Christmas in Macedonia

By Dec.21, 2016

flagChristmas in Macedonia is celebrated very differently to the UK. For starters, in Macedonia, Christmas is on January the 7th. Secondly, Macedonians don’t exchange presents at Christmas, but at New Year and lastly, Christmas dinner is traditionally totally vegan. Yes, no turkeys involved, and they live to see another Christmas in Macedonia 🙂

You might be thinking why so different? Well, the Macedonian Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar for the religious festivals unlike the Gregorian calendar used for all secular activities. And although the main Christmas day is on the 7th, the celebrations start on the 5th January on a day called ‘Kolede’. This is the day when early in the morning children go door to door, singing Christmas carols and get cookies, fruit, nuts and coins from the hosts. Later in the day, the elderly gather around a bonfire (every neighbourhood lights up one) while drinking warmed up spirits ‘rakija’ and wine and reminiscing about the year passed and the year to come.

The following evening (6th) is the main event called ‘Badnik’. This is the Christmas dinner when all the family gets together. This dinner is very symbolic and totally vegan. In the centre piece of each table there is an oak branch (or 3) symbolising strength and the Holy Trinity. Traditionally, prior to this dinner, everyone should have ‘purified’ their body by eating only vegan food for 40 days and not argued with anyone for the same length of time (I know, that’s the hard bit 🙂 ).

xmasdinnerAt the dinner, the first thing that is eaten is homemade bread that contains a coin. The oldest person in the family shares this bread (that symbolises Christ’s flesh) to all family members, even if not present (my parents still share a slice for me even when away). The person that gets the coin in their slice, puts the coin in a glass of red wine (symbolising Christ’s blood) and drinks first from the glass for good luck. The glass is then passed around and everyone gets a sip from the symbolic Christ’s blood for good luck (this is the point you are introduced to red wine very early). After this, the dinner begins. The dinner normally has filo pastry pie, broad beans casserole and other cooked vegetables. This is then followed by eating fruits and nuts.  The hard bit is that nobody gets to leave the table before everyone has tried from every item on the table, by which point you feel totally stuffed. Also, you are not supposed to open any windows or doors that night, so the spirit of Christ stays in the house (scary thought when a child 🙂 ).

The following day everyone greets each other with ‘Christ is born’ (Hristos se rodi) and a reply ‘Indeed He is born’ (Vistina se Rodi). This is the day when meat is served for a first time for the festivities, and the festivities last for three days. In those days people visit their extended families and friends and basically over eat and over drink like most Christmas celebrations around the world.

But, Macedonians don’t stop there. The following week of 13th of January, we repeat similar celebrations, celebrating Old New Year or Vasilica, which is a lot more relaxed and more party orientated. And all this starts with the regular New Year celebrations on 31st of December where Macedonians party for at least 2 nights.

I feel very lucky as I get to start my celebrations a week earlier than most Macedonians by being in UK.

Merry Christmas (Sreken Bozik) and Happy New Year (Srekna Nova Godina) to all. Hope all reading this have someone close to share the festivities with.

Dr Mariyana Schoultz, lecturer in Mental Health



Leave a comment

Christmas in the United Kingdom…

By Dec.20, 2016

christmas1For me, Christmas celebrations generally get started in early December. In the first week or so I find that if the excitement of eating my advent calendar chocolates hasn’t triggered those festive feelings, then going along to a local Christmas event is sure to do the trick! As a child, these early December outings were all about queuing up to meet Father Christmas and pestering your parents for sweet treats, like hot chocolate topped with a mountain of whipped cream and marshmallows. As an adult, it’s now much more about sharing a spiced cider or mulled wine with friends at the Christmas markets. Regardless of which drink is in hand, this is typically when my favourite festive moment happens: the countdown to the Christmas lights switch on. A close second favourite has to be decorating the Christmas tree, which usually happens around the same time.

