Emily Coleman is running in the 2020 SU elections for the role of Welfare and Wellbeing officer. Impact‘s News Editor Lauren McGaun caught up with her to ask why she thinks she would make a good candidate for the position.
What do you think makes you a good candidate for the role?
Being on the Welfare Network for the past two years has given me the experience of working with many of the Welfare groups and services within the SU. I have a passion for improving the Welfare provisions for all students throughout University and have the experience, skills and ideas to be able to be able to drive forward positive change.
Why did you want to run for the role of Welfare and Wellbeing officer, and what is the main student mental health issue you would like to tackle?
Improving people’s time at University by giving them as much support as possible in terms of their welfare is something which motivates me greatly. Being able to have a positive impact on students’ time at university is incredibly rewarding and it is that which drew me to the role. A huge potential issue students are currently facing is feeling lonely whilst they are stuck at home and unable to meet up with their friends so I would work towards making sure no student feels as though they are alone. I acknowledge that many students face not only mental health issues whilst at university, but many other issues too so I would also aim to tackle these.
“I think establishing what students want is a key part of identifying how the University would move forward”
How would you ensure that the university is able to continue providing student mental health support when a lot of services are now having to operate remotely due to coronavirus?
I think an important way this can be done is through creating networks and resources students can access so that no student feels alone during this time. I would work to ensure that the university adapts their services to still be available to students during this time, whether that be through running counselling sessions over Zoom or ensuring other services appropriately adapt. I think establishing what students want is a key part of identifying how the University would move forward.
How will you ensure that student mental health services are advertised well and can be easily accessed?
I think there are many ways this can be done, whether that be signposting on the SU and university websites, posts on hall Facebook groups or sent out to Societies/Sports Team’s/ SRS’ Welfare Officers who can share them with their members or teams. I think the key here is collaborating with as many groups and services as possible to ensure the widest reach possible.
How are you planning on supporting students working from home during lockdown, and especially those with pre-existing health conditions who may have a longer isolation period?
Constant communication is important so a potential idea could be to run a buddy scheme where students are put into groups and chat online once a week to ensure people have others they can talk to. I think portraying to the student community that I am available, even if they just want someone to talk to for an hour or so, is key! Signposting students to different services and support they can access through regular Officer Facebook posts would also be a great way of providing support!
How would you ensure sufficient funding to expand student mental health services in the way you have proposed?
The financial implications of COVID-19 on the SU are going to be substantial and so it will be important to review where money is currently being spent and identify if it is being used in the best way possible. Ensuring funding is utilised to its full potential will be imperative so meetings with all Stakeholders within these services will be needed to identify the best ways to use funding.
“I think portraying to the student community that I am available, even if they just want someone to talk to for an hour or so, is key!”
Can you expand on your plans for an end of year mental health event? Would it be a formal awards ceremony to recognise the achievements of certain groups or more of an informal gathering?
The end of year event wouldn’t be a mental health event specifically, it would be open to all volunteers within Welfare-related groups (e.g. Night Owls) and would just be a big way of saying thank you to all those volunteers for the work they’d put in throughout the year! It would be more of an informal event and each group could display work they had done throughout the year and there’d be nibbles for everyone to enjoy!
Emily also added in the virtual hustings, hosted by the University of Nottingham Students’ Union, that if she was elected as Welfare and Wellbeing officer she would be committed to finding out what students want with welfare campaigns in order to deliver them. Students are less likely to engage with them if they do not cover topics that are important and relevant to them.
Voting for the 2020 SU elections closes at 3pm on Monday 11th May.
Featured image courtesy of Nina Sasha.
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