Hungry for change: Edinburgh students open soup kitchen with a difference

The Refugee Community Kitchen is open every Tuesday from 12-2 pm. (Credit: EN4 News)


A group of Edinburgh University students have opened the city’s first Refugee Community Kitchen (RCK).

The weekly event, held inside the university’s on-campus chaplaincy, offers bowls of vegan soup and aims to provide the city’s refugees and those who are homeless a place to gather with the wider community.

“We decided to start the event originally as a part of a module we had in our business course to host an event, but we wanted it to be more meaningful than a one-off random event,” leading member Ella O’Reilly told EN4 News.

“While researching we came across RCK, it just really resonated with us all and here we are.

“It’s only our second week in doing this but it’s nice, it feels like we have a cute, wee growing community.”

Any money raised is put directly back into the core of Refugee Community Kitchen (RCK), giving more money and resources to other areas where the charity is based.

RCK has been serving food since 2015, starting off in Calais, France, but now reaching areas all across the globe.

The charity’s largest bases are found in Northern France and London.

Steve Bedlam, RCK co-founder, says:

“Not only do they [the charity] provide displaced or homeless people with hot meals, but they also give them a place to gather and connect.”

Edinburgh has a homeless population over over 3,000 people, while the city has welcomed more than 300 Syrian refugees since 2014,

To get involved in Edinburgh’s Refugee Community Kitchen head over to Edinburgh Universities Chaplaincy on a Tuesday between 12-2 pm.

Students open up Edinburgh’s first sustainable club night

Students from Edinburgh University are set to launch a new club night for the city. The night, called ‘Zero Chill’, will be Scotland’s first-ever sustainable night club.

The students are part of the social enterprise group “Conscious Change” and will be launching the club night on Friday 17th of January with all products being environment-friendly as well as locally sourced.

The club night will take place in La Belle Angele, a venue that was specifically chosen due to its use of LED lighting and the short distance between Edinburgh’s student hubs.

Resources that are being used include things such as veg-ware cups, which are naturally decomposable and even the toilet paper will be recycled. The group are confident that this will be a big hit with students.

The group leader of conscious change, Imogen McAndrew, has said that the night will be ‘a celebration of global music diversity and global conscious changes’.

“The response has been great. This is just the start and we’ll see what we can do. We’ve nearly sold out tonight so it should be a good night.”

The proceeds from the event will go directly back into the conscious change group and will aim to help students think about the ways that they can help the environment during life at university.

“We can’t escape sustainability. As students, we have the luxury of putting on a night like this. It’s completely in our hands to make a change and we have the platform to do this. Even the legacy we leave for the next group of students is massive.”

The plans for the future are simple. The group want to become one of Edinburgh’s leading club nights whilst being completely sustainable. Once they have got up and running with the event, they will try to replace the biodegradable veg-ware cups with the multi-use steel cup. The idea behind the steel cup is that it will work in a deposit scheme with one glass for the night.

While the group remain optimistic about being able to break into the club market, Edinburgh is already one of the UK’s leading nights out with clubs open through the week. However, Imogen hopes that the unique selling point will be enough to draw the crowds in.

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The links between depression and genetics

A new Edinburgh University study highlights the link between depression and genetics. (Credit: Sebastian Faugstad)

An international study conducted by the University of Edinburgh has revealed a clear link for the first time between depression and genetics.

Researchers analysed over 2 million people and discovered 269 new genes that can now be associated with depression, which many scientists are claiming will open the door to new treatments in the future. The study was the largest of its kind to date and oversaw the analysis of personal data spread throughout 20 countries.

The study found that genetic variations were impacting nerve connections controlling both decision making and personality in certain parts of the brain. The discovery has shed light on a significantly dark area surrounding the roots of the illness and has highlighted specific personality traits that could be at risk.

With depression now known to be running within families, scientists estimate that over a third of all previous and existing cases could be linked to genetics. As many as one in six people will be affected by this illness in their lifetime.

