Officer Team Update

Wednesday 11-11-2020 - 15:25

Image description: Barbara Pereira and Pango Simwaka at Freshers Fair

Barbara Pereira | Union Affairs Officer

The start of my role was spent participating in an extensive training programme to help me transition into my new role as Union Affairs Officer. I participated in several training conferences and events led by, Wonkhe and National Union of Students (NUS). In addition to this, I have been shaping myself as the best version of myself in this role through leadership development training and widening my cultural and sensitivity awareness through completing anti-Semitism training and Islamophobia awareness training led respectively by FOSIS (The Federation of Student Islamic Societies) and UJS (Union of Jewish Students).

I spent the summer months networking with other Students’ Unions across the UK to gather best practice on how we can best shape our provisions and support students in this new climate. I now also attend the national University Alliance SU meetings that allow for us to influence government changes by representing our individual students’ perspectives. Alongside the above, my work has consisted of working on creating a mutually beneficial relationship with the University to best support students affected by COVID-19 and studying in this new climate. I have increased the visibility of the SU and the services we offer, at time of writing, having presented at four major University online-events. Participating in the online freshers’ events and attending the physical freshers fair.

Most recently, I am working to create a student community hub and gain support from other Leeds Students’ Union presidents to come together collectively to aide students in peer-to-peer support in their local areas. I have been representing students in their communities and having their voices heard in meetings with Leeds local councillors and Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour team and also local residents’ groups such as the ARARA group (Ash Road Residents’ Association). Part of this objective is to ease the tensions in the local community, and part of the work towards this will include a community awareness campaign on the positive impacts made my students. Supporting student safety is a priority held by all of the team and is something we have been collectively working to achieve. In addition to this, we are all working together to tackle how best to support the isolated and how to provide the social element of University to our students.
 


Image description: Sherry Iqbal at Freshers Fair

Sherry Iqbal | Education Officer

This year, I am aiming to continue work on ensuring that Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnicity (BAME) students feel a greater sense of belonging at Leeds Beckett University and have an excellent education experience, following the success of last year. I have designed a BAME Student Satisfaction survey which will be launched next month to capture data on students’ feelings at University. At the time of writing, there have been over 60 BAME Ambassador applications, and interviews and appointments are due to take place shortly. The SU leadership elections are taking place at present and approximately 32% of nominees identify as being either Black, Asian or a Minoritised Ethnicity student, which is excellent! Successful candidates will be announced soon. Since July I have been working on several projects, including leading the COVID-19 Impact Survey. This survey explored students’ feelings of the way COVID impacted different aspects of their University life, exploring digital poverty, wellbeing, teaching and learning needs and facilities. Approximately 3000 respondents participated with over 40,000 open text comments received. A main report has been created for the University, and further school level reports have been created and distributed to deans of school and heads of service, who I have been working with to implement and discuss the recommendations of the report. This work is ongoing, and we will respond to students needs as and when they change.

Throughout July & August, I engaged in several induction and training activities to support me in my role. Training included NUS Lead & Change, WONKHE webinars, Introductions to Unipol, Student Governor Training run by Advance HE and internal University & Students’ Union Training. I have also completed Anti Semitism training provided by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and Islamophobia Awareness training provided by the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), and in addition to this, I also attended a Muslim Sabbs training event which provided me with insight and knowledge to support my well-being and that of Muslim Students at Leeds Beckett through ISOC. I have also been working closely with the University in several areas including welcoming new students by partaking in a University podcast, welcoming students at Freshers’ Fair and supporting students virtually through social media. I have contributed student opinions to the Universities new strategy and further work on the Strategy is needed and this will be reported back, where appropriate.

Furthermore, I have supported the development of academic regulations, ensuring education is accessible to all, making mitigation easier to access and supporting students who need to self-isolate. We’ll keep a close eye on this work and will respond to student need throughout the year. I work with several teams across the University and have engaged in discussions with the widening access and participation team, working to promote events and activity such as Talking Heads and Ladkiyan. This work is to support students from underrepresented backgrounds, and provides students with experiences to speak to others, gaining insight, sharing networks and developing confidence. These are safe spaces and activity will be planned and run online this year. I also work with the admissions department, whereby the new contextual admissions system is in place and I also now sit on ‘Recruitment board’ where I can provide student insight and access relevant information and data. Some key work around the experience of students and how this differs will be undertaken and further updates can be provided later in the academic year. I have also been working closely with the Careers & Employability team on several projects, including leading on the development of a Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnicity Leaders programme. This is currently being planned and I look forward to opening this up for students so we can create specific support to tackle the barriers and issues we explored last year with the BAME students’ employability experiences research. I’m really looking forward to continuing this and will feedback any information at the next members meeting.

