Claire Gilbert

It’s the final countdown…

As we come to the end of our sabbatical year, we thought it important as a team to communicate everything we have been up to in our year as one of your sabbatical officers.blogs2

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you again to everyone who has volunteered, given up their time and worked hard to make this the Union I am so sad to be leaving.



Students to be Citizens

Covers External Engagement and Community Action/ Volunteering and makes sure students feel like they are a part of the community they live in.

My proudest achievement is establishing Student Volunteering Week within the union, and having positive dialogue with so many external partners.

Welcome Brochure – a way to engage students moving into private rented accommodation for the first time with their local community.

Newsletter –
 bi yearly we send newsletters to our residents to showcase the wonderful things of our students, allay fears and build relationships. We have reached over 7000 individuals and will reach them again by the end.

Student Volunteering Week – This was the first year we pledge to do work for SVW – we engaged over 300 students. Had large scale projects to knitting. All about empowering social change.

Building Bridges – Secured £9,000 funding to break down barriers between residents and students. Launch event had 40 influential members of the community present – 3 future events planned for freshers ready with a gardening scheme!

Residents Associations generally – the thing I am most proud of is our relationship with the external community – this includes representing our members at meetings – but also being able to celebrate their successes. Brilliant feedback which we can continue to build on next year!

Residents meeting – bi yearly meeting to do partnership work. Means that success can celebrated and more success happen! More like to-let signs in the future

Community Action – over £8000 granted – supporting students in schools, beach cleans and sport relief.  Process established. Strategy set. Officer elected.

Voter registration  – campaign with #BiteTheBallot to get students registered ready for the European and Local elections. Over 700 balls were placed in our Farage interactive display, after a hustings event with 2 current MEPs and lots of student engagement.

External Partnerships – I have met with… Sam Hodges and Dawn Taylor from the Nuffield, Laura Pratt from Solent, Solent Sabbs, Liz Statham from Seven Streets residents, Police and Community Team for Highfield, Highfield Residence association president, Hammie Tappenden from Intobiz ltd, Southampton Voluntary Services and Vanessa Shahani from the City Council,  Peter from Age UK, Shelley – PCSO, Recover College representatives, OARA, PACT, the Mayor’s Office, Jo Ash – Chief Exec of SVS, Suki Sitram City Council, Chapter 1 project co-ordinator, Matthew Yeo – Elections, Jock Student Adventures, Portsmouth President Elect – I have built sustainable relationships with all of these and more to ensure students have the best opportunities possible!

your cityCA Fontbitetheballot


Getting the University to talk to its students

Currently the University has a vacuum surrounding student communications. It seems obvious….but at the minute they don’t recognise the value in them tailoring their message to different groups of students… or students in general.

My proudest achievement has been to have the audit started, and to sit in so many meetings and now hear “Student Experience” as the reasoning behind work rather than recruitment. 

Welcome project  – I have worked to make sure student feedback has been at the heart of all decisions – the University will move to a 1d card system for international students AND cut wait time down from 40 mins to 20 this year and 6 the year after.

Comms. –  The university have pledged to evaluate the communications they send to students and work at the messages they send! Win!

Uni Staff induction – we have set up a process of inducting University staff and myself and Gilani have spoken to over 200 new staff about what we are as a union

100_1312Research-  I have had a chance to be a part of the research programme to see how other Universities communicate to their students.1463406_10151694957426741_543406644_n

UEG Away day – we worked on how students were at the heart of the University experience.

Celebrating Fundraising

There is some amazing fundraising that happens by our students and we don’t do enough to show that off… these are the ways I sought to show off the amazing work you do!

My proudest achievement is having RAG become aspirational and realise their potential for supporting not only charity societies, but all other groups. 

NaSFA – I have been given a chance to sit on the National Student Fundraising Association committee this year – have hosted a regional meeting to 30 people,  over 30 engaged with our webinar and I have written 6 newsletters!

Awards – RAG awards were a fab evening with over 60 nominations and 44 students came! Brilliant night that we shall hopefully continue to build on

#TheBigGive – Continuing on with last years campaign we raised slightly less BUT we had better relationships with the University, had better support for volunteers and have more ideas for upcoming years.

