moscow’, where the headquarters of Soviet forces were stationed between 1945 and 1990.

The film’s director and producer will attend the screeningof Runaway (Sunday 7 March), the true story of a daring escape from the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in 1942.  Thanks to escape leader Kazimierz Piechowski’s fluent German, four armed prisoners wearing SS uniforms successfully fled in the camp commander’s car.

Recent winner of the Best Director award at the Berlin Film Festival, Roman Polanski’s first film made in America was Rosemary’s Baby (Monday 8 March), which stars Mia Farrow as a devoted wife and expectant mother.  Believing she has been impregnated by the Devil, she is torn between the love for her husband and her feelings about the child she is carrying.

The first Polish film ever to compete at the Sundance Film Festival, All That I Love (Wednesday 10 March) is a coming-of-age story of a boy against the background of political turmoil.  When tension increases in Poland in the early 1980s, four 18-year-old boys decide to start a punk band in a seaside town. The singer of the band is a young idealist who can lose himself in music, love, his dreams - until the world of adults forces him to make a choice that will have huge consequences.

The closing film of the festival is Zero (Thursday 11 March), the daring debut from Pawel Borowski in which twenty-four narrative lines cross each other in twenty-four hours, with the camera repeatedly jumping from character to character, in the street, in a bus or cafe.

For further information and online booking for all Kinoteka events, please visit www.queensfilmtheatre.com

For media inquiries, please conact Sarah Hughes, 028 9097 1398, 07905 276 399, s.hughes@qub.ac.uk

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Belfast-based research on older men’s learning launched in Australia

A report from the Changing Ageing Partnership which highlights the benefits of non-formal learning for older men in Belfast will be launched at a conference in Australia today.

The Northern Ireland report Older men’s Learning beyond the Workplace will be launched alongside Australian research at the Men’s Learning and Wellbeing Forum at the University of Ballarat in Victoria.

The study, by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, focuses on older men’s attitudes and experiences of informal, community-based learning in a number of communities in Belfast where specialist provision has developed.

Dr Rob Mark, Older Men's Project Coordinator and Director of Education in the School of Education at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “Many older men in Belfast grew up at a time when educational opportunities were the privilege of a few. They left school at an early age taking up employment with only a basic education. For many, the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in a supportive educational environment has not been an option.

“Living through a period of civil unrest has compounded this problem and many older men have found themselves facing uncertain futures in a world that values skills training and qualifications as a pre-requisite to entering the job market.       

“This study has examined how older men can benefit from new types of informal learning, outside a formal classroom setting. As well as helping older men acquire new skills and knowledge, the study found those who took part in community-based education felt a sense of enjoyment, belonging, friendship, empowerment and achievement. 

“Older men are experiencing an awakening to the many educational and health benefits of these new found opportunities, where they can learn together in a relaxed, supportive, familiar environment in their own locality. The new learning environment provides mental stimulation and a sense of belonging, helping prevent psychological regression and related illnesses, particularly among older men who lack social and family ties.

“While we can highlight the many benefits of engaging with lifelong learning the attitude among many is that education is ‘not for them. By asking existing learners to help recruit others from similar backgrounds, employing approachable teachers and peer tutors, and developing learning programmes in consultation with learners, we can begin to redress the imbalance and encourage more men to get involved in community-based learning.”

Associate Professor Barry Golding of the University of Ballarat, Australia said: “There is growing recognition of the difficulties faced by some men who are not in the workplace. Our research in Australia and in Belfast confirms the great value to the community of gathering, learning and doing things together, as well as to men's wellbeing and productive ageing.

“The launch of this Northern Ireland research in Australia is symbolic of the links that have been established between Ballarat and Queen’s and the benefits of sharing research methods and findings in this important area.”

When the research is launched this week in Australia, participants will discover how informal learning in community-based contexts in Belfast has provided a lifeline for older men in an environment where health problems, dealing with loss, recovering from past trauma and coping with ‘new’ emerging situations can be addressed.

Older men’s Learning beyond the Workplace is available online at http://www.changingageing.org/Research/ResearchLaunchReports/Filetoupload,184289,en.pdf

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Hares more numerous in Irish Coursing Club Preserves than wider countryside

The Irish Hare
Irish hares are eighteen times more abundant in areas managed by the Irish Coursing Club (ICC) than at similar sites in the wider countryside a recent study by Queen’s has shown.

There are approximately 76 local coursing clubs distributed throughout Ireland and each is associated with a number of discrete localities, known colloquially as ‘hare preserves’. These are managed favourably for hares including predator control, prohibition of other forms of hunting such as shooting and poaching and the maintenance and enhancement of suitable hare habitat.
 
Anti-field sports organisations, in addition to animal welfare objections, dispute the efficacy of ICC hare population management practices claiming that annual harvesting of hares causes local population declines and expiration.
 
The research team, lead by Dr. Neil Reid, Quercus Centre Manager at Queen’s, indirectly tested the efficacy of management practices by comparing hare numbers within preserves to that in the wider countryside.
 
Dr Reid said: “While we cannot rule out the role of habitat, our results suggest that hare numbers are maintained at high levels in ICC preserves either because clubs select areas of high hare density and subsequently have a negligible effect on numbers, or that active population management positively increases hare abundance.”
 
The research, published in the peer-reviewed international journal Acta Theriologica, suggests that field sports such as shooting, hunting and hare coursing promote the multifunctional use of farmland in which wildlife provides a resource for non-agricultural activities supporting sustainable development. Also, field sports may offer financial and recreational incentives to farmers and private landowners who are frequently willing to accept conservation costs over a wider area than Government can afford to subsidize.
 
Co-author Professor Ian Montgomery, Head of the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s said “The Irish hare is one of the highest priority species in Ireland and its conservation is a fine balance between the management of suitable habitat within agricultural systems, population management by coursing clubs and associated animal welfare concerns. Without legal, well organised and regulated coursing much of the costs of conservation will fall exclusively on Government.”
 
This latest research follows on from a previous study published by the same group in the journal Animal Welfare during 2007, which showed that survival of hares at coursing events significantly improved with the introduction of compulsory muzzling of greyhounds in 1993, while improved levels of captive animal husbandry reduced mortality yet further. It is estimated that about four per cent of the 6,000 or so hares netted by the ICC each year are killed with the rest being released back into the wild.
 
