Posts Tagged ‘Leeds’

AHS – Gateway to the World?

October 18th, 2011 No comments

Last Tuesday, I delivered a lecture to the Leeds Atheist Society on how getting involved with your local student society is more than just a social opportunity with a few interesting talks thrown in. In order to really get the most out of the experience, I suggested that members should look to involve themselves early and then progress through to the wider community – i.e, AHS, BHA etc.

The theme of my lecture was on what the AHS and the BHA have to offer to students and how the local atheist, humanist or secularist student society offers a real platform from which to really explore those opportunities.

The AHS offers a fantastic range of ways of building experience and developing the CV. From the Regional Development Officers who gain invaluabvle experience of networking, communication and team working through to the Executive with their exposure to leadership, risk management, strategic planning and public relations there are saleable skills there for the taking.

Being a part of any organisations, particularly on a voluntary basis, is not easy and requires a time and resource commitment. However, it is my experience that this is well worth the effort. Unluike traditional internships and work experience, there is real flexibility in how the time and resources are delivered and as the leadership stems from the internship style positions, rather than managed from a permanent employee, then individuals can mould their experience to fit their needs.

Having gone from being a member of a society, through to leading that society and then going on to found and lead the AHS as president, I have had the chance to see what those opportunities look like. I met Richard Dawkins, negotiated affiliations with national charities, led a local campaign to ban Halal and Kosher meat, debated professional speakers and made some long lasting friendships with people from across the UK and Republic of Ireland.

It is my opinion that organisations like the AHS offer far more value than they are given credit for and if any students are reading this, then they should strongly consider looking to get involved.

Travelling The Country

July 27th, 2010 No comments

Over the last two months I have travelled over 1000 miles for work, from Glasgow to Slough to Leeds and London several times. I have started staying in Marriott hotels enough to warrant a loyalty card and already have nearly enough points for free night!

Travelling for work is hard, it means early mornings, late nights and a lot of eating alone. I don’t think I will ever really get used to booking a table for one. Although it’s a tough life and I am glad I only have to spend a day or so a week on average away from Leeds I am starting to enjoy certain aspects of it. The variety of the work is something I really love, along with meeting all sorts of characters. It is amazing to think that I spend a lot of time chatting to strangers in the hotel bar or at service stations whilst I am refuelling on relentless.

I am starting to look at moving on from my current job as I want to progress my career, but I am starting to think that I don’t want to move somewhere where I lose the opportunity to travel and experience the things I have experienced over the last few months.

I mean, as I write this I am chatting to a really interesting guy that works in real estate. he is currently setting up a deal to buy a warehouse and turn it into a contemporary opera space in East London.

End of a chapter

June 17th, 2010 No comments

Quite a lot of stuff has been happening over the last six weeks or so, I gave a presentation at Enquiry 2010, I moved in with Chris and George and Liz left me.

I will deal with the Liz situation first as it is the hardest one for me to write about and I am hoping that writing the second two bits will cheer me back up. About six weeks ago now Liz told me that she had had enough of being in a relationship and that she wanted to experience some of her life as a single woman so that she could really develop herself and come to terms with where she wants to be in life. I was gutted when she started to explain this to me as these ‘breaks’ are almost always permanent. The more she explained herself though, the more I came to understand where she was coming from. Liz has not been single since she was 17 and 7 years of solid back to back relationships is pretty intense. The way she argued her corner was something I respected too. She really sold the idea to me, that this was a key part i her growing as a person and that it was the right thing to do for me to let her go. In the back of my mind I thought that after a suitable length of time we would be able to rekindle the romance and get back together, but I was wrong. So very wrong.

We split up on a Sunday and by the following Saturday she was shacked up with another guy – John-George Salter (someone I considered a good friend until all this kicked off). After everything Liz had said to me, she had left me for another man. Apparently this had been obvious to everyone but me so i guess I didn’t know Liz as well as I thought. Her speech to me the week or so earlier had been a lie. The worst thing about all this? Well, Liz and John might have got together so quickly after we split up but they didn’t tell me about it for another three weeks!

