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Notre Dame welcomes Hilary Benn

Hilary Benn poses for a photo with Notre Dame’s PolSoc students

Hilary Benn; another politician in the long line of the Benn Dynasty. He is most definitely his father’s son, although they are decidedly different in many ways. Whereas his Father was known as the firebrand of the Labour party, Hilary has been dubbed by critics as ‘the vicar of politics’ and has stated that he is most definitely “ A Benn, but not a Bennite.” He has been the MP for Notre Dame’s constituency Leeds Central since 1999 and is currently the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

On his visit to Notre Dame on Thursday 2nd October 2014, we found him to be warm, welcoming and eager to answer our questions. He faced a grilling from the students on a range of subjects; including foreign policy, nuclear weapons and the housing crisis. He became empassioned when speaking about the ‘barbaric nature’ of ISIS.

Politics teacher, Dr Warnes said that: “We appreciated the warm, considerate yet challenging way in which he engaged with our students.”. One Lower Sixth student, Isabella Taylor added that “Mr Benn spoke passionately on a wide range of issues.”

 Despite this, not everyone was impressed. One Upper Sixth student, Elijah Cockshaw, questioned Mr Benn’s decision to vote in favour of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Elijah thought that: “He was very good at avoiding questions, giving woolly answers  and answering questions that weren’t asked.” In spite of recent criticisms, Mr Benn still stands by his decision to support the Iraq war.

In the future Notre Dame will be more than happy to welcome Hilary back again!

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Syrian Conflict

The protests began in March 2011; the Syrians demanded President Bashar al-Assad to step down from power. Assad’s autocratic leadership was compared to the dictators in history such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. The request for freedom from the protesters was met by violence. The peaceful people were kicked, punched and shot. Brutal actions sparked rebellion which created armies of angry dissidents.


On August 21st 2013, there were reports of chemical gas attacks in the capital city of Damascus, it was alleged that the Syrian regime carried out the attacks. UN officials tested out the samples taken from the location and discovered that sarin gas was used. The youngest person treated because of the gas attack was 7 years old. The attacks were the reason for a worldwide debate.

Unexpectedly, the Assad regime has lasted longer than the predicted 18 months although it has had a few setbacks e.g. Rebels seizer of hundreds of tanks. The rebels are receiving help from Qatar and Saudi Arabia but it is not enough. The United Nations claim that Russia and Iran are ‘fuelling’ the civil war by blocking their attempts at resolving the situation and arming Assad supporters. Russian President, Vladimir Putin in particular does not want the US involved as he is not comfortable with the US influence on the world. America, Russia, Iran and the UK continue to debate about actions to stop the war but they cannot reach an agreement due to the differing opinions of all sides. There are fears that this war will turn into the seemingly never ending wars such is the case in Iraq and Afghanistan, if the US are involved.

While the great world powers debate, the war’s impact on the population and environment is truly distressing. Homes are being destroyed, Schools obliterated and Hospitals overpopulated. Men, women and children are forced to flee their homes because of the dire conditions. Orphaned children have to look for food, water and shelter as they have lost all their families and constant battles take place on the streets between the rebels and Assad’s army with no concern about the safety of others. Some Syrians have fled to bordering countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Efforts have been made by thousands of people to aid the victims of a senseless war; there have been many events to raise funds. The attempts to help the innocent are much appreciated however, this war seems like a fire that cannot be extinguished. The death toll has reached a deeply unsettling 110,000 and continues to rise as the conflict goes on however there may be the possibility of an agreement in the near future.


Hamad Haroon

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Notre Dame’s Fairtrade Fortnight

Fairtrade Fortnight saw a multitude of events that raised over £100 for charity. With the majority of events being fuelled by cake and biscuits from the numerous bake sales held, the fortnight demonstrated the importance of Fairtrade both within college and across the world.

The aims of Fairtrade are to make sure that farmers and workers in the developing world work and are paid on fair terms of trade, meaning that companies are encouraged to pay sustainable prices that never fall below the market price.

Whilst Notre Dame’s Fairtrade Fortnight gave everyone the opportunity to learn more about the Fairtrade scheme and become more involved within college, it also allowed many students to demonstrate their talents at the college’s own festival, ‘Fairstock’.
As with any festival, face and body painting, live music and food was available in the hall at lunchtime on Thursday 7th March. Spokespeople from Cadbury’s returned to the college with games and freebies whilst numerous students and teachers pledged to support the Fairtrade campaign by signing up to the balloon launch.
Over the fortnight, the Fairtrade group was shown support and encouragement from the college and succeeded in spreading the message of Fairtrade and selling an awful lot of cake.
The Fairtrade group meet every Thursday lunchtime in room 86.

by Meaghan Spencer

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Fairtrade Fortnight!

