Social responsibility in photos

Through a College research grant and with support from our Diversity Plus Team, I have been able to commission a photographer to take photos illustrating social responsibility at Bradford College, and make the photos into posters.

This builds on the internal reports I have written over the last year, but it is still a tall order: how do you take photos that show social responsibility?

We have aimed to get a mix of the amazing diversity of activity, and to focus on group shots. Social responsibility often happens when people come together – staff and students, community members, partners. We asked people to look at the camera, and the result is an exhibition of nearly 30 images which is being displayed in different parts of the College.

I hope you enjoy the images (if you hover over the bottom right hand corner of each slide, you’ll see an arrow that lets you move through the presentation. Otherwise, lower down, there are Scribd’s control buttons):


College catering: students, staff and the ethics of what we eat

Bradford College runs a number of catering and hospitality courses: they are practical and popular, with numbers rising rapidly both in further and higher education.

Our catering staff and students also run two restaurants and a café on the College campus, open to everyone. They provide catering for events of all sizes, mostly in the College. This gives the students some great hands-on experience, and helps generate some revenue for the catering courses.

IMG_1127Aidan James (pictured above) is the College’s Restaurant Manager and Trainer. He has a degree and MPhil in catering management, and worked in the food and beverage industry before joining the College seven years ago to teach catering and manage our restaurants and cafes. He talked to me about the ethical issues that the catering team faces.

“It’s an exciting time,” Aidan says. “When our new £50 million eco-friendly building opens in September 2014, the main restaurant and cafeteria will be in the central entrance area, really well placed to welcome people in, and with lovely views of the new green area outside.” At the same time, Aidan explains, the additional College cafes which are currently run by an external contractor will all become College-run, giving the students more opportunities for valuable work experience and hopefully generating income for the College.

Food supply
Aidan says that the catering team have to balance a number of factors when sourcing food. “We want to stay local, so we lessen the fuel miles and help support local employment and business. We need value for money, so we can keep costs down for the College and our customers. And we want quality.

“So we tend to get our fresh fruit and veg from the wholesale market in St James’s, off Wakefield Road. Our meat comes in part from a local supplier, and from Sykes House Farm which provides high quality and is supportive to our students, who can visit their butchery department and slaughter house.”

Dry goods, wines and spirits mostly come from a large national company with a local depot, because of the good prices. “However, we are always reviewing this,” Aidan adds. “And we are about to switch to Fair Trade tea and coffee, and that will come from a Bradford company.”

Aidan explains that there are real risks in the food trade. “They include poor quality, passing off and adulterated food. So we want the students to be aware of the positive choices that can be made, and of the risks you need to be alert to. High standards are key. Once we are running all the College food and refreshment outlets we will have more buying clout, which will help us get quality produce at a reasonable price.

Grow your own
“The other area we hope to expand is getting the students and staff involved in growing food. We already have a small allotment, but with the new building there will be new opportunities. And we are next door to the University of Bradford which is doing a great job in this respect, so we hope to strengthen our links.”

Healthy eating and dietary requirements
“Eating healthy food is important – and new information and requirements are always emerging,” Aidan says. “This summer we’ve consulted with our customers who have special dieteray requirements to find out how we can better meet their needs.” The team are introducing a more flexible menu as a result. They are also looking at possibly having two main teaching kitchens in the new building, one halal and one non-halal.

“It’s a hard juggling act getting the menu right! In addition to ensuring meals are healthy and meet particular needs, we want to cover the curriculum, provide affordable food, be ethical, and minimise waste.”

Experience and enrichment
Aidan finishes by saying that another important goal is to give the students experience that widen their horizons. “We find opportunities for our students to meet the suppliers – most recently we went to visit a rhubarb farm in Tong, he says. “Also, the College is one of the main sponsors of the annual World Curry Festival, and our students volunteer to help run this each year as well as take part as contestants.” There has been a ‘food not waste‘ campaign, and now a team of staff and students provides an annual staff barbecue.

Aidan (at the back on the right) with catering students and staff.

Aidan (at the back on the right) with catering students and staff.

Finally, the team recently addressed the growing work load by taking on two catering apprentices, building in a range of work experience and training. They are ready for expansion!

Sparking imaginations and saving energy: teaching environmental technologies at Bradford College

“The UK is a country that could face power shortages. We use more and more energy, and we don’t produce enough. Power is essential to our everyday way of life. That’s why the College has courses and initiatives to help people learn about alternative and sustainable technologies at work and at home.”

