During our SU Elections media day on Saturday 4th March, we chatted with the candidates hoping to be your 2017-18 Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer. Here’s what they had to say.
Laura Bealin-Kelly (LBK)
Laura Bealin-Kelly (or LBK as she introduced herself to us), is running for Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer.
Laura is a Postgraduate student studying a Masters in International Social Policy, having previously done an undergraduate degree in Law.
Laura is currently a coordinator for Nightline, for which she has volunteered 1,250 hours on the phone lines.
She has also “had the opportunity to train other students and other Nightlines, offering welfare training to loads and loads of students groups”.
She explains: “The most recent was at the Take a Stand BUCS initiative launch, providing training to about 100 members of sports teams”.
“Laura has also had the opportunity to meet with the Vice Chancellor of the University to discuss mental health”
Laura has also had the opportunity to meet with the Vice Chancellor of the University to discuss mental health.
She has also been trained in bystander intervention training, telling us: “This was an incredible experience and made clear to me that we need a clear campaign about consent”.
Laura believes her experience has given her an insight into the actual functioning of the Students’ Union. “I think I know a lot about the SU [thanks to her role as] the current Facilitator for the Union Council and Scrutiny Panel”.
The policy that Laura seeks to stress most is giving further levels of training to welfare representatives, “whether that be in a hall committee or in a sports society”.
She believes that this is key because these representatives often come across students who will need the support.
She tell us that representatives that are sufficiently trained in signposting and welfare could prove effective in tackling mental health problems.
When we ask what she is looking forward to most about the campaign, Laura tells us: “I’m looking forward to the Question Time mostly, because I quite like talking”.
Naomi Adele is running for the position of Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer, with welfare training as her main policy concern.
Naomi’s manifesto focuses on the training of different welfare roles, from the University’s halls, the SU and Welcome Week, to courses and societies.
When asked how she plans to establish these positions, Naomi told us that she wants to provide mental health advisors “with more services outside of the university”.
She cites her own experience of the University’s welfare system, stressing that “some people [seeking support] have instantly been referred to counselling, which is a long waiting list”. “We need more resources to combat this,” she urges.
“Those roles exposed her to students who haven’t had a great time at university”
In terms of her experience for the role, Naomi has held various relevant positions.
She has been the Welfare Rep for her hall twice, and currently holds the position of Publicity and Fundraising Volunteer Officer at Nottingham Nightline, a confidential listening and information service run by students.
Naomi told us that “those roles exposed her to students who haven’t had a great time at university”, as well as proving her approachability and supportiveness, attributes she feels are crucial to this position.
Naomi finishes by saying that she is excited by the campaign process and the opportunity to talk to a lot of people.
She urges everyone to vote – “even if you don’t vote for me!”
Tom Stanley, running for Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer, is the Social Sec for the Summer School.
His main goal is to use his personal experiences to improve the welfare systems currently in place.
Tom feels that the Extenuating Circumstances process is currently quite impersonal and does not factor in aspects such as connections with personal tutors.
He wants to make sure that those with mental health problems are being checked up on regularly and that they are properly looked after: “A lot of my campaign is about addressing the issues I experienced last year and closing a chapter to my own mental health problems”.
“Tom is most looking forward to addressing his own views and experiences [and] encouraging people to talk about their own”
Tom also adds that the University has an excellent counselling service but there are improvements to be made, such as “accessibility and the waiting times”.
One of Tom’s other priorities is to make sure postgraduate and international students feel involved with the SU by working with the international office to make sure that key issues are fixed.
Tom’s final key point is “Welfare in Sport”. He wants to make sure that the new committee has a foundation to work from in order to extend the initiative to involve bigger clubs.
He plans to do this by helping to develop a platform, similar to those of the SU networks, which can provide help and guidance when needed.
Tom is most looking forward to addressing his own views and experiences, encouraging people to talk about their own, and further promoting mental health awareness events.
To read the manifestos for your Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer candidates, head to the Student Leader Elections website.
Featured image: Daniel Norman