Author: Vivienne Griffiths

Vivienne Griffiths is a retired teacher and academic. Her research focuses on teacher education, gender and equity issues. A lifelong activist for women’s rights and social justice, she is also an anti-war and pro-Europe campaigner. She is now Emeritus Professor of Education at Canterbury Christ Church University, an English (TESOL) teacher and volunteer gardener in Brighton’s Preston Park.

Afghan refugees desperately need our help…

Vivienne Griffiths
A line of child refugees in Kabul, Afghanistan

Government bungling together with Priti Patel’s inhumane Borders Bill and disastrous Home Office response have only served to hinder humanitarian efforts, both with the evacuation in Afghanistan and assisting asylum seekers here in the UK. Traumatised Afghan refugees who have barely escaped with their lives deserve kindness, compassion and support, not more hostility. Writer Vivienne Griffiths examines the horrifying events of recent days and offers practical advice for anyone iwanting to help refugees locally…

WHAT SUSSEX MEANS TO US

A room with a sea view

Vivienne Griffiths
Palace Pier, Brighton

To celebrate the first anniversary of Sussex Bylines’ inaugural issue, we asked some of our key contributors to write a short piece on the subject of “What Sussex Means to Me”. From memories of being a student at the newly built Sussex University in the sixties while living in shabby digs in Brighton, to the […]

Joni Mitchell’s Blue at 50 sparks memories of travelling and music

Vivienne Griffiths
Joni Mitchell's album "Blue" was released 50 years ago in 1971

When Joni Mitchell’s album Blue came out in June 1971, the author Vivienne Griffiths, herself then an aspiring folk singer, had not long returned to the UK from an exciting year of travels in the USA. “Even now,” she says, “I only have to hear the opening chords of the songs, with their haunting music and evocative lyrics, and it conjures up this memorable time in my life.”

Sex, Lies and Videotape: Has cronyism finally had its comeuppance?

Vivienne Griffiths
Led By Donkeys poster featuring a CCTV still of Hancock and his aide in a clinch, highlighting government hypocrisy

While some expressed moral outrage, most people were more upset by the hypocrisy shown by the Health Secretary in brazenly breaking the social distancing guidelines that he himself had set, especially when so many who have lost loved ones to Covid had stuck to the rules…. It was only the unrelenting outcry from MPs, the public, and the media, that finally forced Hancock’s hand into “doing the decent thing” and resigning.

SUSSEX PEOPLE AND PLACES

Preston Park garden manager, Andy Jeavons, and his gardening volunteers

Vivienne Griffiths

When the Brighton Rockery came up as a project in 2000, Andy Jeavons, Preston Park garden manager, jumped at the chance. It was a daunting prospect, as at that stage the garden had not been touched for years and was “completely overgrown”. After the hurricane in 1987, “it went to rack and ruin”, as there was a lot of damage in all the Brighton parks and the Rockery was not a priority.

Cronyism and contracts continue – but nurses lose out

Vivienne Griffiths
Cartoon of chancellor Rishi Sunak offering a small bag of money to a nurse. Speech bubble saying "It's all there is", while in the background large sacks of money are visible, labelled 'Test Track Trace', 'HS2', 'NI tunnel'. 'Consultants', 'PPE contracts' and 'Levelling up'.

While nurses are offered a 1 per cent pay rise, multi-million pound Covid-related contracts have been awarded to “friends” of the government, often secretly and without going out to tender. Viv Griffiths reveals the cost of some of this cronyism and how it is being successfully challenged in the courts and even by the UK’s medicine agency (MHRA).

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

My remarkable aunts

Vivienne Griffiths

As International Women’s Day approaches on 8 March, Vivienne Griffiths remembers two of her aunts: Florence Rourke and Kay Williams. Both were remarkable women, in very different ways, and both had a profound influence on Vivienne’s life.

SUSSEX PEOPLE AND PLACES

Retired doctor turned community worker: Kim Shamash

Vivienne Griffiths

Kim Shamash told Vivienne Griffiths how the Brighton and Hove network sprang up just before the first lockdown. Within a week there were 42 areas with at least 3,000 people joining numerous area and street WhatsApp and Facebook groups to request or offer mutual support.

Losing Erasmus: a tragic and costly mistake

Vivienne Griffiths

In December 2020, Boris Johnson announced the closure of the Erasmus project, which has enabled 9 million young people to experience studying or working in another European country, citing expense as one of the main reasons. This is short-sighted and mean-spirited.

Brexit trade deal on a knife-edge: lies and U-turns have destroyed trust

Vivienne Griffiths

The EU is right not to trust the British government. False promises and outright lies about a trade deal have been dripped into the British public’s and EU’s ears by Brexiteers since 2016. Many of these promises have been quietly dropped in the intervening years, as the reality proved more difficult and ministers’ big claims have come to nothing.

A story of workplace bullying

Vivienne Griffiths

Prompted by Boris Johnson’s refusal to sack Priti Patel despite a formal investigation finding evidence of bullying, Vivienne Griffiths recalls her experience of workplace bullying in higher education. Over a five-year period she experienced ongoing bullying from a senior colleague at her university, with significant impact on her professional and personal life.

Patel’s plans for offshore asylum centres plumb new depths

Vivienne Griffiths

Increasingly outlandish and inhumane plans to deal with the migrant ‘crisis’ have emerged from the Home Office in recent days. According to the Financial Times, home secretary Priti Patel explored plans to set up asylum processing centres in the South Atlantic. The plans appear to have been dropped only because of the impracticality of shipping […]

More Covid ageism … and the over-70s are fuming

Vivienne Griffiths

During lockdown, I narrowly missed being run down by a speeding van on an otherwise empty road, its driver giving me two fingers as I tried to slow him down. My angry reaction was: us older people are dispensable now. The feeling has been growing – fed by the enveloping Covid crisis. And I’m not […]

Don’t blame Covid-19: educational testing has been broken for years

Vivienne Griffiths

The recent A-level debacle, which hit students from disadvantaged areas hardest, has been presented as an unprecedented set of circumstances because of Covid-19. But a report just published shows that the gap in educational attainment in terms of class and ethnic background has been growing steadily since well before the pandemic, largely because of poverty. […]