Further information on the study is available on the Quercus website at www.quercus.ac.uk.
  
Media inquiries to Press and PR Unit. Tel: +44 (0)28 90 97 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk 

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US Economic Envoy in high-level meetings at Queen’s

Professor Peter Gregson and Declan Kelly

Declan Kelly and Professor Richard Harrison speak to Queen’s University Management School

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The United States Special Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly, today visited Queen’s University – the UK’s Entrepreneurial University of the Year – to meet with business students studying entrepreneurship and visit the University's Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology.

Mr Kelly, who accompanied US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her visit to the University in October, returned to the campus to learn more about Queen’s commitment to entrepreneurship education, and how its graduates contribute to the economic viability of the region.
 
He also shared his own experiences of entrepreneurialism and his perspectives on the future development of the Northern Ireland private sector with 90 students of the Queen’s University Management School.
 
Welcoming Mr Kelly, Queen’s President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: “During her recent visit to Northern Ireland, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton learned first-hand from US companies who had invested here of the importance of the high quality and loyalty of graduates to inward investment.
 
“This view was reinforced just two weeks after her visit when Queen’s became the UK’s Entrepreneurial University of the Year. This was excellent news for Queen’s and excellent news for Northern Ireland, recognizing our ongoing work in ensuring that tomorrow’s business leaders have the necessary skills to contribute to the region’s future prosperity in an increasingly competitive world.
 
“Mr Kelly’s visit today will enable us to take this process a step further, by sharing insights into entrepreneurship and how we can further enhance our impact on Northern Ireland through wealth creation, cutting-edge research and productive global connections.“
 
Mr Kelly said: “Investment commitments in Northern Ireland from world-leading companies such as the recent announcement by NYSE Technologies, part of NYSE Euronext, are underpinned by a confidence in the region’s skills base.   As I continue to work to try to bring Northern Ireland to the attention of the US business community, I am helped by the academic and research excellence that is very evident at Queen’s University.
 
“Its commitment to entrepreneurialism education and its strategic commercial linkages, such as its collaboration in the life sciences field with the Almac Group, can greatly assist Northern Ireland’s competitive advantage in attracting more high-value, wealth-creating jobs.”
 
During the Special Envoy’s visit, he met senior representatives from leading Northern Ireland company Almac and Invest Northern Ireland to finalise plans for their visit to the United States next month as part of the NI trade mission during St. Patrick's week.
 
Colin Hayburn, Executive Director at Almac, said: “Northern Ireland has a long tradition of entrepreneurship and innovation and is now an established international centre of excellence in a number of fields, including life sciences. We welcome Declan’s presence here today and look forward to working closely with him on a number of initiatives in the near future.”
 
Mr Kelly also visited the University’s world-leading Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology. The Centre’s pioneering reputation has attracted high quality clinicians and scientists from around the world and led to the creation of unique international partnerships with leading global institutions, in particular the US National Cancer Institute in Maryland.
 
The Centre is the role model for the development of an Institute of Health Sciences which will play a major part in Queen’s aim to become a Global Top 100 university within five years.
 
Another priority is the establishment of a multi-million pound Executive Education Centre which will make a direct impact on the further development of core skills in the Northern Ireland economy.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5310, Mob 07815 871997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Study highlights sustainable footprint of chemical companies

Global chemical companies could release at least one billion euro in cash flow if they increase their sustainability performance.
 
The claim has been made following an international study which assessed the sustainability performance of nine global chemical companies in monetary terms. Entitled Sustainable Value Creation by Chemical Companies, it has been published by a leading European research team including academics from Queen’s University Management School in Belfast.
 
The study identified significant differences in the sustainable performance of chemical companies. It showed the leading companies, Air Liquide and BASF, using their resources up to five times more efficiently than their competitors.
 
In 2007, this meant that both Air Liquide and BASF companies created a sustainable value of around one billion euro, creating around one billion euro more cash flow than their competitors on average would have created with the same amount of resources.
 
Correcting these results for company size, Bayer, which uses its resources 1.2 times more efficiently than its competitors on average, catches up with BASF.
 
Among the resources assessed in the study were total assets, water use, chemical oxygen demand of waste water, hazardous waste creation, emissions of greenhouse gases and volatile organic compounds, as well as acidification potential. Social indicators such as number of employees and accidents were also included in the assessment. The analysis is based on the financial, environmental and social data reported and published by the companies themselves.
 
The study calculated each company’s sustainable value – the first monetary assessment of corporate sustainability performance for chemical companies which takes into account financial, environmental and social resources.
 
Only the French industrial gas producer Air Liquide outperforms Bayer and BASF in terms of resource efficiency, using its resources 1.7-times more efficiently than its competitors on average. 
 
At the bottom of the ranking is the US company Dow Chemical (DOW). In 2007 DOW used its resources only half as efficiently as the competitors on average and created a negative sustainable value of -2.2 billion euro. Like DOW, DSM and AKZO were not able to generate a positive sustainable value in any of the years assessed.
 
Other companies studied include Du Pont, Reliance and Shell Chemicals.
 
The sustainable value approach was developed by Professor Frank Figge of Queen’s University Management School Belfast and Dr Tobias Hahn of Euromed Management School Marseille, who authored this study with researchers from the Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment in Berlin.
 
Professor Figge explained: “Sustainable value is created when a company uses its resources more efficiently than the market average.
 
“Companies have highly developed tools to measure their use of the resource economic capital. The sustainable value approach now allows them to measure the use of their environmental and social resources in economic terms.
 
“The study shows that there are significant differences between the sustainability performance of the different chemical companies. Our study shows in which areas the companies outperform compared to their peers and where they are lagging behind.
 
“In comparison to other studies looking at the sustainability performance of this sector, our study looks at the ‘real’ performance, which considers environmental and social impacts.”
 
Professor Figge added that the approach was similar to the methods used by financial analysts to compare data on companies.  
 
“Previous studies have often looked at qualitative indicators and have used intransparent weighting of the different criteria. Our study is based on economic theory and provides companies with an unprejudiced assessment of their performance. The results can be used by companies to find out where they stand compared with their peers and also to identify the individual strengths and weaknesses of their performance.”
 
Both the study and extensive information on the Sustainable Value approach are available at www.sustainablevalue.com.