I have also been in discussions with the Careers team around the base offering of employability development for Leeds Beckett students, and a package of support and targeted work has been developed for groups which is exciting! As some of you may remember, we began some work at the end of last year developing the ‘You Belong Here, Racism Doesn’t’ campaign. This campaign is vital to supporting students and we want to get this right, so work on this is ongoing and hopefully we’ll have some developments and updates at the next members meeting. I’ve had so many of you get in touch, and it’s been amazing to connect with you. Over the past few weeks, I’ve trained approx. 600 course reps and we’ve had some really insightful and creative conversations. I’m really looking forward to working with our amazing course reps this year and know they’ll do some amazing things. In addition to this, several of you have been in touch with feedback about your course and so I’ve been supporting you in gaining access to software, feeding back to course teams and trying to make your lives better as students. We’ve had some brilliant wins already, from timetable changes to working with the University to purchase the software that you need. There are other things that we’re still working on and I’d encourage you and your peers to keep speaking to us so we can work on these issues for you. I’ve also been supporting the other officers with their campaigns and student issues.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have been asked to speak at a couple of conferences and webinars, both in the UK and Internationally; hosts include Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), Universities UK (UUK) and the International Network of Employers & University Careers Services (INEUCS). I’ve been able to put forward the student view, driving attendees to action your concerns and speak to real students, so that our voices are heard at every level of our institutions. Additionally, I recently attended an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on returning to campus and will be partaking in a review of online learning, run by the Office For Students, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education. I’ve been working hard to collect student feedback and look forward to receiving the report and any actions undertaken by the Government. I’ve also been invited to partake in a review of the Access & Participation Plan review by the Office for Students and will be testing this out soon.

Finally, I am partaking in a national review of the National Student Survey (NSS) and if anyone has any thoughts they’d like to contribute, please don’t hesitate to get involved. It’s been busy, and with everything that’s been thrown our way, we’re still winning. I look forward to continuing to support and work with you this year. I look forward to developing the relationships in the University further, strengthening them to ensure we can effectively support, represent and connect you. I’m looking forward to running successful and thought-provoking campaigns with our BAME Ambassadors, collecting feedback via our course reps and actioning this to ensure your experience at University is the best it can be. I’m also hoping to have a completed version of the Student Research Agreement, whereby the University and Students’ Union will work together effectively to gather student insight. I’m really looking forward to providing insight from the data we’ve collected, so we can provide specific support for students at Leeds Beckett, enhancing your experience at University. I’m really hoping that we can have an excellent year, in spite of COVID and the challenges it will throw our way. I have confidence that this year will be excellent, we’ll work together to ensure you have an excellent educational experience at Leeds Beckett and build a real sense of community. If anyone has any questions about the work I’ve been doing or wants to get in touch, please do feel free to drop me an email at: s.iqbal@leedsbeckett.ac.uk.

 

Image description: Pango Simwaka at Freshers Fair

Mphango Simwaka | Welfare & Community Officer

I’m working on reforming student housing and aim to reduce the cost of student accommodation and tackling student loneliness. This will be done by working with key stakeholders across Leeds to create flexible tenancy agreements and reduce/abolish summer rent. I am also looking to tackle loneliness by working with relative agencies in the city and with halls of residences to increasing the Students’ Unions presence, given the current climate. I also sit on different project working groups, this includes working with Mind Mentally Healthy on workshops aimed to giving students the tools to look after their mental health. The Union have paid into partnering with Student Minds and I have been involved in consulting them on their mental health Framework and networking with other officers around the UK to get ideas. In addition to this, I have been working in collaboration with the University and the Reslife team to conduct and implement Ask for Angela around campus and accommodation. Alongside the rest of the officer team, I have been supporting the working on developing sustainable activities and events to support the wellbeing of our students. I have also been working collaboratively with the Union Affairs officer to actively support the creation of the Student Community Hub, I am also working with the Activities and Events officer organising mental health wellbeing packages and working on a Harm Reduction campaign aiming to combat the growing issue around alcohol and drug use in Leeds especially in lockdown. Most recently, I have been working with unions around Leeds in response to the assault at the alleyway next to Headingley Stadium.
 

