Fircroft Garden Party & Awards 2017

It’s been just 5 days since this years Garden Party and Awards Ceremony and we still can’t quite get over what a great day it was. Not only did everyone have a wonderful time, the rain stayed away until the event had reached an end – shocking I know!

We celebrated the achievements and successes of our 2016-17 students in style. There was a huge marquee erected in the gardens, purple and green balloons blew gently in the wind, whilst the sound of Indian Dhol Drummers lifted the atmosphere and got everyone in a celebratory mood.

       Dhol Drummers getting the party started.

There was a fantastic spread of canapes and cakes provided by our dedicated kitchen staff, a performance by Mitch Mitchell (former The Voice contestant and West End musical extraordinaire) and a beautifully written piece by Fircroft student Raymond Howell.

The event also saw the launch of our brand new Friends of Fircroft Ambassadors scheme.  Our distinguished presenters on the day and valued Friends of Fircroft – Roger Cadbury (Fircroft College Patron), Scott Lucas,  Charmaine Burton, John Holford and Catina Barrett – have been invited to become the first wave of Friends of Fircroft Ambassadors. Awards were also presented by Cheryl Turner (Chair of Fircroft Governing Body) and senior members of the Fircroft staff.

    Scott Lucas presenting award to Melanie Starkey

The award winners were overjoyed. There were a few tears, lots of smiles and laughter filled the air as one after another the winners were gifted their prizes and certificates. Click the picture below to view the full list of awards, winners and presenters.

We have received some amazing feedback from attendees and we are happy that the event was genuinely enjoyed by our guests.

“It was brill, I was so happy that Roger Cadbury presented my award,I can’t stop smiling”.

Roger Cadbury Fircroft College Patron & Kim Cartwright

“The event maintained elements of the old e.g. Student recognition and a relaxed tone. Listening to the creative writing piece was great and the drummers created a fantastic mood to the event.”

               Guests enjoying the day.

“I felt the community atmosphere it generated was really enjoyable.” Can’t wait ’til next year’s!”

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended, from the students to the partners, from the governors to the ambassadors, we appreciate you and your continued support of the college.

If you would like to have your say about the Garden Party, please complete our survey and let us know your thoughts.

 

 

 

Yom Kippur 2017

Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday in the Jewish calendar and will be observed from the 29th – 30th September 2017. Many Jewish people will refrain from work, fast and/or attend Synagogue services on this day. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of Tishri  (The seventh month of the Jewish year, during which many important holidays occur.)

The name “Yom Kippur” means “Day of Atonement”. It is a day set aside to “afflict the soul,” to atone for the sins of the past year.  This day is essentially your last appeal, your last chance to change the judgement, to demonstrate your repentance and make amends.

No work can be performed during Yom Kippur and followers are obliged to refrain from eating and drinking (even water).  It is a complete, 25-hour fast beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur.

Much of the holiday is spent in the Synagogue, in prayer. The services end at nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, a long blast on the shofar (an ancient musical horn made of ram’s horn).

There are two meals associated with Yom Kippur: the pre-fast meal and the break-fast meal. The pre-fast meal is known as seudah ha-mafaseket ( “meal of separation” or “concluding meal”). Some traditional recipe choices for the meal include: rice, kreplach (stuffed dumplings), chicken, or fish. Meals are usually prepared with minimum salt, as this could cause dehydration during the fast. It is important to drink plenty of water, of course. The break-fast meal usually consists of hi-carb dairy foods like sweet kugel (noodle pudding), bagels, quiches, soufflés, eggs and cheese.

 

Giving in the U.K – International Day of Charity 2017

As a nation, the UK ranks highly for charitable donations, we give more in overseas aid than most other developed countries. But as individuals, how much are we really willing to donate to charity?

The Charity Aid Foundation’s (CAF), latest survey suggests that despite growing economic uncertainty, we are still giving more than we have in previous years. The study also shows that women are more likely to give than men, the young are less likely to donate than the old and our favourite causes to give to are religious organisations, followed by overseas/disaster aid and medical research.

For some of us, counting pennies is a way of life and giving to charity takes some consideration. Worry not, because there are many ways to give that don’t include parting with cash.  Volunteering is a great way to help others by donating your time rather than your resources. Could you spare an hour a week to work in a charity shop? Or help out at a food bank? As well as bringing a little bit of hope into the life of a  stranger, it has been proven that charitable giving actually makes us happier! The same parts of the brain which light up when we are doing pleasurable things (e.g eating chocolate or watching Game of Thrones), also become more active when we give to others.

Giving can include simply donating unwanted items like that patterned tie you were given for your birthday but never wear, or the old baby clothes you have stored in the loft. What may be of no use to you could make the world of difference to someone else.

We can even give by simply buying the right products when we go shopping. By spending on Fair Trade products we are inadvertently giving by ensuring the third world farmers/producers are earning a fare wage for their work.  Similarly we can buy clothing from reputable manufacturers who don’t use underpaid factory workers to produce their items. By making small changes and doing a bit of research it’s amazing how big of a difference we could collectively make.

The CAF survey highlighted the fact that giving in the UK peaks in November. The run up to Christmas makes us all feel more generous and the big push on charity marketing campaigns also plays a role. However, it’s important to remember that like a dog; giving isn’t just for Christmas.  We can actively change lives during the other 11 months of the year too. If not for the disadvantaged, do it for the warm fuzzy feeling you’ll get inside!