Barry Noble (centre) with apprentices and solar panels.

Barry Noble (centre) with apprentices and solar panels.

Barry Noble is one of the College’s passionate advocates for sustainable working and living. He grew up in Calderdale, leaving school to become an apprentice – working as a plumber and heating engineer installing boilers in textile mills and people’s homes. He gradually moved into teaching, starting at Bradford College in 1999, with a period at Burnley.

“I’ve always been involved in teaching and apprenticeships,” Barry says. “You start as an apprentice, you become a tradesman and you take on an apprentice – it’s a very sustainable model that’s been going for hundreds of years.” 

Most of the courses Barry teaches on provide training for apprentices and trades people and employees in construction and engineering, to help them upgrade their skills and get industry-recognised qualifications. “We were one of the very first National Skills Academies set up to promote renewable energy,” he explains. “We provide training in low carbon or zero carbon technologies where you use little or no manufactured power, and lowering the consumers energy bills, and working with the environment in mind.”

Fuel poverty is a key issue that Barry confronts. “If you spend more than ten per cent of your income after tax on energy, you are in fuel poverty,” he explains. “New technologies help to address this, providing fuel that is more affordable to ordinary people.”


Fuel poverty in the Leeds City Region. Bradford West, where the College is based, has a high ranking. (Data from Leeds City Region).

Bradford is built on wells and watercourses, used to power the textiles mills that grew up in the 19th century. “We need to return to using these natural resources to gain our power,” Barry says. “And we need more on a local level and scale.”

He gives the example of a mini hydro in Hebden Bridge, where an Archimedes screw set in the river is powering a café and retail outlet. Barry also speaks highly of heat pumps, a potentially greener way of heating homes. “As gas prices go up and the price of heat pumps gradually comes down, these will take off. People can come to us to learn about the  technology,  installation and maintenance requirements, and to make informed choices about what’s on offer.”

“We want to spark people’s imaginations as well as give them strong and solid skills,” Barry says. “For instance, plumbing is everywhere, from tiny pipes the size of a ballpoint pen in pharmaceuticals, to huge power stations steam pipework systems . Plumbing  has transformed  our quality of life.”

Barry explains how damp in a house – caused by poor plumbing and ventilation – can breed bacteria and lead to disease. He emphasises the importance of technologies serving to improve working conditions: one of his heroes is John Fielden, the 19th century mill-owner, innovator, MP and campaigner who fought for the introduction of the Ten Hour Act and other measures to improve the lives of mill workers and others.

The government’s efforts to improve energy sustainability face challenges. ”Leeds City Region is full of hard to treat old properties. Planners are opposed to external cladding, so all the upgrading has to be done inside, and that can be costly and be a large construction project. This has reduced the the demand for alternative technologies. But it is all waiting to happen.”

Bradford College 17th May 2013

Barry is involved in a number of outreach activities for the College. He is advising the Council on the use of photovoltaic panels, and Kirkgate Centre on energy usage in their community building. He has linked up with other local projects to help them promote or make use of alternative energy sources. The College also runs a two day environmental awareness course for anyone interested in sustainable technologies.

“We need to look at what can be done locally to improve the quality of life,” Barry says. “We can all switch off lights, we can all make less use of cars. My vision is that every learner at Bradford College should become aware of environmental issues that impact on the planet.  We should encourage our learners  to learn how to work better with natural environmental resources.”

interview and text: Ruth Wilson. Photos: Paula Solloway.

Supporting students who are deaf or hard of hearing

Bradford College has an unusually high number of deaf students.

There are two main reasons for this: firstly, there is a higher incidence of disability in general and deafness in particular in Bradford. Secondly the College has a very positive reputation as a place for deaf people to study and this attracts deaf students from across West Yorkshire and beyond. Most are aged 16 – 24, but there are students of all ages, with a number in their 60s and 70s. They include anyone whose hearing loss impacts on their studies.

I spoke to Learning Support Tutor Nicola Storey and Team Leader Chris Thornton to find out about their work and the ethics issues it raises.

Christopher Thornton and Nicola Storey, Bradford College Deaf and Hard of Hearing Team

Christopher Thornton and Nicola Storey, Bradford College Deaf and Hard of Hearing Team

Meeting Nicola and Chris
Nicola is a qualified teacher of the deaf – it is apparently very rare, and outstandingly good for a College to have a qualified teacher of the deaf. Nicola is just that, and in addition she has an MA in Deaf Education. Chris is a qualified note-taker, has trained in the use of technological aids, and has advanced qualifications in British Sign Language (BSL). Between them they have years of experience.

