Thank you

Written by Heather. Posted in News

Now we are about two weeks from the official end of the project, we (Heather, Kim, Laura and Aisha) thought it might be a good moment to say thank you to all the people who’ve supported us. While acknowledgements are a standard part of a book or dissertation, people don’t normally get the chance to do the same for a research study. Having this website, gives us this lovely opportunity…

First, writing the bid took ages. It grew out a short and rejected proposal to the British Academy, and along the way we got much perceptive advice: Charmian Kenner got us to stop trying to do everything; Louise Archer convinced us to move from learner identities to aspirations and from three schools to six; Rachel Brooks pointed out we’d missed a whole section of the form; and Laurie Cohen helped us to make the key points come over even to a speed-reading reviewer. Finally, Hugh Cunning in the amazing Brunel Research Support and Development Office, patiently worked with Heather as she stumbled through the financial details and the internal processes at her, then, new workplace. We’d also like to thank Yvette Taylor  and Rachel Brooks for encouraging us to respond to the one negative review we got and to defend the project – something which we assume was crucial to convincing the ESRC to fund the project.

Once the project kicked off it took ages to find our schools.  We owe a huge debt to Harry Torrance and Tony Brown at Manchester Metropolitan University, John Latham at Brunel and Pete Fraser who shared their contacts with schools across the country. Although they have to remain anonymous, we are inordinately grateful to the six schools that finally welcomed us through their doors, to the busy teachers who made it possible and to the young people who shared their views so generously within group and individual interviews.

We’ve had so much help along the way including two brilliant project administrators Salihu Dasuki and Bazgha Sultana. The patient and efficient Gary Dear has handled most of the finances at Brunel, including buying a huge number of vouchers for our participants and purchasing some strange items from Amazon. Our colleagues and ex-colleagues have also been lovely throughout and an important source of support. Heather would particularly like to thank Anne Chappell, Ali Silby, Ayo Mansaray,  Barbara Hosier, Geeta Ludhra, Gwen Ineson, Mick Allen, Rob Toplis and Sarmin Hossain. Kim would like to thank a number of colleagues, ex-colleagues and friends including Janet Batsleer, Sylvie Allendyke, James Duggan, Sumi Hollingworth, Steve Roberts, Helene Snee and Yvette Taylor – and the many awesome Feminist Academic Freestylers (FAF!). As well as adding her thanks to the names above and below, Laura would like to thank Ester McGeeney, Jessica Ringrose and Meg Barker. We are also grateful for the many stimulating conversations we’ve had at the conferences, seminars and workshops at which we’ve presented our emerging findings.

Our amazing advisory group are: Becky Francis, Imogen Tyler, Katy Jones, Laurie Cohen, Pat Morton, Pete Fraser, Ros Gill and Rosalyn George. It’s great having a fabulous collection of supportive people who also have a critical distance from the project. They have read draft papers, provided contacts, chaired sessions for us and much more.

The fabulous design of this site is down to Marcus Miller. He’s currently finishing off a new impact site for us with equally fabulous bespoke illustrations and animations from Cat Drew. The idea for this new site comes out of a meeting we had with a small group of  people with expertise in teaching, careers education and youth work. In just a couple of hours they told us what they felt would and wouldn’t work. They are: Anthony Barnes, Hamdi Addow, Jenny Grahame, Jill Collins, Jon Rainford and Tania de St Croix.

The website and Twitter have led us to many new interactions. Those not on Twitter may have got the impression from the news that it’s a vicious space. Apart from a few sharp replies to tweets about Amanda Knox and Big Brother, we’ve found Twitter to be a generous, provocative and supportive space. Without our online presence Heather doubts she would have met Bryony Kimmings, Emma Head, Jon Rainford, Luke Martell, Maggie O’Neill, Mark Carrigan, Tristram Hooley and Ruth Mueller. Kim has hugely enjoyed and benefited from many rants, chats and debates online and would like to thank, in particular, Katy Vigurs, Dan Silver, Sarah Burton, Rob MacDonald, Joe Baxter Webb and Laura Clancy. We saw Twitter as a bit of an experiment and never envisaged how enjoyable and productive engaging with people online would be when we started out. There are many people we haven’t yet met but we feel like we already know. Thanks to all those who follow us there, on Facebook, via WordPress or MailChimp. Massive thanks also to everyone who contributed guest posts to the CelebYouth website.

The End of Award Event is just over a week away. Thanks to Anita Biressi, Bim Adewunmi, Bryony Kimmings, Camilla Stanger, Geeta Ludhra, Justin Hancock and Rob MacDonald for agreeing to speak as part of this and to everyone who’s booked for 10th or 11th or both. See you there!

We’ve given a lot of thought to food and venues for the project events. CC4c and London First gave us free space. And when we couldn’t go there, Hamilton House provided a cheap and convenient location. Itadaki Zen cooked up the fabulous vegan sushi and spring rolls for our Interim Workshop. We will have food from Leon Lewis  to enjoy at the End of Award Event on 11th, and on the 10th at a pre-event, there’ll be a chocolate CelebYouth cake baked by Ms Cupcake and a quiz (with prizes) designed by the lovely Katy Vigurs. Thanks to the Education, Identities and Social Inclusion research group for sponsoring the drinks for 10th and 11th and to the ESRC for paying for everything else.

Finally we’d like to thank our case study celebrities – Beyonce, Bill Gates, Emma Watson, Justin Bieber, Kate Middleton, Katie Price, Kim Kardashian, Mario Balotelli, Nicki Minaj, Prince Harry, Tom Daley and Will Smith – for being so fascinating to study.


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