Global Plymouth with University of Plymouth

On behalf of the SaaS, I had a meeting with the Associate Dean of Internationalisation (Faculty of Health, University of Plymouth) this Friday. We discussed a number of initiatives for creating a sense of the value of international students among the local community. To facilitate this, a ‘Meetup’ group titled ‘Global Plymouth (https://www.meetup.com/Global-Plymouth/) has been set up, expressly devoted to creating opportunities for our international students and staff to meet receptive members of the local community, in safe, friendly environments. Please do feel free to join the group if you are interested in such events.

They are also planning a ‘major do’ on the evening of Saturday 16th October 2021 (6:30 pm onwards) at ‘The Plot’: https://shop4plymouth.co.uk/inside-union-streets-the-plot-clipper/ (You can find The Plot at 80-84 Union St, Stonehouse, Plymouth PL1 3EZ). The Lord Mayor of Plymouth will be present along with other guests. There will be plenty of free nibbles with a choice of non-vegetarian, vegetarian and vegan nibbles. Given the nature of the event, they are unable to cater specifically for those with food allergies. You may of course bring your own food to partake, or even better to share with the guests. Guests will be allowed to bring their own drinks free of corkage.

Live entertainment will be headlined by Plymouth’s own Jon and Friends. If anyone of you is interested in performing there (Dance, Music etc.) then please let us know and we will put you in touch with the organisers. We encourage members to attend as It will be a good opportunity to raise awareness of our Society as well as connect to the South Asian students coming into Plymouth.

Best wishes
Mahrukh
(On Behalf of SAaS Trustees)

AGM 2021

We cordially invite you to participate in the 2021 Virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM 2021) of SAaS 

Date – Sunday, 17th October 2021
Time 6pm – 7:30pm 
Location – Online Zoom 
[link emailed to members]
Meeting ID: 952 1043 4625
Passcode: 495090 Agenda:
1. Welcome by SAaS Chairperson
2. Secretary report
3. Treasures report.
4. Discussion – Annual Event and future events
5. Discussion – Membership management and expansion
6. Members comments- AOB

If members want to discuss anything in particular please email us (chairpersonsaas@gmail.com) your agenda item by 10th October so that we can add it under the AOB Meeting item. 

All trustees please email (chairpersonsaas@gmail.com) at least 2 weeks prior to AGM (i.e.3rd Oct 2021) that you would like to continue as a trustee for next year. We strongly encourage others members to come forward and contribute to our society as Trustees. If anyone would like to join as an associate trustee, please send an email to chairpersonsaas@gmail.com by 3rd Oct 2021. 

We look forward to seeing you all during the AGM. 

Thank you
SAaS Trustees

Summer Boat Trip 2021

SaaS organised a fun-filled boat trip, a charity event on 30th Aug 2021. Following the past 18 months of lockdowns, isolations and social distancing, this beautiful Bank holiday evening couldn’t be spent any better.

We all set to sail from the Commercial Wharf, Barbican around 5 pm on the largest boat, the
Plymouth Venturer. We sailed along the River Tamar, taking in the spectacular views of Plymouth Hoe and Drakes Island. About 90 of us, dressed in bright and colourful attire, wearing the widest of the smiles added vibrant colours to the grey sky. The kids were having fun counting the waves, enjoying the ride. While the adults appreciated this opportunity of getting out of the virtual world and virtual parties!

There were games organised for the kids as well as adults. Many were seen posing for some lovely clicks while some were happier in their selfies. The quiz for adults brought out the competitive facet of some of us. There were some impromptu music and singing performances and we all tapped our feet to the beats. There were raffle draws that added to our charity pot for Devon Mind.

Of course, an event is incomplete without food. We all enjoyed a tasty Paneer wrap which wrapped up the evening perfectly. Our DJs aka AC & Raja, our chairperson and Treasurer played the best tunes to let our hair loose till we returned to the Barbican landing.
As I went to bed that night, tired, happy, heart full of memories to cherish, these words flocked my mind …

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart “ – Helen Keller –

Dr Arunima Kisku

South Asian Heritage month

Here in the South West like other parts of the UK, we are celebrating the South Asian Heritage Month, which kick-started on the 18th of July and goes on until the 17th of August.  It started in 2020 but this year marks its formal launch. It aims to celebrate and raise the profile of British South Asians, which include people from the 8 countries of South Asia including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It is a month-long opportunity to show what it means to be South Asian in Modern-day UK, celebrate South Asian Culture in its colourful diversity as well as look to the past to see how Britain became the diverse nation it is today. It was co-founded by Binita Kane, a consultant Respiratory physician and Jasvir Singh, a family law barrister. The motto of the movement is to Celebrate, Commemorate and Educate with the view to raise awareness, come together to celebrate the rich diversity of the cultures of South Asian countries, strengthen bonds within the community and forge stronger bonds with other communities and cultures.