Nicola did not intentionally set out to work with the deaf – her interest and commitment has developed through years of working with deaf and hard of hearing students. “I was a student here, studying health and social care. I moved straight from that into being a support worker, helping students with special needs,” she says. Later, Nicola went to university in Hull to study social policy. She continued to work for the College in the holidays, and on graduating returned as a full time senior support worker. She had a spell lecturing in IT and basic skills, and then went on to do the MA.

For Chris, it began with having friends who were deaf. “For most people who learn sign language and work in this area, it starts because someone in your family is deaf. But not me. I grew up in Doncaster and for some reason my path seemed to cross with lots of deaf people. I remember playing football with deaf kids my age and experiencing the frustration of being unable to communicate. In my final years at school I went to Saturday classes and passed Level 1 and 2 BSL and did some work experience in a local college.” Chris started working aged 16, spending ten years in different areas of deaf education in Wakefield. He has worked at the College since 2010.

Some of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Team (back row) with students (front row). Nicola and Chris are in the centre of the back row.

Some of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Team (back row) with students (front row). Nicola and Chris are in the centre of the back row.

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Team
There is a team of 16 Communication Support Workers, supporting our deaf students.  They all have advanced sign language qualifications, and they are part of a wider team of some 70 staff providing learning support to students with disabilities. “The role is very diverse,” Nicola says. “You can be supporting someone understand when to use capital letters, and then be giving advanced support to someone doing research for a Masters. A support worker has to work across all subject areas, from basic skills to postgraduate level.”

British Sign Language is a relatively new language,” Chris explains. “Because there’s no literal word for word translation from English to BSL, and with the range of courses we do here, often we find ourselves working with the deaf student to  devise new signs as the need arises. This is the beauty of our team – we are so lucky to have people at that level.”

In addition, some of our students have weak  English language skills – signing is their first language, and English may be an emerging third or fourth language. .

The service covers all education support needs relevant to the student’s course, and support sessions such as counselling if someone needs this. If a student wants to get involved in other areas of College life, those departments then set up the relevant support.

The ethics issues
“Confidentiality is essential,” Nicola says. “Complete translation is also key. You have to interpret everything, communicate an entire message – emotion, force, intention, message. That’s important to equal access, opportunity and treatment, and being heard and understood.”

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Team only uses its trained and qualified support workers as for interpretation and support, and does not involve family, friends or volunteers as translators.

There are two ways in which deafness is defined. One is a medical one, where deafness is a physical impairment or loss of hearing. The other is cultural, where people identify themselves as members of a deaf community, and view this as positive.

“Its big D and little d,” says Chris, “with the Deaf community claiming a capital D. We have both kinds of students – those who do not particularly identify themselves as Deaf tend to be people who’s loss of hearing has started later in life.”

The team does not make judgements on this, and they work across a continuum of hearing loss. Students are required to have medical evidence confirming their disability if they want support, but otherwise it is for the individual to decide how they define and perceive their deafness.

“There is an on-going debate,” Chris says, “as to whether deaf students are better off in a dedicated school for the deaf, or whether they should be integrated into mainstream education. That discussion is probably not going to be resolved, and there are benefits on both sides. I guess we are all working here because we believe students should be able to attend a College and have the chance to do well.”

The hard work has results….
The proof is in the pudding: apparently our deaf students often do well, through their own hard work and with the highly professional College support. One recent student came straight from school on a Level 1 IT course and now has a degree in business administration. Another, Neelam Hussain, is winning lots of awards and competitions as a hairdressing student, including a Rising Star award in the recent Oscar-style FE awards ceremony held annually by the college.

Its great to meet Nicola and Chris and find out all this. Repeatedly in this blog, interviewees are demonstrated the active and considered ways in which the College works to provide opportunity and a positive experience for anyone wanting to study. The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Team is integral to this.


Saying ‘cheese’: members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Team line up for a group photo.


The Association of Community Support Workers

Bradford College runs classes in British Sign Language – see the community learning prospectus for more information. Neelam Hussain, the student mentioned above, is featured on the front cover of that newspaper style prospectus!

The ultimate in recycling: the ethical re-use of human tissue

Next door to Bradford College, on the top floor of a secure building on the University of Bradford campus, is a unique service: Ethical Tissue.

