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jacobhartley
13th December 2022

“Make sure it never happens again”: Students gather in memory of Dr. Lloyd Cawthorne

On Wednesday November 30, students joined picket lines in memory of Dr. Lloyd Cawthorne
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“Make sure it never happens again”: Students gather in memory of Dr. Lloyd Cawthorne
Students gather outside the Schuster Building. Photo: Uncredited

In response to the sudden death of Dr. Lloyd Cawthorne, students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy have raised £751 for mental health charities and the University and College Union (UCU) strike fund.

They gathered “to show support for striking lecturers, and call for improvements to mental health support services in the University”.

Approximately 80-100 students gathered on November 30 outside the Schuster building, the home of the department, in response to the death of Dr. Lloyd Cawthorne.

Dr. Cawthorne took his own life this October, aged 32.

Funds raised were split between mental health charities and UCU strike funds because Dr. Cawthorne was himself on a casualised contract.

He was also, in the words of Professor Gersabeck, “a strong champion of employee rights and quality of teaching”, who would “have surely” been on  the picket lines during the most latest round of UCU strikes.

Students expressed their feelings of solidarity and determination at the event.

One third-year Physics student said, “All I could see was hope and eagerness in everybody’s eyes and souls to win justice for Dr. Lloyd and everyone who suffers from the brutal circumstances implemented across universities in this country”.

Riham, a first-year Physics student, added, “I cannot begin to describe how relieving it felt to be surrounded by students of various year groups and disciplines come together for a common cause.  [….] There seemed to be a mutual understanding amongst everyone that positive change awaits and that we are the catalysts for it.”

Students who gathered raised funds for the mental health charities Campaign Against Living Miserably, and Andy’s Man Club, charities to which Dr. Cawthorne’s family requested funds be directed. In addition, they aimed to raise awareness of the “insufficient level” of mental health facilities available at the University.

Tom Rossall, a third-year undergraduate student, said, “Now we have to make sure it never happens again. This is why we encourage men to speak out, this is why we push for better mental health services”.

Dr. Cawthorne retweeted a post from the UCU linking the casualisation of staff to declining mental health. According to UCU research, widespread casualisation of University staff leads to unsustainable workloads, which compounds mental health problems.

71% of the 2,638 staff who took part in the UCU survey said that the precarity of their employment damaged their mental health. As of the academic year 2020/21, over 2400 staff at the University were on casual contracts.

A poster for the event read: “Anyone who has tried to access counselling services can attest to the fact that they are very limited in scope”.

It noted the difficulty in obtaining an appointment, saying: “when we do manage to get one, they are only one hour every two weeks at best. Our University prides itself on its mental health facilities. This is blatant hypocrisy”.

The University described this poster as “critical of the University’s mental health provision”, and noted the increase in mental health provisions that the University had made in the last two years, including a “new Triage Team” and a new setup for employees.

The University “also now fund a 24/7 mental health and wellbeing telephone service and complementary app, which is run by qualified practitioners”, describing “clear and rapid escalation routes where there are concerns for a student.”

The Mancunion revealed last year that the University employs “just 12 counsellors“, despite over 2500 students having disclosed problems with their mental health.

A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “We are deeply saddened by Lloyd’s death. We have been supporting his family throughout, and his friends, students and colleagues. We understand and share the strength of feeling that this has caused, but we cannot comment on the circumstances surrounding Lloyd’s death, or the reasons, ahead of a formal coroner’s investigation. Staff in the School and wider University are committed to listening to any concerns and will continue to meet with staff and students and offer all possible support.”

If anything in this article has affected you, these links may provide support

www.samaritans.org

www.papyrus-uk.org

nspa.org.uk

Jacob Hartley

Jacob Hartley

co-Managing Editor (News and Current Affairs)

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