Do Sabbs Actually Do Anything? – Welfare and Communities
So! It’s day one of the mid-term reviews and I’m up first. I seek to answer the blog’s question with the following answer: yes. Yes, yes and thrice yes. We do blooming loads. And in case you don’t believe me, here’s just a few things I thought I’d share with you about what’s happened so far, and what’s yet to come…
In my quest to get mental health pushed up the agenda at the university, I first carried out a survey on counselling. These results then fed into a business case pitched to senior staff at the university to obtain more counsellors. However, this actually led us to discover many wider issues regarding mental health provision at the university. This whole area is now being looked at in a more holistic and sustainable way, by the university’s management team. Getting mental health firmly on the agenda at uni = done!
Students are frequently getting rushed into sh*t housing by rogue landlords and letting agencies and I’m sick of it! In November I launched the ‘Don’t Settle’ campaign, which saw student volunteers take to the streets of campus and halls to tell students to slow down and not be taken in by the lies and coercion. We got rid of over 5000 flyers, my blog was viewed over 2000 times, our new bespoke website has so far collected over 2000 unique visitors, our video got over 500 hits and I have heard dozens of anecdotes about how much impact this campaign has had. Getting out there with student-centered proactive housing campaigning = done! (and there will be more, no fear…)
When you look at SUSU governance, it’s not always a space that welcomes many women. Considering that 54% of our members are women and yet we’ve only had 4 female presidents in over 100 years, this has got to change. In December, I organised a Women’s Workshop, a two hour session specifically for the women students at SUSU who wanted some help in public speaking skills, assertiveness, and self-esteem building. We developed a programme that can be used for years to come, and the feedback we received from the women was excellent: several even described it as ‘life changing’. Taking steps to combat the gender imbalance = done!
SUSU spends a lot of time thinking of its members, but we don’t often look beyond the edge of our campus. I’ve made links with incredible community groups, like Southampton Voluntary Services, Southampton Street Pastors and the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, to engage in issues that arise for ALL residents of this city, students and neighbours alike. These links have created great things: Community Action is being launched in February (watch this space!); Southampton Street Pastors will be providing welfare support to students in the evenings of semester two; SUSU will be reaching out to the students at a mental health recovery college when it opens in April. Making meaningful partnerships that are mutually beneficial = done!
Those are the big juicy things that have got me excited in the last six months, but by Jove there is SO much more to come! You guys can look forward to things like…
SUSU’s own letting agency; a housing survey to quantify once and for all the nightmare of student housing (so we can finally lobby in a serious way!); a series of mental health awareness videos in conjunction with the university and SUSUtv; the creation of Nightline’s very own Student Leader; the launch of Community Action; an amazing celebration for International Women’s Day; action on wildly rising international fees and so much more…
My job is pretty cool and if you like what you’ve read here, you can do it too! Elections are approaching us, so have a good think about running for a sabbatical position. It’s rewarding as heck, amazing fun and you actually get to change stuff you care about. Email me on email@example.com if you want to chat about my role. Do it!