Ethical Tissue: a secure space on the top floor of the Institute for Cancer Therapies, University of Bradford

Ethical Tissue: a secure space on the top floor of the Institute for Cancer Therapies, University of Bradford

It responds to requests from researchers for human tissue, and it stores tissue for biomedical research. Ethical Tissue is unique in providing a primary source of tissue solely for research purposes.

There are important ethical issues in human tissue donation and use, so I went to talk to Dr Susan Boyce about the work of her team. Although they deal with many requests for tissue in a year and have thousands of samples serving multiple uses, the space is surprisingly compact: a small office, and a laboratory where the samples are stored and prepared, and just three members of staff delivering the service: Susan (Head of Ethical Tissue), Senior Scientist Wayne Burrill, and Khadeja Suleman, Research Nurse.

First, Susan provided a definition of tissue: “Tissue is anything that contains human cells – that might be substantial body parts, small slithers of flesh, or blood, urine and so on.”

Susan then explained what makes Ethical Tissue special: “Being a primary source of tissue means we are involved in finding potential donors, meeting them, explaining what is needed, and getting their consent.”

Dr Susan Boyce in the Ethic Tissue laboratory.

Dr Susan Boyce in the Ethic Tissue laboratory.


Senior Scientist Wayne Burrill.

“Nearly everyone has something to give,” Susan says. “Sometimes we need donors with particular conditions, or from particular ethnic groups. Sometimes we need normal tissue. We usually get a very good response. Nearly everyone we ask says yes they want to help researchers. We are always very grateful when people do decide to donate.”

The legal requirements are covered by the Human Tissue Act and regulated by the Human Tissue Authority :

Relevance:  The tissue has to be collected for relevant research. In most cases, the research is providing new insight into medical conditions, or helping with the development of treatment.

Donor consent: Samples must be provided with the informed consent of the donor. “You own your body tissue,” Susan says, “and you have the right to say what happens to your tissue during life and after death.”

Securing consent means accepting without pressure someone’s decision not to donate. Most people are very keen to help: we are hardly ever turned down. None of the major faiths have an objection to tissue donation. Sometimes people are facing complex and serious operations and they do not want to consider donation. This is of course acceptable, we always respect the wishes of the individual.“

Informed consent: Another important ethical aspect of consent is that the donor understands the purpose of the donation, and can ask for further information if they want. Not everyone is capable of informed consent: “We do not take consent from vulnerable adults ” Susan says. “We take samples from children if the parents consent, and if the child actively assents.  The next of kin can consent following the death of a patient – this does not delay the funeral arrangements.”

Generalised consent: “When people donate tissue to a tissue bank, they cannot specify what they want the samples used for,” Susan says. “They cannot request or rule out a particular kind of research. But sometimes we are able to tell them if there is a specific research project involved, and they can read the findings if they want when those are made public.”

Not for profit: “We make it very clear that there is no financial element for the donor. This is an altruistic gift,” Susan says. In addition, the service only seeks to recover costs from the researchers that it helps. “This applies whether our client is a public sector or charity researcher or a large pharmaceutical company developing a drug. We are heavily funded by the University, and this enables us to provide the service at a cost which enable research to go ahead.”

Anonymity, confidentiality and security: Every tissue donation is unique and is assigned a number, so the database is anonymous. The donor names are never stored on a computer. The samples and all records are in a highly secure, restricted access building and office, with any sensitive information kept in locked filing cabinets.

Timeliness and optimisation: If somebody gives tissue it will often be with the researcher very soon after, or it may be optimised – this means that the tissue can be used in several ways, to minimise waste and increase utility.

Deciding which research requests to respond to: “We don’t decide who gets what tissue,” Susan says. “We have independent scientific advisers (ISACs), all reputable and appropriate experts, and they decide which research requests we should respond to. We never meet the ISACs. This means we don’t send tissue to projects run by our friends, and we can’t favour investigations into health issues we are particularly concerned about.”

Validity of the research requests: “The research must be relevant and reasonable, the standing of the researcher must be acceptable, and they must have sufficient funding to complete,” Susan explains. It is the role of the ISACs to determine whether this is the case.

Dr Susan Boyce, Head of Ethical Tissue

Dr Susan Boyce,

Susan Boyce is a clinical scientist with a PhD in neuroscience. She began her career working in a burns unit in the NHS. She then moved on to set up a skin bank for therapeutic transplantation at the University of Sheffield, before coming to lead Ethical Tissue at Bradford.