While the main man himself (and indeed Mums and Dads everywhere) may be making a list and checking it twice, so too are children all across the UK at this time of year. I vividly remember hours spent with cousins and friends scribbling down and revising lists which, when finalised, would be decorated with glitter, festive colours, pretty borders, and pictures of reindeers and their soon-to-be very busy boss!

christmas2Christmas Eve is the day for final preparations. Wrapping the last gifts, picking up remaining items from the shopping list, and, for parents, distracting eager and excitable children in anticipation of the day to come. Best behaviour is a must. Putting aside any naughtiness that may have happened throughout the year, Christmas Eve is the final attempt to secure your place on Santa’s ‘nice’ list. Then, for younger family members, it’s off to bed early, but not before laying out a bit of sustenance for Santa and his dutiful reindeer friends: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, and Donner, and Blitzen and, of course, not forgetting Rudolph with the very shiny nose!

Christmas Day arrives and children jump out of bed desperate to find the answer to that all important question: has he been? For me and my younger brother, the first gifts to open could be found in two red stockings outside our bedroom door. Typically, we’d open up a game of some sort and some food – a clever tactic I now realise allowed my Mum just a little more rest before the day’s busyness began. Then, finally, we’d be allowed to rush downstairs to share out presents placed under the tree. In my house, there’d often be fits of laughter as we’d realise that a tired and stressed ‘Father Christmas’ may have had one or two mix ups. One year, my gifts included a set of Bob the Builder pyjamas from the cat, while the dog had kindly given my younger brother a Spice Girls watch.

christmas3The rest of the morning involves preparations for the big Christmas meal. The turkey, pigs in blankets, and cranberry sauce make this an extra special version of a typical roast dinner with vegetables and gravy. However, a major difference with this roast is that it requires family members to take their position on sprouts, declaring their love or hatred, much the same as with Marmite, for the divisive little green cabbages. (I’m a huge fan). Even once the meal has finished, eating generally continues with chocolates, biscuits, cheese and others snacks appearing throughout the rest of the day (and for days to come). As the day goes on, we might sit down to play a game or watch something Christmassy on TV. It’s at this point that some family members sneak a Christmas nap.

Like many families, our celebrations continue into Boxing Day and sometimes for several days after. Although the main task is to work our way through all the leftover food, we usually spend this time catching up with friends and other family members, as well as getting out for long walks with the dogs.

Writing this has made me realise how much I love Christmas and how overwhelmingly excited I am to head home to Shropshire this weekend and catch up with my nearest and dearest. To all reading, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Danielle Butler, PhD student 


Leave a comment

Season’s Greetings from our Dean, Margaret Rowe

By Dec.18, 2016

Season’s greetings to our students, staff, alumni & friends around the world! I am looking forward to working closely with you to make exciting and new memories and achievements.


Margaret Rowe,

Dean of School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences

University of Salford

Leave a comment

Sabah’ experience of PhD at the University of Salford, Manchester, UK

By Nov.13, 2016

PhD experience

Sabah Ismile Alsomali PhD experience

I am Sabah Ismile Alsomali, PhD third year student at the University of Salford, School: Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Work and Social Sciences.

My PhD First Year Experiences

I arrived in Manchester in September 2014, eager to begin my doctoral studies in a new country, as an international student from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I chose to travel to the UK for my degree to broaden my academic and personal horizons.

This unique, University of Salford is famous in my country for its outstanding performance in the educational research, and the academic staff is well known in their fields of expertise. In my opinion, an academic expertise with a high reputation in the research field is crucial, and I was searching for a level of knowledge and experience, which I found at the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Science. The lectures and seminars from expertise were helpful to guide and direct me, and I also learned various research skills, as well as, acquired insightful knowledge related to my research and overall personal development.

I found the facilities and resources at the University of Salford outstanding. The university is well organised, and the support team is always available and helpful.