The month-long event creates a space to jointly celebrate the multi-hued communities and people of South Asian and is a grassroots movement that has been driven by the lived experiences of the founders and others in being British South Asian. Like many other creative ideas, it happened “over a cup of chai in December 2018 when the founders came together to discuss how people’s understanding of the interconnectedness between Britain and South Asia could be better understood in the UK” (https://www.southasianheritage.org.uk/about). It has been inspired by Black History Month and other similar awareness months.

South Asian influences are pervasive everywhere in Britain, this includes our food and tastes, clothes and fashions, music and dance and even our words. Everywhere you go, in the streets and towns, you can see the traces and lashings of our varied South Asian cultures and see contributions made by our heritage. Our people have made a mark in all walks of life and in different professions, occupations and places. South Asian culture permeates all parts of British life and adds to the diversity of the nation.

In the first of a series of reports to mark South Asian Heritage Month, ITV South West Reporter Claire Manning and camera person Penny has spoken to Drs Atul Mishra and Smita Tripathi who came to Plymouth 20 years ago and have gone on to settle in Plymouth, raise a child and establish themselves as Lecturers in the University of Plymouth’s Business School. They think of Plymouth as home.

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination

Jenny Walrond, NHS Devon CCCG Media and Publications manager

Why should I have the Covid-19 vaccine?

Around 9 in 10 adults in Devon have now had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Analysis by Public Health England suggests that the vaccination programme has prevented between 6.4m and 7.9m infections and 26-28,000 deaths in England alone.

NHS advice states that research has shown the vaccines:

  • significantly reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • reduce your risk of getting symptoms of COVID-19
  • will help reduce your risk of catching and spreading COVID-19

Long Covid can affect people of any age. Research is being carried out into whether the vaccine reduces the chances of developing Long Covid and/or eases the symptoms of Long Covid in existing patients.

Some countries currently require travellers to be vaccinated or show evidence of a negative Covid-19 test.  This situation regularly changes and it is best to check before booking any travel. Having the vaccine may make it easier for people to go abroad for work, holidays or to visit family.

Once you have had both doses of the vaccination you will be able to prove your vaccination status by getting the NHS Covid Pass.  It is available through the NHS app; which is free to download or online.  More information here:

NHS COVID Pass for events and travel – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Where can I find information in other languages?

NHS England has produced leaflets about Covid19

  • The government has published easy read leaflets on the Covid-19 vaccination, what to expect afterwards and information for women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding in 21 languages.

Is it safe?

Each of the vaccines are tested on tens of thousands of people across the world. They are tested on both men and women, on people from different ethnic backgrounds, representative of the UK population and of all ages between 18-84.

Pfizer/BioNTech trials took place in the US, Europe, Turkey, South Africa and South America. Approximately 42% of global participants and 30% of U.S. participants had racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds

AstraZeneca trials took place in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. The non-white demographic in the UK trial was 7.1%. In the Brazil trial it was 31.4% and in South Africa it was 87%.

Vaccine safety monitoring is ensured at the national, regional, and global level.

Internationally WHO supports the set up of safety monitoring systems for COVID-19 vaccines in every country. WHO works with vaccine manufacturers, health officials and other partners to track safety concerns and potential side effects on an ongoing basis.

In the UK The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority approves vaccines for use. The MHRA is globally recognised for requiring the highest standards of safety, quality and effectiveness for any vaccine. It has responsibility in law to continuously evaluate all products on the UK market.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is an independent group of experts who advise the Government health departments in the four UK nations on immunisations and the prevention of infectious disease. They consider vaccine safety, efficacy and look at the impact and cost effectiveness of immunisation strategies.  The JCVI looks at data on the impact of a disease, data from clinical trials and modelled data, then advises on the best way to get these vaccines to the public.

Government advice states that:

  • There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have any effect on fertility or your chances of becoming pregnant.
  • COVID-19 vaccines offer pregnant women the best protection against COVID-19 disease which can be serious in later pregnancy for some women.
  • The JCVI has recommended that the vaccines can be received whilst breastfeeding.

What side effects may I get?

The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

They can cause some side effects, but not everyone gets them.

Any side effects are usually mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:

a sore arm from the injection

feeling tired

a headache

feeling achy

feeling or being sick

More serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or blood clotting, are very rare.

Find out more about COVID-19 vaccines side effects and safety

Which vaccine will I be offered?

All first doses being offered in Devon are now Pfizer or Moderna (mRNA vaccines).  Details of which vaccine are being offered are shown in advertising for walk in clinics.

The COVID-19 mRNA vaccine technology has been rigorously assessed for safety, and clinical trials have shown that mRNA vaccines provide a long-lasting immune response. mRNA vaccine technology has been studied for several decades, including in the contexts of Zika, rabies, and influenza vaccines. mRNA vaccines are not live virus vaccines and do not interfere with human DNA.

