Bear with a Care – The Final Chapter

The time has come to say goodbye to our favourite bears. Let’s see what they have been up to in their final week. 

Baby Bear is such a good helper

Linda Wilson was the lucky winner of the Donna Louise bear

What do we have here: an important letter?

Divoc is excited by his letter

Time to pack (one day to go)

…and just like that, it’s time to say farewell.

Farewell to Divoc, Margie and Tootsie.

Thank you to Kath for the wonderful Bears with a Care, and everyone who donated.

Kath has said “thank you to everyone who has supported us. We have raised an awesome £2610 for the Donna Louise Hospice.” 

Supporting the Probation Service During COVID-19

Farida Zerglanie is a Criminal Justice with Offender Management student who is volunteering for Change Grow Live (CGL) and working at HMP Foston Hall with the resettlement Team. She has written a blog on her experiences of volunteering under COVID-19 conditions.

Change Grow Live (CGL) is a charity funded by councils and local authorities to support the Probation Service.  I have been a part of CGL since November 2019, after beginning my [Criminal Justice with] Offender Management course at Staffordshire University. I was soon made aware of CGL by several students who were volunteers from Staffordshire University. Some of the Level Five students were already in fully paid managing roles; their successful reputation was admirable. I knew that getting involved with this organisation would enhance my knowledge and skills. In only a short time I have taken part in various support strategies, such as ‘Through the Gate’ which entails greeting the prisoners being released (service user) at the gate of various prisons in Staffordshire and South Derbyshire. My role as a volunteer is to support people who have been released from prison and take them home or to the Probation Centre. We then support them as they reintegrate back into the community; each case is tailored individually to meet the needs of our service users.

We have all been placed under restrictions in this current pandemic, and this has affected our positions, roles, activities and social contact. This seems to be the new norm for our society currently. At CGL we are aware that our support is crucial for people being released in these difficult times; our continued support is a necessity to many. We feel that our service users rely on our effective through-the-gate support.

Other students and I have continued our volunteering duties in supporting people through this pandemic. We have successfully continued to provide the support that our service users require, to the best of our ability. We have been following Government guidelines and taken the appropriate safety precautions, such as adopting social distancing and wearing PPE whilst providing support to our service users. Staff from CGL have temporarily stopped escorting in vehicles to maintain the two meters social distancing and adhere to Government guidelines.

However, we have continued the travelling assistance support and the community support with adjustments. This has been achieved by the CGL team applying safety measures in place for volunteers, to continue providing support to service users ‘in and out’ of custody as safely and effective as possible. Measures such as on the day of release volunteers have been waiting for the service user at the visitation centre, where once released they are greeted maintaining a two-metre social distance, wearing PPE as per the Government guidelines.

The volunteers give the released prison a mask, a bus pass with unlimited travel, and an email address, to pass on to their probation officer if they require any support in the community. The re- settlement team have adapted new measures to maintain Government guidelines and follow legal requirements that the ex-offender must abide by following licence conditions. In addition to being greeted by the volunteer, a member of the re-settlement team is also present to provide a telephone to maintain contact with the allocated Probation Officer, which would also then be used to communicate with the volunteer offering community support.

All the students who are part of CGL will continue to volunteer under these challenging circumstances as we feel that we provide a crucial but not well publicised service to the community.


Bear with a Care – Chapter 8

Let’s find out how Divoc, Margie and Tootsie have been getting on since last week.

Time for Tootsie’s weigh-in

Weaning starts

Tootsie is getting big now

What’s going on here?

Bake Sale!

Sunday jobs

Astronomy lessons with Daddy Bear

The link to the Donna Louise Hospice Care is here for Facebook and here for Just Giving, if you would like to help Kath’s Bears with a Care raise money.

Check out the blog every Monday for your weekly update of Bear with a Care.

Step Up to Policing and Criminal Investigation

If you are thinking of studying at university, but are worried about your qualifications or haven’t studied in a long time, then have you seen Staffordshire University’s Step Up to HE programme? Robyn Leese, now a Policing and Criminal Investigation student, is one of many of our undergraduate students who progressed through the programme and has shared with us what she thought of it.

