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Who or what is to blame for us getting fat and ill in increasing numbers? Sugar or fat? Gut microbes or genes? Laziness or poverty? Whatever it is, it’s placing a devastating burden on our healthcare system, and scientists in every field are desperate to explain this epidemic and stave off a modern health disaster. Anthony Warner, author of The Angry Chef, lays out the best evidence available, rails against quack theories preying on the desperate, and considers whether we’re blaming our bodies for other people’s ignorance and cruelty. Kitty Corrigan is a journalist and travel writer.
After her father’s death from dementia, writer and campaigner Nicci Gerrard set out to explore the illness that now touches millions of us, yet which we still struggle to speak about. What does dementia mean for those who live with it, and those who care for them? The first section of Lavinia Greenlaw’s new poetry collection The Built Moment is a sequence of poems called The Sea is an Edge and an Ending, about her father’s dementia and his disappearance into the present tense. It is not a narrative of illness so much as a meditation on the metaphysics of memory and loss. Chaired by Rosie Boycott.
What happens to our brain at night? Are we really fully asleep and if so how is it that some individuals end up doing what they do? Or can it be the case that perhaps the brain never fully goes to sleep and that in some individuals there is a disconnect between the sleeping part of their brain and the active part of their brain, so that the two become confused? The world-renowned neurologist weaves wonderful stories that highlight how sleep disorders affect the lives and health of patients and their families.
Bryony Gordon was inspired by her reading of Carson McCullers, and her understanding of the support of fellowship, to set up Mental Health Mates, a network of peer support groups run by people with mental health issues and their friends who meet regularly to walk and talk. This is now a nationwide organisation. You do not need to have a diagnosed mental health issue to join the walks – everyone has mental health. Walk alongside Bryony Gordon, journalist, campaigner and author of Mad Girl, who will talk about the inspiration of McCullers and writing that can provide solace.
Please wear appropriate footwear. Numbers are limited. Return to Festival site by 11.30am.
Happiness expert Professor Paul Dolan draws on a variety of studies ranging over wellbeing, inequality and discrimination to bust the common myths about our sources of happiness. He shows that there can be many unexpected paths to lasting fulfilment. Some of these might involve not going into higher education, choosing not to marry, rewarding acts rooted in self-interest and caring a little less about living forever. By freeing ourselves from the myth of the perfect life, we might each find a life worth living. Chaired by Horatio Clare.
For more than twenty-five years, David Nott has taken unpaid leave from his job as a general and vascular surgeon with the NHS to volunteer in some of the world’s most dangerous war zones: Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur, Congo, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Gaza and Syria. He has also volunteered in areas blighted by natural disasters, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal. Driven by both the desire to help others and the thrill of extreme personal danger, he is now widely acknowledged to be the most experienced trauma surgeon in the world. Since 2015, the foundation he set up with his wife, Elly, has disseminated the knowledge he has gained, training other doctors in the art of saving lives threatened by bombs and bullets.
How we perceive schizophrenia – and how we treat people living with it – is at the core of how we understand mental health. But what do we really know? How much time do we spend listening? Filer, a mental health nurse and award-winning writer, takes us on a journey into the psychiatric wards he once worked on. He invites us to spend time with world-leading experts, and with some extraordinary people who share their own stories about living with this strange and misunderstood condition.
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The contemporary view of dyslexia has emerged from a century of research in medicine, psychology and, more recently, neuroscience. Considering the potential causes of dyslexia, and looking at both genetic and environment factors, Professor Snowling shows how cross-linguistic studies have documented the prevalence of dyslexia in different languages. Discussing the various brain scanning techniques that have been used to find out if the brains of people with dyslexia differ in structure or function from those of typical readers, Snowling moves on to weigh up various strategies and interventions which can help people living with dyslexia today. Chaired by Stephanie Boland of Prospect magazine.
Our biology is set up to work in partnership with the sun. From our sleep cycles to our immune systems and our mental health, access to sunlight is crucial for living a happy and fulfilling life. New research suggests that our sun exposure over a lifetime – even before we were born – may shape our risk of developing a range of different illnesses, from depression to diabetes. Geddes explores the extraordinary significance of sunlight, from ancient solstice celebrations to modern sleep labs, and from the unexpected health benefits of sun exposure to what the Amish know about sleep that the rest of us don’t.
Where does anxiety come from? How do we overcome imposter syndrome? What is the key to creativity? How can we deal with grief? Informed by personal insights as well as interviews with some of the world’s top comedians, neuroscientists and psychologists, the comedian and Infinite Monkey Cage host offers a hilarious and often moving primer to the mind. But it is also a powerful call to embrace the full breadth of our inner experience – no matter how strange we worry it may be!