How can I get my vaccine? First and Second doses

You do not need an NHS number to book your vaccine in Devon.

You can book an appointment on the national booking system website or by phoning 119.

Details of walk in clinics can be found on NHS Devon CCG’s social media pages and at:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/our-work/south-west-covid-19-vaccination-centres/

If you have any problems accessing your vaccine you can contact the Devon Vaccine Support Team:

 d-ccg.devonvaccinationsupport@nhs.net

  • Please remember to dress appropriately for the weather, and it’s a good idea to bring a drink along with you
  • Please wear a face covering, unless you are exempt
  • You will need to provide your name and date of birth
  • You do not need to provide identification
  • When you arrive on the vaccination site one of our team of marshals will greet you and help you find your way for your vaccination

Second doses are given 8 weeks after the first.  You can book your second dose through the national booking service or visit a walk-in clinic offering the same vaccine as your first dose. 

If you are unable to attend a booked appointment please remember to cancel.

Pioneers inspiring generations

We are extremely proud and honoured to inform our members that two of our prominent Trustees (Prof Awadhesh Jha & Dr Sanjay Sharma) have been recognised as pioneers in their respective disciplines by the University of Plymouth.

I will not even try and summarise their pioneering work but please feel free to read in detail their considerable contributions and their respective journeys:

Prof Awadhesh Jha

Dr Sanjay Sharma

I will however attempt to emphasise the relative importance of such recognition within a modern multicultural British Society.

Recent research (Centre for Social Integration at Nuffield College, University of Oxford) points job seekers from minority ethnic groups had to send an average of 60% more applications to receive the same level of interest as those from majority groups. A number of factors contribute to such discrimination and some progress to overcome bias has been made. However, the report observes that the progress is far too little when compared with other studies carried out over the past 50 years. The latest NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard report suggests that 15% of ethnic minority staff in the health service experienced discrimination in the past 12 months, compared with 13.8% the previous year. Just under a fifth of the NHS workforce is from a black and ethnic minority background, yet the proportion in senior management positions is 6.9%. Progress has certainly been made as documented in the recently published report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities but the recommendations made in the report suggests that much more needs to be done.

The above references indicate the challenges in the preceding decades and despite these, we are now witnessing the recognition and celebration of contributions (like Prof Jha and Dr Sharma) made towards the betterment of the country and human race. We take immense pride as a diaspora that we do more than our fair share for the betterment of our local communities and the British Society as a whole. It is also reassuring to see that central and local governments are keen to work collaboratively to ensure a level playing field for each and every British citizen.

Awadhesh ji and Sanjay ji (as we address them traditionally), your recognition and achievement will undoubtedly inspire the next generation of aspiring scientists but you are also seen as exemplars of how to contribute towards community cohesion through voluntary work and action.

I felt inspired by you both when I joined SAaS and that feeling has not changed a bit.

You remind me of a famous quote by Steve Jobs “Stay hungry. Stay foolish”

Once more, heartiest congratulations on your success and keep up the good work.

Dr A Chatterjee

SAaS participates in £1.9M UKRI research project

man and woman sitting on sofa while looking at a tablet computer
Photo by Marcus Aurelius on Pexels.com

GOALD (Generating Older Active Lives Digitally) project the new work has been funded by UK Research and Innovation as part of the healthy ageing challenge to ensure we all live healthier and more connected lives. This programme is providing a total of £9.5m across the UK for interdisciplinary academic-led teams to carry out research into social, behavioural and design aspects of healthy ageing. The programme aims to contribute to the challenge mission of ensuring people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035 while narrowing the gap between the richest and poorest by enhancing our understanding of the aspirations, preferences and needs of the ageing population.

crop friends stacking hands together
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The three-year project is a collaboration between the University of Stirling and the University of Plymouth’s Centre for Health Technology. The project partners with seven charities and community groups in the South West working with older people and younger participants living in the community, as well as residents from eight care homes in Cornwall. Over the course of the three-year project, the research team will record the different groups’ experiences of digital resources and assistive technologies and then share their findings with business partners – small to medium-sized enterprises – to develop new technologies, product ideas and test design concepts.

SAaS is delighted to be able to contribute to this very important development as part of the post-Covid recovery. Further information will follow in the next few months and will be coordinated by Dr Mahrukh Mirza and Dr Satish BK on behalf of SAaS.

Census 2021

The census is a survey that happens every 10 years and gives us a picture of all the people and households in England and Wales. The next census takes place on Sunday 21 March 2021.

Your answers to the census questions will help organisations make decisions on planning and funding public services in your area, including transport, education and healthcare.

You can complete your census as soon as you receive your letter, but make sure you answer about your household as you expect it to be on Census Day. If you complete your census early and the number of people in your household changes, please let us know.

The census should take about 10 minutes for the household questions and 10 minutes per person.