Archive for the 'Bristol' Category

What I learned from volunteering for Policy Press….

Jennifer Bell, English Literature MA student at the University of Bristol, has just spent the past eight months volunteering at Policy Press as part of the Editorial Commissioning team. Today is (sadly!) her last day with us. 

Jen’s learned that ‘it takes a village to raise a book’, there’s more to Friday’s than cake (really?!) and she tells us how the experience has influenced her future career plans. Read on for more insights….

Jennifer BellHow did you hear about volunteering at Policy Press?
I heard about the volunteer scheme run by Policy Press from my department at the University of Bristol. Continue reading ‘What I learned from volunteering for Policy Press….’

Women and alcohol: Why ‘no shame no blame’ is essential to recovery

Today sees the launch of the Women’s Independent Alcohol Support helpline which author of Women and alcohol: Social perspectives Patsy Staddon has been instrumental in setting up. In today’s guest post Staddon shares insights from both her research and experience on the complexities of  alcoholism and why it needs to be better understood as a social issue, not a personal failure.

Patsy’s book, Women and alcohol: Social perspectives is on offer until the end of January for just £9.99  (RRP £24.99).

Patsy blogI have never been an ivory tower academic—I gained my doctorate in 2009 at the age of 65 so it’s not surprising that most of my life, whether in the period it was governed by alcohol (from the mid-‘seventies to November 1988) or while I have been researching and practising alternative approaches for women with alcohol issues, has centred on what could be called fieldwork.

As soon as Women and alcohol: social perspectives had been completed I was back out in Bristol, as chair and co-ordinator for Women’s Independent Alcohol Support (WIAS), advertising and running alternative groups for women with alcohol issues and (as of January 20th 2016) a weekly helpline—0117-9428077.

Helpline launch

This January seems to be a particularly apt time to launch such a helpline: not only are many people attempting (and perhaps failing?) to keep to a ‘dry January’, but the government chose this month to launch new guidelines, recommending that both women and men should limit their alcohol use to 14 units a week, and stating in addition that there was NO completely ‘safe’ level of alcohol use, as only a small amount increased the risk of cancer and other health conditions.

This increased risk (for moderate alcohol use) does, however, appear to be very small.

“…‘alcoholism’ is a social issue, rather than a personal failure…”

One of the things we hope to do is to counter some of the more hysterical media reports. The WIAS ‘telephone team’ possesses experience and professional expertise in the areas of alcohol recovery itself, mental health, domestic abuse and physical abuse, and has also received training from SISH (Self-Injury Self-Help), a national organisation based in Bristol.

We are taking forward in practice the ideals embedded in the book: ‘alcoholism’ is a social issue, rather than a personal failure. It is a consequence of social disasters at least as much as a cause of them. It is certainly not inevitably permanent, but can be managed and ultimately overcome.
Continue reading ‘Women and alcohol: Why ‘no shame no blame’ is essential to recovery’

Who is protecting your freedoms to read and write?

Policy Press intern Steph Lynch is a champion for international freedom of speech. Steph and her colleagues have set up the Bristol branch of English PEN – an international human rights organisation that promotes literature in translation and the freedoms to read and write.

In today’s guest blog Steph tells us about a recent event organised by Bristol Student PEN, in which Professor Maureen Freely explained why protecting freedom of expression in the UK and worldwide is so essential.

steph blogI established Bristol Student PEN in January 2015 with two other students, since then we have been working hard to make our mark in Bristol, as well as on an international scale through our campaigning and events.

I am a strong believer in the importance of English PEN’s work and had been volunteering for them at various events in London over the past year when the Director, Jo Glanville, told me that they didn’t have a branch in Bristol and that they were keen to get more students involved. Creating a society for PEN at my university seemed like the perfect solution.

To kick-start the beginning of the academic year and introduce our new members to the charity, we invited the President of English PEN, Maureen Freely, to Bristol, to talk about issues surrounding freedom of expression both in the UK and worldwide.

International Writers at Risk

Maureen was born in Turkey, and having translated all five books by Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, she is well informed on the restrictions of freedom of expression in the country. She spoke about the prosecution of Orhan Pamuk in 2005, for openly discussing the killing of a million Armenians in 1915, and the 100 or so others who were also prosecuted over the following year for expressing their views.

“Ten years on, she told us, the situation in Turkey has hardly improved with the government clamping down on the authors of any material not to their liking.”

It is cases like Orhan Pamuk’s, which English PEN campaigns to defend. Their Writers at Risk programme focuses on bringing such cases to global attention and holding the governments responsible to account. One of the most high profile cases, which Maureen mentioned, is that of Saudi Arabian blogger, Raif Badawi.

“Bristol Student PEN, along with English PEN and Amnesty International, have been campaigning in defence of Raif, who was sentenced to 1000 lashes and ten years in prison for one of his tweets.”

Saudi Arabia has a poor human rights record, of which Raif is just one of the victims, however the international community has failed to adequately condemn the country’s human rights abuses. In fact, Britain’s ties to Saudi Arabia are so close that David Cameron felt justified in spending over £100,000 to attend the late King’s funeral in October.

Freedom of Expression in the UK

Discussing Britain’s support for the repressive Saudi Arabian leadership brought Maureen back to freedom of expression in this country. She explained that having lived under an oppressive regime she was hyper-aware of the danger signs that threaten freedom of expression, and the complacency of the British population towards such danger signs baffle her.

“Theresa May’s prevent strategy to fight non-violent extremism, launched at the beginning of October, was one danger sign which Maureen expressed serious concern about.”

The strategy will increase Ofcom’s powers to pull programmes if their content is deemed ‘extreme’ and demand that internet service providers remove any ‘extreme’ material. Maureen emphasised that the ambiguity of what constitutes ‘extreme’ allows for the censoring of material which may not pose any threat to national security.

The police have already employed these new regulations to seize a BBC Newsnight journalist’s laptop, which has sparked concern that journalists will be unable to efficiently report on sensitive issues because sources will refuse to give evidence for fear of police intervention.

Maureen ended her talk by reminding us that, even in a democratic country, it is essential to exercise our freedom of expression by continually challenging the government and demanding transparency on matters such as the counter-terrorism strategy. At Bristol Student PEN we aim to do just that!

If you liked this post, you might like to add Bristol PEN on Facebook or follow them on Twitter!

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Volunteering: Policy Press help to put the homely into homeless shelter

Social issues such as homelessness and the support of the most vulnerable people in our society are key for Policy Press. Each year we support charities in a number of ways, but this year we took our support to the next level, offering up our time in addition to fundraising.

Volunteering is an important way in which many people support and are supported within our society. Rebecca Megson reports on Policy Press’ experience of volunteering at Bristol based homeless charity St Mungo’s Broadway and talks to authors Sue Baines and Irene Hardill about how volunteering has changed in the past 20 years.

Photo credit: Shelter

Photo credit: Shelter

The season of merriment is all but upon us but the reality is that Christmas is not necessarily a joyous time for all. Homeless charity Shelter have reported a 30% rise in the number of calls they are fielding from individuals and families who fear they may be homeless this year.

As an organisation we’ve been supporting homeless charity St Mungo’s Broadway throughout 2014, running charity quizzes, sporting and other events to garner sponsorship for them as our ‘chosen charity’. This was the first time, however, that we’d provided practical, hands-on help.

It was a slightly wet, grey day as we all trooped down to St Mungo’s Broadway, dressed in our scruffiest painting and decorating gear.

Policy Press staff hard at work redecorating

We’d offered to spend a day helping to redecorate the centrally shared space at the hostel and a counselling space. We hoped that between our painting, decorating, curtain and cushion making skills we could help to add a little bit to the sense of homeliness for residents and visitors.


Ali Shaw getting ready to paint

Founder and Policy Press director Alison Shaw explained why she thought it was an important next step: “The aim of Policy Press has always been to try to improve social conditions with publications that will make a positive difference.”

“Many of the books and journals we publish are concerned with the social conditions and policies that both result in and respond to homelessness. We wanted to get closer to the frontline in engaging with the realities of being homeless and help the organisations that support people who find themselves in that situation.”

The finished product  - redecorated central areas

The finished product – redecorated central areas

St Mungo’s Broadway is a national charity that provides a bed and support to more than 2,500 people a night who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness. It also works to prevent homelessness, helping about 25,000 people a year.


