President (Wellbeing) Blog - Jamie Harris

Jamie’s NUS Lead and Change Blog

A few weeks ago, I attended the NUS lead and change conference at Leeds Beckett University with Phil (Union President). This was a great opportunity to network and share ideas between other Sabbatical Officers across the country. It was great to hear about everyone's priorities and aims for the year as well as picking up some ideas myself to help improve our own students university experience.

Throughout the week we were split into tutor groups, i was split into one of the Welfare groups. I was privileged enough to have fantastic tutors in Ashley and Amy. Within our groups we discussed a range of different topics that would help us make change within our union as well as learning about successfully run campaigns within the NUS.

Day 1 

After a long day travelling from Canterbury the night before, we stopped off at Platform 9 ¾ in Kings Cross before arriving in Leeds. Not forgetting to watch Love Island while on the train haha!!

Although the day didn’t start how I expected it too having to wake up at 7am for a fire alarm!!

After breakfast in the morning (which i thoroughly enjoyed haha), we had a short introduction from all the NUS staff to explain what their roles are. In our tutor groups we then discussed how to make our leadership inclusive of everyone at the University.

Following this discussion we we talked about values, what we wanted our values to look like as well as looking and how to go about making decisions that benefit students. Three particular values i would like to adopt are curiosity, helpfulness and politeness throughout my time at the Student Union. I feel these roles will help support and improve students university experience in the way that i am always here to listen and hear what you want.

After the day i looked forward to my dinner in the evening!!

Day 2 

Day 2 started a bit better than yesterday, the day kicked off with an introduction to building strong and sustainable relationships in our student unions. It is important to develop good relationships with everyone so that things can get done haha!! I learnt that by having a broad and diverse network can help make things happen quickly but also effectively. I then looked forward to lunch (my favourite part of the day haha).

This day really expanded my thinking on increasing engagement within the University campuses. To help grow something within the university we talked about a ‘Grow Model’. Which includes your goal, the reality of it occurring, waying up the options and the way forward. Will definitely adopt this throughout the year.

Within our tutor groups we talked about each other's goals for the year, which i found useful hearing what everyone else is doing and wanted to achieve. Which for me this year i’ll be working on increasing the awareness of Mental health, particularly looking after your mate and a better promotion of the support services that are available. As well as working on ways to help improve the representation of Liberation groups at Uni by creating more opportunities to listen to them. The day finished off by listening to a lecture on the BME attainment Gap, this was particularly insightful, especially to hear about how other Universities are tackling the issue.

In the evening me and Phil explored the Nightlife in Leeds and shared a pint or two.

Day 3

Our last day of Lead and Change. It has been a great experience so far. Made so many new friends and got to know loads of people. After breakfast (can’t forget that haha), we talked about creating different impactful Campaigns. We talked about how to run a campaign on campus and learnt about the 3 different types of campaigns; change, awareness and recruitment.

After which, i attended a workshop from Student Minds ( a leading mental health charity), this was very informative in particular when it comes to implementing mental health campaigns. They spoke about a campaign cycle which will be very useful model. It involves the following; Listening (Students carrying out the research or provide listening workshop), Empowering (Provide training, support and coaching), Action (delivery, looking to the University to help them with the matter), Debrief (did we achieve what we set out to do).

In the afternoon, i attended a workshop on drug use and how to reduce the drug harm reduction within the  university and local night clubs.We looked through the new NUS paper called ‘Take the hit’ which talks about students drug use and provides recommendations to help increase the awareness of the harmful effects of drugs.

We then got back together as a tutor group to debrief the week and sum up what we have learnt over the week.

Overall I had fantastic enjoyable week, it has been great learning and developing skills in leadership, campaigning and how to create change at our university. As well as building networks and creating new friends. #NUSLeadChange

Kaspas Canterbury

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