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Convenor Update - May - Final 2021-22 Blog!

Disabled Students’ Community Convenor – Role Update: Final Blog

 

Hi everyone - I hope you are keeping well! I also do hope if you are close to finishing, you are taking loads of breaks, or if you are finished, that you are enjoying some well-deserved time off! I handed in my final piece of work mid-May, and it feels very surreal and has not quite hit me yet! Writing this blog also seems a little surreal and very bittersweet as it happens to be my 7th and final blog as my time as your disabled community convenor (as my final official day is 27th of May 2022). Before this date comes, please find out below what I have been up to in my last month in the role…

Final Convenor and Officer meeting

With my role coming to an end, I attended the final officer and convenor meet. Within this meeting we all went one by one and discussed all the things we had achieved for students in our role. Some things I discussed included giving students the opportunity to speak their voice through such things as the focus groups I held for the potential creation of a space for disabled students on campus, sharing success stories from members of the community throughout disability history month, through the questionnaire I created, and meeting students (virtually or face to face). I also helped Meg, the Academic Experience Officer with the launch of the tool kit ‘#Doitmyway’ which was aimed at students with disabilities as well as raising awareness of different disabilities during awareness days and months.

Final meeting with Academic Experience Officer Meg Darroch

I had a final meeting with Meg to discuss plans to finalise the resource bank for the #Doitmyway accessibility toolbox. If you haven’t seen or heard me speaking about this, myself and Meg decided to create a bank of useful documents and links to help students (especially students with disabilities). The bank will include things such as study tips, life hacks, and much more! In this meeting we did some final research to find any helpful hints and tips around studying and mental and physical health.

Creation of a Convenor/Leader guide for the new Disabled Students’ Community Lead for 2022/23 (and arrange a meeting)

As I write this blog, it is my final week… so I decided to contact the new Disabled Students’ Community Lead who will be starting the position in September 2022 to arrange a meeting. I thought I could provide a quick overview of my year and talk about some of the activities I had been involved in (as well as giving them a chance to ask their own questions to prepare them for their year ahead). I also created a short guide to pass over to them just with my main tips and things that helped me in my last 8 months in the role.

Diverse Matters interview

I was invited to an interview with an organisation called ‘Diverse Matters’ (a training consultancy organisation) to discuss my thoughts on the Student Union and its diversity and inclusion (in relation to such things as activities and support that they offer to students). By attending this meeting and providing my own feedback, as a convenor and a student, I am having a (hopefully positive) input for the future of the union and for future students.

AccesserCise App meeting with LBU and LBSU staff

I was invited to a meeting to meet with an alumnus and Paralympics weightlifter who is currently undertaking a PhD and in the middle of creating an app for people with disabilities. They are looking for students and universities to pilot the app to get feedback and this meeting included going through what the app currently looks like and its current features. During the meeting I provided my thoughts on the app (with students with disabilities in mind) and listened to what other participants in the meeting had to say.

Feedback session on new community platform

This may be new news to you, but staff at the Students’ Union are looking to move the online communities’ hubs from MS Teams to the Students’ Union’s website (hopefully starting from the new term in September). In this session, I got to see a preview of how the website currently looked and gave my opinions and any feedback I had on anything that I thought was missing to make sure students are getting the best possible platform to communicate with others in their community.

Access2 focus group

As Disabled Students’ Convenor, I was invited to a focus group around the impact of blended learning and its accessibility (the project is named ‘Access2’ in case you have already seen or heard of this). The research is tied to the NUS ‘New Vision for Education’ and specifically focused on accessibility in higher education with blended learning (and trying to improve this for the future/future students). I was invited to speak on behalf of students with disabilities; throughout the focus group I gave my honest views from my own perspectives and what I had learnt from students with disabilities in the last 8 months. Some points that were discussed included the pros and cons of blended learning and the support the university had provided through blended learning. Lastly, If you have your own views on this, you can fill in this form and be in with the chance of winning £50: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VDKF39T.

Disabled Students’ Community Convenor exit meeting

One of my final tasks as community convenor was to attend an exit meeting with the Student Union. In this meeting, I discussed how I found my role and any feedback or recommendations I had for the future. Like the diversity and inclusion interview, by attending this and providing feedback, I will now have had a positive input for the future of student convenors/leads and how the Student Union will work with these students in the future (and make sure that the new convenors/leaders are doing everything they can to improve their student communities).

Secured a meeting with Associate Director Student Services and Head of Access and Inclusion

As part of my role, I have been helping to try and get a safe space created for students with disabilities in both campuses as part of a ‘Have Your Say’ idea. The next steps are to feedback all the information myself and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator have collected through the focus groups that I held at the start of the year with the Associate Director of Student Services and Head of Access and Inclusion (as well as finding out if this idea really could be brought to life).

Supporting students with different enquiries

Students with disabilities are open to contacting me about any problems they may be having with university. This can be from general questions about the university to questions around mitigation or extensions. Sometimes, I might not always know the answer, but I will always (try my best) to be able to help find the answer to the question through signposting to the right department or person that does know the answer.

Communicating with the community

Throughout my last month, I have continued to communicate with the community with different opportunities and events coming up that I feel may benefit the members. I also created a post to let the members know it was my final day and thanked everyone for their support in the last 8 months as well as letting the members in the community know who can support them until the next community lead starts in September 2022.

Thank you for reading my final blog! Before I go, I just want to quickly say that I have loved every minute of being your community convenor for the last 8 months. Thank you to everyone who put their trust in me and elected me back in April last year – it has been my absolute pleasure! If you need anything or have any questions from the start of June to September, please email studentvoice@leedsbeckett.ac.uk and a member of the Student Union team will be able to assist you. Lastly, if you are either returning to Beckett in September or now have other plans, I just want to say good luck to you all with your future, and that I am sure you will do amazing whatever you do! ??

 

Natalie x

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