“This is the ultimate in re-cycling,” Susan says. “It is very ethical. It gives you relevant results that are for the benefit of all.”

Not just a sporting chance: ethics and sport in Further Education

Danni Baker is a course tutor on Level 1 Sport at Bradford College, and she teaches across all our sports courses, levels One to Three (so up to the equivalent of A Level). She also runs the Higher Sports Leadership Award, and our women’s football team.

Bradford College Women's Football Team

Bradford College Women’s Football Team: Danni is at the back, in blue.

Danni ran through a number of ethics issues relating to ethics and sport in Further Education – some of them are addressed explicitly with the students, but it was clear as well that much is communicated through students participating in sport and building relationships with the students through sport.

Sport for all
Danni saw this as central to sports teaching at the college: the need to ensure that sport is for everyone.  “We’ve got some very talented students who are rising  high in their sport, but its important as well to focus on enrichment. We get the students to think about how they pick teams – everyone picks the highly skilled first, or their friends. It doesn’t need to be like that. When you pick a team you can offer fair opportunity, you can help weaker players to take part. Sport really is about taking part, not just winning.”

Playing by the rules
The College has a code of conduct, and the sports lecturers go through it with all new students. “The ground rules of respect and tolerance are the same in sport.,” Danni says. “We also talk about the importance of respecting the referee and sport officials.  We show the students good role models and bad ones – there are plenty of bad role models in football!”

Ethical issues
“We often look at current affairs – the Olympics, for instance, gave us lots of positives to discuss, and the Paralympics. Each week, sport is in the news: cheating, adultery, drugs, racism and so on. I use these issues to debate in class. It is interesting to hear students’ opinions.”

Gender equality
I was interested to learn that we get more boys and young men on our sports courses than women. Danni said that many want to be footballers, and she commented on the fact that football is a very male-dominated game. “To counteract that, we offer some sports that appeal to girls, like netball, and we run things like the women’s football team so that girls have an opportunity to break into perceived male dominated sports,” she explained. “We have girls doing boxing and badminton. It’s also about changing the boys’ mindset. The women footballers are not afraid to get involved in the boys’ game, and the boys can see how good they are and they respect that.”

Disability equality
We have a number of disabled students at Bradford College who are doing really well at sport. “Sometimes the disabled students teach us all a disability sport and we all play it, which is a lot of fun,” says Danni.  “Everyone gets to see that these are real sports, skilful and challenging.”

Danni explained that through the Higher Sports Leadership Award, our students are involved in organising activities for a group of disabled adults who come twice a week to participate in sports activities, as part of their Entry Pathways course at Bradford College. “Our students help them, they get experience as coaches, and lots of insight,” she says. “The interaction afterwards is amazing – before, the Entry Pathways adults would sit on their own in the café, and now our students join them voluntarily to chat. I love Wednesdays and Thursdays just for that, to see our students mix with Entry Pathways adults.”

Managing aspirations
“Very few sports students make it to be professionals footballers – it’s a matter of luck and skill and other things,” Danni comments. “So we have to help them have those goals but at the same time manage expectations. We want them to understand that there are other options, that are also very rewarding. “ Danni says that in one module, all the students have to come up with a business plan built around sport. “Its like a dragons’ den, and the tutors sit on the board. The idea is to help them see new possibilities and develop business skills.”

The ethics of inactivity
Danni praises the College for getting involved in the Global Corporate Challenge, which gets teams of staff (all volunteers) walking 10,000 steps a day for four months. Her final point is one that applies to us all:

“One thing I feel strongly about,” says Danni, “is the way in the UK everyone is sat at their desk or in their car, and they don’t have anywhere near enough physical activity. It’s a social wrong, its not just about individuals. We need to change the culture.”

Danni Baker, sports tutor and lecturer at Bradford College.

Danni Baker, sports tutor and lecturer at Bradford College.

A bit about Danni: Danni grew up in York, and always loved sport, particularly football and tennis. She completed the BTEC National Sports Diploma at York College and then went to St John’s University to do a degree in physical education and applied social science. She got a job lecturing back at York College, alongside being a self-employed tennis coach.  She is also a UEFA B football coach. “It got a bit crazy ,” Danni says. “I was working all hours, and I felt I’d been in York a long time and it was time to widen my horizons. So I took six months off to go travelling, and after that I came here.” She has been at Bradford College about six years.

