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With events open to members of the public, staff and students, the Festival offers an opportunity to learn and experience different cultures and perspectives. The theme commemorates 50 years from the first moon landing and aims to encourage attendees to consider setting targets and reaching their potential.

The Festival will be launched with two events on Monday, March 4. The first is Reach for the Stars by Juliette Burton, an award-winning comedian and writer, as well as an ambassador for Rethink Mental Illness. Juliette has a lifelong history of mental health problems. She was diagnosed with OCD, acute anxiety, manic depression, bipolar, anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating disorder. She has experienced psychosis and agoraphobia, as well as social anxiety disorder. She was an inpatient in mental health hospitals and clinics four times and sectioned under the Mental Health Act aged 17.

Still in therapy, Juliette now blogs for Time to Change, Mindfull, Rethink Mental Illness and Mind and has worked with the facial disfigurement charity Changing Faces and body dysmorphic charity B.O.D.Y. During the event Juliette discusses mental health, using her experiences and strength to offer hope to staff, students and visitors. The event takes place in room 011 in the Binks Building on the Parkgate Road Campus from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.

The second launch event is #DontFilterFeelings with Laura Halligan from 1.30pm to 2.30pm, also in in Room 011 in the Binks Building on the Parkgate Road Campus. Hollyoaks’ #DontFilterFeelings was the continuing drama's online campaign to promote mental health awareness and education using Snapchat, Instagram Stories, Facebook Messenger and Facebook Live. Working closely with charities Mind, Samaritans and Beat, the #DontFilterFeelings hashtag was a play on the frequent use of filters across social media to mask how someone is really feeling. Hollyoaks Archivist Laura Halligan will talk about the campaign, and the importance of the Hollyoaks audience seeing themselves reflected on TV and how the campaign helped to exemplify this, as well as explaining the other mental health and diversity stories the programme has also covered.

The Global Grooves Carnival Workshop will take place in Room 007 at the Kingsway Campus on Wednesday, March 7 from 1.30pm to 4pm. Global Grooves delivers inspiring carnival activity nationwide and its mission is to unite and empower individuals and communities through opportunities to experience and create inspirational art: in particular diverse music, dance, visual arts, and carnival. The sessions feature African and Brazilian dance.

Andrew Edwards will discuss his Life with autism – overcoming barriers and stereotypes in Room 018 in the Westminster Building on the Parkgate Road Campus. At the age of four, Andrew was diagnosed with autism. “Go home and watch Rain Man,” the specialist told his mother, “In all probability your son will be institutionalised.” Determined to prove the specialist wrong, Andrew’s mother set out to give her son the best life possible. Raised in a single parent household and encountering bureaucracy, bullying, and a lack of understanding from many around him, Andrew emerged from a turbulent childhood to win a Welsh National Young Volunteer Award, give speeches on his condition, and secure his dream job as a statistician at Manchester United Television.

The Institute of Gender Studies and Diversity Festival are delighted to present International Women’s Day 2019 celebrations in an exciting event: Everyday Feminism vs Everyday Sexism, to be held in Room 009 in the Churchill Building at the Queen’s Park Campus on Friday, March 8. This event, delivered by inspirational women from the University and the Chester region, is open to all to celebrate everyday feminism – what it is, who it’s for, and why it’s still needed. The day is rounded off with a panel discussion, during which the audience are invited to share their thoughts in anticipation of the Tuesday, March 12 talk by internationally renowned feminist Laura Bates, author of the bestselling books Everyday Sexism and Girl Up which takes place in Room 017 in the Westminster Building on the Parkgate Road Campus. Laura has given voice to hundreds of thousands of women through her international Everyday Sexism Project. Drawing attention to both hidden and blatant sexist acts and attitudes, Laura has exposed the startling truth behind misogyny in our society: systemic, ingrained and ignored. From Weinstein to Westminster, a torrent of allegations of sexual harassment and assault has left us reeling. Over 100 years since some women in Britain first won the right to vote, we are still struggling to get to grips with the true extent of gender inequality that continues to flourish in our society.

The first Diversity Festival was held in 2006 and since then it has been a platform for many famous names, including prolific human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell; former Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion a Social Action, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi; Warrington peace campaigner Colin Parry OBE; playwright, novelist and broadcaster Bonnie Greer OBE; Falklands war veteran Simon Weston; Baroness Oona King; and Paralympian, Jade Jones.

Festival organiser Kathryn Leighton, the University’s Development and Diversity HR Manager, said: “The Festival aims to provide a focus for people to positively explore the barriers they face and how they can challenge perceptions, push boundaries and reach their potential.

“All the events are open to all students, staff and the public, and they offer many unique opportunities to learn and experience different cultures and perspectives.”

All events are free, but booking is essential. For details and a copy of the programme please email equality@chester.ac.uk

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