The diversity of my fellow research students from all over the world and the sheer range of subjects make a large academic community of mutually supportive researchers. We are encouraged to share our work, via a series of seminars on the research approaches and issues. For example, I had the opportunity to participate in several seminars in the university, such as I was one of the speakers on International Nursing Day, and I presented my research project on the celebration of Postgraduate Research Day. I was also, one of the organisers and speakers on the event of Saudi National Day at University of Salford. In addition to this, I gave a lecture to new students of Master’s Degree at the University.

My first year of studying PhD at the University of Salford was quite busy because I spent a lot of time reading relevant literature, attended seminars and workshops, which helped me to understand the research methods and methodology. In addition to this, I prepared for my interim assessment research proposal, which was scheduled in late June 2015. The interim assessment was the most important evaluation in my PhD work. The examiners were extremely helpful and friendly and gave some valuable comments. Following this, my supervisor and I were asked to leave the room. The most stressful moment was the waiting time for the results outside the office with my supervisor. After a period of 10 minutes, we were informed that I passed my interim assessment and can now consider myself a PhD student. The interim assessment was a turning point for me in this research work. Although, I completed all the preparation work, for example, literature review, research methods; I felt that the second year would be the year marked, as the initiating year of the research and hard work.

My PhD Second Year Experiences

The second year was very different from the first one. Now that I had a clear plan of what I wanted to do, all I had to do is to work and the second year would be the year marked as the initiating year of the research and hard work.

The second year was hard in a way because the excitement of the first year was over, but the end was still out of reach. From my experience, those who decide to drop out, often do so, by the end of the second year.

According to plan, I wrote an initial draft of my thesis using the data available from the existing literature, printed research tools materials. By the time, I gained a full understanding of the subject, I conducted a field trip to Saudi Arabia.

Due to the nature of my thesis, the fieldwork for data collection was conducted for the second year of my research as planned in Saudi Arabia, which involved survey questionnaire with the people with T2DM and face-to-face semi-structured interviews with health care professionals as well as people with T2DM.

I acquired more knowledge and experience from data collection in the field. Personally, I acquired knowledge of SPSS and doing quantitative data analysis with the help of SPSS.

During the second year of PhD at the University of Salford, in the United Kingdom, I would describe myself as becoming a competent researcher evidenced by co-authoring two publications with my supervisor and conference presentation.

I prepared for my Internal Evaluation (IE) exam, which was scheduled in late September 2016. The internal evaluation was the most important evaluation in my PhD work.

The sequence of my second year IE evaluation was somewhat similar to what happened in the first year IE evaluation. After the question-answer by the panel, my supervisory team and I were asked to leave the room and were called after few minutes, later to be told that I passed my PhD internal evaluation and can now proceed with PhD third year study. I was very happy. The examiners of this panel were also very helpful and friendly, like the examiners in the first year panel.

I enjoyed the second year more than the previous year. First of all, I felt more confident in the area of my study and gained a deeper knowledge of the topic when I did my data collection and data analysis.

I felt optimistic about finishing my degree on time when I passed my Internal Evaluation exam.

My PhD Third Year Experiences

At the beginning of the course of my PhD, third year journey, I was given many chances to present my work at conferences. The gains from sharing my work with a wider audience are tremendous and valuable. These exceptional experiences will not only give me insights into my work but will also give me a good idea of what it means to be a part of a wider academic community. I have also made progress in disseminating my work with a poster, accepted at a conference at Manchester University.

In my final year, I will be determined to make most of the opportunities and work, as hard as, I can. Due to the nature of my research study, I am positive about the possibility to complete the required amount of work in one year. Although third year bears a lot of responsibilities, with the major material of my work prepared and written, I feel confident that I would be able to use the time after data collection effectively to improve the drafts, I already have.

The University Salford has fantastic resources, offering access to everything you need to do your PhD, such as data sets and 24/7 library facilities.

The community between PhD students at the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences was imperative to me. It fosters a vibrant group of people studying different things, and with a strong sense of collaboration and support, we were able to share expertise and advice within this community. I appreciate the help from other students, who were going through similar things as I was going through.

