All posts by isabelrobertscityuniversity

One year on from Storm Desmond

Major Incident Declared As Storm Desmond Wreaks Havoc In Cumbria

More than 700 families have yet to be re-homed following the devastating affects of Storm Desmond in Cumbria this time last year. Cumbria County Council say that the storm will cost the local economy up to £5oo million in damages.

The three-month period between November 2015 and January 2016 was the wettest on record with 341.4mm of rain fall in just 24 hours in parts of Carlisle.

Thousands of homes and businesses were ruined in wake of the storm which bought tercentennial downpours, landslides and river bank eruptions. Many people living in the affected areas have not been able to repair the damages and are either still living in temporary accommodation or living in flooded houses and are unable to claim on their home insurance.

The Cumbria Community Foundation, which was set up in light of Storm Desmond has received over 5000 appeals for help and it has awarded more that £7 million pounds to victims of the flooding in compensation.

Although the financial cost of the storm is huge its nothing compared to the humane cost of the disaster. A study into the affects of the storm has been published a year after the floods hit.

The study’s lead Author, Terry Marsh from the Center of Ecology and Hydrology concluded that: “At a national scale the winter floods of 2015-1016 were the most extreme on record. The November to January period was the wettest three-month sequence in the UK rainfall series – which began in 1910.”



Scarlett Moffatt crowned new Queen of the jungle

Gogglebox star Scarlett Moffat has been crowned this years winner of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! and she is set to earn up to £1 million after her appearance on the show as ITV and Channel 4 are keen to snap her up.

The newly crowned queen is preparing for the release of her new fitness DVD, “Scarlett’s super slim me plan”, which is due to hit the shelves Boxing Day.

The 26 year old from County Durham worked as a student disability officer but became famous from her one-liners and witty commentary on Channel 4’s popular programme Gogglebox. It is not yet confirmed whether or not Scarlett and her family will continue with the show and produces have been reluctant to comment.

Support for Scarlett has been constant throughout her 24 days in the jungle and experts say her likability is down to her honesty.

There are still claims that the hit ITV show is a fix with people claiming that Scarlett was set up to win as she received more coverage than any other contestants in the jungle.

The suspicions weren’t helped when the official I’m a Celebrity Twitter account posted a tweet that appeared to bolster support for her.

The show still managed to rack up 11.4 million viewers for the final.


World AID’s day

aids.jpgEvery year December world AID’s day is held and people around the world wear a red ribbon to demonstrate their support. The event is organised by the charity Nation AID’s Trust (NAT) and aims to unite the world in the fight against aids, support people living with the virus and commemorate the people that have lost their lives to AID’s
The HIV/AID’s epidemic started in the 1984 and since then has taken the lives of around 35 million people. There are roughly 100,000 people living in the UK with AID’s, two thirds of them are men and an estimated 6,000 more people are diagnosed each year with the virus.
One of the main focuses of the day is to try and remove the stigma around being diagnosed with AID’s. Since the virus was discovered drugs and methods of keeping the symptoms under control have been used successfully in practice. Now a diagnosis of HIV/AID’s is not a death sentence; people with the virus usually have the same life expectancy as someone without it.
NAT and the NHS are working in collaboration trying to fight the virus and the health service has promised a greater emphasis on person-centred care and more joined-up services. Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT, says:
“This World AIDS Day, NAT is calling for a step-change in how the NHS approaches HIV. We need to maintain our excellent treatment outcomes while building future health services which meet the care and support needs of the over 100,000 people who will live with HIV for the rest of their lives.”
Removing the stigma around having the virus and getting people initially tested is one of the most important hurdles to overcome when tackling AID’s. To raise awareness this year Prince Harry and Rhianna both went to get tested for the virus in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. They both had the finger-prick test and both cases came back negative but the purpose of this was to show how quick and easy it is to get tested.
Since the AID’s epidemic broke out just over 40 years ago lots of high profile figures have come forward as being HIV positive including Charlie Sheen, Danny Pintauro and Freddie Mercury.
Positively UK is a charity based in Islington that works with people who have been diagnosed HIV positive, offering workshops, support groups, medical help and advice about how to live with HIV on a daily basis. Silvia Petritti, the deputy CEO of Positively UK explains the huge advancements in HIV care including being able to have children who are HIV free, being able to not pass on the virus to sexual partners when it’s controlled with medication and longer life expectancy.
Silvia emphasises that the stigma around the virus is still the biggest thing people need to overcome;
“It is because of stigma that many people are still too scared to test for HIV and access lifesaving services. The most powerful tool we have to beat stigma is education and talking about HIV. The HIV activists of the 80’s used to say Silence = Death, and this is still true today.”

