Talk 12 - Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service & iNature Skin Care

On Friday 3rd March 2017, our pupils had two separate talks as part of our Year 14 Talks programme. The first was from Miss Emma Sloan from the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service. This was an extremely significant talk as only 6% of the population in Northern Ireland give blood. The presentation discussed the procedure of giving blood and the crucial need for donations, as an average of 26 000 people in Northern Ireland need donations every year. We also heard stories of people who have benefitted and had their lives saved because of blood donations. Following the talk, many of our Year 14 students registered to be blood donors and we thank Ms. Sloan for providing a very important and thought-provoking talk.

The second talk was from iNature Skincare about positivity and confidence surrounding body image. Eating disorders are the fastest growing mental health issue and can lead to serious health problems, including low self-esteem with regard to body image. Thus, in today’s society it is extremely important to have a positive outlook and recognise the false expectations and impossibly high standards portrayed in the media. Indeed, our students greatly appreciated this personal and touching talk.

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Talk 11 - Safe Driving - Ascert

On Friday 24th February 2017, the College hosted Mr Matt Cole from Ascert to present a key talk to our Year 12, 13 and 14 pupils on driving, alcohol and drugs. Mr Cole discussed the responsibilities that come with driving a vehicle and discussed the facts on legal and illegal drugs and how they affect the ability to drive. Our students learned how just one drink before driving could have drastic repercussions, as well as the various types of drugs and their effects on decision-making.

Statistics show that 1 in 4 people killed or injured in road traffic accidents in Northern Ireland are aged between 16 and 24 years old. The talk was extremely useful for our pupils as most of them will learn to drive over the next few years.

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Talk 10 - Claire Hanna MLA

On Friday 10th February 2017, the College hosted Claire Hanna MLA of the SDLP as part of the school’s ‘Let’s Talk’ Programme. Ms Hanna, who joined the Assembly 18 months ago, spoke in depth about her background and where her passion for politics came from; her career in politics and also engaged in an active Question & Answer session with our pupils. Ms. Hanna became involved with politics during her teenage years and became more politically active in her mid-twenties. She served on Belfast City Council, working on issues such as the living wage and zero-hour contracts. Ms. Hanna recommended the Council as a starting point for anyone interested in a career in politics, noting it provided invaluable experience.

During the Question & Answer session, Ms Hanna was asked what she thought was the SDLPs biggest error was in the last year, to which she responded that “not hitting the ground running” in terms of taking the party in a new direction. Also discussed was whether the SDLP going into opposition was a success, which she felt it definitely had been since it provided a good alternative programme and budget. Misogyny in the Assembly was discussed and Ms. Hanna was quick to point out that while misogyny has been less frequent in recent years, it still exists. Social issues such as equal marriage and women’s rights, the legacy of the Good Friday Agreement and President Trump were just some of the various other topics discussed in the session.

Our Year 14 pupils agreed that the talk was very engaging and everyone particularly joined the Q & A session. We thank Claire Hanna for visiting the college to talk to our Year 14.

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Talk 9 - Christopher Stalford (DUP)

On 3rd February 2017, the College hosted Chris Stalford from the Democratic Unionist Party [DUP] to present a talk for our Year 14 pupils and undertake a Question & Answer session ahead of the 2017 election. Mr Stalford - a past student of the college - reflected fondly on his time in Wellington, where he said he learned to question and debate, while adding how the college was the “best start” that he could have had in his adult life.

When describing the origin of his interest in politics, Mr Stalford recalled the time of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 that ignited his passion for politics, and began to be politically active during his school years. Following his years studying History and Politics at Queen’s, Mr Stalford began working in the DUP, and ran for Belfast council. Mr Stalford noted that he found securing a pedestrian crossing in the Council or raising money for youth building in Annadale as the areas that ,ade this role worthwhile.

The Question & Answer session saw an active debate between Mr Stalford and our pupils on issues including equal marriage, misogyny, segregated education and reproductive rights. In addition, Mr Stalford was questioned on recent political events, such as Brexit in which he claimed that Northern Ireland will benefit in regard to trade deals. He also noted that the RHI scandal, had been handled “abysmally” by his own party.  He discussed Arlene Foster’s leadership of the DUP, in which Mr Stalford described Mrs Foster as a “decent person who has the capacity and capability to lead”.

Our Year 14 students found the talk extremely engaging and interactive, and moreover very useful and insightful in light of the election on March 2nd, in which many of our pupils will be first time voters.

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Talk 8 - Paula Bradshaw MLA

On 27th January 2017, our Year 14 pupils had their first talk of the new year with Alliance MLA for South Belfast, Paula Bradshaw. Having been an Alliance MLA for eight months, Ms Bradshaw spoke in depth about her career in politics. She had previously been a candidate of the Ulster Unionist Party, so Ms Bradshaw discussed why she decided to leave the UUP and join the Alliance Party, quickly becoming their Health spokesperson.

Ms Bradshaw discussed her work within the party, most notably her proposed Private Members Bill on the flying of flags on lamp posts and securing medicinal drugs for terminal illness’ to be used in Northern Ireland. Following the talk, the pupils took part in a Question & Answer session, which covered topics such as Alliance as an electoral machine; misogyny in Stormont; Brexit and her experience as a council member. Our Year 14 pupils agreed that the talk was informative, and very relevant with the majority of Year 14 pupils being able to vote in the upcoming election on 2nd March 2017.