What motivated you to apply for Step Up?

I applied to the Step-up Course after doing 2 A-levels which did not guarantee me a place on my desired course. During the Step-up course you will develop new skills which help you progress in your higher education course.

How do you feel now you have progressed onto your degree? Did Step-up help prepare you?

Now I have completed the 1st year of my degree I am glad I did the Step-up course as it enabled me to learn new skills which have been needed for my course such as, correct grammatical techniques along with learning how to reference correctly. It also gave me the confidence to interact with new people which has benefitted me not only with my course, but outside the lectures too.

Would you recommended the Step-Up Course? What advice would you give to students considering returning to education?

I would definitely recommend doing the Step-up course, as it has helped me with my course and all the members of staff are so lovely and supporting through the whole process. If you are a student returning to education then I would advise you to interact with those on your course, as well as your lecturers as it makes it so much more fun and easier. I would also advise you to take as many opportunities as you can as it will make your university experience so much better.

Bear with a Care Chapter 7 – Baby’s Name Reveal

Last week we saw Divoc and Margie’s first week of parenting. Now, Baby Bear has a name. Let’s find out what he is called.

It rained a lot last week! The dog still needs to be walked…

Baby’s first swim

Story time with Daddy Bear

Time for Baby Bear’s name reveal…


Mums and Tots time.

Divoc’s first Father’s Day

Margie is on a mission to lose the baby weight.

The link to the Donna Louise Hospice Care is here for Facebook and here for Just Giving, if you would like to help Kath’s Bears with a Care raise money.

Anyone who donates is in with a chance to win their own bear (winner announced 30th June).

Win Your Own Bear

Check out the blog every Monday for your weekly update of Bear with a Care.

Bear with a Care – Chapter 6: The New Arrival

Last week we found out that Divoc and Margie were expecting a baby bear. Let’s see how they are getting on with parenthood…

First though, it’s time for the Baby Shower

Margie, it’s time!

Hello Baby Bear!

Time to take baby home

The perks of parenthood

Here come the visitors

Time for a family photo shoot

Poor dog

The link to the Donna Louise Hospice Care is here for Facebook and here for Just Giving, if you would like to help Kath’s Bears with a Care raise money.

Anyone who donates is in with a chance to win their own bear (winner announced 30th June).

Win Your Own Bear

Check out the blog every Monday for your weekly update of Bear with a Care.

Student Wins Middle Temple’s Access to the Bar Award

Chelsea Leonard, a Law student, has obtained an Access to the Bar Award from Middle Temple.

According to Middle Temple’s website, Middle Temple has established its Middle Temple Access to the Bar Award, which involves one week’s marshalling and one week’s mini-pupillage for undergraduates from disadvantaged backgrounds, providing them with funding for those two weeks.  University departments are invited to nominate one candidate each, with about a dozen being shortlisted for interview by the Inn.  The scheme will provide for eight placements per year in future.

Each award consists of one week’s work experience in a set of barristers’ chambers and one week’s marshalling a judge, during university vacations in summer.  

“I was fortunate to be awarded the COMBAR Access to the Bar Award funded by the Commercial Bar Association, who will arrange placements specifically for those interested in seeing commercial work. I was initially very surprised, but it was encouraging to receive confirmation that you have worked hard, and these efforts [are] being rewarded. The practical experience of the award will be invaluable. To gain experience marshalling alone is very difficult, we also get this experience for a whole week which is unheard of. The experience within the chambers for this length of time will be an amazing opportunity to make contacts and receive feedback. This experience will give my interest in the bar a great deal of credibility being able to cite.” 


Congratulations Chelsea! 








Bear with a Care – Chapter 5: New Beginnings

Divoc and Margie have been settling well into life at home, doing cooking, cleaning and playing games (including going on a log flume!). Let’s see what they have been up to since last week.

New beginnings…

Some exciting news!

Time to prepare for baby bear’s arrival…

Painting the nursery.

The dreaded flat-pack. You’ve got this Divoc! 