I could probably go on spouting venom and vitriol about the situation – which has really thrown me off course if I am honest – but neither Liz or John or worth it. They are both small people with small minds and no grace, dignity or honour. I shall leave that at that.

The second major event over the last few weeks was Enquiry 2010, a two day conference in Birmingham run by the Chris Worfolk Foundation. I spoke on the need to reinvent the branding and marketing strategies of the atheist and humanist movements to better suit today’s marketplace. I will post the text of my speech soon.

The final big thing was moving house. Obviously I needed a new place after Liz moved in with John. Initially, I looked at Morley as it is close to work, relatively cheap and totally away from memories of Liz. However, as time ran out I still hadn’t found anywhere suitable Chris made me a offer I couldn’t refuse. He offered me the box room in his flat in the city centre. For many reasons I felt this was a great choice. First up, I get to live with Chris and George, which is going to be fun! Next was cost, it will work out really cheap to live with two other people. Finally, it means I am not on my own. I have a history of not dealing with personal issues particularly well and I think the inbuilt support network of flatmates will really help offset my traditional head in the sand approach to my own issues.

UK want to send an atheist to his death!

April 1st, 2010 No comments

Community groups across Leeds have come together to unite behind a campaign to save an openly atheist doctor from being deported to Pakistan where he faces persecution for his beliefs. The campaign is designed to raise awareness via the media as well as social networking sites and an online petition.

Dr. Shaukat Aman Ullah became heavily involved with local atheist and humanist groups while studying for his doctorate at the University of Leeds. Dr. Ullah was in the UK on a student visa and applied for asylum on the completion of his Ph.D. His application was rejected in March; he is currently appealing the ruling.

Chris Worfolk, trustee of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist & Secular Student Societies said:

This is exactly what our asylum laws were set up for. Here is an individual who faces genuine persecution for his beliefs in his own country. If we truly value freedom of expression and the right to your own beliefs we must grant asylum.

Sophie Stringfellow, president of Leeds Atheist Society said:

Being part of the Atheist Society has really opened my eyes as to how some people view non-belivers, even in modern society. If we encounter this attitude in a secular country such as the UK, I fear what attitudes may be encountered in Parkistan.

Parkistan has no separation of church and state and 95% of the population are Muslim. Apostasy is punishable by death, as is speaking out against Islam (as this is considered blasphemy).

Since the decision a coalition of Leeds community groups, led by Leeds Atheist Society have come together in order to raise awareness of Dr. Ullah’s case. Dr. Richard Parker of the Leeds-based Humanist Action Group commented:

It’s amazing to see how many people have volunteered to help spread the word. I would strongly urge everyone to sign the petition and show their support.

Arslan is a personal friend of mine and is already receiving death threats from people who wish to punish him for his decision to reject Islam. Support this campaign and sign the petition. If you have any messages of support or would like to get involved with the campiagn then either contact me or join the Facebook group and leave a message there.

Giving up my car

March 27th, 2010 No comments

Following on from my recent post about what I want to do for a house next year I have come to a few decisions.

Firstly, I think it is almost certain that Liz and I will be moving into a flat in the city centre. After all I am 25, so not that many chances left to squeeze in some hard core party time before I have to start thinking about responsibility and the cost of my mortgage. There seem to be some nice looking places in Leeds that meet most of my criteria – i.e. large(ish) living area, at least 2 big double bedrooms and a kitchen that you can actually use, but they do come at a price premium. This means my budget for nect year is going to be pretty tight, even with my pay rises and bonus.

This leads on to my second decision. I am going to ditch my car. I worked out that it costs me between two and three thousand pounds a year to run in insurance, maintenance, tax, petrol etc which I just can’t afford if I live in the city centre.

The money would be better spent on bus tickets and car hire when using a car is unavoidable (holidays etc).

