Meet the Candidates: Community Officer – Sofia Thomas

Sofia Thomas is running to be UoN’s Students’ Union Community Officer for the 2020/21 academic year. Impact caught up with Sofia to ask her a few questions. 

What are your plans to increase community safety? Particularly in the Lenton area?

In collaboration with the police the Union has trialled using Community Support officers at different times, however, unfortunately this has not worked. In collaboration with the Union, the Police have stationed a patrol car in Lenton that has been able to make some positive changes. As a result we must fight to ensure that this service remains and is publicised for all students living out in Lenton. 

Although we see crimes being reported on buy-and-sell, these crimes also need to be reported to the police. In order to get Police to take crime in areas such as Lenton more seriously we have to increase the reporting of these crimes to the correct authorities. One of my main pledges is to promote reporting centres, such as Student Advice on campus, so that students know what services are available to them. This information should be publicised to every member of our University so that they are able to reach out for help from the relevant people if they need to. 

“I don’t make promises I can’t keep.”

If we want to reduce crime in Lenton, then we must work together. My plan will directly engage students so that together, we can all help reduce crime in our community. 

In what ways to you intend to improve public transport for UoN students?

I don’t make promises I can’t keep. This is why I have pledged to establish residents committees so that students can raise their concerns with regards to different areas, specifically the cost of transport. It’s essential to be pragmatic and to understand that the cost of transport in Nottingham is actually one of the cheapest for students across the whole of the UK. Of course I will listen to students’ concerns and qualms and I will act on them where necessary, however it is simply not possible to make some of the changes that other candidates have suggested. 

There is currently a lot of tension between Lenton residents and students living there. How do you plan to help alleviate this tension?

There needs to be a direct conversation between residents and students in which concerns may be aired and hopefully resolved. Through encouraging a healthy discourse between students and residents there is scope for a reduction of tension. 

We must remind the general public that students bring a net benefit to Nottingham. From the money we spend in shops and pubs, to our action in community initiative, we help make Nottingham the great city that it is today. We must make sure that local residents see the benefits that we bring by emphasising our huge role within the community on all University and SU channels. 

In addition to this, through my policy of my increasing reporting of crime in student areas, I hope to raise awareness of the issues that students face to local residents. I hope that this will allow students and residents to work to fight our common issues together.

Community officers work very closely with public services such as public transport and the police, what will you do to ensure that these relationships continue to be successful and fruitful?

My experience in organising (what was supposed to be) a community wide event in Varsity 2020 has taught me how to effectively work and negotiate with outside groups. Furthermore, through working in the SU I have already cemented fantastic working relationships with internal employees.

My experience will be extremely valuable when working with external services such as the police and public transport companies. Further to this, my policies are extremely reasonable and
pragmatic, which means that external services should be more willing to listen to our concerns as we aren’t making unrealistic demands. 

“Enough is enough, we need to work to make Nottingham fairer, safer and healthier.”

Why should people choose you as community officer?

I’m not running just so I can hang out with Nicci and Sue at reception and I’m not running just to get my hands on an officer gilet. I am running for this position because I experienced the issues that students face and I have created a clear and tangible plan that will make our community fairer, safer and healthier.

Many of you reading this know what it’s like to be discriminated against just because of your socio-economic background, many of you know what it’s like to have to text a mate just to make sure they got back home safe because Lenton’s streets are so unsafe and many of you know how it feels to have your mental and physical well-being ignored because people simply didn’t care. Personally, I too know how this feels. 

I also know how frustrating it can be when candidates make broad promises about policies that will not be fulfilled as they prove to be impossible to implement as soon as they take office. As a result all of my policies have been fully researched through discussions with the relevant University and SU staff, with the best interests of all students being at the heart of all of my promises. 

Enough is enough, we need to work to make Nottingham fairer, safer and healthier. I am running for this position because I have experienced just how unfair, unsafe and unhealthy being a student in Nottingham truly is. 

Voting for the 2020 SU elections closes at 3pm on Monday 11th May.

The link to vote for the 2020 Students’ Union candidates is here.

Aidan Hall

Featured image courtesy of Nina Sasha. 

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