Hi Everyone, the last month or so has been somewhat of a hectic one but an enjoyable few months for me since starting my 2nd term as your President (Wellbeing). I’ve been up and down the country and across Europe haha.
Firstly we went on Leadership Team Residential with the other Sabbs, the CEO and the Deputy CEO. We discussed our joint Leadership team priorities for the year, these will be shared soon??. We also talked about our own achievements and what we want to do. One of my main targets this year is to increase the Out of Hour Mental support that we offer across all campuses.
Secondly, I went on an NUS Lead and Change conference at Bath University, this was extremely useful especially all the Networking opportunities available and being able to meet new Presidents across the country. The first day was spent reflecting on our first years as officers and what lessons we have taken away. We then talked about how by doing it for a year already you can make a bigger impact in your second year given that you are more comfortable with the role and you know what to do now!! This was followed by a conversation around Framing. Framing is important when thinking about problems in a university. The afternoon was very useful, firstly we explored the different types of power that we can implement. Power Over - Control over people and resources, Power With - Collective Strength, Power to - individual agency and Power within - Self worth and efficiency. We then moved into Action Learning Set, this for me was the most valuable part of the week. It was a chance to discuss issues we have found at University and everyone would feedback their ideas of what they have done at their Universities. It was a chance to discuss solutions. I got some really useful ideas on tackling Isolation/loneliness, the BME attainment gap and Out of Hour Support.
Day 2 was again full of more good stuff, our focus was making wins at the University. We talked about how vital the relationships are in the success of what we do and the importance of speaking to students to give them what they want. Win wins are usually things that can benefit more than 1 place. Some of the Win/wins I discussed at our union was the postgrad space on campus, more computers in the library and Chooseday Chill. After a short break we talked about using data to drive change such as surveys, these are vital in ensuring we can gather evidence to show the University. It was then Workshop time, i went to 2 workshops, one on Student Mental Health and the Black Attainment Gap. The Black Attainment gap session was really useful in finding out strategies of closing the gap at our institution. This is something we’ll share soon! Following this we went into regional networking time, again I feel this is one of the most valuable sessions hearing from other officers. It was good to link up with Oxford Brookes Union around my Drug Campaign i’ll be implementing in the new academic year. We then enjoyed a quiz and karaoke in the evening.
Day 3 we talked about what’s next and the things that we want to continue. For me some of the things i want to continue is the Good relationship i have with the Wellbeing team and a better understanding of the Governance and policy. After a discussion around what everyone wanted to continue we then moved onto a networking by our position. This was good in meeting like minded Welfare officers and looking at ways we can collaborate together this year. 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
After this conference I went on a short holiday to Cyprus, topping up the tan and enjoying the beaches. When i came back we were then off to University of East Anglia for the Southern Union conference. The first day I went to a number of workshops. The first was around engaging students allied to health. Myself, Becky and Phil attended this session, we got some really useful feedback in engaging these students. I then attended a session on the current context of education. We talked about the Student Lifecycle of what students go through across their 3 years at University and the issues that could arise during that. Such as the Augar review and brexit. After these workshops we then had a facilitated networking session with other officers in our roles, this was really useful and got my idea of a Freshers Safety Campaign from this, look out for this!!
In the evening after dinner we then joined forces with Kent Union for the Big Southern Union quiz. We were the winners!! Clearly showing that we are the best Unions in the Southern SU’s!!
Day 2, for me was really interesting. After breakfast the first workshop I went on was the about tackling the loneliness epidemic in UK Universities. This is something that I really wanted to do some work on this year so was really interesting to hear from Jim Dickinson at Wonke about how he tackled this. He shared with us his research from a UK trendance report that he conducted. More information about the report can be found here https://wonkhe.com/blogs/only-the-lonely-loneliness-student-activities-and-mental-wellbeing/.
The next workshop I attended was about Sprexit, this was useful in seeing how UEA run their sport teams and hear about how we develop our sporting facilities here at Christ Church. Other sessions I went to that day was social media, how we can maximise our reach on social media and promote our wins more to our members. To finish off the day lastly i went to a session on Student Protection plans. You can see information about this here: https://wonkhe.com/blogs/protect-and-survive/
Overall from these conferences i feel like i can take away a lot of new things into the new academic year. Got so many new ideas to implement.