Attending Leeds Trinity University’s Race, Equity and Social Justice Conference

Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) was once again proud to join Leeds Trinity University’s (LTU) Race, Equity and Social Justice Conference. It was a fantastic day to learn, to network, and to be inspired alongside representatives from across our member institutions.  

LTU’s conferences stand out from the crowd with the way they embed culture into the structure, and collaborate to bring in the voices of local Higher Education (HE) providers.  

Personal reflection

I enjoyed attending the conference and found it useful to connect with staff from our partners and beyond. The theme of the conference was inspiring action, which was one thing I took away. 

There were common themes throughout the conference: changemakers (we can all make a change); co-creation; and collaboration. The thing that resonated is that young people are the future. I really enjoyed the student panel as they were not afraid to say what action needs to be taken by leadership for students in HE.

Throughout the conference, the importance of leadership was identified so it was fitting that it began with a talk from two leaders. We firstly heard from Professor Charles Egbu (Vice-Chancellor at LTU), who welcomed us to the conference and to LTU. We then heard from Caitlin Fieldhouse (Vice-President of the Students Union at LTU). It is important for students and staff to work together in HE and beyond. One action I took away is how we can hold leadership to account and ask if they are taking action or just doing performative action that is not an authentic approach. 

It was great to see Mica Sefia – Leeds Conservatoire’s EDI Project Coordinator, and member of GHWY’s network looking at the experiences of students from Black, Asian and minoritised ethnicities – deliver a very personal and moving performance at the beginning. Culture was interwoven through the event programme, with an energetic performance by Punjabi Roots after lunch. As a poet, it was also good to hear Haris Ahmed perform a poem he wrote for the conference. 

The event included three keynote talks. The first two were Born in Bradford with Prof. John Wright (Director/Chief Investigator of Born in Bradford) and Empowering Muslim Women? by Prof. Heidi Safia Mirza (Emeritus Professor of Equality Studies in Education at UCL). The thing I took away from these was the importance of place/space, such as whether people feel safe or have access to green spaces. This can affect outcomes in so many different areas of people’s life from education and health.  

The final keynote was by Rachel C Boyle (Dean of Education at Leeds Beckett University) on collaborative anti-racist networks and the importance of engaging with key stakeholders to enable this work. I particularly liked hearing about this collaborative work, given how much we collaborate at GHWY with stakeholders. She talked about the importance of strengthening these partnerships with stakeholders as evidenced by their increased commitment / funding. 

The programme also featured a choice of workshops. One of these was led by Helen Sykes (Head of GHWY) and looked at the culturally aware access and outreach activity that was the basis of a successful collaborative bid to Advance HE between LTU and GHWY.  

The workshop I attended focused on emotions around racism and social justice. It was good to reflect on how we feel about this topic (i.e. our positionality) but also look at what is within our control.  

The conference ended with the Race Institute launch from its Directors, Nadira Mirza and Shames Maskeen (both at LTU).  

I felt the event was a safe space to share, learn, and network with people passionate about this area. The theme of the conference was inspiring action, which it did do. 


Tahera Mayat, GHWY Collaborative Outreach Officer