I always felt welcomed by the School staff and the city. It has given me access to a new culture and a new life, which is multicultural, yet integrated. The School also has excellent industrial connections and international links, so I was able to understand a different way of thinking and understanding.

The city of Manchester is a great place for studying. It is known as the “best student city.” The city is multicultural and lively and has lots of tourist attractions, museums, galleries, and on-going events throughout the year.

The vibrant campus of the University of Salford is only a short travel from Manchester Central. I found myself in the middle of great things happening, which influenced my personal development and learning that I will take to my home country when I complete my PhD. Finally, I can say that at the University of Salford, challenges may seem big, but they filled my life with excitement and helped me to realise my dreams with more confidence and enthusiasm.

PhD student, Sabah Ismile Alsomali

University of Salford, School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences


60 sec with Julie Lawrence, Lecturer in Social Work

By Oct.31, 2016

pic0061.What is your position within the School?

I am a lecturer in social work and the programme leader for the post graduate Continuous Professional Development  (CPD) Social Work Programme.

2.How long have you worked in the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences, University of Salford? 

I joined the school in November 2000, as a part-time tutor. I became a lecturer in social work in April 2010.

3.Which building are you based in?

The Allerton Building.

4.Why did you choose to work within the School?

I chose to work within the school because it has a modern, lively atmosphere and there are opportunities to undertake research projects which I can share with students.

5.What is your most memorable moment of being in the School?

When my tutee presented the outcomes from her research in 2015 at an international conference. I was there to saviour the moment s of her success.

6.What is your biggest dream?

That everyone has a guiding voice to support opportunities to fulfil  potential   .

7.When you are not at work what do you do to relax?

I visit beautiful gardens and admire the vistas.

8.What was your first job?

My first job was based within the Magistrate’s Court in Chester, I worked as a Probation Assistant to the Court.

9. What has been your greatest achievement?

Undertaking my PhD and meeting a Social Learning Theorist: Professor Etienne Wenger-Trayner in 2014.

10.What would make your job easier?

Although important, less administration.

11.Finally, what one piece of advice would you give to students/colleagues?

Have the courage to take a risk and believe in yourself to succeed: ‘no matter what’.

Leave a comment

Nowhere safe to stay: the dangers of sleeping rough

By Oct.21, 2016

This report from St Mungo’s, presents new evidence on the dangers of rough sleeping and the poor service people often receive from council housing options teams. It is based on 40 interviews with St Mungo’s clients and highlights how some asked for help but were turned away or even instructed to sleep rough in order to access services. It makes a number of recommendations – including for MPs and government to support the Homelessness Reduction Bill. It is a policy report containing original research that may be of interest to campaigners, policy professionals and the press. Katy Jones, Research Fellow from the Sustainable Housing & Urban Studies Unit (SHUSU) at the University of Salford was involved in the data collection phase of this study.

To download a copy of the report please visit St Mungo’s website

Leave a comment

Salford student makes a difference

By Oct.05, 2016



This week three Ugandan healthcare professionals are arriving at the University of Salford on the Commonwealth Professional Fellowship programme. This is Euphrasia, our previous colleague, who has returned and made a profound impact. The health centre she works in (Kagote) had not delivered a baby for 16 years and it is now the best performing health centre in the District with deliveries increasing all the time.

Euphrasia is now able to contribute to teaching on their new midwifery degree supported by our charity and Salford staff. And now we are embarking on supporting another failing health centre. Kagote is the facility we choose to place Salford midwifery students in on placement so they get great support. If you are going over there look out for her smiling face!

Find out more about Knowledge4Change & University of Salford Knowledge and Place projects.


Leave a comment

60 sec with Dr Anthony Ellis, Lecturer in Criminology and Sociology

By Oct.03, 2016


Dr Anthony Ellis

1.What is your position within the School?