Curtains to make the room cosy on winters evenings

Marketing Executive Jessica Miles said: “It was a great opportunity to do something different as a team, as well as hopefully make a little bit of a difference to the guys staying at the St Mungo’s Crisis House in Bristol.”

Passionate advocates

Policy Press authors Professor Irene Hardill and Professor Susan Baines have researched and written extensively on the subject of volunteering. Their book ‘Enterprising Care?Unpaid voluntary action in the 21st century’ draws on a number of projects Sue and Irene undertook, including a micro-sociological study, which drew on lived experience, of undertaking voluntary work.

Talking to them, it is immediately obviously that they are passionate advocates for volunteering. They have watched with interest how the political debate has developed from New Labour’s emphasis on formal volunteering through to the Conservative-led coalition government’s ‘Big Society’ ideas.

Sue Baines says: “Volunteering activity is organic and hard to control. New Labour tried to bring in a lot of structure to help with that, and to be able to measure volunteering.”

Sue is cautious about the top-down approach as she feels that structured programmes can do more harm than good. Irene says the management of volunteers and the drive to push a contracts culture can be one of the negatives about volunteering. Sue says: “You come to help older people, let’s say, and suddenly it gets changed into something else, much more formal.”

“The unmet need is of course greater now than ever”

The practice of volunteering and how it is defined has changed. Recent debates for example have focused around employer’s use and abuse of volunteering in the workplace, otherwise known as ‘internships’.

Sue Baines

Sue Baines

Sue is concerned that the alignment of volunteering with work can reduce the richness it offers. She says: “I think that volunteering stands to be besmirched, or the perception of it, by the work agenda: the press has been full of accounts of ridiculous things like Scouts delivering public health.”

Both Sue and Irene believe there is a need to think differently about volunteering and to move away from the idea that volunteering is there to help in the delivery of public services. Instead they highlight that volunteering has an important role for fulfilling unmet needs outside of standard welfare service delivery. They point to the difference in approach towards volunteering in Wales which is much more focused around scrutinising authorities and organisations; or the development of the hospice movement in the UK. Initially set up by volunteers who spotted a gap in service provision for end-of-life care  and sought to fill it.

Author and academic Irene Hardill

Irene Hardill

Hardill says: “The unmet need is of course greater now than ever. New Labour put more emphasis on formal volunteering to map and measure what was going on in the country. But volunteering is also about being a good neighbour, about being involved in community groups. Really it’s just a messy form of any kind of unpaid work.”

Baines says: “I think it’s important to reemphasize the breadth and variety of volunteering – volunteers engage in the founding and running of organisations; people dip in and out with sports events etc., these days, but it’s all volunteering, it all counts.”

Hardill says: “What volunteering you do, how much, how often, why and what it means to you depends on where you are in life and on your personal circumstances. It can be an alternative to and supplement paid work; it makes you feel good, builds confidence and self-esteem.”

photo 4

Production Manager David Worth getting the job done

Policy Press staff involved in the day at St Mungo’s Broadway would certainly agree with the feel-good factor of getting involved in a hands on way with volunteering. Production Manager David Worth said: “I enjoyed the decorating day a lot and was amazed how so much can be achieved when everyone works together.”

IMG_0047 (EW)

Art work to brighten up the walls

Commissioning Editor, Victoria Pittman said: “I was so impressed to see the difference we could make in just one day! I hadn’t realised we would be able to do so much, so it was great that we could.”

You can find out more about the work St Mungo’s Broadway do in supporting homeless people by checking out their website here. If you would like to get involved there are a whole host of ways you can do so this winter, from supporting campaigns, texting donations, sending Christmas cards or attending a carol concert in Oxford through to giving some of your time in volunteering for them. Why not check out their website for more details?

If you’d like to read Irene Hardill and Susan Baines book ‘Enterprising Care? Unpaid voluntary action in the 21st century’ it is available at a 20% discount from the Policy Press website here.

5 fabulous reasons to join the Policy Press mailing list


Jessica Miles

Policy Press Marketing Executive Jessica Miles is rather keen to share the advantages of joining our mailing list with you…

You may already have read or heard about the Policy Press community. But what does it actually mean?

Signing up to our newsletter means you get fantastic discounts on our books, regular updates on new titles and a real insight into what makes Policy Press and our community tick.

