Helping Hands

For many of our Postgraduate students, achieving their career goals is something they want to do for the greater good. Here we talk to students – past and present – who are using their learning to benefit others.

Adi Lerer , Exhibition Studies

Alex Bahor, Qualifying Law

Freddy Carpen-Jukes, Teacher Training

Tom Clark, Sport and Exercise Science

Putting the Heart in Art

If there is one thing that unites so many of our Postgraduate students at LJMU it is a passion for helping others. Here we talk to Exhibition Studies graduate Adi Lerer about her work in Socially Engaged Practice over the past 18 months.

Putting the Heart in Art

If there is one thing that unites so many of our Postgraduate students at LJMU it is a passion for helping others. Here we talk to Exhibition Studies graduate Adi Lerer about her work in Socially Engaged Practice over the past 18 months.

“For the dissertation module of my MA I undertook a curatorial project collaborating with the British Red Cross and working with refugees and asylum seekers. We ran a five week art project which focused on reducing the isolation of marginalised groups by getting to know the cultural attractions of the city. The project involved art classes and visits to the Tate, the Walker Art Gallery and Central Library.

Using art to welcome people offers them a sense of geography and makes them a part of the fabric of the city. I prepared for the project by becoming a British Red Cross volunteer and working at their drop-in centres to gain an understanding of the work of an NGO and the challenges faced by the members of the public they serve.

The project was a real success and, as a result, I was commissioned by Tate Liverpool to curate and lead on a new project called Talking Pictures. This was a six week project which gave refugees and asylum seekers living in Liverpool the toolbox to interpret art and the confidence to speak publicly about it, relating it to their own experience. At the end of the six weeks the participants presented to a live audience in the gallery and we produced a booklet and a film about our work. I involved some current LJMU students in the project and was delighted at how they engaged with the participants.”

Adi is now waiting for a decision on funding for her next project and is extremely happy that she has found her true calling: “My Masters broadened my knowledge, gave me real confidence and allowed me to really focus on what I can contribute as a curator. Socially engaged curatorial practice is absolutely where I want to be and my Masters made me realise that.”

Fighting for Right

Passion is a given for our postgraduate students. They love their subject, they love learning and they want to make a difference. Qualifying Law student Alex Bahor has, however, taken this to another level. Born in Romania to a Roma family, this inspirational activist is working hard to open up a whole range of opportunities for minority communities in the UK and Europe.

Fighting for Right

Passion is a given for our postgraduate students. They love their subject, they love learning and they want to make a difference. Qualifying Law student Alex Bahor has, however, taken this to another level. Born in Romania to a Roma family, this inspirational activist is working hard to open up a whole range of opportunities for minority communities in the UK and Europe.

Alex studied for a law degree in Romania. “My community don’t often get the opportunity to go to university and even during my studies I faced a lot of discrimination from my tutors,” she recalls. “I realised I had to do something to change this.”

Alex began to work in Roma Community Development and, in 2014, whilst organising an anti-discrimination conference in Hungary, she was told about a job opportunity in Liverpool. “I had been doing a lot of voluntary work up until that point so securing a paid position to do what I was passionate about was a real step forward,” she says.

As a Community Development Worker in Liverpool Alex began to work in partnership with academics at LJMU who were carrying our research in the Roma Community. “I soon realised that I would need to enhance my legal knowledge to make a difference to my community,” she says. “It took me a while to take the step and sign up for the Qualifying Law course due to work and family commitments but, with my daughter approaching school age, I realised it was something I could do.”

Alex is finding her study experience in the UK very different from that in Romania. “The tutors are very good, they explain concepts very well and I learn something new every day,” she smiles. “Postgraduate study has given me time to research, to think and to really get on top of what I want to do and the difference I want to make.”

Alex has no set pathway for her future, believing the opportunities will come her way. “I want to be an example to others,” she says. “We have a Roma community of over 6000 people in Merseyside and I want to make sure they have the same opportunities as everyone else. I want to show them that anything is possible and they should not be afraid to step up. I want to fight discrimination in all its forms and my Postgraduate studies will help me to do that.”

Stage Managing Success

With a successful career in theatre, film and television under her belt, including an extended period working on the hallowed cobbles of Coronation Street, you may imagine that Freddy Carpen-Juckes was set for life. With a young family, however, the media lifestyle just didn’t cut it and the adopted Northerner started looking for something new.

Stage Managing Success

With a successful career in theatre, film and television under her belt, including an extended period working on the hallowed cobbles of Coronation Street, you may imagine that Freddy Carpen-Juckes was set for life. With a young family, however, the media lifestyle just didn’t cut it and the adopted Northerner started looking for something new.

Originally from the east end of London, Freddy left school at 19 to take up a prestigious place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying for a diploma in Stage Management and Technical Theatre. A wonderful career followed, travelling all over the world freelancing in theatres. During a downturn in live theatre, however, Freddy was informed of an opportunity in Coronation Street. She applied, was interviewed and started the next day. It looked like her future was set.

In 2002, pregnant with her first child, Freddy realised that the pressure of a full-time TV career was not family friendly and took up a couple of roles which enabled her to concentrate on her family. It wasn’t long, however, before Freddy started to get itchy feet. She tried TV and live event work again but it just didn’t feel right so she found herself acting as a parent helper in her local school.