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Senior Press Officer. Tel: 0044 (0)28 90 97 5384 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Nobel Laureates and Olympic medallist to be honoured by Queen’s

Nobel prize-winning economist Professor Amartya Kumar Sen, on whom Queen’s will confer an honorary doctorate this year. Photo courtesy of Nigel Stead/LSE

Nobel prize-winners Professor Amartya Kumar Sen, one of the greatest intellectuals of modern India, and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, a veteran diplomat who played a major role in the Northern Ireland peace process, are to be honoured by Queen’s University this year.

They will receive honorary doctorates alongside three-times Olympic gold medallist and world record-breaker Usain Bolt, and BBC broadcaster Sir Mark Tully, the BBC’s India correspondent for many years.

Several internationally-renowned academics feature on the roll of honour. They include Professor Kevin Cahill, President of the Centre for Humanitarian Health and Co-operation at Fordham University in New York, and Professor Dame Jill McLeod-Clark, who has been cited as one of the 20 most influential nurses of the last 60 years. Also to be honoured are leading educationalist Professor Sir Tim Brighouse, network design and computing pioneer Professor Andy Hopper, author and critic Professor Helen Vendler and eminent physicist Professor Jie Zhang.

Dr Colin Wong, Vice-President Research and Development with the Malaysian oil giant Petronas, and William Wright, founder of leading Northern Ireland company Wrightbus, both of which are research partners of Queen’s, will also be honoured.

The distinguished list of recipients includes the Ulster Orchestra’s Principal Conductor, Kenneth Montgomery, former Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan, business leader Fred Olsen and Belfast-born Maureen Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet.

The degrees will be awarded as follows:

LLD                  Martti Ahtisaari                                        for distinction in public service
DUniv               Usain Bolt                                                for distinction in sport 
DSSc                Professor Sir Tim Brighouse                     for services to education and for public service 
DMedSc           Professor Kevin Cahill                             for services to medicine and for public service 
DSc (Eng)         Professor Andy Hopper CBE                  for services to information technology and 
                                                                                        business and commerce
DMedSc           Professor Dame Jill McLeod-Clark          for services to medicine and for public service 
DLit(Mus)         Kenneth Montgomery                              for services to music
LLD                  Baroness Nuala O’Loan                          for distinction in public service
DSc (Eng)         Fred Olsen (Senior)                                 for services to engineering and business and 
                                                                                        commerce            
DSc (Econ)       Professor Amartya Kumar Sen                for distinction in economics
DLit                  Sir Mark Tully                                         for services to broadcasting
DLit                  Professor Helen Vendler                          for distinction in literature
DSc (Econ)      Maureen Wheeler                                     for services to business and 
                                                                                        commerce 
DSc (Econ)      Dr Colin Wong (Hee Huing)                     for services to business and
                                                                                        commerce 
DSc (Eng)        William Wright                                          for services to engineering and
                                                                                        business and commerce
DSc                  Professor Jie Zhang                                  for distinction in physics

For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5310, Mob 07815 871997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

 

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Fashion SWOTs save lives at Queen’s
Fashion victim Daniel Soutar is being rushed to the Whitla Hall by fellow medical students Catherine Higgins, Andrew Mahon and Erin Sturdy for the life saving catwalk show.
Fashion victim Daniel Soutar is being rushed to the Whitla Hall by fellow medical students Catherine Higgins, Andrew Mahon and Erin Sturdy for the life saving catwalk show.

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Queen’s Medicine and Dentistry students will take to the catwalk on Monday evening (22 February) to raise vital funds for third-world medical care.

Former Radio 1 presenter Dr Mark Hamilton and television presenter Emma-Louise Johnston will host the show, while students model the latest ranges from high-street stores and designer boutiques.

The annual fashion show is the biggest fundraising event of student charity society, the Students Working Overseas Trust (SWOT). Last year, the event raised £45,000, which students brought with them directly to hospitals and medical centres in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Ghana, Peru, and India.

SWOT Fashion show co-ordinator, Pippa Crutchley said: “There have been months of hard work to get to the show together, but knowing the number of lives we are saving makes it all worthwhile.

“Some of last year’s medical students went to south-western Tanzania. The hospital bought an ECG machine, a portable X-ray machine, wheel chairs, crutches and orthopaedic supports and a basic laboratory to facilitate easier and quicker diagnoses of conditions including Malaria. I hope to spend time in a neonatal unit while there as babies often die during what we would consider a ‘normal’ or ‘safe’ birth. I know SWOT really makes a difference.

“As well as knowing they are helping to fund first-aid, the SWOT audience are in for a treat. Medicare Pharmacy, in association with Benefit, will have a stand offering 10 per cent off all products and a £600 beauty hamper. Ten lucky members of the audience will find £30 Peter Mark vouchers under their seats and four will get GHD strengtheners.

“It might be a night of fun and fashion, but ultimately we are saving lives.”

Tickets to the show, priced £26, are available in advance from the Students’ Union reception or at the door.

Media inquiries to Judith Rance, Press and PR Unit. Tel: 028 9097 3091, j.rance@qub.ac.uk

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‘Big Brew’ for Fairtrade
Queen’s Students’ Union Vice-President for Welfare Susan Kearney
Queen’s Students’ Union Vice-President for Welfare Susan Kearney

Queen’s Students’ Union Vice-President for Welfare Susan Kearney gets ready to have ‘a big brew’ as part of this year’s Fairtrade events at the University.

The University is hosting a wide range of events, including a ‘Big Brew’ coffee morning on Wednesday, to mark ‘Fairtrade Fortnight, which starts on Monday 22 February.

Susan, co-chair of the University’s Fairtrade Steering Group, said: “The events being held across campus are part of the University's commitment to Fairtrade. The Fortnight is a really good opportunity to raise awareness of Fairtrade among staff and students and we would encourage as many of them as possible to get involved. The campaignhighlights the significance of Fairtrade and how important it is to our student body, the leaders of tomorrow."

Queen’s was awarded University Fairtrade Status in 2006, and this was renewed in December last year.

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Innovative loyalty card to improve health in East Belfast
Professor Frank Kee
Professor Frank Kee

A new incentive-based loyalty card scheme has the potential to improve the health of thousands of people in East Belfast, according to those behind a similar scheme currently being rolled out in Manchester.