Dementia – “The most feared disease in the UK”


Dementia has become the leading cause of death in the UK. It is also the most feared disease among British people, overtaking cancer and heart disease.

The term dementia refers to a variety of neurodegenerative diseases all affecting the brain. The most common impairment associated with dementia is memory loss but mobility, balance and orientation can all be triggered by dementia.

Last year 1 in 8 people in England and Wales died from dementia. Medics are suggesting the rising number of dementia related deaths is due to increased life expectancy and better diagnosis. Women are particularly more susceptible to dementia, as it has been proven that women tend to live longer than men. What is more, dementia typically develops later in life. The risk factors and chances of developing dementia increase the longer people live.

There is still no cure for the killer disease. Sarah Robertson, a medical researcher at University College London is looking into finding a cure for dementia and investigating methods of prolonging the most common symptoms of dementia.

“Billions of pounds have been spent on trying to find a cure for dementia and it’s been unsuccessful, and we’re quite far from a cure.  Different people will say different things but we have a huge crisis in care at the moment that needs to be dealt with and we need research to understand how best to provide care for people with dementia because they exist here and now and we are decades at best away from finding a treatment for them.”

She argues that the biggest crisis dementia research faces at the moment is whether or not to pour money into funding medical research for finding a cure or by supporting the care workers that have to deal with the effects of dementia on a daily basis.

Caring for someone with dementia can be physically and emotionally draining. Carers need to be on constant alert, helping patients with routine tasks on a daily basis and provide emotional comfort and support. Alzheimer’s Society predict that there are around 670,000 unpaid people in the UK working as full time dementia carers, totalling an estimated saving of £1 billion a year for the NHS.

Groups and workshops are available all over the country offering help and support to people suffering from dementia and their carers. Madhumita Bose runs a Memory Group based in Barbican every  Tuesday afternoon,at The City of London Education and Arts Centre,targeted to help anyone who has already been diagnosed with dementia or is suffering from memory loss. Here participants are able to relax, have a drink and snack, make friends, participate in activities, go on trips and enjoy listening to a variety of guest speakers.

“The session gives them a chance to talk and relax and not feel depressed about it, a lot of them are not well they are very frail, we try to encourage them to forget all of their problems”, says Madhumita.

Local communities do as much as they can to help improve the lives of people living with dementia, but as more money is funded into finding a cure for the disease, local councils are very limited with the amount of money they can allocate towards helping carers and patients.

Dementia is claiming more and more lives every year, killing 61,686 people last year. However, investigations published earlier this month in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine suggest that more education could delay the process of developing symptoms associated with dementia. The study found that the longer that adults are in education, the more this helps to keep the brain engaged in later life meaning that as the neurones in the brain start to deteriorate the remaining parts of the brain are able to compensate for the loss and prevent the symptoms of dementia from showing.

The investigation was conducted at the University of Michigan by Professor Kenneth Langa who said: “Our results add to a growing body of evidence that this decline in dementia risk is a real phenomenon, and that the expected future growth in the burden of dementia may not be as extensive as once thought.”

The NHS is still struggling to supply care to the millions of people suffering from dementia and the lengths to which it can stretch are becoming increasingly strained, as the population continues to live longer.