The impact of suicide on friends and family can be devastating and far-reaching. Kate Harding and Billie Charity, who lost a husband and brother to suicide respectively, and Sarah Stone, Director of Samaritans in Wales, join Benna Waites to talk about the experience of grieving following suicide. Kate is a palliative care doctor and GP, Billie Charity is an award-winning photographer and Benna Waites is Joint Head of Psychology for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.
Huge efforts have been made to combat malaria for over a century, yet each year hundreds of thousands of people still die from the disease, particularly in sub Saharan Africa. The last decade has seen major reductions in this toll: are we at last on the road to eradication? The latest research charts a path towards a vaccine and new weapons against malaria mosquitoes. Faith Osier is Professor of Malaria Immunology at Oxford University and Chris Thomas is Professor of Zoology and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at Aberystwyth University.
By 2030 the world will be short of approximately fifteen million health workers – a fifth of the workforce needed to keep healthcare systems going. Global healthcare leader and award-winning author Dr Britnell uses his unique insights from advising governments, executives and clinicians in more than seventy countries to present solutions to this impending crisis.
The NHS long-term plan, announced in the New Year, promises increased funding and a new commitment to expanding the workforce. So how can we encourage more interdisciplinary working? And what role does education have in developing empathetic, effective and flexible health professionals to meet the challenges ahead? Join the conversation with Ian Cumming, Chief Executive of Health Education England, Sarah Greer, Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Worcester, Sarah Dugan, Chief Executive, Worcestershire Health & Care NHS Trust, and Steven Thrush, Consultant Surgeon at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
Suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 45. What is it that makes men vulnerable and what can we do about it? Jonny Benjamin, mental health campaigner and initiator of the #FindMike campaign which successfully located the stranger who had talked him down from a bridge, the Welsh politician and mental health campaigner Eluned Morgan and the musician Dizraeli talk to Benna Waites, Joint Head of Psychology for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. Benjamin's book The Stranger on the Bridge was published in 2018.
Matt Morgan is an intensive care doctor; that is to say, a person in whose hands you may find yourself one day – as one in five of us will – when something has gone seriously wrong. It may be down to an accident, following a major operation, or you may have succumbed to serious illness. Being critically ill means that one or more of your vital organs has failed. At such times you’ll need faith in the ability of the medical team looking after you to make life-or-death decisions under extreme pressure or to unravel the mysteries of the human body and diagnose unexplainable illnesses urgently. On this day of his book’s launch, Morgan draws on his time spent with real patients on the brink of death, and explains how he and his colleagues fight against the odds to help them live. Baroness Finlay is a professor of palliative medicine.
Join us for a fascinating talk that weaves the personal and the cultural, the social and the political, and explores what it means to be human in our age of uncertainties and conflicts. The novelist reflects on identity, gender and belonging, looking at a range of nations and cultures from Turkey to Hungary, from America to Brazil and Russia. How can writing nurture the markers of democracy, tolerance, the acceptance of diversity and progress? Where do we look for balance and truth, for clarity and hope?
The Wellcome Book Prize lecture aims to celebrate the place of medicine, science and the stories of illness in literature, arts and culture, and how these stories add to our understanding of what it means to be human. Elif Shafak is chair of judges for the 2019 prize, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and an advocate for women’s rights, LGBT rights and freedom of speech. Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels. Her work has been translated into fifty languages. In 2017 she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people who will "make the world better".
Chaired by Claire Armitstead.
By 2020, for the first time in history, the number of people aged 65 and over will outnumber children aged five and under. Travelling across the world and interviewing leading scientists about breakthroughs which could soon transform the quality and extent of life, Cavendish contests many of the taboos around ageing, and sparks a debate about how governments, businesses, doctors, the media and each one of us should handle the final few decades of life. In this manifesto for change, she argues that if we take a more positive approach, we should be able to reap the benefits of a prolonged life, and help the elderly to play a fuller part in society. But that will mean a revolution: in work, in education, in housing, in medicine – and in our attitudes. Cavendish is an award-winning Times journalist and was head of the Downing Street policy unit under David Cameron. Bakewell was appointed as a Voice for Older People by Gordon Brown.
The Supervet recounts this often-surprising journey that sees him leaving behind a farm animal practice in rural Ireland to set up Fitzpatrick Referrals in Surrey, one of the most advanced small animal specialist centres in the world. We meet the animals that paved the way, from calving cows and corralling bullocks to talkative parrots and bionic cats and dogs.
The walker discusses her mesmerising and inspirational memoir: just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of thirty-two years, is terminally ill, their home is taken away and they lose their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall. Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey.