Meet Sally

This week, we’d like you to meet Sally Swaine, the University’s IT and Digital Skills Coordinator. Sally is based in Innovation and Technology Solutions (formerly IT Services). In this short video, she talks about the two big IT training projects that you might not be aware of. The first one is the re-location of the IT Training Room, completed earlier this year,  and the second is the migration from to LinkedIn Learning (scheduled to take place this Summer).

The University has subscribed to for a few years now. It provides us with a vast, and ever-growing library of instructional video courses. The courses cover a wide variety of topics. This includes a lot of learning content on popular IT software packages like Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) and the Adobe suite of creative applications, such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. There is also a wealth of material on creativity, entrepreneurship, project management and social media marketing. All of the courses are taught by industry insiders. Best of all, this service is FREE to all students and staff currently studying or working at the University of Essex.

Check out the video courses on now.  Go to the organisational login page, then type “” into the box and press the “Continue” button. You will then be able to sign in using your  usual Essex ID and password.

In 2015, was bought out by LinkedIn, the world’s most popular professional social networking site. (Subsequently, LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft in 2016 for more than 26 billion dollars.) Over the last two years, the website has been further integrated into the LinkedIn network and re-branded as “LinkedIn Learning”.

The University will be upgrading to LinkedIn Learning this Summer (the specific date has yet to be decided). All of the content currently on will still be there, along with a whole host of new features. This will include an improved user interface and personalised course recommendations related to your profession. You can take a sneak peak at the new platform on the LinkedIn Learning website now.

For those of you that don’t already know, IT Training provide classroom-based training as well as online instruction. They specialise in teaching you new ways to improve your day-to-day use of IT. The team can help you manage a busy inbox in Outlook, or create intelligent application forms in Word. The team offer intermediate Excel training, perfect for anyone wanting to get to grips with PivotTables. You can also polish your digital presentations skills by attending a PowerPoint training session.

Usually, face-to-face sessions are based at our Colchester campus, although training at Southend or Loughton can be arranged if there is enough demand. You can browse a full list of available courses on the Staff Directory. Most sessions can be booked through HR Organiser. However, a few are available on Proficio (some of these courses may require payment).

The IT Training team can also provide bespoke training sessions for small groups and teams. Contact IT Training for more information.

Happy 30th Birthday Stonewall!

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the foundation of Stonewall. The charity was formed in response to Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. The legislation dealt with the “prohibition on promoting homosexuality by teaching or by publishing material” and was backed by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government of the time.

The controversial clause effectively banned teachers from discussing same-sex relationships with their students. Libraries were also prohibited from stocking books that contained gay or lesbian themes. And local authorities were explicitly prevented from publishing “any material with the intention of promoting homosexuality”.

A small group of middle-class Londoners decided that this was unacceptable. They got together to fight the homophobic legislation. One founding member was Shakespearean actor Ian McKellen. He was deeply troubled by the new law. So much so, he came out publicly for the first time in order to lend his voice to the chorus of opposition.

Sir Ian McKellan, founding member of Stonewall. Better known for his role as megalomaniac mutant Magneto in the X-Men films. You might also recognised him as Gandalf, the Wandering Wizard from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy. Photo Credit: Southbanksteve from Flickr.

30 years on, Stonewall is now the leading LGBT+ charity in the UK. It promotes “acceptance without exception” and works with institutions like the University of Essex to create inclusive cultures. With help and support from Stonewall, the University is helping LGBT+ students and staff lead authentic lives.

The not-for-profit organisation takes its name from the Stonewall riots that took place on June 28th, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan. At the time, this mafia-owned establishment was the only gay bar in New York City that allowed dancing. The riots were sparked by an early morning police raid that quickly got out of hand, leading to violence on the streets that lasted two days.

A black and white picture of the Stonewall Inn in New York.
The Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, New York City, USA. The sign on the window reads: We homosexuals plead with our people to please help maintain peaceful and quiet conduct on the streets of the Village—Mattachine. Photo Credit: Diana Davies, New York Public Library (CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons).

The Stonewall Riots are widely regarded as a pivotal turning point in the history of the gay liberation movement. They also paved the way for future improvements in LGBT+ rights in the United States and beyond.

In January of this year, the University broke into the top 100 employers in the country for equality, as measured by Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index. This achievement recognises the efforts taken to create an inclusive workplace for all. It also demonstrates our continuing commitment to LGBT+ equality. At Essex, we want everyone to feel part of our living and learning community. We believe that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity should never prevent them from achieving their full potential. As Stonewall say, “People perform better when they can be themselves.”

Earlier this week, we hosted the regional Stonewall Awards. As a prominent member of Stonewall in the Eastern region, we were delighted to organise and run this event. There were 445 submissions to the index this year, from 20 different work sectors. That’s a total of 3,721,121 employees!

The awards were presented by Yassine Senghor, who works as a Client Account Manager for Stonewall. Yassine also spoke to the assembled group about the importance of bi inclusion. Her presentation included information on understanding bi identities, biphobia and bi discrimination, and how to build bi inclusive workplaces.

Yassine Senghor presenting the 2019 Stonewall Event. Photo Credit: University of Essex.

See more photos from the event.

There were five awards given out during the event. Ally Supporters of the Year was won by Hertfordshire Partnership University Foundation Trust. Network Group of the Year was awarded to Hertfordshire Constabulary LGBT+ Network, Hertfordshire Constabulary (with special recognition given to Inspector Steven Alison). Senior Champion of the Year was won by Joanna Ruffle, Southend-On-Sea Borough Council. Role Model of the Year was awarded to Jon Tilley of Thurrock Council. And, last but not least, the University of Essex won the Top Regional Employer award.

We collected thoughts and ideas on LGBT+ inclusion at the event using a Rainbow Wall constructed out of 180 post-it notes.

A rainbow wall made out of post-it notes. Photo Credit: University of Essex.

Although we’re very pleased that the University won Top Regional Employer, we understand that there is always more to do.

Celebrate this great achievement with us by adding a message to our online Rainbow Wall. Please post any thoughts or ideas you have about how we can make the University of Essex a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all. For information about becoming an LGBT+ ally, or joining our other networks, please get in touch with the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team.

Made with Padlet

Preparing for an important meeting

If you work at the University, chances are you get invited to, or organise, a lot of meetings. A meeting can be an uncomfortable and even embarrassing experience , especially if people ask you difficult or awkward questions. The way to avoid having a bad meeting is to prepare yourself ahead of time.

In this 10-minute talk, Stewart Theobald—an experienced communications skills coach—will teach you a few simple techniques to help you get more out of meetings.

Stewart has been coaching people in communication skills since 1992. In that time, he’s worked with actors, broadcasters, politicians, barristers and hundreds of University lecturers. He currently contributes to our leadership and management training programmes.

Meet Elanor

This week, we’d like you to meet Elanor Marsh, who works for Library Services. In this short video, she talks about the Learning Hour, a project to encourage to to take part in self development activities.

For more information about this and the many useful services that the Library offer, please visit the Library website.