The Welfare Officer position is instrumental in ensuring that students’ safety, health and social needs are addressed adequately. Over the years, Aberdeen university students’ association (AUSA) have been involved in welfare campaigns to raise more awareness leading to improvement on sexual health, personal safety, Gender-based violence (GBV), sexual harassment, housing, mental health, alcohol and substance abuse, inclusive campaigns, students funding etc. We continue and are committed in ensuring that these and many others will be key in promoting the overall welfare of all students at Aberdeen University.
In achieving the above objectives, key highlights of things done during the month of August have been outlined below in this second edition of welfare monthly update.
Light at Seaton Park: As part of my campaign to be elected as the welfare officer for AUSA, I promised to ensure that we have lights at Seaton park to improve security and visibility at night especially during the dark winter days. This is because the thoroughfare between the university’s Old Aberdeen campus and its main students’ accommodation at Hillhead where we have more than 1,500 students living prefer to use this route due to it closeness or shortness to the campus as compared to using the other alternative route which takes longer.
I believe that provision of lights and/or other security measures can be put in place to ensure students’ who use this route are safe. Again, with sustainable mode of transportation as an option, students with bicycles can use this route at night.
Since assuming office, I have written to and engaged stakeholders on this, but unfortunately, the response hasn’t been positive. The reasons they gave a broad ranging from security, cost and environmental. However, I will continue to engage them to sustain the security arrangement they have for the park.
Aberdeen Mental Health Network: I joined the Aberdeen Mental Health Network this month. This group is made up of mental health, and wellbeing officials as well as people who have interests in mental health in general. The objective of this group is to support each other in dealing with rising mental health issues by sharing ideas, creating awareness and providing support.
Mantel Health & Wellbeing Week: I am excited about the upcoming mental health & wellbeing week from October 7-11. It is going to be activity parked event throughout the week to showcase some support services we have here at the university as well as offering support to participant. There’s going to be a workshop on mental health & academic matters, painting lessons, BAME & mental health awareness, Penumbra-wellbeing powwow and a movie night where we are going to show a documentary on “Resilience”. Again, there will be stalls at union brew throughout the week.
NUS Big Uni forum: Together with three (3) other Sabbatical Officers we participated in the National Union of Students (NUS) Big Uni forum beginning of this month in Edinburgh. This forum was largely attended by sabbatical officers and students’ leaders across Scotland. The focus of the meeting was to discuss NUS priority areas for 2019/2020. At the end of the forum, six key priorities areas were identified as follow; Student poverty & Student support, Mental health, and Climate change & Sustainability, Purpose Built Student Accommodation & Student halls, Rent Guarantor Schemes, and too expensive/poor quality laundry facilities. At AUSA, we fully support these priority campaigns and have plans to raise more awareness and make the change that we deserve.
NUS Action Group: Following from the NUS Big uni forum, I joined two action groups i.e. mental health and disability. Initial meetings on skype have been had on both action groups. The focus is to share ideas and recommendations for improved mental health and disability support.
Student Accommodation & Guarantors Scheme: As part of the NUS priority campaign for this year, I am already engaging some uni staff on cost of accommodation and guarantors scheme. I believe some of the prices are high and could be reduced going forward, and on the guarantor’s scheme, my view is that it must be expanded to cover private student accommodation. The discussions are not concluded yet, hopefully we make some progress to excite students. As part of the engagement, I took a tour of Hillhead halls of residence during the summer and saw the improvement being made to facilities including but not limited to replacement of fridges, sofas, carpet and painting.
Students Partnership Agreement (SPA): Together with my fellow Sabbs we participated in our first SPA meeting with the university. We agreed to structure the current SPA document to focus on key areas that are achievable and measured. Again, it was suggested that the theme for the key areas to focus on should reflect common manifesto promises. Thus, some of the key areas as suggested including welfare & wellbeing, students’ life, sustainability, communication, and employability.
SAD Lamps: I am excited about the introduction of SAD lamps within AUSA. At the moment, students use SAD lamps at the multi-faith chaplaincy and so it will be a good add when AUSA finally launches its own SAD lamps. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is seasonal in nature, and usually comes and goes depending on the season and how one reacts. Thus, some refer to it as winter depression, due to fact that it is more common during the winter as a result of short days and longer night. This depression sometimes affects the mood, loss of pleasure or interest in daily activities, irritability, feelings of despair, guilt, worthlessness, feeling lethargic, feeling sleepy during the day, gaining weight. A document is been put together to administer this initiative which is likely to start in November 2019.
Committees & Meetings: As a welfare officer, I represent students views on key university committees. Below are some of the committees I participated in during the month;
- Inclusive Workstream steering Group
- Students Marketing, Events, Communication
- BeWell event
- Action Group on Disabled Student
Furthermore, I took part in various meetings including a visit to Robert Gordon University (RGU) to learn about their monthly mental health movie night and explore the possibility of having our own movie night here at the university of Aberdeen, I had a meeting with the university’s counsellor, mental health advisor, meeting with the Rector on the role and workings on court, Again, I had a meeting on the Dean of Student support role as well as discussions on National Union of Students (NUS) referendum which will come up next year. Finally, I attended the Old Aberdeen council monthly meeting with two other Sabbatical officers.
Training & Inductions: I participated in trainings and inductions during the month under review. Technically, August was my second month of working and so trainings and inductions were key in order to properly execute my mandate as an officer for AUSA. Some of the inductions include, AberGreen, Belbin Team building, handling compliant & investigations and media training.
In conclusion, I urge you to continue visiting my page for more exciting news and report.
Your Welfare, I Care