Building a community from the ground Up!

PAFs- A funded P2P RCA Group in Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Exeter

June 10, 2024

Growing Together: The Journey of PAFs- Postgraduate Researchers and Families

This support Group for Postgraduate Researchers and Families (PAFs) has seen incredible growth and engagement this term. We began with just 8 members in November, and today, we are a thriving community of 60 across both Exeter campuses! It's truly inspiring to see so many like-minded individuals come together to share our unique university experiences.

What is PAFs?
PAFs is a group primarily composed of 'mature-mature' students with family responsibilities, but it's not exclusive to them. Many of our members have shared feelings of disconnection from university life or the challenges of balancing family while studying. Others have expressed a desire to meet fellow mature students with families. This is why PAFs was formed—to create a supportive community where we can all connect and thrive.
Our members include single parents, married students with kids, international students, those with partners or spouses, adult carers, and even PGRs who simply appreciate the family-friendly atmosphere. As for me, I'm a single mum pursuing a PhD at St Lukes, with four children, three of whom are still at home, and one with autism. Our diverse backgrounds and experiences make us a strong and resilient research community.
Autumn Term Highlights:
  • Inaugural Meet-Up: We kicked off with a gathering where we got to know each other, shared our stories, and discussed our research areas.
  • Christmas Party: Our festive event at St Lukes brought together families, partners, kids, grandparents, and even visiting parents for a joyous celebration.
Spring Term Highlights:
  • Seminar on UK Secondary School Systems: Aimed at helping our international members understand the UK school system.
  • PAF’d Out Yoga: A detox session led by Jackie, a Yoga instructor, helping us de-stress from our research duties.
  • Community Ramadan Iftar: A multicultural event with a fantastic turnout, where PGRs, MA, and UG students from HASS and their families shared delicious dishes inspired by their cultures.
  • Meet-Up at St Luke’s Cross Keys: An informal gathering with food sharing and family fun, where kids played outside while we enjoyed great conversations and food.
Summer Term Activities:
  • Research and Culture Networking Lunch: Scheduled for 23rd May, this event is a chance to network, share research interests, and make new friends over lunch.
  • Family Fun Day: Mark your calendars for 22nd June for an afternoon of fun at St Lukes.
  • Seminar on UK Primary School Systems:  Rescheduled from the spring term
  • PAF’d Out Yoga at Streatham: Another research detox session, but this time for the Streatham-based PGRs. Keep an eye out for the notification.
Looking Ahead:
We had many amazing ideas for the year, though some couldn't be fulfilled due to availability issues (that's the life of a parent-student!). As our group grows, we aim to be more inclusive by planning activities for sub-groups, including PGRs with partners and distance-based PGRs.

Thank you to those for being part of this incredible journey. Together, we are building a strong, supportive, and inclusive community at The University of Exeter. 


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