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Talk 7 - Clare Bailey MLA

On Friday 9th December 2016, Wellington College hosted Ms Clare Bailey from The Green Party as part of the Year 14 Talks Programme. Ms Bailey spoke about her unconventional up-bringing in Northern Ireland and her enrolment as one of the first pupils in Lagan College in the 1980s. She then spoke about why she got involved in politics and was attracted to the Green Party. After her talk, she answered a variety of questions from the Year 14 students on a series of key political topics. All five parties with Assembly seats in the South Belfast Constituency will be invited in to Wellington College over the coming months, allowing our pupils to hear from their elected representatives.

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Talk 6 - Journalism in Northern Ireland

On Friday 28th October 2016, journalist Jim McDowell visited the college to give a talk to our Year 14 students on careers in journalism and the future of journalism. Over the course of Jim McDowell’s lengthy and successful career, journalism has changed drastically and has modernised so much that online news is now destroying print newspapers. Additionally, front page stories have evolved from being hard news to human interest stories. Our pupils were shown the various careers in the journalism field and also received very helpful advice for pursuing a career in journalism. Our pupils were also informed about the production side of printing newspapers as well as their format. Jim McDowell said that one of the best parts of the job was exposing criminals. Our Year 14 students thoroughly enjoyed Jim McDowell’s informal and anecdotal talk and agree that it was extremely informative and useful.

Report by Cara McRobb (14PA)

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Talk 5 - Alcohol Awareness

On Friday 21st October 2016, Jenny Magee and Steven Boucher from Alcohol Awareness visited the college to present a talk the importance of drinking sensibly and responsibly. The talk focused on what can go wrong when someone drinks too much, showing in depth the many ways it can affect a person’s life and those around them. Four key areas focused on were: violence, bad decisions, poor behaviour and health problems. The pupils were shown CCTV footage of actions caused by serious intoxication, as well as videos of doctors discussing the consequences binge drinking can cause. The presentation also discussed health problems that can arise from excessive drinking and important signs to look out for.

The talk was not only engaging and informative and our Year 14  students were left with two important and simple lessons: think before you drink, and decisions have consequences.

Report by Cara McRobb (14PA)

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Talk 4 - PWC

On Friday 14th October 2016, Hannah Webb and Victoria Magowan from Price Waterhouse Cooper [PWC] visited the college to present a talk on the company and the opportunities it holds for sixth form students. PWC is a professional services company and is spread across 157 countries worldwide, providing young people with endless possibilities.

PwC is founded on a culture of partnership with a strong commercial focus, which is reflected in their vision: “One firm - a powerhouse of a commercial enterprise that does the right thing for our clients, our people and our communities."

Our pupils were informed of the key business areas that PWC cover, as well as the essential skills required to be successful in a thriving work environment. In particular, PWCs Flying Start Degrees are ideal for students who want to go to university but are also keen to begin their career, as it offers them the best of both worlds. Victoria Magowan has just completed her first year at PWC and has already received a promotion. She shared her experiences and advice with our pupils during the Q & A session.

The talk was extremely informative and engaging, grabbing the attention of our pupils and showing them the various pathways that PWC offers them.

Report by Cara McRobb (14PA)

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Talk 3 - New Driver NI

On Friday 7th October 2016, Mr Stephen Savage from New Driver NI came to the college to provide advice and tips for our Year 14 pupils. In an interactive and engaging talk with our students, Mr Savage informed our pupils of the dangers and statistics of careless driving, as well as advice on buying cars, picking instructors, driving tests and insurance.

Each pupil received an informative and detailed New Driver guide, covering all the topics mentioned in the talk, as well as the opportunity to win ten free driving lessons. The talk was extremely relevant to our Year 14 students as most are new drivers or are currently learning to drive. Our Year 14 students felt that the talk was useful, informative and very engaging.

Report by Cara McRobb (14PA)

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Talk 2 - Action Mental Health Presentation

On Friday 23rd September 2016, Mr Hugh Roarty from Action Mental Health visited the college to provide a talk on mental health for our Year 14 students. Statistics reveal that one in five people in the UK are affected by mental health issues, with the remaining four likely to know someone affected by mental health. The talk discussed a wide spectrum of mental health issues, including symptoms and the dynamic of healthy stress against unhealthy stress.

Mr Roarty outlined five ways to help maintain mental well-being: give, connect, take notice, be active and keep learning. He was stressed that there are a great deal of professional support outlets around Northern Ireland for anyone who seeks help, as well as the teachers and councillors in the college.

Mr Roarty showed our pupils several powerful videos on mental health, including a speech from President Obama stating the importance to help those with mental illness and to prevent it becoming a taboo subject. The Year 14 agreed that the talk was extremely beneficial and important in providing us with a greater understanding on mental health.

Report by Cara McRobb (14PA)

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Talk 1 - Cancer Focus Presentation

On Friday 16th September 2016, Miss Trudy Barnes, a stop smoking specialist from Cancer Focus, visited the college to present a talk on the effects and dangers of smoking to our Year 14 students. The key issues discussed in the talk were the reasons why people start smoking; the physical and emotional effects it can have on the individual; how you can quit smoking and where to seek help. Trudy also spoke about the success stories of people who have managed to kick the habit thanks to people of Cancer Focus.

Two of our students, as well as a non-smoking teacher, took part in a carbon monoxide test, which aims to detect one of the most poisonous chemicals in cigarettes. It showed that non-smokers pass the test in the green zone, whereas non-smokers will find themselves in the red zone. Year 14 found the talk to be very insightful and enlightening and it had a clear effect on pupil’s attitudes towards smoking.

Report by Cara McRobb (14PA)