Category Archives: Explainer

Saint Patrick’s day – What’s it all about?

With the unpredictable fate of this year’s St. Patrick’s day parades, it’s a good moment to reflect on past years and what the 17th of March really means to many people. 

The 17th of March appears in everyone’s calendars as St. Patrick’s Day Bank Holiday. Whether they celebrate or not it’s known to be a widespread celebration. Yet, many are unaware of the history behind the date, and why it’s so significant to many across the world. 

Everyone knows that St Patrick’s day is a traditional Irish celebration. There are usually big parades, dances, marches and music in many major cities across the UK, Ireland and The United States. The focus of these celebrations is Irish culture. But what people don’t know is that this is actually an anniversary for the death of Saint Patrick. 

Credit: – The patron Saint Patrick was not Irish, but instead British

So who was Saint Patrick?

According to, Saint Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland who started out as a slave. It’s said that he was born in Roman Britain and kidnapped at the age of 16 by Irish pirates. During this time, St. Patrick became hugely committed to Christianity, believing that the Irish should be Christians like him. 

Eventually Patrick broke free from enslavement and entered priesthood in France. After being ordained as a priest, he was sent to Ireland to spread Christianity in Ireland and support the Christian community. It’s believed that he died in circa 461 A.D.

His most recognisable work was the legend of St.Patrick where he used the now symbol of Ireland, the Shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. The three leaves represent the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 

When was the first celebrated St. Patrick’s Day?

The first recorded Saint Patrick’s Day parade was in Florida, USA – not Ireland. It’s believed that it was held in 1601 in what is now St. Augustine and in a Spanish colony. Over a century after, in 1772, New York City saw homesick Irish soldiers march the streets to honour Saint Patrick. From there, the celebrations and marches only grew into what we know and see today. 

It’s unclear when the first celebrations were in England. According to numerous sources, there appeared to be debate over celebrating Saint Patrick alongside Saint George. However, parades have grown more prominent in the UK, with parades being held in London each year.

Credit: – Dublin is the number one place to be for St. Patrick’s Day

The first parade to be held in Ireland was in 1903, in Waterford. Since then, Dublin has been named as one of the best places to be on the 17th of March. Today, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dublin run over five days and nights, showcasing the best of Irish culture. However, due to the current health concerns, the traditional parades won’t be going ahead.

Dublin’s Saint Patrick Festival typically includes many different events and displays, such as walking tours of history, art displays and performances from live musicians. However, due to the growing health concern surrounding the Coronavirus, many of these events have been cancelled or postponed. Check their website for more details. 

What is Meningitis and why is it dangerous?



After a peak of 2295 cases of meningitis in 1999 in UK the meningitis type C cases dropped of the 90% in the vaccinated groups, and consequently of the 66% in the non vaccinated ones, thanks to the introduction of the MenC vaccine.

But recently, due to a decrease in the vaccination coverage, the cases of meningitis in UK are rising again with two cofirmed cases of meningitis B at University of Bristol, the past November. Because of this (and in the light of the recent measles epidemic in universities) the debate shifted recently in questioning if non- vaccinated students should be allowed in universities.

So what is meningitis? Why is it sparking a debate?

Meningitis is an illness, and it defines the inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect our brain and our spinal cord (called Meninges). It’s usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection, and it’s very quick in its development – capable to kill a patient in a span from less than 2 to more than 20 hours.

Generally, it first manifests “slyly” like a bad temperature, with symptoms such as severe fever, headaches, and diarrhoea; maintaining an apparently “stable” condition in the victim.

Symptoms change with the development of the illness, including symptoms such as difficulty in staying awake, irritability, dislike of bright lights, stiff neck, pale/blotchy skin, vomit, severe muscular pain, convulsions and, the most significant, severe fever with cold feet and hands.

Normally, not all symptoms necessarily manifest, or manifest in a specific order; and they tend to escalate in a terrifyingly rapid time. For this reason, many patients die of meningitis worldwide. Diagnosis of this disease is sometimes too late because it’s difficult distinguishing meningitis from a severe flu.

What usually kills a patient affected by meningitis it’s septicaemia, which is the poisoning of blood induced by an infection. It usually leads to organ failures, severe nerve and brain permanent damage.

Meningitis is usually caused by a virus or a bacteria, and there are different types of meningitis, with different symptoms depending on its causes. Viral meningitis is considered less dangerous than bacterial, even though more common. But bacterial meningitis is most commonly caused by the bacterias Meningococcal, Pneumococcal, TB, Group B Streptococcal and Escherichia Coli. Bacterial meningitis is a rarer condition but much more dangerous if not treated.

What sparked the debate about vaccines in universities, is the virality of meningitis, and its most common target age. There is a current debate about whether universities should make vaccines compulsory, and many people disagree with the concept.

