Beckie Thomas

Beckie

vpwelfare@susu.org

28 June 2015 12:58


Thanks, it’s been an absolute blast.

The past two years have been unforgettable. It’s been a privilege to be your Vice President Welfare. Thank- you to those who voted for me, supported me, and inspired me. I’m still shocked at what I’ve been able to achieve for you, working together with some utterly inspiring members of staff and volunteers; Sam Bailey, Lydia Butler, Charlotte Pollins, Eva Pemberton, Steven Osbourne, Fraser Delves, and our amazing SUSU staff team!

And OF COURSE thank you to the phenomenal Sabb Team; Katie, Ellie, David, Megan, Sophia, and Anjit; who is lucky enough to be sticking around next year!

To find out what I achieved for students last year, click here.

I ran for election knowing incredibly little about the Students Union, and I leave 2 years on, knowing the place inside out, it’s really quite sad to say goodbye to leading such a brave, progressive organisation.

Here is a quick run through of what I’ve been able to do for you this year…

STUDENT LIFE ZONE

1. Every student should know that they can reach out for help with their mental health if they need it, so I have spent the year tackling mental health stigma, and improving Promotion of support services to students. Through launching a mental health survey, an anti stigma campaign featuring an elephant in theroom, a video by Kelly Holmes, speaking about student mental health at the Westminster higher education forum, creating flyers and stickers which clearly show the support services available as well as tips on talking to friends, and will be placed on fridges in halls and around our campuses. I’ve also created a mental health support portal at susu.org/support where students can go to find out about all of the support services available to them, both at SUSU, at the University, and externally.

2. Every student has the right to feel safe on their nights out, so I have worked with other sabbs and the e&d officer to create a campaign which confronts sexual harassment, #sotonspeaksup. Working with Solent I’ve planned a roll out of anti-sexual harassment training to staff in city nightclubs as part of the national training Good Night out campaign. I’ve worked on improving the support provision outside clubs in portswood, and securing the safety bus for he 24 hour library.

3. Every student needs somewhere safe to live, so I’ve worked with the university to provide a housing guarantor scheme for international students or care leavers who do not have UK based guarantors (this will stop them from having to lay a years rent upfront). I’ve pushed back the artificial rush to find a house to the end of January by working with the university, and external letting agencies. I have created a housing guide which will be released in the autumn to tell students everything they need to know about housing. I have overseen the launch of SUSU Lettings and ensured that student rights are the main priority. We worked with the council to create guidelines to reduce the number of to-let signs in the city which create the artificial rush for housing. I ran a housing fayre to help students with everything they need to know about housing.

4. Every student deserves to be supported with their wellbeing so I set up Wellbeing Wednesdays as a space to run activities and events on student wellbeing, this year we had he tooth bus on campus offering free dental check ups. I expanded our exam support, providing more information and stress busting activities in the two StressLessFest periods in January and May, providing help to before, during and after exams. We also ran a programme of events at WSA. I worked with the university on the senior tutor forum so that students have someone they can speak to about welfare issues when they don’t want to speak to their personal academic tutor.

5. Every student should feel free to practise their faith, so I undertook a faith review to find out what students want. This resulted in us taking faith student groups to WSA to increase awareness, and discussions on renaming the chaplaincy to make it more accessible.

SUSTAINABILITY ZONE

6. Every student has the ability to be a socially responsible student and graduate, to help them achieve this we’ve created the ethical living map which highlights a whole bunch of ethical and sustainable activities they can enjoy in their city. We also ran fair trade fortnight, blackout, HEAT, Swapshop at Highfield and WSA. We organised a sustainability fayre, represented the sustainability zone at the sustainability festival, and will be educating course reps on sustainable development with ESD training next year.

7. Every student can improve ethical & environmental business practices in their city.We trained over 100 students as part of the government funded Business ethics and environmental students (BEES) programme, who audited 24 organisations and recommended effective solutions. I have also secured funding for thus to continue next year.

8. Every student needs to shift their stuff when they move out of their house at the end of the year. We’ve stepped in to help Shift your stuff by organising collections and sorting days in which volunteers send off the reusable items to better homes, both charities and new students.
9. Every student should be able to articulate their skills to potential employers, so I’ve placed employability high on the union’s and the university agenda this year by creating a strategy and creating Linked In Labs. I have created the role of employability officer to ensure the students opinions on employability will always be voiced to the university. I took a paper to trustee board to open a new recruitment agency to help students to find part-time work, this will open next year.

10. Everyone should be treated equally. I passed a policy at union council to implement equality impact assessments across the unions activities, facilities, and services which will begin next year. We ran LGBT history month, Inspiring Women, and started the Ready-to-Lead programme to encourage a diverse range of students to run for sabbatical election.

Aside from all of this work on my sabb and zone goals, I have been busy representing you all at university meetings on welfare and sustainability, increasing student groups funding, improving the union’s funding and staff processes at trustee board sub committees, shortlisting and interviewing new members of staff, and supporting my student leaders to achieve their goals. 

As sad as I am to leave, I am full of anticipation to see the sustainable changes Sam Bailey is going to make as your VP Welfare next year. 

Good luck Sam, it’s going to be the best experience of your life.

 

 

STUDENT LIFE…

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SUSTAINABILITY…

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