We are really pleased with how smoothly, in general, the return to College has gone over the past couple of weeks. Most students are really happy to be back and having 'normal' contact again with their fellow students and with staff.
However, not everyone is doing so well as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdown, and the isolation that most people have experienced. We have some learners who are really struggling to re-adjust. If you feel that you need extra support, or if you are aware of a fellow student who is struggling, please let us know - talk to whichever member of staff you feel most comfortable with - we can help.
I have said before about some of the misinformation and disinformation on social media with testing, and with the Covid-19 vaccines. This is not going away. If you are worried about either getting tested, or getting vaccinated, please talk to us. We are not medical experts but we know people who are, and we can help you to think through the issues.
There are some other issues for us all to be aware of as we come out of lockdown . . .
Drug-running gangs, usually operating from big cities like Birmingham, Leicester and London, are moving across the East Midlands now and targeting small towns and rural communities for their activities. This includes, specifically, places like Sutton-in-Ashfield and Ollerton amongst others. They are engaging in violent 'turf wars' and recruiting young people - children as young as 12 are not uncommon - to be their 'runners'. To the 'runners' it often seems glamorous and well-rewarded at the outset, but it rarely ends well for any of them in a combination of sexual exploitation, serious violence against them, mental breakdowns and, usually, lifelong criminal convictions when the police inevitably catch up with them. So if you are concerned or worried about someone who you think may be involved in this, please let us know, not for your benefit, or ours - but for theirs. Maybe we can help them before they get completely lost. The gangs often also exploit vulnerable adults by taking over and 'cuckooing' their houses as bases to operate from - so again, please let us know if you have any concerns.
Extreme right-wing organisations have deliberately used lockdown as a time to target and exploit people online, especially younger adults and teenagers, because everyone has been more isolated and spending more time online. This has been very much the case across north Nottinghamshire. Such involvement rarely ends well for the people who are recruited, usually leading to exploitation, violence and criminal convictions, even for younger people because it is viewed so seriously. However, there is a national programme (called CHANNEL) which is aimed at helping people (not criminalising them) if they are getting drawn into extremism. It means that they get advice and guidance and don't have any kind of criminal record or conviction, so it's obviously much better all round. Please let us know if you have concerns for any fellow students (or for yourself) who you think may be at risk of being drawn into extremism or who seem to have been radicalised. It may be that we can help before their journey into darkness goes too far.
You can see below a recent newspaper article on this issue in the national press.
We have talked before about how Online Safety has been such a big thing during lockdown. Please see attached two slides which give you some very useful tips. Your Digital Reputation is becoming a very serious matter. Nearly every potential employer will search online for all references to you because it is information that is in the public domain - so they can. If they see that on your (or other people's) social media there is offensive or unacceptable stuff, they are less likely to offer you a job. Hints and Tips for Exploitation is critical because during lockdown the rise in fraud and fake contacts to try to obtain money and information from people has been massive - so you need to know how to protect yourself.
App for reporting suspected terrorist activity
See below a link to a new app - iREPORTit - which has been designed to help the public report suspected terrorist activity or concerns - available to download from the usual sources, please do so, it is designed for public use so people can immediately and easily report their concerns.
iREPORTit on the App Store (apple.com)