 


Image description: working from home station 

Kay Rhoden-Campbell | Equality & Diversity Officer

Since becoming the Equality & Diversity Officer, I’ve been working with the university international team, and the SU to establish and deliver my project Plan for the year, which is to support the Black student Communities as well as the Wider Communities including Liberation and Equality Communities. One of the first projects this year was the Planning and delivering of the Black History Month events, which included a Netflix Watch party, Black History Month Quiz Prizes on the night all sorted from black owned businesses and a guest Speaker from BLM Merseyside Alliance, Delivered a talk on BLM, the Criminal Justice System and intersection.

  • Faith Spaces – Ongoing discussion with the Equality and Inclusion Manager around our faith spaces accessibility and the inclusion of all faith group as well as disability groups.
  • Also feeding into the Fora Meetings - Race and Equality Forum, Faith and Belief Forum, Rainbow Rose forum and Disability forum.
  • Regularly meeting with the Access & Participation Manager Looking at the Mature Student Learners Access.
  • Student Minds Campaign alongside the Welfare & Community Officer. Up and coming I am Currently working alongside the Education officer who is leading the BAME Student Ambassador program, we are currently in the process of interviewing the Ambassador candidates and will discuss upcoming work as we will be jointly working with the Ambassadors this year.
  • BAME Leadership program with the University Careers and Employability Team – Work in progress to Discuss later. I am also working with the School of Clinical and Applied Sciences’, Equality & Inclusion Group, looking at the admission and attainment pathway of BAME Students
  • Race Forum - Attending my very first Race forum meeting, listening to University Staff Experience of discrimination. This was also something the Fed into the YBHRD Campaign- “You Belong here Racism doesn’t”. The Launch of the Campaign was delayed after the SU raised concerns that the supporting mechanisms for the campaign were not in place. This is currently being re-assessed and reviewed by the University, with the support of the SU, to be fully ready for launch. The key to the many successful campaigns this year at LBSU has been and always will be working together with you all, as we all go navigate our way through this very difficult year I appreciate your continual support and hope you will continue working with me, as by working together all things are possible. Organisations such as the Faith and Belief Forum builds good relations between people of all faiths and belief, whilst working towards connecting and supporting Communities where people of different faiths, beliefs and cultures have strong, productive, and lasting relations.
  • Personal Development - I am training and undertaking coaching sessions to develop as a leader through the Leadership Training. It imparts effective ways to give feedback to motivate and increase the skills I have. The Leadership training also helps me to develop my own personal leadership style and the best way to respond to my team members as well as my peers thus widens my horizon and abilities to improve and challenge myself in an innovative and creative way.
     

 

Image description: Anna Crooks, Pango Simwaka and Barbara Pereira attending the student safety protest at Headingely Stadium Alleyway.

Anna Crooks | Activities & Events Officer

This term in office, I have been working with the events team on freshers, I’ve been supporting societies with online activities and I’ve been organising safe in-person social events. Alongside the rest of the officer team, I’ve been working on harm reduction and student safety. I have also been building student communities by helping set up resident-based societies and visiting halls of residence to engage with students.

I’ve started working closely with the Athletic Union and the Athletic Union student reps with the aim of increasing sports participation. We are currently working in collaboration to make sports and sports facilities more accessible, develop the social sports membership and support societies in hosting more sports-based events. I’m in the process of setting up the ‘Sports Committee’, a meeting that that will take place once a term to discuss LBU’s sports program and will have representatives from both the SU and AU present. I’m also working with the AU student reps to put on joint charity events. For the year ahead I’m hoping to continue to work more closely with society committee members, diversify the type of online events that we currently offer and prepare for re-freshers. I’m also working with the international office on what we can do to support students over the winter break.

Follow us on social media for regular updates: Barbara Pereira, Sherry Iqbal, Pango Simwaka, Kay Rhoden-Campbell and Anna Crooks.


Image description: Sherry Iqbal, Barbara Pereira, Pango Simwaka and Anna Crooks at the Freshers Fair

 

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