Dramatically good: the ethics of performing arts in further and higher education

Damien O’Keeffe is Curriculum Team Leader for Media, Music and Performing Arts at Bradford  College, where he lectures in performing arts to further and higher education students.

Damien O'Keeffe (left) in the PaperZoo production of 1984, with former Bradford College student Ben Eagle, and John Hurt.

Damien O’Keeffe (left) in the PaperZoo production of 1984, with former Bradford College student Ben Eagle, and John Hurt. Ben is now studying at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

Damien started by outlining two main strands to the ethical debate concerning performance:

“There’s what we put out and our responsibilities as artists and communicators – because live performance is very immediate and visceral. And from a teaching point of view, we have to consider the material that we offer to our students, how we guide them in what they want to express.”

Creating a safe space
One of the key things is to create a safe environment for students and staff. “A rehearsal studio has to be a space where you can explore without embarrassment,” Damien explains.

The staff increasingly find that young people want to create drama that explores big issues such as body image, sexuality, addiction, family difficulties. “All drama is conflict,” Damien says. “The ancient Greeks knew that – and it means that drama can be a place where you can explore things that are happening in the world that you don’t understand or are frightened of. However, less experienced students sometimes act out very personal conflicts, and this can make them vulnerable.”

Expletives deleted (sometimes)
It also means that the lecturers have to be prepared to challenge things that are potentially offensive or difficult. “This is not as censorship,” Damien explains. “It is about enabling students to understand the impact of how they express things. If you swear all the time, it becomes meaningless – yet a well-placed expletive used carefully has major power.” The students are given a short history of major media landmarks in the use of obscene language, and they are introduced to some Shakespearean insults. “We aim to enrich vocabulary and improve the effectiveness of the drama our students create.”

The YouTube effect
Up to a few years ago, drama students would only be seen when they put on a live performance. There might be the occasional video or audio recording, not easily available. Damien and I discussed the fact that now a drama student can go home, put themselves on YouTube and broadcast to the world.

“We have to cover netiquette on all our courses,” Damien explains. “If you put your work out there, you must expect criticism, and it’s on the record. We don’t want to curtail freedom of expression or the embracing of new technologies. That can be good: casting directors, other performers and professionals may see what you do, and it can lead to good things. But the whole population can see it and you have to be careful about that.”

The College’s drama courses also explore self-presentation as a way of empowering the students. “They need the space to be themselves but also they need to understand that your ‘self’ changes according to the space that you are in. We teach students how to centre and be strong in themselves. This is the kind of thing that can help you throughout your life, whether you have a career in drama or not.”

The drama curriculum – a fine judgement
The courses take on a wide variety of students – some have been drama enthusiasts for years, taking part in lots of performances. Others have had almost no experience of theatre.

“We try to give students what they need rather than what they want,” Damien says. “It’s a fine judgement; you don’t want a hidden or assumed curriculum. It would be easy to let the students carry on doing what they know and like – ‘Bugsy Malone’, ‘Grease’, ’The Little Shop of Horrors’ and so on. So we give them new challenges – anything from ancient Greek drama to contemporary playwrights.

“The studio is a way to explore difficult things, but there is so much that is dangerous in the world – the studio is also a place where the students can discover beauty, redemption and light because that is what is often missing from the students’ lives. All this makes teaching drama a wonderful job.”

Damien in rehearsal for the summer 2013 production of Hard Times.

Damien in rehearsal for ‘Hard Times’.

Damien is from Bradford. He went to local schools, where two inspirational teachers gave him and many other young people a passion for drama and the opportunity to take part in it. He studied drama and media studies at Manchester College, and then gained a degree in performing arts from Middlesex University. He has worked as an actor, and in theatre education outreach at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and Leicester Haymarket Theatre. He is a founder member of PaperZoo, a theatre company set up and run by teachers and students.

Useful links
Bradford College students: Oh What a Lovely War, 13 and 14 June 2013.
PZ LogoPaperZoo’s next production: Hard Times, showing in Leeds, Bradford, Saltaire, Otley, Settle, Halifax and Bury.
Damien’s personal blog: Flawed Monkey
Photo: Damien in a performance of ‘Ruffian on the Stair’ at Bradford College’s Yorkshire Craft Centre, with Julia O’Keeffe.
Interview and text: Ruth Wilson, Bradford College