Edinburgh University (Credit: Wikipedia)

Findings indicate that people who carry such genes will also be at risk of schizophrenia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and neurotic personality traits. However, research suggests that something as simple as DNA screening would be able to indicate whether a person will be affected by this genetic disorder long before they start experiencing symptoms.

Professor Andrew McIntosh, the lead scientist on the study, is optimistic about the positive impact the findings will have on the future of mental health.

He said: “These findings are further evidence that depression is partly down to our genetics. We hope that by launching the GLAD study, we will be able to find out more about why some people are more at risk than others of mental health conditions, and how we might help living with depression and anxiety more effectively in the future.”

Evidence has also suggested that smoking could be directly related to depression in multiple cases, despite environmental factors remaining the number one cause for the illness.

Over 40,000 people throughout the UK will now be tested in the next phase of research which will require participants to submit their saliva for genetic analysis and fill out a health and lifestyle questionnaire.

Artist Zac Hughson on gender norms, working in retail and haircuts


Zac Hughson. (Photo credit: Rachel Lee)

Displacement. It means something different to everyone. It connotes a different feeling. But it is something we have all felt, experienced, fought against or thrived within at one point in our lives.

Displacement is the theme for Edinburgh College of Art’s newest Canvas exhibition. The theme allows artists to explore the limitations they face within their creative fields and themselves as artists and individuals. Not only does the exhibition allow artists to showcase their personally explorative works, it invites varied art forms and artists to merge and inspire discussions. The Canvas collective hope to do more than inspire discussions. The Canvas collective hope to do more than inspire, but rather challenge the artist and the viewer.

ECA’s Firehouse Building opened its doors for the exhibition’s launch night on Thursday 31st January. The mood of the room was serene and thoughtful. Under dimmed lighting, a huge installations stood out in a darkened corner. A hilly mound of structured wool topped grey masses of concrete – one ball and one cube. The piece was untitled, and the artist behind the work – Zac Hughson – admitted he has never named any of his work. Ever. Although, he did give the two pieces of concrete various pet names.

Zac is a third year Sculpture student at ECA. He’s engaging, open and eloquent. The more you speak with Zac, the more the apparent how perfect the use of concrete is. He believes it’s a misunderstood material. It begins as something to be freely shaped but it doesn’t have to remain in any set form.

Zac spoke to EN4News on the opening night of the exhibition.

The stem of a lot things I’ve been doing comes from recently getting my haircut. That sounds so banal and minor but it made such a weird, unexpected difference in my life.

When I got my haircut people would speak to me in a different way. I work in retail so I noticed the way people address me behind a till is very different now. Male customers tended not to speak to me that much but now that I’ve had my haircut I get asked so many sports questions. The way people will address me or assume how I’ll speak with them now is quite strange because I’m still the same person. I think when there’s something that isn’t masculine or feminine and instead something that is crossing and merging those boundaries is when people sort of freak out a bit.

I’m documenting the shift in relationships between masculinity and femininity and their place in the world. We can start investigating our own things in third year and it’s resulted in me going against the norm. Experiencing things, experiencing change and then pushing that onto objects, spaces and contexts.


Untitled by Zac Hughson. (Photo credit: Rachel Lee)

I like to blur things, change them and play with things. I really like looking at and exploring binary – sometimes I go out with make up on and glitter and then some days I just like to look really plain. I think it’s fun express but then taking in response to that is eye opening to the way people work.

A reaction is better than no reaction. I like people to come up with their own meaning and take away from it what they can. I think it has got to a point of looking at relationships between things and then they can take away what sort of relationship between that is. I’m not forcing it, it’s not a very explicit piece, it’s personal in a respect but not so obvious.

Certain people take certain things away from it. It does have quite a masculine look to it and almost a caricature of a formal, bold masculine sculpture.

I’ve never been happy with how an art piece turns out in my life! I think as soon as I’ve produced something than I have a yearning to push it further or to change it.