The study conducted in America that proved spending more time in education results in a smaller chance of developing symptoms of dementia has been supported by data collected across Europe giving hope to people and the health care service that the dementia diagnosis may not look as bleak as was once predicted.

Can you swing a kettlebell 10,000 times in one month?


As the new year looms many people will decide that 2017 is the year they are going to get fit meaning that gym memberships across the country sky rocket in January. However, by the 2nd week of February around 80% of the new year influx of people have stopped going.

Clearly, the public taking an active interest in revamping their lifestyle and trying to make themselves healthier is not something to be frowned upon. However, the massive increase in people using the gym, attending classes and using the facilities does have an impact on current gym-goers training regimes. The 10,000 Swing Kettlebell Workout was suggested to me by my old personal trainer and we decided to attempt the challenge together. After completing it myself and seeing the results I am keen to suggest this workout to people, who like me, reached a plateau in their training and were beginning to lose interest.

One of the main reasons for people to lose interest or focus at the gym is because of boredom – they have been training in the same way for too long. The body becomes used to the exercise and it is therefore not challenging. This workout will certainly change all of that.

At a first glance this seems totally unrealistic! The prospect of swinging a moderately heavy kettlebell 10,000 times in one month does seem daunting and rightly so! Yet this high intensity, short and challenging workout gets results quickly and has been proven to greatly improve strength, power and all round fitness.

The 10,000 kettle bell swing challenge was created by Dan John and is designed to be completed within four weeks. The workout requires minimal equipment –  a kettlebell, clearly – and one other piece of equipment (depending on what workout you are doing). The plan suggest that you work out five times a week doing 500 swings per session. So within one week you have already completed 2,500 swings and by the end of the 4th week the 10,000 swings have been accomplished. Women are recommended to use a 16kg kettlebell whereas men are advised to up the intensity and use a 24kg bell. The swings are combined with a few core strength moves, which could include; pull up’s, goblet squats, military presses and tricep dips. These exercises are included to increase whole body power however the main move of the work out is the swing. Detailed description of how the daily sessions are broken down into sets can be found here.

I completed this workout in January this year and intend to do it at the start 2017. It’s something that works really well during the “new year’s resolution period” as the sessions take roughly around 25-40 minutes to complete, require minimal equipment and barely any space. These are just a few examples of how I benefitted from the challenge:

  • I dropped a dress size and my waist was noticeably smaller
  • My glutes became noticeably stronger (and bigger!) I noticed I could squat around 20kg more than my previous 1rm
  • I had increases stamina and strength for the classes I was regularly attending before – I was scared I was going to have to drop my weights right down after not going to BodyPump for a month yet I was able to add more weight on to my previous personal best
  • The muscles on my upper back and shoulder were much more clearly defined and were stronger
  • My grip strength had improved
  • My strength in core movements and lifts had improved

The kettlebell swing is obviously the fundamental movement in this work out and nailing the perfect technique for that will really maximise your results. The key to perfect swing is to; keep the back straight, bend the knees slightly – but not too much, keep knees soft the whole time, keep the kettlebell at shoulder height when it’s at the top of the swing, generate the power from the butt and hips by thrusting the hips forwards on every single swing and not using the arms to lift the kettlebell, keep the shoulders back and pinch the shoulder blades slightly together and keep the majority of the weight in the heels – this activates and engages the whole of the posterior chain (all the muscles down the back of the body) and is the secret to getting a great butt!


This workout is designed make you push yourself and is only intended for people who already have a substantial degree of strength through their posterior chain. No other training is necessary when completing the kettlebell challenge and if you feel you can do any other kind of exercise whilst doing it either the weights aren’t heavy enough, the resting periods between sets are too long or you’re not committing 100% effort. It is a really worthwhile training programme and the I was genuinely proud to say at the end of four weeks I had swung a kettlebell ten thousand times!

Good luck and happy swinging!