Experts from The Points4Life Scheme – a collaborative effort between the NHS and Manchester City Council – are in Belfast today to discuss how the scheme could be piloted in Northern Ireland thanks to a partnership between the UKCRN Centre of Excellence for Public Health (NI) and Business in the Community.

At today’s event, community representatives and health experts will discuss the potential for the Manchester model to be developed in East Belfast, and how the area’s regeneration through the Connswater Community Greenway initiative offers clear opportunities for encouraging and improving levels of physical activity.
 
Professor Frank Kee, from Queen’s University Belfast, Director of the UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health (NI), said: “We hope that a pilot scheme in the Connswater area could work in the same way as many of the well-known loyalty schemes in the market today and along similar lines to the Points4Life scheme in Manchester. Members of the public who join the scheme would use their loyalty card to collect points which could be redeemable for “healthy” products and services. Local businesses in the East Belfast community could also benefit from having increased interaction with local customers”.
 
“If we are to meet the challenges posed by the rising tide of obesity, at a community level we must increase our levels of physical activity. Though public health practitioners are showing the necessary leadership, the challenge requires concerted action across all sectors. Creating a platform for incentive-based loyalty card schemes for positive behaviour change will, hopefully, deliver lessons applicable across the UK and Ireland”.
 
Business in the Community, through its Business Action on Health campaign, is working with employers to improve workforce health – both as a benefit to the business and to wider society.
 
Tanya Kennedy, Workplace Director with Business in the Community said “People spend more than a third of their time at work, so it makes sense to communicate with them through the workplace about the benefits of good health and wellbeing.
 
“Physical activity is a key aspect of wellbeing and if we can find innovative ways to engage employees and incentivise them to improve their fitness through loyalty schemes such as this – we have a duty to explore them further and learn from good practice in other areas.”
 
To find out more about the Points4Life scheme, visit http://www.points4lifeojeu.co.uk/index.php

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Press and PR Unit, Tel: 028 90 97 5384 and email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk

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Over one fifth of P7 children physically bullied at school

More than one fifth (22 per cent) of P7 school children questioned in a major survey in Northern Ireland reported at the time that they had been physically bullied at school in the previous two months. Another 36 per cent reported being bullied in other ways.
 
The findings from the Kids’ Life and Times Survey are being launched today (Wednesday 17 February) at Ballymena Primary School. The annual online survey, conducted by ARK at Queen’s and the University of Ulster, gives all P7 children in Northern Ireland an opportunity to voice their opinions on issues that are important to them.
 
A total of 3,657 P7 children from 268 primary schools across Northern Ireland took part in the 2009 survey.
 
At the launch, children from Ballymena Primary School will discuss the findings from the 2009 survey and their own experience of completing the 2010 survey, which includes questions on their attitudes to the new transfer arrangements, children’s rights and bullying in school.
 
Key findings from the 2009 Kids’ Life and Times Survey include:
 
• 22 per cent of P7 children said they had been physically bullied at school either a lot or a little in the previous two months of the survey being carried out and 36 per cent had been bullied in other ways, including name calling, being left out of games, or having nasty stories spread about them on purpose.

• 71 per cent knew there was someone in their school whose job was to deal with bullying. 89 per cent knew their school had rules on bullying.

• Girls are happier than boys at school. 84 per cent of girls and 73 per cent of boys said they were ‘mostly happy’ at school.

• Children who said they were mostly unhappy at school were seven times more likely to say they had been bullied in the last two months.

• Most children said they would turn to parents, family or friends if something went wrong in their lives. But 11 per cent of boys and 8 per cent of girls didn’t know who they would turn to, while 5 per cent of boys and 3 per cent of girls said they would turn to no-one.

• The vast majority of P7 children have mobile phones and access to the internet at home or at school. 28 per cent had internet access in their bedroom.

• 74 per cent of children have a TV in their bedroom and 39 per cent say they watch TV a lot. The favourite programme for boys was the Simpsons and for girls, Hannah Montana.

• The thing children were most fed up hearing about on TV was adverts, followed by swine flu and the recession.

• The person children admire most is their mum or their dad.

Dr Katrina Lloyd from Queen’s University said: “While we often hear what the public and the media think about the issues affecting children, we rarely ask the children themselves about these things. The Kids’ Life and Times Survey gives children the opportunity to express their opinions and influence the policies and decisions that affect them.
 
“The years spent at primary school are crucial to a child’s development - not only in terms of what they learn but also their general wellbeing. It is important that those involved in educating our children understand the extent to which they do or do not enjoy being at school and the pressures they are under.
 
“This survey will help inform education policy makers in making decisions that affect thousands of school children across Northern Ireland.”
 
Professor Gillian Robinson from the University of Ulster said: "This is the second Kids’ Life and Times survey and, so far, almost 7,000 children have been able to express their views on a range of issues that are important to them. By inviting respondents to suggest topics for the next year’s survey, we make sure that the issues covered are relevant to the lives of children in Northern Ireland today.
 
“As with all ARK surveys, the findings from the Kids’ Life and Times surveys are available on our website at www.ark.ac.uk/klt along with a comic-style publication of results, specially designed for children."
 
Harold Brownlow, principal of Ballymena Primary School said: “Our P7’s have really enjoyed participating in this survey and the results have fed into our classes. This is an important transition time for children as they prepare to move on to second level education and this survey allows us to take their views and opinions into account.”
 
The 2009 Kids’ Life and Times Survey was funded by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.
 
For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk , 07814 415 451.

 
 

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Local business leaders urged 'innovate to succeed'
Professor Sir Bernard Crossland
Professor Sir Bernard Crossland
Northern Ireland’s business leaders will be urged to “Innovate to succeed” by a line-up of four innovation gurus visiting Belfast next week.
 
The panel, representing business activities from marketing to software engineering and manufacturing, will be at Queen’s University on Tuesday 23 February to jointly deliver the 9th Sir Bernard Crossland Lecture.
 
Professor Peter Russo of the Strascheg Institute in Munich, Professor Mandy Chessell of IBM in London, Engineers Ireland President Dr Chris Horn and Mark Nodder of the Wright Group in Northern Ireland will address the theme of “Engineering Innovation – Reinventing Business”.
 
In particular, they will challenge local business people to examine their approach to the use of innovation in engineering and commerce, and encourage them to be bold and daring in the year ahead.
 
