**Long blog post alert**
For those who aren’t aware, as part of being a President/Sabbatical Officer we are Trustees who sit on the Trustee Board committee meetings several times a year. For the upcoming meeting, we were required to document our campaign activity and a summary of the work we have done so far. So, I thought what better way to be transparent to the students than to just copy over that content to a blog post. I have provided sub-headings so you can skip to parts that interest you rather than reading the whole thing if you prefer! Continue reading to find out what I’ve done so far in my time as President of Wellbeing and Diversity…
Plan Safe, Drink Safe, Home Safe
This campaign was run for the fourth consecutive year throughout Fresher’s Week. It involved the organisation of volunteers from sports and societies to assist in ‘Walking Buses’ to the venue and giving out water/food to intoxicated students in Nightclubs. This took place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (as these are our busiest and most popular club nights). There was also presence on campus within the SU atrium to give out sexual health products, Taxi (Streamline) contact number cards and safety alarms (which really impressed people). The campaign involved 17 sports/societies and 60 students in total volunteering with the campaign, which I made a rota for. Their involvement goes towards their accreditation for ‘SU Campaigns’. I would describe the campaign as a great overall success. Many students engaged with the campaign; a lot of first year students asked questions and showed positive engagement with the campaign.
Blogs and Social Media
The three of us have been writing blogs on current occurrences within the Students Union, as well as a heightened social media presence on the YSJSU accounts with the help of Matt Allton (Marketing & Communications Co-ordinator) who scheduled in daily videos during Freshers Week – which had a total number of views ranging from 300 to 2600. Our most popular videos included the Arrivals Weekend Walking Tour of Campus and the ‘Freshers is Coming’ video – which can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/YSJStudentsUnion/videos/?ref=page_internal
As checked on 18/10/2017 we currently have 138 total members for the WellU programme. The programme had a trial period of two weeks until we considered changes and adaptations to the programme which consisted of a few minor changes which we felt would benefit the students more. The programme has had a lot of positive feedback from both students and staff. The programme includes a total of 17 weekly sessions with something occurring on every day of the week, and up to 4 sessions on one day. The University have also enabled the facilitation of sessions such as ‘WellU Gym’, Book Club and Mindfulness. On the whole, finding this initiative to be positive and room for developing more sessions and ceasing opportunity for ‘one off’ sessions too.
As of Friday 13th October we now have elected our officers; BAME, LGBTQ+, International, Disability and Post-Graduate. We also have our Sports Officer and Societies Officer. Unfortunately we did not have any students run for the role of Mature Officer, however, we have since had interest so we may look into potentially running a bi-election if this arises. The elections ran from Wednesday 11th – Friday 13th October and we were really impressed with the voting turnout. Here is the breakdown of votes:
- International Officer: 419 votes - Celeste Marques
- LGBTQ+ Officer: 407 votes - Shannon Clay
- Disabilities Officer: 393 votes - Emma Sayce
- BAME Officer: 360 votes - Tene Dowling
- Postgraduate Officer: 353 votes - Anna-Louise Leyden
- Sports Officer: 398 votes - Josh Taylor
- Societies Officer: 356 votes - Sarah Jackson
I will shortly be planning to have 1-2-1s with the five liberation officers (George will work with the Sport and Societies Officers) so we can work alongside them to ensure they reach their objectives and how they can help us too.
Rent Increase Review
I had extensive meetings with University staff regarding the Rent Increase Review that happens yearly, involving whoever is in my role in order for the other staff to receive feedback from the student perspective essentially. I collated feedback regarding accommodation changes that are due to happen for the next academic year, such as getting rid of Lord Mayors Walk accommodation, rent increases in halls of residence, where i2i students will be accommodated and where the accessible accommodation will be for students with specific requirements.
Housing Fair Planning
I am currently undergoing the planning stage of the Housing Fair and the Tenants information event on Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st November, working alongside other staff members in order to put on these two day events. I have read through feedback reports from previously held events in order to make this a success. The event is aimed at first and second year students who will be looking for accommodation in the near future and will involve landlords, agencies, the council, student funding team and other helpful contacts for students. I am also aiming to put together a board whereby people can find housemates who are likeminded and share similar interests for example.
Mental Wellbeing Booklet
I am going to produce the content for a Mental Wellbeing booklet that we will get printed in mass and given out to whichever students would like one. The booklet will be called ‘Let’s Talk About YOU: A guide to your wellbeing’ and will involve four key areas: Let’s talk, Be Active, Take Notice and Keep Learning. The idea behind this booklet is to keep it interactive and allow individuals to refer to it for tips and advice on mental wellbeing. I will be working alongside Matt Allton, Steph and the Sports and Activities Department to facilitate this, ensure all areas such as sport and academic help are covered sufficiently and also to get the booklet made to a high standard.
Student Financial Assistance Group
I have attended several meetings within this group which entail the Hardship Fund where we discuss students’ applications and dictate how much they will be granted due to their financial situation. This fund is provided by the University, rather than the Students Union, but I have an input into the final decisions and to approve of advice given.
Networking & NUS Events
Myself, George and Steph have been lucky enough to attend various NUS organised events (conferences) which has given us a chance to meet other sabbatical officers from other Universities. These experiences have personally really helped me within my role as it’s been a chance to share ideas and discuss potential collaborations. It’s inspiring to see the changes that have been implemented by other Sabbs across the UK and how passionate they are for students’ wellbeing and experiences.
…SO that concludes a (not so) brief summary of what my main objectives/priorities/targets have been these past few weeks. I hope this has shed a light on what we actually do. It is hard to describe what I do on a day to day basis, but my overall aim is to reach long-term goals that I strive towards and outlined in my manifesto back in Feb. If you’ve read right until the end then I am very impressed, so thank you!