Shopping for some essentials…

Time for a clear out.

Margie’s changed her mind and Divoc needs gas and air!


‘Mum-to-be’ photo shoot.

The bears’ biggest fan received an honorary gift.

The link to the Donna Louise Hospice Care is here, if you would like to help Kath’s Bears with a Care raise money.

Anyone who donates is in with a chance to win their own bear (winner announced 30th June).

Win your own bear!

Check out the blog every Monday for your weekly update of Bear with a Care.

Food Imports Are a Threat to Our Environment

On World Environment Day, Sallyann Mellor, Lectuer in Law, addresses the issue regarding the Agricultural Bill, brought about from leaving the EU, and what this means for our environment. 

Our UK Government had the opportunity to amend the Agricultural Bill on 13th May 2020 to ensure imported foods followed the same strict food hygiene and animal standards that our UK farmers pride their selves on. Sadly, the move to change was defeated in the House of Commons by a majority of 51 votes.

The Agricultural Bill provides a framework that will replace agricultural support schemes such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) due to the UK leaving the EU. It is due to pass through parliament by the end of summer.

English farmers will be paid to produce goods which have a positive impact on the environment or animal welfare improvements.

The Bill offers wider measures to ensure fairness in the agricultural supply chain and there have been several additions to the Bill compared with the previous Bill which stalled due to the dissolution of parliament in October 2019. These wider measures include a requirement whereby ministers will report on food security at least once every five years, set out how farming will be funded by submission of plans and the consideration of food production in England, to encourage environmental sustainability.

Bottom of Form

You might be thinking so what, surely that will mean greater choice and cheaper prices? The truth is, we should all be concerned.

If we have learnt nothing else from the COVID19 pandemic it is how important it is to support our British Farmers and buy local because they came up trumps when some products were in short supply.

Have you noticed how blue and clear the sky has been since lockdown, have you heard more bird song and noticed how green our environment is…? The defeat will undoubtedly place our repairing environment under additional threat from imports that will increase emissions and undermine the hard work of our UK farmers in ensuring animal welfare and environmental standards are met.

What are our British farmers doing to support our environment? You may not know that our farmers are trying to tackle climate change to meet the UK Government commitment of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050. They do this daily by allowing cows and sheep to graze. You will have read no doubt the controversy regarding cows and sheep in relation to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.  However, what you may not realise is that grazing livestock can bring many environmental benefits.

65% of UK farmland is only suitable for growing grass and grazing. Grasslands store carbon which removes carbon dioxide from the environment as the plant grows and stores its carbon in the soil. Cows and sheep feed on the grass and by eating the grass and fertilising the soil, beef and sheep manage the grass and protect the valuable carbon stores.

Emissions from UK farming is estimated to be around 5% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions, this will only increase from importing foods into the UK and seeks only to undermine the efforts of our British farmers.

The impact also on animal welfare must not be ignored, sadly importing products into the UK that do not follow our standards again undermines all that we do. The Red Tractor campaign was launched in September 2019 and remains today to demonstrate that the products proudly displaying the logo are safely produced, responsibly sources and crops and animals are carefully cared for. There are 4 main key standards that all farmers must adhere to if they are given the approval to display the iconic red tractor logo on their product.

  1. Animal welfare-animals must be housed with the right space, water and food and be healthy
  2. Environmental protection-fertilisers and pesticides are only ever used as a last resort to keep crops healthy. Farmers ensure that pollution and impact to wildlife is minimal.
  3. Food safety-no hormone growth, use of any animal medicine, no chlorine washed meat or poultry.
  4. Traceability- food products can be traced from the pack to the farm.

Whilst money will be tight given the economic climate we find ourselves in, please consider your purchases. The cheaper food products will have a significant impact on our environment. Continue to support your local farmer/butcher just as you have during the pandemic.  Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables that have been brought over by boat and not air where possible to reduce carbon footprint or better still buy locally produced seasonal fruit and vegetables.

It is the small things that can really make a difference but the lack of transparency to the consumer in relation the Agricultural Bill is really very important and I hope this blog has given you food for thought… 

Some useful links