Sir Bernard Crossland, after whom the lecture series is named, said: “The near collapse of our financial services industry has shown us the danger of having too many of our eggs in one basket. It has reminded us of the urgent need to regenerate our manufacturing industry to make a more significant contribution to our Gross National Product.”
 
The lecture series was established by Engineers Ireland in honour of Sir Bernard, who is widely regarded as one of the most distinguished engineers in the UK and Ireland.
 
A former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Queen's, Sir Bernard was Head of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University from 1959 to 1982. He served as an assessor in the King’s Cross Fire Investigation in 1988 and as Chairman of the Public Hearing into the Bilsthorpe Colliery Accident in 1994.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5310, Mob 07815 871997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk
 

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Queen's helps produce archaeological ‘time machine’

Professor Gerry McCormac and Dr Paula Reimer

Researchers at Queen’s have helped produce a new archaeological tool which could answer key questions in human evolution.

The new calibration curve, which extends back 50,000 years, is a major landmark in radiocarbon dating - the method used by archaeologists and geoscientists to establish the age of carbon-based materials. It could help research issues including the effect of climate change on human adaption and migrations.

The project was led by Queen's University Belfast through a National Environment Research Centre (NERC) funded research grant to Dr Paula Reimer and Professor Gerry McCormac from the Centre for Climate, the Environment and Chronology (14CHRONO) at Queen’s and statisticians at the University of Sheffield. Ron Reimer and Professor Emeritus Mike Baillie from Queen’s School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology also contributed to the work.

The curve called INTCAL09, has just been published in the journal Radiocarbon. It not only extends radiocarbon calibration but also considerably improves earlier parts of the curve.

Dr Reimer said: “The new radiocarbon calibration curve will be used worldwide by archaeologists and earth scientists to convert radiocarbon ages into a meaningful time scale comparable to historical dates or other estimates of calendar age. 

“It is significant because this agreed calibration curve now extends over the entire normal range of radiocarbon dating, up to 50,000 years before today.  Comparisons of the new curve to ice-core or other climate archives will provide information about changes in solar activity and ocean circulation.”

It has taken nearly 30 years for researchers to produce a calibration curve this far back in time. Since the early 1980s, an international working group called INTCAL has been working on the project.

The principle of radiocarbon dating is that plants and animals absorb trace amounts of radioactive carbon-14 from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere while they are alive but stop doing so when they die. The carbon-14 decays from archaeological and geological samples so the amount left in the sample gives an indication of how old the sample is.

As the amount of carbon -14 in the atmosphere is not constant, but varies with the strength of the earth’s magnetic field, solar activity and ocean radiocarbon ages must be corrected with a calibration curve.

Most experts consider the technical limit of radiocarbon dating to be about 50,000 years, after which there is too little carbon-14 left to measure accurately with present day technology.

Further information on the work of Queen’s Chrono Centre can be found online at http://chrono.qub.ac.uk/

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Press and PR Unit. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5384 or email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk .

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Flax Trust Award “underpins Queen’s impact on the community” – Vice-Chancellor
The Vice-Chancellor receives the Award from Dr Mary Turley, Trustee/Director of the Trust. Included is UTV’s Paul Clark, one of the MCs at the gala ceremony in the Europa Hotel.
The Vice-Chancellor receives the Award from Dr Mary Turley, Trustee/Director of the Trust. Included is UTV’s Paul Clark, one of the MCs at the gala ceremony in the Europa Hotel.

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Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson has paid tribute to the University’s staff, students and graduates for their contribution to society.

The Vice-Chancellor was speaking at the annual Flax Trust Super Bowl Ball in Belfast, at which he was presented with a Flax Trust Award in recognition of the University’s impact on the community.

Formed in Belfast in 1977, the Flax Trust is one of the largest and longest established development trusts in Ireland. It is committed to the “reconciliation of a divided community through economic and social development, bringing peace to both communities, one person and one job at a time”.

Speaking at the event, the Vice-Chancellor said: “I am honoured to receive this award on behalf of Queen’s University Belfast. Above all, I pay tribute to our staff, students and graduates, who work tirelessly to make a difference to the community we serve.”

The Vice-Chancellor cited as examples the University’s contribution to economic and cultural development, to research aimed at improving the quality of life and to the professions.

He particularly highlighted the role of students through initiatives such as Students in Free Enterprise, the Students Working Overseas Trust and Peace Players International.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Corporate Affairs, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, Mob: 07815 871 997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Senior churchmen visit Queen’s
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor (left) and Archbishop John Sentamu with the Vice-Chancellor
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor (left) and Archbishop John Sentamu with the Vice-Chancellor

Two of the United Kingdom’s most senior members of the clergy were the guests of honour at a recent reception at Queen’s. 

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable John Sentamu, the Lord Archbishop of York, and His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, both of whom were delivering prestigious lectures in Belfast, attended a University dinner hosted by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson.

The Archbishop of York was the keynote speaker at the University’s Church of Ireland Annual Theological Lectures while Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor delivered the annual St Brigid’s Lecture in St Bride’s Hall in south Belfast.

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Queen’s young medics go back to school!
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie and Sentinus Chair Jim Stewart prescribe Medics in Primary Schools for Cairnshill Primary School pupils Sarah Dawson, Lara Horner and Jack Diver
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students Professor Ellen Douglas-Cowie and Sentinus Chair Jim Stewart prescribe Medics in Primary Schools for Cairnshill Primary School pupils Sarah Dawson, Lara Horner and Jack Diver

Hundreds of primary school pupils from the greater Belfast area are set to benefit from healthy living advice, thanks to medical students from Queen's.

The 2010 Medics In Primary Schools’ scheme, which takes place over 12 weeks, is being run in partnership with Sentinus, the largest provider of science and technology programmes to schools in Northern Ireland.  As part of the initiative, primary schoolchildren study four topics including healthy skin, heart and lungs, brain and general well-being.

Professor Paddy Johnston, Dean of the University’s School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, said: “Medics in Primary Schools is a unique teaching programme offered by second year medical students at Queen’s. We are delighted to welcome Sentinus as our collaborators for this year’s programme.  Medics in Primary Schools offer both partners an opportunity to promote engagement in science-based subjects among P7 pupils in schools in the Greater Belfast Area. 

