Alex Taylor is running in the 2021 SU elections for the role of Welfare and Wellbeing Officer. Impact’s Jasmin Lemarie caught up with him to ask him a few questions.
What do you think makes you a good fit for the role of Welfare and Wellbeing Officer?
I think my experience, not just of the day-to-day issues I experience as a Society Welfare officer, but also as a trainee counsellor, makes me a good fit for the role of Welfare and Wellbeing Officer.
I’m not easily fazed by much as I am used to discussing and exploring ‘heavy’ topics in depth
I have spent three years studying counselling, through which I have regularly encountered more complex issues, and gained a depth of knowledge around topics at the core of welfare such as safeguarding and confidentiality.
What is more, I’m not easily fazed by much as I am used to discussing and exploring ‘heavy’ topics in depth that a lot of people find uncomfortable or draining as part of my course.
These factors combined will allow me to engage with the role whilst making a difference to those who need it most.
Why did you run for the role of Welfare and Wellbeing Officer?
I have dedicated my life to the field of Welfare and Wellbeing: I do a lot of helping individuals, usually on a 1-1 basis.
I understand that a lot of the challenges that students face on a day-to-day basis are actually as a result of larger factors beyond their control. I want to address some of these larger factors, such as difficulties accessing support, in a way that I can’t working 1-1.
I want to use all my experience to help on a larger scale to prevent avoidable issues from growing into complex issues that get in the way of the student experience.
What do you think the University needs to do in order to improve the mental wellbeing of students?
I think the University needs to implement a more individualised welfare system that takes the individual into account, rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that is designed around needs of a certain group.
Whilst the current system is the cheapest, simplest way to run things, it is not the most effective as it doesn’t support everyone and too many people are falling through the gaps.
A more individualised system would benefit the most students, as everyone would be heard and take a role in deciding what support they need. This system would be fairer to a broader range of students.
What do you think is the biggest mental health issue faced by students currently, and how would you aim to address it?
I would not name a single issue; rather a combination of many issues such as isolation, trauma, grief and loss, and stress to name but a few. For many students, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have left them with little control, and lots of small issues that combine and spiral into a much bigger crisis point that impacts all aspects of their lives.
A lot of work will need to be done
These issues will need addressing with large changes to the way the University deals with welfare issues, such as giving tutors and supervisors the training necessary to allow them to better support the students under their care. A lot of work will need to be done and a lot of this comes down to the University having a willingness to make accommodations for the issues faced by students.
COVID permitting, Ocean or Rock City?
COVID permitting, in bed with a cup of tea, some biscuits, and a box set of Greys Anatomy.
Featured image courtesy of Chiara Crompton. No changes were made to this image.
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