The International Fairtrade Certification Mark

The International Fairtrade Certification Mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’d like to alert you all to the fact that Fairtrade Fortnight is coming up the first two weeks back after half term!

The Fairstock Festival will be held on March 7th in the hall at lunch. What should you expect? Food, samples, free chocolate… as well as various games, stalls, competitions and face painting! There will also be live music – if you’re interested in raising awareness or simply want to display your talents, feel free to volunteer.

On Friday 8th March, there’ll be a balloon launch on the balcony the main hall; if you want to be a part of that, all that’s required is a contribution of 20p.

And last but not least: the bake sale! This will take place in the upper common room at lunchtime – expect to see Fairtrade goods for sale at reasonable prices.

Remember to keep an eye out for the posters around to school as not to miss out on any information about key events!

To visit The Fairtrade at Notre Dame Facebook page, follow this link:

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Notre Dame Students sleeps rough for charity

Students at Notre dame have decided to support the Social Justice groups attempt to raise awareness of homelessness in Leeds, in support of Shelter, a charity who helps homeless people both young and old.  One of the leaders of the social justice group Eunice Agbemafle felt that this subject on homelessness was something to bring to the attention of students in the college, and started a new campaign Card Board City, this involved students sleeping in the car park of the college in card board boxes for 1 night for charity. This controversial event was a success and they rose over £200 for the cause. After the event Eunice was interviewed by Shona Cain to talk about the success of the night.

Q) What made you want to do the shelter appeal?

A) a part of was the chance to do something new, something that not many people have done for charity, but mainly it was to bring me closer to how homeless people feel this time of year, to sort of feel the hardships that they go through, which was what attracted me to the idea.

Q) How much money did you raise for the charity?

A) We haven’t official counted it all up yet, because people are still donating at the moment, but I believe, its round about £200 more or less.

Q) What was it like being homeless for one night?

A) Surprisingly the experience was quite good, apart from the cold, obviously, and it was raining as well. But once we got the cardboard down it wasn’t as bad as we expected, or biggest fear was someone getting hurt, however the rain stopped and it was quite warm and was fun for the people there. But that wouldn’t be like that for someone who was actually homeless and we have to remember that, something that serious cannot be taken lightly.

Q) Would you do it again for charity?

A) Yea! It was a great experience, there were plenty of people that want to do it, but we could only take 20 people, but I think if the opportunity came around again I would definitely do it again, it’s a great experience and it gives you a chance to feel what it’s really like to be homeless

Q) What would you like Notre Dame Students to take from this experience?

A) It was a different experience for everyone, but for me what I would like them to take away from it knows what it is like to be in those shoes, what it feels for other people, because homelessness is right outside our front door. More people are just a few pay checks away from being homeless, so I think it’s very important that people knows that homeless people are not just alcoholics and drug takers, it could be anyone, and therefore it gives them the incentive to help people. People now a day have begun to think, like why we should help them when they got themselves in that position, a lot of the times its true but other times its not, and I want people to realise that.


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Black History Month disappointment

The question about Black History Month have always been on the minds of young people, for example ‘what is the main point of black history month’ and ‘how comes it’s never actually a whole month’.

Black history month have changed considerably to incorporate Asian history into as well. Many People believe that Black history month should not be scrapped but changed to fit into the modern society we live in now, to engage the minds of not just young black youths but of every ethnic group. The social justice group in Notre dame tried this new vision of black history month in their college, by changing the name from Black History Month to World Heritage Week, which would incorporate every ethnic group, heritage, history and contribution that they made in modern society. This new innovative Idea would have taken place over a week in October, this week would be jammed packed with activities for the young people of the college for example ‘world food day’ which would involves the college canteen serving foods from different countries for a whole day, giving out samples, another example is the dress in your native countries tradition dress, this was mostly popular among the younger people.