“During the next 12 weeks medical students will guide schoolchildren through a health education programme that will focus on the heart, lungs, skin and the brain.  The medical students will act as positive role models encouraging primary school pupils to consider a career in medicine or science. The students, in turn, will gain experience in communicating information to schoolchildren from a variety of backgrounds.”

Jim Stewart, Chairman of Sentinus, said: “Throughout the programme the primary school children gain awareness on a number of health related issues – they also get exposure to inspiring role models who can help shape decisions regarding their future career.  The Medics in Primary Schools programme grows in popularity year on year with more schools wanting to get involved. It offers fantastic learning opportunities for both the graduates and young students. ”

The programme is offered as a student selected module within the medical students’ second year course. Students have a placement one afternoon a week throughout February, March and April in a primary school, during which they deliver a short science and health education programme to P6 or P7 pupils.

The MIPS Teaching and Learning Guide can be downloaded at www.sentinus.co.uk/product.php?id=35.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Corporate Affairs, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, Mob: 07815 871 997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Human Rights in Haiti

A former UN human rights observer will visit Queen’s this week to give a public talk on human rights in Haiti and the challenges facing the country as it struggles to cope with the devastation caused by the 12 January earthquake.

Paige Jennings is a former UN human rights observer and Amnesty International researcher on Haiti. She will deliver a public talk on Human Rights in Haiti on Thursday 4 February at 7pm in Room 210 at the Peter Froggatt Centre at Queen’s.

The talk is organised by the Human Rights Centre at Queen’s School of Law.

Mrs Jennings said: “When the earthquake struck Haiti, it was already an achingly poor country, producing next to nothing and so deforested that it was largely unfit for agriculture. The flimsy shantytowns of the capital, where the earthquake did its worst damage, were filled with people who had fled the barren countryside.

“The country’s main income came from foreign aid and remittances from Haitians living abroad. The lack of health care, clean water and functional roads, are all glaringly apparent in the wake of the earthquake.

“As the international community comes together to help Haiti, it must not repeat past mistakes. We must find a way to put Haiti’s best resource - the strength and creativity of its people - at the centre of reconstruction efforts.

“The Haitian state must be rebuilt, under the direction and with the help of its citizens. Thorny problems like the presence of drug traffickers using Haiti as a transit point for US-bound cocaine must be tackled and eradicated. At the same time, sustainable and non-exploitative ways of employing people and generating local income must be created, so that corruption no longer seems the only means of getting by.

“Unprecedented efforts must be made to address Haiti’s shocking destitution - from debt relief and improved trade relations to large-scale reforestation and agricultural rehabilitation. Only in this way can this round of international relief actually make a fundamental difference.”

Professor Brice Dickson, Director of the Human Rights Centre at Queen’s School of Law, said: “The terrible earthquake in Haiti has served to remind the world of what a parlous state that country was in even before the disaster occurred and of how ill-equipped it is to rebuild its democratic system.
 
“It has long been a country where human rights have not been properly protected. One of the functions of the Human Rights Centre is to keep people abreast of human rights issues here and around the world. This event gives people an opportunity to hear at first hand from an experienced researcher on Haiti, what abuses need to be addressed and how.”
 
For more information on the Human Rights Centre at Queen’s School of Law visit www.law.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofLaw/Research/HumanRightsCentre

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Watson at Queen’s University Press and PR Unit on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5320, 00 44 (0)7812 083259 or a.watson@qub.ac.uk 

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New partnership for Queen’s and Madras Christian College

Professor John Thompson

Madras Christian College (MCC) in Chennai has signed its first major partnership agreement with a leading UK university.

The new partnership with Queen’s University Belfast, a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s 20 leading research intensive universities, will facilitate student exchanges and exploit learning opportunities in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at both institutions.

Currently four exchange students from Queen’s are studying at MCC in the fields of English, Politics, Anthropology and Geography and Paleoecology. The first reciprocal visit to Queen’s by students from MCC will take place later this year.

The new partnership with MCC comes just weeks after Queen’s University installed His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary of the Commonwealth and former Indian High Commissioner to the UK as Chancellor. Late last year Queen’s also celebrated a week-long festival of languages and culture in New Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata, when leading poets from the University joined together with their Indian counterparts including Ashoke Viswanathan; Jayanta Mahapatra; Sunil Gangopadhyay; Professor Nabaneeta Dev Sen; Srijato and Mamang Dai.

Principal of MCC, Professor Alexander Jesudasan joined Professor John Thompson, Head of Queen’s School of English, to sign the new agreement at an event attended by Chris Gibson, the British Council’s Director for South India. Funding to facilitate the new links was secured by the School of English at Queen’s following receipt of a grant from Phase II of the Prime Minister’s Initiative Scheme.

Speaking at the event, Professor Thompson said: “Like Madras Christian College, Queen’s University Belfast has been home to a vibrant and diverse academic tradition of excellence for many decades.

“Teaching links between the island of Ireland and Chennai have been ongoing since the arrival of missionaries in the 18th and 19th centuries. This exciting new partnership will now see a whole new generation of scholars exploiting vital learning and research opportunities in Chennai and Belfast; building on our shared histories and identities.

“The signing of the agreement with MCC today sees a significant broadening and deepening of Queen’s links with India, something that is of tremendous mutual benefit to the education sectors and economies of both India and Northern Ireland.”

Professor Alexander Jesudasan added: “We are delighted with our new academic partnership with Queen’s University Belfast and look forward to seeing this relationship flourish in the future."

Queen’s University has a number of partnerships with other leading Indian institutions. For details go to www.qub.ac.uk/home/ProspectiveStudents/InternationalStudents and click on Queen’s and India.

Media inquiries to Aeshna Makkar at ICON PR. Tel: 011- 46562890 – 95, Mob: (0)9911638353, e-mail: aeshna@iconpr.in or Lisa McElroy, Queen’s University Belfast. Tel: +44 (0)2890975384 or email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk

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Splash for charity cash at Queen’s Sport
Zoe Salmon at the launch of the Marie Curie Swimathon
Zoe Salmon at the launch of the Marie Curie Swimathon

Swimmers in South Belfast can make a splash for charity when they complete this year’s Marie Curie Cancer Foundation Swimathon at Queen’s Physical Education Centre in April.

Queen’s Sport is among the bodies hosting the nationwide event which was launched earlier this month by Queen’s graduate Zoe Salmon and Olympic gold medallist Duncan Goodhew.