The misleading idea that meningitis is an illness which only infects and kills infants or very young children, is a common misconception held by many people today.

Meningitis, in fact, can also occur in adults with immunodeficiency but manifests in young adults between 15 and 23 years old with similar ease to children cases.

It spreads through cough, sneezes, kisses, or through sharing utensils, cutlery or toothbrushes; and more commonly spread by healthy carriers.

Although there are many different, effective vaccines and remedies available to treat meningitis; it is also true that these remedies offer some defences against certain kind of meningitis, but not all the different causes of meningitis.

Oxbridge set to increase bursaries for low-income students by 2020

The University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge are both currently on the track to expand inclusivity by increasing bursaries given to students from low-income backgrounds.

Starting in 2020, Oxbridge students from low-income backgrounds will be receiving up to £5,000 per year in scholarship funding. In an effort to attract students who would typically write off the university due to their high tuition fees, both leading British universities are looking to bring in students from “under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Following last years accusations of being socially exclusive and failing to recruit eligible students from public colleges, the University of Oxford claimed that they were “very aware” that they “must work harder.”

Currently, the University of Oxford provides 25 percent of its students with £8,000,000 of financial support. Students whose guardians earn less than £27,500 are currently receiving between £3,700 and £1,700. In 2020, this figure will increase to between £5,000 and £4,200.

According to research performed by the Sutton Trust charity, between 2015 and 2017, Oxbridge enrolled more students from the eight top British schools than nearly 3,000 other English state schools put together.

Advocating for a “fair chance”, Sutton Trust’s founder Sir Peter Lampl found that students from the top eight schools in Britain filled 1,310 places at Oxford and Cambridge while 2,900 state schools filled 1,200 places between 2015 and 2017.

In 2018, Labour MP David Lammy criticized the University of Oxford following a report that found that a mere 11 percent of undergraduate students at the university were from “disadvantaged backgrounds.” This report also found that white British applicants were twice as likely to be accepted than black applicants.

In response, director of undergraduate admissions, Samina Khan claimed that that was, “not getting the right number of black people with the talent to apply to us.”

Oxford’s Student Union stepped in and claimed, “there are large and unacceptable attainment gaps in schools, which greatly disadvantage black pupils and those from low-income backgrounds, among other under-represented groups.”

In a poll taken by 336 students, 94% said that they agreed with Oxbridge accepting more applicants from low-income environments.

“I think that giving low-income and disadvantaged students a financial boost is an effort that will greatly excel the university’s diversity and reputation.”- Morgan Howk, 20

“I really appreciate what Oxford and Cambridge are doing and I wish more university’s would follow in suit.”- Katie Trent, 21

“While I admire their efforts, I think that they are not tackling the most present issue here. Their announcement is just a coverup for the fact that they don’t really want to diversify the University in terms of race. Only [17.9%] of Oxford students are BAME and I personally think that, that should be improved upon before they focus on other flaws in their admissions system.”- Shawn Waynick, 19

Overall, Dr. Jane Gover, the university’s director of student finances, said that, “there’s been really strong feedback,” from Oxford currently enrolled undergraduate students.

Gover believes that, “this is a really huge part of the university work to attract and support undergraduates from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds. We don’t want to see students being put off because they’re worried about the cost of living or their ability to engage with university life.”

Featured Image VIA


Julian Assange: The events leading to his arrest

Founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange has been sentenced in the UK to 50 weeks in prison for breaching bail back in 2012. The sentencing comes days before World Press Day 2019 on May 3rd. But who is Julian Assange?

Julian Assange is an Australian journalist, computer programmer and software developer. His infamy started at the young age of 16, when he hacked into a telecommunication company’s master terminal. He was then charged on 30 accounts of hacking in Australia, however, Assange was exempted with only a fine for damages to Nortel.

Assange further improved his technological skills and enrolled at the University of Melbourne. But this did not last long. For ethical reasons, such as not wanting to use his intelligence to aid the military, Assange left university and did not continue his degree in Mathematics.

Only 13 years ago, Assange began working on WikiLeaks: a website that “specialises in the analysis and publication of large datasets of censored and otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption. This website officially launched in 2007 and became one of the biggest whistleblowers of the century.

In June, 2012, Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and was granted political asylum in August of that same year. Ecuador decided to protect him under the fear that his right as a human would be violated if he were to be extradited to Sweden.

Two years prior, in December 2010, Swedish authorities issued a European Arrest Warrant under the allegations of two counts of sexual molestation, one count of rape and one count of illegal coercion. On December 6th of the same year, Assange turned himself into British police.

In May 2012, the U.K’s Supreme Court ruled that Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face his allegations. This forced Assange to seek political asylum at the

Ecuadorian embassy but only on their territory and if he left the embassy, he was free to be arrested by British police.