However hopes were dashed as one member of staff disliked the idea as she felt it would ‘cause animosity between the students’, this was a huge disappointment for the social justice group who claimed that ‘World Heritage day was never meant in anyway shape or form, to cause animosity to any of the students or members of staff in Notre Dame. As a black Caribbean student at Notre Dame, I felt that Black History month doesn’t offer any significance to students, we do now learn about black history in class, or in the assemblies, from what I see all we seem to hear is ‘we were once slaves, and now we are not’ and the only black people were learn about is Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. There are many other people who contributed to black history and we seem to be denied this information. World heritage day would be able to offer students this information and extra information about other nations and their history, every culture in this college should feel heard done, we are denied information that would open our eyes to the diversity of our college, and embrace it. Fear of the unknown leads to ignorance and ignorance leads to animosity, how can we expect to grow as a community and as people if we know nothing about our neighbours and the other students in this college?

By Shona Cain

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Mental Health Awareness

October is Mental Health Awareness Month, and part of this is raising awareness of mental health issues, and trying to raise public understanding of these conditions. As a quarter of us will experience some form of mental health problem in our lives, be this depression, schizophrenia, ocd or some other form of illness, raising awareness of these issues is essential so people have increased understanding of what others face in their lives.
However, this understanding is not always present. Mental Health problems ARE real, and therefore deserve to be treated with the same respect as you would treat other issues. Yet, maybe because mental health is still so taboo, people think it is okay to ridicule people, okay to tell them that they need to ‘snap out of’ depression. It is not okay. If you wouldn’t tell somebody with a serious health problem, such as cancer, to ‘get over it’, why is it okay to tell somebody with depression they need to get over it? Maybe you think cancer isn’t as serious as depression – but people can and do die of both. Surely if people are dying it is serious?
It is these attitudes that need to change if we are to make any progress with understanding of mental health. It is a scary enough time to suffer with mental health, it can be very isolating, the last thing people who are going through one of the scariest times in their lives need is to be told they need to ‘get over it’ and ‘pull themselves together’. If you wouldn’t say it to somebody with a physical illness, then don’t say it to somebody with a mental illness. They are both equally real, and both equally serious. And if people can understand this, maybe Mental Health Awareness Month will be a success.

By Rosanna Swaine

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New Topshop

The opening of a new Topshop on Leeds Briggate has attracted shopaholics from far and wide to witness the spectacle that is the largest Topshop outside of London. With its three floors (one dedicated to menswear and the other two retained for women), it has lived up to, and in some cases surpassed, expectations. This particular Topshop will have, or so we’ve been led to believe, the newest items to hit the stores site as well as the best items it can offer, so whether you’re looking for something specific or just going for a browse, this is surely the place to go- just make sure you don’t get lost!

By Abi Daisy

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An re-introduction to ‘The Bottom Line’

Once again we enter another college year and preparations for exams have already begun. This means that work has been coming at us all thick and fast, so this introduction to the college newspaper is a little late.

As the editor I think it is my duty to inform you of what is coming up this year on the college newspaper. With the start of a new term comes a fresh group of writers from both the Upper and Lower Sixth and along with the existing writers from last year we will be continuously posting stories that are both interesting and relevant. Coming soon we will have film, music and book reviews, news on events happening within college, current affairs coverage and opinion pieces on issues that could affect students such as yourselves.

Our major aim this year is to make the college newspaper all about the students, written, edited and relevant to everyone in the college.

We hope you enjoy reading what we have to say and we may even get some of you to join us on our writing team? Or maybe that is just wishful thinking on my part. Also don’t forget that we gather during Thursday lunchtime in room 12 in the English Department.

By Emma Smith

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The Fairtrade Launch Picnic

On Thursday 27th September, Notre Dame’s Fairtrade group held a picnic in the hall to launch this year’s campaign and celebrate the college’s new Fairtrade status.

Buns were baked, lemonade made and Cadbury’s chocolate handed out for free. Students swarmed the hall on Thursday lunchtime looking to buy from a selection of the handmade baked goods on offer; members of the Fairtrade group contributed their own home-made cakes and lemonade to raise money for charity and awareness for Fairtrade, and with great success. Representatives from Cadbury’s also came and handed out free chocolate, helping to raise the profile of the event as, apparently, free chocolate is very popular.
The launch picnic also gave the college a chance to unveil the plaque that has been created in celebration of the college’s first ever year of Fairtrade status. Fairtrade status basically means that Notre Dame has made and shown their commitment to supporting and using Fairtrade, making the products more available within college; all in all, a very good thing.

Keep an eye out for more Fairtrade events coming soon.

By Meaghan Spencer

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