Freddy loved her time in school so much that she decided to train as a teaching assistant and study for an NVQ level 3. She was then offered a position at Dovedale primary school and made the decision, with her Head Teacher, to study for a degree. Working full-time and studying on a Saturday at John Moores she completed her course over three years. “I never thought I would do it,” she smiles. “I was more excited on the day of my graduation than I ever thought possible. I wore my best sparkly trainers. It was my day and I was going to be me and treasure every moment.”

Riding high on the wave of her 2:1 success, Freddy continued to work at her beloved Dovedale School. “It was when our Deputy Head Teacher was leaving that she called me to one side and told me that she was sick of seeing me working as a teaching assistant when I was obviously chomping at the bit to do more,” recalls Freddy.

“That is what inspired me to go back to LJMU and train to be a teacher under the School Direct programme.” Freddy’s school were able to accept her on the non-salaried School Direct programme. “Everyone asked how I would manage training with no salary,” she says. “I told them if it meant a year eating beans on toast, so be it!” Referring to her PGDE year as the most challenging and the most enjoyable time ever, Freddy is full of praise for the entire Schools Direct team. “My mentors were phenomenal, the lecturers at LJMU simply blew me away and the support team – particularly the guys in the library - were just brilliant,” she says. “I think the outstanding thing about the course was that it gave me the space to reflect on what I do. I’d never had that opportunity before and it really changed me.” Freddy had always believed that, on graduation, she would work at a school like Dovedale. Time spent at a very different school during her training made her realise she had aspirations elsewhere. “Working at a school with a year group who had something of a reputation for being difficult made me reflect on my own past,” she says. “I grew up in a deprived area of the East End. We were the only mixed race family and it was a struggle. The one place where I wasn’t judged was school. I remember them telling me that money does not always get you what you want in life but inner strength, will power, determination and resilience does. I realised I wanted to pass that mindset on to children like me.” Now working at Kingsley Community School - Granby, Freddy reports she has never been happier. “I have found my place and I love it here,” she beams. “It really is my best fit. The kids are amazing and the community is fabulous. I teach a big, big class of nursery children which I never thought I would do but each day they remind me what learning is all about and that is simply priceless.”

Life in the Fast Lane

Life is going to be a bit of a whirl for LJMU Prof Doc researcher Tom Clark this year. The international Performance Coach is set to travel the world with Formula One driver Esteban Ocon, visiting 23 countries in nine months. His research will focus on how world class drivers cope with their hectic schedule and the associated impact of jet lag on their sleep and general health.

Life in the Fast Lane

Life is going to be a bit of a whirl for LJMU Prof Doc researcher Tom Clark this year. The international Performance Coach is set to travel the world with Formula One driver Esteban Ocon, visiting 23 countries in nine months. His research will focus on how world class drivers cope with their hectic schedule and the associated impact of jet lag on their sleep and general health.

Tom had no intention of going into a career in elite sports when he studied for his Fitness and Personal Training undergraduate degree at Solent University in Southampton back in 2011. His passion then was for general population health and the science of gym training. Moving onto a Masters qualification in Athletic Development and Peak Performance, Tom was keen to keep his options open in terms of career development.

“I’m not sure that such a generic path would be right for everyone,” says Tom. “But in my case the stars aligned and my Masters formed a great basis for what I am now doing.” During his studies Tom took up a placement at a private strength and conditioning facility based near Gatwick airport. Working with athletes, including racing drivers, he developed a firm foundation for his practice, turning his hand to all aspects of support.

“I was very fortunate that my internship turned into a full time job as a performance coach and, having raced Go Karts as a youngster, I really enjoyed working with British Formula 3 and 4 and Formula 3 drivers,” explains Tom. After two years in his role Tom was approached by a Formula 1 academy driver who wanted to work full time with him. Tom travelled all over the world in this role. “It was the first time that I had enjoyed so much one-to-one time with a driver so it meant I could start to lay down my own philosophy and approaches,” Tom recalls.

A step up the ladder then ensued when Tom was taken on by the largest provider of Sports Science services in Formula 1: Hintsa Performance.

Working as a contractor with Mercedes and Red Bull senior staff and academy drivers, Tom also founded his own company at this time.

In 2017 Hinsa put Tom forward for a full-time role working with new Formula 1 Driver Sergey Siroktin at Williams F1. “That was a definite game changer for me,” smiles Tom. “There are only 20 drivers on the grid so to get an opportunity to work with one of them on a one-to-one basis was a massive privilege.”

After a year on the F1 circuit Tom spent a couple of years focusing on his own company, working with Formula 2 drivers. Then, on Christmas Day 2020, he got a phone call to ask him to become the Performance Coach for Esteban Ocon, a well established Formula 1 driver for Alpine (formerly Renault). Moving to France in January, Tom is now immersed in his new role. He will travel all over the world with his driver as well as spending time at training camps and at Ocon’s home in Geneva.

And as if that wasn’t exciting enough, Tom also embarked on his Prof Doc this January. “I had always wanted to do a level 8 qualification and there was no way I was going anywhere other than LJMU,” explains Tom. “The Professors there are the ones whose books I have always read, whose research I have followed and whose knowledge I have admired. It is a great opportunity to be able to study the theoretical whilst immersing myself in the practical. I am looking forward to some very exciting times ahead and can’t wait to be supervised by the academics I have always had so much respect for.”