In 2015, the sexual assault and coercion charges were dropped, while the rape charges statute of limitations will expire in 2020. In February 2016, a United Nations panel was held which ruled that Assange was unreasonably detained and that he should be released and compensated for his deprivation of liberty.

However, both Sweden and UK rejected saying that Assange would be arrested if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy. On May 19th 2017, Sweden said that the rape charges against Assange would be dropped. Later that year in December, Assange was granted Ecuadorian citizenship, but his relationship with the country was starting to deteriorate.

This may have been as a result of Assange’s interference in the 2016 Presidential elections in America. Where 1200 emails from Hillary Clinton’s, one of the candidates in the presidential race, private server.

Earlier this year, in February, Australia granted Julian Assange a new passport as they feared that Ecuador would soon withdraw Assange’s asylum. Two months later, Australia’s fears came through Ecuador withdrew Assange’s asylum and as a result he was arrested at the embassy.

Following his arrest, it was announced that the WikiLeaks founder has been charged in the US for conspiring with Army Intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer at the Pentagon.

The following explainer shows the timeline of events before his arrest.

Julian assange

Infographic by: Kenya Best



World Press Freedom Day: 95 journalists murdered in 2019

95 journalists were killed last year according to the International Federation of Journalists.

The IFJ concluded in their report that the most dangerous countries to practice journalism are: Afghanistan, Mexico, US, Syria, Yemen and India. 


Five journalists were killed last year in the US due to a terrorist attack at the Capital Gazette in Maryland, Virginia, a local newspaper. The suspect was said to have tried to sue the newspaper multiple years earlier. 

Nine journalists in Kabul, Afghanistan had died after going to the site of a bombing to report on the scene, according to the BBC. Another journalist, BBC reporter Ahmad Shah, was killed in one of a series of attacks in Khost Province.

Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Washington Post correspondent for Saudi Arabia, was murdered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey last October. 

Last month, journalist Lyra Mckee, died on the streets of Londonderry reporting on a riot that had broken out. 

The IFJ told the BBC, “Increasing intolerance to reporting, populism as well as corruption and crime are now important factors.” 

2016 saw the highest amount of imprisoned journalists at 259, according to Press Advocacy Group. The number has slightly dropped to 251, which is the number of journalists who are currently in prison. 

The countries with the highest number of imprisoned journalists include: Turkey (68), China (47), Egypt (25), and Saudi Arabia and Eritrea with (16) each. 

The most shocking has been the opposition against journalists in the US. Reporters Without Borders describes the situation in the US as “problematic”. 

According to the BBC, The US has now slipped down in the RSF’s rankings for press freedom as well as Brazil and India. 

However, Russia, Venezuela, and China have worse scores for press freedom.

What your £20 for a NUS student discount card actually goes to

Walking through a fresher’s fair, a student is often first greeted by the welcoming bright teal sign of the NUS. More formally known as the National Union of Students, the famous brand is commonly known for offering students some of the best discounts in the United Kingdom.

Aside from the massive discounts NUS offers, when a student signs up for the union, they join a group of over seven million students aiming to use their education in order to create a fair and prosperous society.

Nevertheless, 61% of students are unaware of what the NUS does for their university environment. And even so, of the 39% who are “aware” of what the National Union of Students does, 86% thought that the organization was just their NUS Extra Card that allows them to get discounts.

Founded in 1922, as an effort to make peace after the first world war, their mission still remains to promote, defend, and extend student rights allows them to fight discrimination and injustice through democratic representation, campaigning, and targeted action.

Through the help of students across the nation, the NUS is able to bring together the collective interests of their members in order to develop research that influences national policy and take on issues that affect the lives of students now and in the future.

The National Union of Students is a voluntary membership organization consisting of 600 students’ unions. That’s more than 95 percent of all higher student unions in the United Kingdom. When a student pays £20 for their discounted student railway card or the extra 20% off at Boots, they agree to uphold and support the three core values of the NUS: equality, democracy, and collectivism.

The latest elected officers of the NUS focus on pursuing equal opportunities for everyone to fully participate in a society of students to celebrate diversity. The NUS also aims to “[build] open, transparent, and accessible democratic structures that increase performance and strengthen accountability.”

Furthermore, their message strongly resonates with the quote, “unity is our strength” by constantly promoting the idea that students’ unions are more effective when they work with each other on a local, national, and international level.

Within every student’s union lies a desire to provide wide-ranging research and discussion about the policies of further education, higher education, society, citizenship, union development, and welfare.

Spanning across Great Britain, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Northern Ireland, the NUS also campaigns and defends the rights of highly marginalized and underrepresented groups such as black students, disabled students, LGBTQI+, and women.


Although it may seem like the NUS does nothing but give you 10% off at Pizza Express and lead the funding and mission student unions, their recent movements and parliamentary wins for students are very present for plenty of individuals.