Totaliser (Online and physical) – We have a totaliser! It may not be flashy but we have had an increase in the variety of student groups letting us know how much money they have raised!

Celebrating our Total – as well as raising £91,000 last year we worked to let local press and as many students as possible know!

RAG Conference 2013 –  I had the chance to network with other RAGs and learn best practice as well as put Southampton on the map.

Rag training x2 – I have run two sessions for RAG volunteers!

Bidding for RAG Conference 2015-  we have been planning a bid to host Conference 2015. Watch out!

OST- we decided to ask the question “what is RAG” to help support future plans and work towards a bigger RAG, bigger total and more support for students.

RAG Plan –  For the first time RAG wrote a plan to support them as committee members, individuals and committee as a whole!

What Else?

There is a lot in this area so apologies…

My proudest achievement is the work around supporting 56% of our student population (women if you didn’t realise) to celebrate who they are, stand up for their rights, and have a place in our union. One Billion Rising, International Women’s Week and Inspiring Women were amazing projects to have been a part of. 

Freshers – Obviously part of my role I overlook freshers within SUSU and the University. We have been working for a more centralised approach that supports all of cohorts. We now have a centralised timetable with over 180 events already scheduled!

Redbrick Research – 1,800 students partook in a piece of research around lifestyles to help us communicate better with different types of student as well as making sure we are the students union we need to be!

CMTSubcommittee- This year we shuffled the structure of trustee board so that CMT was accountable as well! I get to chair this and have discussed things such as SUbtv, the wall, membership data and many other things!

Crowd Funding- I have been working with the university on a crowd funding system with the University. This should mean that our students are trained, they can access more funds and won’t be caught out my charges!

Enterprise Audit – We audited the student enterprise that exists and worked out what our provision in reference to the data we received.

One Billion ROne Billion Risingising –we ran a campaign against gendered violence. Over 1000 people have viewed the video where students and staff came together on valentine’s day to show their support to the 1 in 3 women around the world who experience gendered violence:

Improving Participation  – I have been a part of the steering group to improve the diversity in our elections

Inspiring Women – I hosted Inspiring Women in October and was honoured to see so many there.

IWW- International Women’s Week was a week of activity debate and celebration between SUSU, fem Soc, the University and many others. Students pledged their dedication to feminism, ate Boob cakes and enjoyed a debate about faith and feminism.

Sexual Harassment –  I started a campaign to tackle sexual harassment within the University and local community ready to launch for freshers 2014.

External Engagement Zone Plan – I had the chance to plan the activity for my Zone and make sure all areas were represented and supported!

Sport Relief Mile – Encouraging students and staff alike to get involved we saved the Sport Relief mile and raised a whole host of money as well!

City Council Strategy – I had the chance to represent  the University of Southampton students at the strategy meeting for the city for the next 10 years.

Alumni – I have created an alumni event for sabbs to breed community (will be happening in oct) which might result in more money for the union in the future – and greater ties generally with the Alumni department so they can help us as a Union grow and develop!

Union Strategy – I have loved being a part of planning the next union plan!

Open Days (WSA and Highfield) – Co-ordinated talks and information presented at 2 different open days and gave welcome talks to 4 different groups of PG students between Nov and June

TEAtime talk –  gave a talk to 300 teenagers about unions!

EVAS – They happened…. People seemed to enjoy them… I have started handover work for Ellie about making them even more wonderful.

Ran training for Course Reps and for Your Skills on Chairing a Meeting

Making sure you know your Sabbatical team –

Supporting my Officers – I have worked with my student leaders on plans, goals and aspirations all year! Will miss both!

Helping shape University Enterprise structure – I sit on the Enterprise Board and have ensured that Enterprise is about more than money making! We are now establishing a Social Enterprise pannel event, looking at changing the graduate passport and looking to embed skills reflection in as many activities as possible.

And. Last. But not least. I risk assessed this.

Sabbs. Wetness. Water


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