29th June 2020
It's time to say goodbye to our Vice President Welfare 2019/20, Katy Baker. During her time in office she has worked exceptionally well to represent and support all students wellbeing.
Katy said, "Even though this isn’t the end of the year we had planned, I do want to say how resilient and hardworking students have been adapting to lockdown and managing their own circumstances through this uncertain time. We have seen how much the Northampton student community really do care and come together.
Below are some highlights of my work this year;
Each Tuesday the Students’ Union has focused on wellbeing. We have had sessions including yoga, had a petting zoo come in, pamper sessions, welfare Instagram question and answer sessions and shared your good news to spread some positivity. I have really liked seeing students get involved with these activities and using it is an escape to de-stress from University work.
Embedding welfare to the student experience:
Along with the other Sabbatical Officers and Union staff, we have supported students at our drop-ins, with advice cases, 1:1 or in other circumstances. I have also written some welfare training for Course Advocates and boosting morale on social media during the COVID-19 outbreak.
I have joined the University in coming together to celebrate different important days e.g World Mental Health Day and the Tea and Talk event. Here I have promoted the Students’ Union by being visible on campus, telling students about the different services it provides and how important being part of the Students’ Union community can be, to share common interests with others and participate in an activity outside of University work. The main messages here was to show that the Students’ Union is here for students, we are out and about and want to help students facing a tough time e.g homesickness, loneliness and isolation.
Sport and Societies Mental Health First Aid:
I have seen this year that students find great comfort in joining a sports club or society to share interests, learn new skills and build on current ones. Along with Ryan (VPUD), we set up a couple of mental health first aid training sessions for committee members so they felt more confident in supporting students who are struggling, but also provided them the tools to look out for signs that one of their peers may need some additional support. We have had really good feedback from these and it has been really nice to see committee members wanting to support this initiative.
From sitting on different meetings, we have seen how important it is to look at the whole student experience instead of focusing on the education element. Off the back of this, we have build partnerships with Northamptonshire Carers. We know that a lot of our students and staff are carers and support with this is really important. We have also had the Pet As Therapy volunteers back as well as staff from the Northampton Sexual Health Outreach Team providing information, testing and signposting.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, I have worked hard to ensure students renting private-sector accommodation were being supported and represented. I campaigned by writing to landlords and letting agents in Northampton outlining two proposals which would help students. I then wrote to Northampton North and South MP’s to get their views and see how they could help to support students. Several blog posts and statements regarding this were shared on social media to keep students in the loop about how we are representing them. I am pleased to say that some landlords and letting agents are reducing rent, refunding if there has been an underspend on bills and allowing students to pay their summer retainer until they move in to their property. You can read the open letter to landlords response here.
I would like to say a huge thank you to the Students’ Union for the support, opportunities and encouragement they have given me to carry out my role. To all of the student groups for running their sports club or society, gaining new members and welcoming them in to the student community and to all of the students who have engaged in the Union.
Lastly, a massive thank you to the other Sabbatical Officers. It has been fantastic to work alongside you this year and I am so grateful that we have been able to support and represent students as a team. I have had so many brilliant opportunities and learnt so much from working at the Students’ Union, thank you to everyone who has made it as great as it has been. Finally, very best of luck to the Officers for the next academic year!"
We would like to thank Katy for all her hard work and dedication this year and we wish her all the best for the future.