 

 

 

 

Scott Lucas’ Trump Talk – A Guide to Critical Thinking

The Trump Talk held at Fircroft College on 4th July was a great success and our thanks goes to Professor Scott Lucas for a stimulating and thought provoking session.  

 

You can find out more about Scott’s work through his journalism at EA WorldView (www.eaworldview.com), covering US politics and foreign policy and also international affairs, notably in Iran, Syria, and the wider Middle East, or by following him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ScottLucas_EA).

In this era of ‘Fake News’ and an ‘Age of Uncertainty’, the talk and discussion highlighted the ongoing and increasing importance for students and citizens to develop critical thinking and critical reading skills in order to navigate the ‘mediascape’ and mountains of misinformation.  

The importance of triangulation, ie getting at least 3 reliable and different sources of information, was highlighted by Scott and discussed in reference to the current American and Global political landscape with the audience. 

Staff and students were buzzing at the end of the evening, one student said ‘It was fantastic, I could have carried on for hours!’ 

Here are a couple of resources that Scott finds valuable for his work.

On US politics: FiveThirtyEight (www.fivethirtyeight.com), RealClearPolitics (https://www.realclearpolitics.com/), and individual journalists like Maggie Haberman of The New York TImes or David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post.

On checking some of the stories in the media, BellingCat (www.bellingcat.com).

On Syria and Iran (with apologies for a lack of modesty), EA WorldView!

And the day always starts with a review of some of the most reliable outlets, such as The New York Times and The Guardian.

Perhaps most importantly, talk to each other and compare your thoughts. Scott says, “Please get in touch with me to discuss ideas!”

Student Contributors Needed!

Are you a writer at heart who would like to see their work featured on the Fircroft blog and social media accounts?

Or maybe you’re a photographer/artist who would like the opportunity to have their work displayed on our digital platforms as well as around the college?

Or perhaps you’re a budding musician who would relish the chance to perform at one of the college’s many events?

Whatever your talent, we would love to work with you. Get in touch with naomi.minto@fircroft.ac.uk for more information.

Fircroft Colleges’ Trump Talk with Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas became Professor of International Politics in 2014, having been on the staff of the University of Birmingham since 1989 and a Professor of American Studies since 1997.

He began his career as a specialist in US and British foreign policy, but his research interests now also cover current international affairs — especially North Africa, the Middle East, and Iran — New Media, and Intelligence Services.

A professional journalist since 1979, Professor Lucas is the founder and editor of EA WorldView, a leading website in daily news and analysis of Iran, Turkey, Syria, and the wider Middle East, as well as US foreign policy.

Scott Lucas will be hosting the Donald Trump Talk at Fircroft College on Tuesday 4th July from 7:30pm onwards. Join us for what promises to be a fascinating insight into the leader of the free world.

 

Birmingham Conversations: Faith in the Public Sphere

The third ‘Birmingham Conversations’ took place recently on the theme of ‘Faith in the Public Sphere’ and explored the issue of how faith communities engage in all areas of public life.

The Conversations were attended by Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Humanists, Muslims and Sikhs as well as people involved in local politics, business and education.

The group met once a month for six months which enabled friendships to grow and for trust to be built up so that difficult or controversial topics could be considered.

Under the heading of ‘Faith in the Public Sphere’ they discussed what it would mean for faith communities, and by extension all communities, to flourish in the public sphere. Can everyone flourish or does the flourishing of one community necessitate the diminishing or restricting of another?

They then went on to consider how what this flourishing might look like at work, in places of education, in political life, in the media and in the street during festivals or demonstrations.

A Policy Report of the findings was written by Dr Andrew Davies from the University of Birmingham which includes specific recommendations and can be downloaded here faith-in-the-public-sphere-policy-recommendations

A Summary of the conversations was produced which includes questions for discussion and is written with members of the public in mind to enable different groups to join in the conversation. A copy of the summary can be downloaded here. map-of-birmingham-conversationland

They invited two local artists, Jake Lever and Mandy Ross, to be artists in residence and reflect on what they heard during the conversations. As well as creatively facilitating conversations they produced artworks at the end as a response to the conversations.

Eid Mubarak!

Join us at Fircroft College to celebrate the diversity in our community on Monday 3rd July. With a number of workshops and exhibitions as well as deliciously authentic food,  it promises to be an event not to be missed.

Break bread with us as we get to know each other and find ways to better understand the differences and similarities in our cultures.

 

Black Feminist Protest – Mary Prince’s Slave Narrative by Ifemu Omari-Webber

Mary Prince’s autobiography – The History of Mary Prince (1831), was the first account of the life of a black woman to be published.

On Thursday 22nd June at the John Lewis Community Hub, Ifemu aims to share some of these stories in her seminar, and argues that Mary Prince is indeed one of the first black feminists to actively resist the dehumanisation process of West Indian slavery, ensuring that her life experiences continues to be passed on almost two centuries later.

We hope you can join us for this interesting and informative event.

Fircroft Great Get Together

Fircroft will be hosting a Great Get Together Lunch on Friday 16th June.  This will be one of over 100,000 community events to take place as part of The Great Get Together in commemoration of the murder of Jo Cox on 16th June 2016.

Placards show Jo Cox’s picture during a commemorative event in Trafalgar Square

Placards show Jo Cox’s picture during a commemorative event in Trafalgar Square, London, last year. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

More than 100,000 events are expected to be held across the UK as part of The Great Get Together, organised by the Jo Cox Foundation. Organisers hope it will be the biggest number of community events since the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

The weekend of events will take place between 16 and 18 June, with picnics, street parties and iftar, the meal eaten by Muslims to break their fast during Ramadan.

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