Q&A: My Newham - Birkbeck, University of London, Stratford campus employee Hester Gartrell

PUBLISHED: 08:30 12 April 2019

Hester Gartrell, Birkbeck, University of London, Stratford

Hester Gartrell, Birkbeck, University of London, Stratford

Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck, University of London, Stratford, employee Hester Gartrell speaks about uni life, apprenticeships and graduate employment

What’s your connection with the borough?

I work for Birkbeck, University of London at their Stratford campus.

My role is to build community links and provide advice on higher education across the borough of Newham.

I also have family connections as my mum’s parents grew up in Whitechapel. My grandad ended up working at Stratford station before going on to work at Newham Council, and my great aunt worked at Stratford Labour Exchange!

What’s the best thing about working or living in the borough?

The best thing about working in the borough is how much is going on.

I spend a lot of my time out and about in community spaces in Newham, and meeting people. I always enjoy hearing all the different things that are happening, anything from free careers support to street parties.

What one thing would you change?

If I could change one thing, it would be for there to be more ways for people to find out what is going on in their local area. Although there are a lot of things going on in the borough, people don’t always know and it can be hard to get the word out.

Use three words to describe the area

Vibrant, diverse and friendly

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

At the risk of sounding cliché, our students are some of the most inspiring people I’ve met.

We deliver all our classes from 6pm to 9pm so a lot of our students are juggling studying for their degree with a full time job and/or being a parent.

What new law would you introduce if you were the prime minister?

As part of the Access and Engagement team at Birkbeck it has to be something about higher education.

Personally, I’d re-introduce free higher education for all, ensure universities provide free childcare on campus and I’d also raise the apprenticeship wage to make it easier for people to make decisions about their future not affected by financial worries. That’s just the start but I don’t have enough room to go on.

If you were the editor of this paper, what issues in the borough would you focus on?

As well as focusing on the great free events and programmes running in the borough of Newham, I’d definitely be reporting on access routes into higher education for Newham residents.

I’d also like to see more about what is being done to support residents with degrees into graduate level employment.

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