Zoe said: “I’ve always found swimming a really good way to keep in shape. Everyone needs a challenge now and again, especially to keep motivated during the cold winter months.  And what better additional spur than to help out Marie Curie Cancer Care - a charity that does such crucial work right around the UK? I can’t wait to take part.”

Kevin Murray, PE and Sport Development Officer at Queen’s Sport said: “It’s going to be fantastic to see students, staff, and the wider community getting into the pool, taking part and fundraising for Marie Curie Cancer Care to enable terminally ill patients to have the best possible end-of-life care.”

There will be four sessions held at Queen’s Sport between Friday 16 April and Sunday 18 April. During each session there will be three lanes, allowing 15 swimmers in the pool at once. There are distance challenges of 1.5k, 2.5k and 5k, team challenges of 5k and ‘simple swim’.

Fundraisers can benefit from more than getting in shape; there are several awards for raising target amounts. The top fundraiser will win a SwimTrek break for two to a European destination of their choice.

Swimathon 2010 has a challenge to suit everyone with swimmers challenging themselves to complete up to 5K as an individual or as a team with their friends and family. To register to take part, visit the Swimathon website at www.swimathon.org or telephone the Support Line on 0845 36 700 36.
 
For media inquiries please contact: Judith Rance, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 9097 5292, j.rance@qub.ac.uk

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Gene could predict tamoxifen treatment failure

Scientists at Queen’s have identified a gene which could predict whether women with breast cancer will respond to treatment with tamoxifen, according to findings published today in Cancer Research (February issue).

Dr Tracy Robson and researcher Dr Hayley McKeen, who are funded by Breast Cancer Campaign at Queen’s School of Pharmacy, have identified a gene, FKBPL. When it is found in high levels in breast cancer, it indicates a good response to tamoxifen and a better chance of survival. Conversely low levels of FKBPL indicate a poor response.

Approximately 28,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with oestrogen dependent breast cancer each year, and many thousands will receive tamoxifen for five years after initial treatment and surgery.  However, scientists predict the drug is only effective in around two-thirds of people with thousands of patients seeing no benefit.

Dr Robson hopes to harness the FKBPL gene to develop a test to better predict the outcome of treatment with tamoxifen. This will mean the most effective therapy for the tumour type is given early on in the disease.

Dr Robson, principal investigator, said, “I believe that many women are being treated with tamoxifen without knowing whether it will benefit them. This research is a step in the right direction towards personalised treatment, ensuring that appropriate therapies are given right at the point of diagnosis, avoiding unnecessary treatment.

“More importantly this research should allow us to identify which patients are unlikely to respond to or eventually relapse on tamoxifen therapy, which means they could be treated more aggressively with chemotherapy. In the next three years we should have a clearer indication of whether our research can benefit the patient.”

The next step is to assess levels of this gene in breast cancer samples from large numbers of patients who were treated with tamoxifen. 

Arlene Wilkie, Director of Research and Policy, Breast Cancer Campaign, which funded the study said, “Tamoxifen has long been available as a treatment for women with oestrogen dependent breast cancer. We know it works really well for the majority of people but in around a third of cases, it may not be the best treatment option. In the future a simple test could help us identify these people.”

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Arts awards underline Queen’s commitment to cultural development – VC
Graeme Farrow (centre) with (from left) Adrian Toner, Allianz; Mary Trainor, Director, Arts & Business NI; Nelson McCausland MLA, Minister for Culture Arts & Leisure and Rosemary Kelly, Chairman, Arts Council of Northern Ireland
Graeme Farrow (centre) with (from left) Adrian Toner, Allianz; Mary Trainor, Director, Arts & Business NI; Nelson McCausland MLA, Minister for Culture Arts & Leisure and Rosemary Kelly, Chairman, Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Queen’s has scored a double success in the recent Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards.
The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s took the honours in the category of Best Cultural Branding for its creative partnership with the Ulster Bank, now entering its third year. Director Graeme Farrow was also named Arts Individual of the Year.

Congratulating the Festival team, Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said that the awards underlined the University’s commitment to cultural development in Northern Ireland.

 “Cultural development is central to Queen’s mission. So too is a commitment to enhancing local economic prosperity. The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s achieves both aims.

“These awards recognise the importance of effective and highly visible branding, which is crucial to the Festival’s impact. Under the creative direction of Graeme Farrow, the Festival and Ulster Bank have developed a unique programme and a range of marketing initiatives which have engendered a sense of excitement and ownership for the event among the local community.”

Graeme Farrow said: “I’m delighted that our success was recognised at the Arts & Business Awards. It is a privilege to work for a Festival that plays a hugely important role not just in the life of Queen’s University, but also that of the wider Northern Ireland economy.”

The Allianz Arts & Business Awards showcase examples of excellence and the delivery of tangible business benefits with winning partnerships across the spectrum of Northern Ireland business and arts sectors. They demonstrate that partner programmes can, and do, deliver great benefits not only for local communities, but also for the businesses involved.

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Queen's welcomes UN expert on disability law
Professor Brice Dickson
Professor Brice Dickson

The Chair of the UN Committee on Human Rights for Persons with Disabilities has visited Queen’s to discuss disability law.

The Human Rights Centre at the School of Law, along with Disability Action, welcomed Professor Ron McCallum, who spoke at the Disability, Discrimination and Human Rights Conference.

The Conference focused on local, national, and international developments in disability law. It attracted delegates including disabled people, policy makers, legal professionals, representatives from the Bar of Northern Ireland and local Human Rights, Equality and Disability organisations. 

Professor Ron McCallum, led the speakers, discussing provisions of the UN Convention on Human Rights for Persons with Disabilities, illustrating how it could lead to an alteration of the Common Law.

Professor Brice Dickson, Director of the Human Rights Centre at Queen’s School of Law, said: “This event was an excellent opportunity for the School of Law’s Human Rights Centre to engage with civil society and members of the legal community in Northern Ireland in order to enhance awareness of crucial developments in the law relating to the rights of people with disabilities. It was wonderful to hear from a range of really expert speakers, including the leading authority on disability issues at the United Nations.”

Dr Colin Harper, Manager of Disability Action's Centre on Human Rights for People with Disabilities added: “There have been many developments in disability law on a local, national and international level.  The Conference has highlighted the need to ensure greater integration of such developments into domestic legal work and to ensure the rights of disabled people are upheld.”