I like engaging with material, I think that is the primal side of sculpture. I think it’s so much more alive than other forms of art. I feel much more connected to it. I feel like I can manipulate it more than other types of art and then it can live in a different space.

I’m actually really weird about where my work gets exhibited – I must be a picky artist type! But I’m really pleased with the curation of this space. I think my piece works in this space and I’m excited to have my work exhibited with other people and disciplines. It’s really different from what I’ve done so far.


Zac Hughson. (Photo credit: Rachel Lee)


Information Security Awareness Week at Edinburgh University


Edinburgh University’s annual Information Security Awareness Week will commence Monday the 8th of October.

The University of Edinburgh has organised a line-up of talks and workshops that aim to educate students and staff of the dangers of phishing email scams and how they can protect their information online.

The events will take place at various locations across the campus, with the main event scheduled for Wednesday 10th October which will include speakers from The Scottish Business Resilience Centre. Each event has been designed to cover various topics such as ransomware, securing mobile devices, recognising sophisticated phishing scams and what to do in the event of a cyber-attack.

The Information Security Awareness Week will come at a particularly topical time. The Times recently reported that data breaches at British Universities have doubled in the past two years, with a staggering 1,152 reported incidents in the year 2016. It is believed that cyber criminals traced back to Russia, China and the Far East are targeting top universities in an effort to obtain intellectual property. Research data and findings including information about missiles, medical advances and alternative fuels are of particular value to the hackers. More commonly however, cyber criminals aim to collect personal and financial information that they can then use themselves or sell on the dark web.

Edinburgh University was hit by a cyber-attack last month which rendered their wireless student services and left websites inaccessible for several hours. The University works with Jisc, The National Cyber Crime Bureau and with other targeted universities to gain an understanding of each network breach to prevent future attacks occurring.

Jisc, which runs the National Research and Education Network- Janet, which is a built-in cyber security protection that the University of Edinburgh is a member of. It is the job of Jisc to monitor the network for attacks and protect its members’ connection but it is the responsibility of the individual university to safeguard its network. Jisc Senior Media Officer Kate Edser said,

“Cyber security is everyone’s responsibility and cyber-attacks can affect anyone: a student could download ransomware on to their personal laptop; a university finance director could fall for a spear phishing campaign; a professor could become a victim of a sophisticated attack designed to steal intellectual property.”  

Edser added that whilst most universities take cyber security seriously, a recent survey by Jisc found that only 57% of its member universities confirmed it was compulsory for staff to undergo information security awareness training.

“We find that the best defended universities are those with leadership teams which understand the risks and are supportive of the investment required to build robust cyber security strategies.”

Last year, graduates of University of Edinburgh were sent into a state of panic after a network glitch sent out emails stating that their graduation was cancelled. The University quickly assured students that their data had not been compromised and graduation went ahead as planned.

The University of Edinburgh continues to encourage staff and students to ignore suspicious emails and alert the dedicated security team if they believe their information has been accessed. Officials at the University ask network users to stay vigilant for the most commonly employed tactics which seek financial information such as lottery winning scams, student financing issues, lottery winning scams and bogus staff pay-rise emails.

Louise Burns, a third-year Photography student at the Edinburgh College of Art, a branch of the University, said she has received several phishing emails including a particularly bizarre email from a man claiming to want to help students pay for their studies with his lottery winnings. She said:

“I know of a few others who received this email too, it had a link to a fake website and said the guy had selected me for funding. Some of them aren’t so obvious though and it could be easy for a student to mistakenly follow a link – especially if it is about their student loan or something.”



Miss Burns added that the University’s Wifi crashes all the time which interferes with her studies.

Alongside the increasing efforts of universities such as Edinburgh to make its staff and student aware of information security, the Scottish government and the UK government (under the UK National Cyber Security Programme) also allocated £3.5 million to support cyber resilience in Scotland in 2018 to 2019.

By Rachel Lee

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