Lecturer in Criminology and Sociology.

2.How long have you worked in the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences, University of Salford? 

I joined the School in August 2014.

3.Which building are you based in?


4.Why did you choose to work within the School?

Salford has a long and rich history of teaching and research in the fields of sociology and criminology, which is important for me.

5.What is your most memorable moment of being in the School?

Finding out I had been nominated for a teaching award.

6.What is your biggest dream?

Rotherham United FC to lift the FA Cup at Wembley.

7.When you are not at work what do you do to relax?

Read, watch films, gym, watch football, spend time with family.

8.What was your first job?

Waiter and porter in a hotel.

9. What has been your greatest achievement?

Winning the British Society of Criminology Critical Criminology Network Prize for my book Men, Masculinities and Violence: An Ethnographic Study.

10.What would make your job easier?

A cure for writer’s block.

11.Finally, what one piece of advice would you give to students/colleagues?

Be open to new ideas.

Leave a comment

60 seconds with Sarah Riding, Lecturer in Social Work

By Sep.21, 2016

1.What is your position within the School?

I’m a Lecturer in Social Work. I’m also the Programme Leader for the undergraduate degree programmes in Social Work.

2.How long have you worked in the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences, University of Salford? 

I joined the University of Salford in September 2013 as a Lecturer in Social Work within the School.

3.Which building are you based in?

I am based in Allerton Building on the sixth floor in Room C605.

4.Why did you choose to work within the School?

I had previously been teaching on Health and Social Care, Primary Teaching and Early Years Degrees in Blackpool, however as a Social Worker I was keen to teach my speciality and was impressed with what the University offered both staff and students.

5.What is your most memorable moment of being in the School?

There are many memorable moments, however I particularly enjoy meeting each new group of social work students during induction, I love the enthusiasm and great potential I can see and watching them develop and finally graduate is the icing on the cake.

6.What is your biggest dream?

To see any form of injustice and hatred towards others banished from society, I want our children to believe they have a future where they believe they can achieve anything they want and are given the means to do so.

To be there when Manchester City win the Champions league.

7.When you are not at work what do you do to relax?

I love to watch movies but my great passion is sport, I have a season ticket for Manchester City FC and watch them home and away, I have learned to live with the highs and a lot of lows over the years but love being in the crowd and meeting so many different people.

8.What was your first job?

My first job was working as a Health Care assistant at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on outpatients and on older people’s rehabilitation wards.

9. What has been your greatest achievement?

On a personal level working in Mother Teresa’s home for the dying in Kokata and having the privilege of meeting her, definitely the most moving moment.

Professionally it is simply the success of my students, makes everything worthwhile.

10.What would make your job easier?

Definitely more time, rather than making the job easier, for me  it’s about making it more effective, I would love to have more time to spend face to face with students.

11.Finally, what one piece of advice would you give to students/colleagues?

Always aim high!

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” ― Mother Teresa

Leave a comment

‘Fuel Poverty: Telling the Story’ Fuel Poverty Research Network

By Sep.20, 2016

The Sustainable Housing & Urban Studies Unit (SHUSU) are hosting the second meeting of the Fuel Poverty Research Network (FPRN) on 1st November 2016, 9.30am – 4.30pm at The University of Salford’s MediaCityUK campus.

With the theme ‘Fuel Poverty: Telling the Story’ this interactive session will look at creative ways of understanding and sharing experiences of fuel poverty and learning from some inspiring projects from Greater Manchester and beyond. It is an opportunity to learn about new and creative ways of communicating research and maximising impact, and to be part of a growing network working on this important issue. Researchers, policymakers, government and local authority officers, charities and industry are very welcome. There will plenty of opportunities for participation and networking.

For further information and details on how to register, please visit our online registration page. Places are limited and registration closes on 25th October. For further information please contact Vicki Morris on, 0161 295 2140 or download FPRN Booking Information (PDF).


Leave a comment