Student’s right to protected student deposits in the private rented sector, exemption from Council Tax, Young Persons Railcard, and Endsleigh Student Insurance are all due to the constant efforts of the NUS.

Less known strides towards a more student-friendly world have been made by the NUS as well. In the past three years, the National Union of Students has managed to help 48,000 international students who were wrongly deported after falsified English language tests were turned in.

The NUS is also the reason why students over the age of 30 are still able to receive student loans.

When founded by Sir Ivison MacAdam, his vision for the future involved providing “hope for tomorrow.” Giving a voice to their seven million members from all walks of life and fighting for a better student environment for the future.

Read all about what the NUS is doing to not file bankruptcy here.

Abandoned Aerodromes in London

Heston Aerodrome:

Heston Aerodrome was closed in 1947, but saw to regularly international and domestic flights during the 1920s and 1930s.

Heston Aerodrome also played much political and strategic importance. As RAF Northolt was the airport of choice for Prime Ministers such as David Cameron and Theresa May on emergency trips to Brussels and other destinations, Heston Aerodrome was the RAF Northolt of its day.

Former Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew from Heston Airport to Berlin for negotiations with Adolf Title in 1938, famously making his “Peace something time” Speech from Heston Aerodrome.

Heston Aerodromes use was overshadowed by the larger, Great West Aerodrome, and RAF Northolt which had infrastructure in place to accommodate military aircraft during World War Two. Its importance was reduced further when in 1946, Great West Aerodrome was officially declared as London Airport.

The current site of Heston Aerodrome was occupied by the town of Heston, with industrial buildings, schools, the M4 Motorway, Heston Service Station and even a golf course occupying the site. The only remanent of an aerodrome is a concrete hangar constructed before World War Two, which is now Grade II listed.

IMG_6827 copy

The Garde II listed hangar is used for commercial and industrial use. 


The driveway leading to the Heston Aerodrome still exists, and is called Aerodrome Way. But this is not the only indication that the land where Heston Aerodrome once lay hosted an airfield. These photographs also suggest the lands aviation connections. See the end of the article to see what these names all have in common.

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Great West Aerodrome:

Okay, so technically this aerodrome is still functional. It is of course Heathrow Airport. But compared to other aerodromes in the run-up to World War Two, Heathrow was a relatively new site.

Known as Great West Aerodrome (due to its proximity to the Great West Road), the site was surrounded by orchards and allotments, with much of the produce being sold at the Covent Garden Market.

The terminal buildings were very primitive, with examples such as the American Airlines terminal existing as merely a tent. 

Great West Aerodrome was commandeered to help with the war effort shortly after the outbreak of war in 1939, and was an RAF base until 1946. Heathrow’s infrastructure was distinctive as it resembled a conceited of six runways in a Star of David formation. Two of these runways remain in operational use.

Heathrow Airport now has six terminals (the sixth terminal is solely for cargo operations), and ranks as one of the world’s largest airports.

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Hendon Aerodrome:

Hendon Aerodrome was one of the first airfields in the UK. Hendon Aerodrome hosted names such as French aviator Louis Bleriot and the Royal Flying Corps, which developed into the Royal Air Force.

Like Great West Aerodrome, it became an RAF base but during World War One instead, and oversaw the creation of the RAF, as we know if it, today. In the Edwardian era, when commercial aviation first arrived in the UK, learning to fly cost more than the average person’s annual salary.

But aerodromes would provide free flying lessons to those who already owned an aircraft.

Hendon Aerodrome has now become hemmed in by dozens of new-build apartment blocks to help alleviate the housing crisis which plagues Londoners today.

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Croydon Airport:

Croydon Airport was the regional airport of the south-east, and the UK’s very first airport to operate international flights from the British mainland to France and the Netherlands, as well as destinations in the British Empire.

The likes of Imperial Airways, KLM, and Air France all operated from the Art Deco terminal building from south London, which in the 1920s and 1930s, during its height of operation, was less surrounded buildings and residential neighbourhoods.

However, due to damage caused by the Blitz and the V-Bombers by the Luftwaffe during World War Two, London’s population was “rehoused” in locations less central to the The City, in an effort to alleviate the housing crisis which existed and improve the quality of housing.

Semi-detached and social housing came with the latest mod-cons at the time, including in-door bathrooms, central heating, as well as gardens and public playgrounds. As a result of post-war urbanisation, a vast majority of the land that comprised of Croydon Airport has been used for commercial buildings and housing. 

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Bonus Answers:

The road names of the nearby “Brabazon” Estate are all named after famous aircraft manufacturers and aviation pioneers. Louis Bleriot, the Wright Brothers, … Sopwith, … Cobham. Brabazon, and new addiction to the estate Avro Drive, commemorate the aircraft manufacturers which played a fundamental role during World War Two.

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