Monica Wilson, Chief Executive of Disability Action stated: "Regardless of jurisdiction, abuses on the grounds of disability infringe upon the human rights of disabled people. Public authorities must uphold these rights and legal practitioners must understand the needs of disabled people and the legal measures which protect their rights.”

At the conference, Catherine Casserley, Employment and Discrimination Lawyer, Cloisters Chambers, focused on European Developments highlighting how disability is now recognised as requiring protection from discrimination, in the same way as race and gender under the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty.

Louise Curtis, Senior Lawyer, Equality and Human Rights Commission discussed developments in domestic disability discrimination law, while Pat McConville, Head of Legislation Unit, Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety (NI), provided an overview of proposed legislation for Northern Ireland, with particular reference to the Mental Health Law Reform.

For more information on the Human Rights Centre at Queen’s visit the website.

For media inquires, please contact Anne-Marie Watson, 028 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk

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Kinoteka - 4th Polish Film Festival at QFT

The true-life tale of a daring escape from Auschwitz, a classic from controversial director Roman Polanski and Poland’s answer to Trainspotting are just some of the films being screened at QFT as part of Kinoteka on Tour – 4th Polish Film Festival. 

The showcase of the best in new and classic Polish cinema will run at QFT from Friday 5 –Thursday 11 March.

Susan Picken, Head of QFT said: “This year’s Kinoteka programme reflects the quality and diversity of both new and classic Polish cinema.  We are delighted to host the festival for a fourth year and look forward to a fascinating series of screenings.”

Festival organiser Eva Grosman said: “We are absolutely delighted with the continuous support of QFT and the appreciation of the Polish cinema by audiences in Northern Ireland. Being a part of the Polish Cultural Institute’s flagship project Kinoteka enables us to bring some of the very best of the Polish cinema to Belfast and also provides an opportunity for Polish people to cherish and share their own cultural heritage with the local community.”

The festival opens with Little Moscow (Friday 5 March), a chronicle of a tragic love between a Russian commander’s wife and a Polish officer.  The story is based on director Waldemar Krzystek’s memories of growing up in Poland’s ‘Little Moscow’, where the headquarters of Soviet forces were stationed between 1945 and 1990.

The film’s director and producer will attend the screeningof Runaway (Sunday 7 March), the true story of a daring escape from the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in 1942.  Thanks to escape leader Kazimierz Piechowski’s fluent German, four armed prisoners wearing SS uniforms successfully fled in the camp commander’s car.

Recent winner of the Best Director award at the Berlin Film Festival, Roman Polanski’s first film made in America was Rosemary’s Baby (Monday 8 March), which stars Mia Farrow as a devoted wife and expectant mother.  Believing she has been impregnated by the Devil, she is torn between the love for her husband and her feelings about the child she is carrying.

The first Polish film ever to compete at the Sundance Film Festival, All That I Love (Wednesday 10 March) is a coming-of-age story of a boy against the background of political turmoil.  When tension increases in Poland in the early 1980s, four 18-year-old boys decide to start a punk band in a seaside town. The singer of the band is a young idealist who can lose himself in music, love, his dreams - until the world of adults forces him to make a choice that will have huge consequences.

The closing film of the festival is Zero (Thursday 11 March), the daring debut from Pawel Borowski in which twenty-four narrative lines cross each other in twenty-four hours, with the camera repeatedly jumping from character to character, in the street, in a bus or cafe.

For further information and online booking for all Kinoteka events, please visit www.queensfilmtheatre.com

For media inquiries, please conact Sarah Hughes, 028 9097 1398, 07905 276 399, s.hughes@qub.ac.uk

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Belfast-based research on older men’s learning launched in Australia

A report from the Changing Ageing Partnership which highlights the benefits of non-formal learning for older men in Belfast will be launched at a conference in Australia today.

The Northern Ireland report Older men’s Learning beyond the Workplace will be launched alongside Australian research at the Men’s Learning and Wellbeing Forum at the University of Ballarat in Victoria.

The study, by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, focuses on older men’s attitudes and experiences of informal, community-based learning in a number of communities in Belfast where specialist provision has developed.

Dr Rob Mark, Older Men's Project Coordinator and Director of Education in the School of Education at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “Many older men in Belfast grew up at a time when educational opportunities were the privilege of a few. They left school at an early age taking up employment with only a basic education. For many, the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in a supportive educational environment has not been an option.

“Living through a period of civil unrest has compounded this problem and many older men have found themselves facing uncertain futures in a world that values skills training and qualifications as a pre-requisite to entering the job market.       

“This study has examined how older men can benefit from new types of informal learning, outside a formal classroom setting. As well as helping older men acquire new skills and knowledge, the study found those who took part in community-based education felt a sense of enjoyment, belonging, friendship, empowerment and achievement. 

“Older men are experiencing an awakening to the many educational and health benefits of these new found opportunities, where they can learn together in a relaxed, supportive, familiar environment in their own locality. The new learning environment provides mental stimulation and a sense of belonging, helping prevent psychological regression and related illnesses, particularly among older men who lack social and family ties.

“While we can highlight the many benefits of engaging with lifelong learning the attitude among many is that education is ‘not for them. By asking existing learners to help recruit others from similar backgrounds, employing approachable teachers and peer tutors, and developing learning programmes in consultation with learners, we can begin to redress the imbalance and encourage more men to get involved in community-based learning.”

Associate Professor Barry Golding of the University of Ballarat, Australia said: “There is growing recognition of the difficulties faced by some men who are not in the workplace. Our research in Australia and in Belfast confirms the great value to the community of gathering, learning and doing things together, as well as to men's wellbeing and productive ageing.

“The launch of this Northern Ireland research in Australia is symbolic of the links that have been established between Ballarat and Queen’s and the benefits of sharing research methods and findings in this important area.”

When the research is launched this week in Australia, participants will discover how informal learning in community-based contexts in Belfast has provided a lifeline for older men in an environment where health problems, dealing with loss, recovering from past trauma and coping with ‘new’ emerging situations can be addressed.

Older men’s Learning beyond the Workplace is available online at http://www.changingageing.org/Research/ResearchLaunchReports/Filetoupload,184289,en.pdf

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