So it is going to be the end of an era. I have owned a car since before I could drive and have always loved the independence and freedom that owning a car brings. It is going to take some adjustment, but it actually isn’t that bad. My car has eben in the agarge this week getting the handbrake fixed so have had to catch the bus to work and back everyday. Whilst it adds over an hour a day on to my commute time, it doesn’t feel that much. In fact, the time I spend on the bus is time I loo forward to. It gives me time to listen to music, read books and write notes etc for artcles and blog posts. All stuff that I never had time for before.

Future Plans

March 18th, 2010 5 comments

It’s getting to that time of year again, when decisions have to be made about where to live and what parts of my current life are improtant enough to make comprimises in other areas to make sure that I find the best place to live for my curcumstances.

I have really enjoyed living in Seacroft. The house is beautiful to look at and when the weather is nice, it is actually a realy comfortable place to live. The problem is that the weather is rarely nice for long periods of time in this country and the waterproofing issues the hosue faces when it rains/snows/hails are just too depressing.

When the landlord called me to suggest whe was thinking of putting the place up for sale I pretty much made up my mind that we should move on. The problem is where?

The practical part of my brain says we should move to within waling distance of either my or Liz’s place of work so that we can eliminate one of our travel expense budgets. This means picking one of Roundhay or Morley. Liz on the other hand has her heart set on modern city living, looking primarily at appartments in the city centre and just to the south of the river and canal.

There are good arguments to make for both. I mean, O2 do a free bus service from town to the office so actually city living would meet my cost reducing requirements as well as keeping the missus happy. However, I do like my space, particularly in my office/home entertainment room. I have lived and worked out of poky rooms for the past few years and I really want to treat myself to a decent workspace. A good sized second bedroom would probabyl suffice, as we really only need a spare bed for people to stay over in, rather that a fully functioning spare room.

So the search will begin in earnest over the coming weeks, so any thoughts or ideas then feel free to contact me.

New laptop

December 28th, 2008 2 comments

I have just ordered my first ever laptop :)

I decided that with the huge increase in travelling and commuting I am going to have to do with the AHS in the new year that I needed a way of ensuring that I wasn’t wasting the 5 hour round trip train journey from Leeds to King’s Cross (and then back of course).

I went for an ultra-mobile netbook as I felt the power/mobility compromise was the best available. I don’t need a full-specced laptop for emails, document editing and generally staying up to date online so the long battery life and portability of these little machines made sense. I settled on an EeePC 901 after spending a lot of time reading up on the subject. Its 8 hour battery life on light/moderate use is one of the longest on the market (even on moderate/heavy use it holds out for over 5 hours and will easily last for the length of a director’s edition of one of the LOTR DVDs). It also got rave reviews on everything except the keyboard (which wouldn’t matter to me as I don’t touch type at the best of times). I decided on sacrificing the larger hard drive and opted for the Windows XP version as I felt it gave me the most flexibility. I considered getting the linux version (with its 20GB drive) and putting XP on it anyway, but decided that now I have a public image to attend to that using a fully licensed version would be prudent :P

And they were off…

March 26th, 2007 1 comment

Well here we are, the inaugural post on my new blog site. It will be a while before I get the hang of the features available to me, so apologies if I make any n00b errors. I am hopeful that I will be posting regularly and that my posts will interest some people, some of the time. My vision for this blog is to provide me with a virtual ‘soapbox’ from which I can shout my thoughts, feelings, views and my opinions – of which I have many! 

I am going to start with a very brief run down of who I am, just to set the scene for those of you who do not know me.

I am currently a student at the University of Leeds, reading a degree in Materials Science and Engineering. I live in Leeds pretty much full time, although my family live near Preston in Lancashire. I am twenty-two years old and have an opinion on just about everything I come across. I have seen a lot of the world yet I realise I have not seen enough. I have the normal hopes and dreams of a kid but the cynicism of an adult.

My friends are important to me and you will hear a lot about them in the future. In many ways my friends are more important than my family, although I do love my family in a manner of speaking. Something I am sure will get blogged about.

I hope that this blog gives pleasure to its readers in the same way that it give me pleasure to write it.