Here are just some of the benefits of joining the Policy Press community:

1. Save money!
• 35% subscriber discount off ALL books available on our website. This discount beats all our other promotions and is almost guaranteed to be cheaper than other retailers.
• Be the first to know about book sales and special offers. These often run for a short period, starting from the date our newsletter is sent out, so it’s a great way of making sure you don’t miss out.

2. Be ‘top of the class’ in your field
• The newsletter gives you all the latest information about new books and journal issues, making sure you are up to date with everything that’s publishing in your field of interest.
• Meet our authors – virtually at any rate. We are lucky enough to work with some of the most expert, influential and forward thinking authors in their fields. You can find out more about them in our newsletter.
• Conference news – we attend all the major conferences in the subject areas in which we publish. Receiving our newsletters means you can put a note in your diary to visit our stand, give us your feedback in person and chat to our commissioning editors about potential publishing ideas!

3. Be part of the debate
• At the heart of everything Policy Press does is the goal of making lives better for people who are struggling. Because of this, we want our publishing decisions to be influenced and guided by our community – the people out in the real world. Our newsletter is one of the ways we can reach you to ask for your input and opinion.

4. Publish with us?
• If you’re thinking about publishing with Policy Press, our newsletters are a great way of finding out about us, our staff, company ethos, publishing formats and other books we have publishing in your field. And what we get up to in the office and elsewhere!

5. It’s not just about the books
• Policy Press is involved in many collaborations and partnerships who share our goals. Our newsletters contain updates about the work we’re doing with projects such as Discover Society and charities such as St Mungos Broadway, and opportunities for you to get involved.

So, sign up here and become a valued member of the Policy Press community.

Policy Press awarded Gold for their Green Impact

Green team collect their award

Green team collect their award

Policy Press’ ‘Green Team’ are thrilled to have received the Gold Award at Bristol University’s 2014 Green Impact Award ceremony earlier this month.

In addition to bagging a gold for their efforts to reduce energy use, increase recycling and improve the working environment, the team were presented with an extra ‘Special Achievement’ award for their ‘Lunch Bunch’ initiative.

Green Team representative Ruth Harrison said: “One of the most enjoyable parts of working towards the Green Impact award has been the team’s decision to hold a ‘Lunch Bunch’ once a month.”

“Everyone in Policy Press is invited to bring along a healthy, and usually home-made dish, as part of a lunch time ‘bring and share’. It’s a fun way to make sure that everyone gets some time away from their desks. We get to catch up, share recipes AND promote healthy eating!”

'Special Award' hamper for 'lunch bunch' initiative

‘Special Achievement’ award hamper for ‘Lunch Bunch’ initiative

The team were delighted to receive a hamper of tasty treats as their reward for the ‘Lunch Bunch’ initiative.

Policy Press Director Alison Shaw joined the Green team members at the ceremony. She said: “I am delighted with the efforts of the team and think it’s made a really positive impact on the office overall.”

Socially responsible

“Policy Press are a socially responsible organisation and have been ‘Green’ since our inception. Being part of Green Impact fits quite naturally with the company ethos.”

As a non-profit social science publisher, Policy Press is always looking for ways to make a positive impact. Founded at the University of Bristol in 2006, Green Impact is now a UK-wide environmental accreditation scheme. It is designed to help organisations think about the impact they have on the environment, and how this can be reduced.

Banksy in Bristol – is it worth the wait?

As those local to Bristol will know, the Policy Press offices are very close to Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery where the now famous Banksy exhibition is taking place. When it first opened, we thought we’d be able to pop along in our lunch-hour, but it has turned out to be far more popular than expected, and daily queues of up to three hours form. One staff member walks past the Museum at 7.45am on her way to work and people are often beginning to queue then, a full two hours before the Museum opens!

After several abortive attempts to visit, I finally joined the queue last week and after two hours was at last admitted. Was it worth the wait? I’d say yes – I’m no art critic but Banksy (whoever he is) certainly is a talented artist and I enjoyed the quirky humour of the exhibits. Moreover, anything that encourages people to visit their local Museum (and come from far and wide to do so) has got to be a good thing.

And one more thing – if you’re thinking of visiting the exhibition, come soon, as it finishes at the end of August. You could always pop into the Policy Press offices afterwards and say hello!

Kathryn King
Marketing Manager

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