I have had a busy month but loved every minute of it. Read on to find out what I have been up to in November!
Hi everyone, Natalie here! I hope you enjoyed reading about what I had been up to in September and October. I also hope you have had a productive November! I have had a busy month but loved every minute of it. Read on to find out what I have been up to in November!
1. Attended both Officer/Convenor meetings for November.
As I mentioned in my last blog, every two weeks, myself, the other convenors and all four officers will be meeting to discuss our future plans, what we have been doing as well as supporting each other to bring our aims to life (to make sure students are having the best experience possible)! In both meetings, we all agreed the importance of getting our communities together and building relationships, especially due to the pandemic. We agreed that something needed to be done to make this happen so started to decide and plan a meet-up for all communities for semester 2. By planning and organising this event, we hope that this will help the communities to come together and even build start to build relationships. Details of this will be announced soon!
2. Attended the #Doitmyway training and got involved in more work on the toolkit.
#Doitmyway toolkit finally launched on Monday 22nd November on the Students’ Union’s website after months and months of hard work from the Academic Experience Officer Meg Darroch! Even though I have been involved in some of the work for this, I did not know much about what was needed in each section or how to navigate through the kit but by attending the training session, I was able to understand this and came away knowing how to support a student if they needed help with #Doitmyway. I also learnt where to direct students too (if they want to use it). In addition, I got the opportunity to film some content for the kit. This also helped me learn and understand more about how this toolkit can help students (especially students with disabilities).
3. Attended the Beckett Careers ‘Transition from University to the Workplace for Students with Disabilities’ Event.
As part of Disability History Month, I was invited to join a Beckett Careers session for students with disabilities. In the event we were joined by Steve Haines (author of ‘How to work’) who shared his expertise and spoke about what students should expect from the transition to the workplace from university. Steve also spoke about the support that workplaces should and can offer to people with disabilities or long-term health conditions. He also spoke about how people with disabilities may be able to get support from the government from schemes like ‘Access to Work’. Even though a lot of this session was aimed at life after university, a lot of students in the community work part and full-time jobs alongside their university course and may need support to do this. In the future, if a student was to come to me with a question around this, I could now help them with signposting them e.g., going to their HR department or the government website. In addition, by joining this session, I hoped to be a friendly face for students in the community!
4. Met a lecturer from Liverpool Hope University to discuss hate crime and a potential project for students.
As mentioned in my first report, I met with the Community Volunteer Coordinator at Leonard Cheshire (an organisation that helps and supports people with disabilities) and they put me in touch with a lecturer at Liverpool Hope University to discuss a disability hate crime project that they were working on and thought I may be interested. The lecturer discussed that they
were looking to design, create and launch a ‘disability hate crime toolkit’ but were looking for help from people with disabilities and long-term health conditions who had been affected by hate crime. The tool kit would provide training, enhance cultural understandings of disability, shape attitudes and values of people in education towards hate crime and disability and harness the relationship between researchers and communities. The lecturer hoped this would be something launched in Summer/Autumn next year. I thought this sounded like a great opportunity for students in the community to get involved with as this project would not only be great for gaining or working on skills but also could provide students with the chance to work with and help others. I will be meeting the lecturer in the New Year to get more information to get this project started so if you are interested, make sure to keep updated with the community posts!
5. Met with the Woman’s Convenor (Yara Vizinho).
I met with the Woman’s Convenor to see how we could work together in the future. We realised that we had similar aims, and both wanted to strengthen our communities’ relationships. Additionally, we both had recently sent out a questionnaire to our groups and it appeared we got similar results (e.g., the pandemic causing stress). From this, we agreed it would be a good idea to bring our two communities together for a meet up (and in turn, this could help members of our communities make friends etc). We also agreed that it would be good to organise and create different types of workshops to support and motivate our communities through their studies (and to try and ease any stress). We have planned our next meeting for the second week in December and from then, we will start organising the above… look out for details about this soon!
6. Met with the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator and Student Voice Insight Manager.
As part of one of my aims for this year and next, I want to be able to create a safe space for students with disabilities in the university and last year; a student had submitted a similar idea to the Students’ Union but due to the pandemic things had to be put on hold. After a busy few months, myself, the EDI Coordinator and the Student Voice And Insight Manager were able to find a time to meet up and get this project started. We spoke about what we would need to do before we take this idea to the university and how students would benefit from this. We agreed the first step would be to hold focus group to find out if students with disabilities would want this or not. By attending this meeting, I am one step closer (although possibly a lot more steps to take haha) to reach one of my aims and if this idea does happen, eventually, there will be a place where students with disabilities will be able to go to for help (as well as a place that will make them feel safe and as part of a community).
7. Created and launched a questionnaire for the community.
I created and launched a questionnaire for the community which involved finding out about the students, their disability, how their disability affects them, what is going well for them, what is going not so well for them, finding out about their interests and what they expect or expected from the community. I was able to learn about what students wanted and the issues that students were being affected by. I also learnt a bit about the students who were in the community too. From the responses, I was able to start planning my ideas around what students wanted from the community. In addition, the responses allowed me to begin to try and resolve any issues that students were being affected by (e.g., organising a workshop to help with stress).
8. Sharing success stories for Disability History Month.
To celebrate Disability History Month, I decided it would be a great idea to get success stories from students in the community and share them! Not only is this highlighting the month, but it is allowing students to recognise their achievements (big or small)!
9. Planned and held a networking event/pizza party for the community.
As well as sharing success stories, I planned and held a networking event for the community as part of disability history month! I wanted to finally bring the community together in person (as there had been no opportunities for this due to the pandemic). During the event we got to know one another, spoke about how our studies were going, and I let the students know where they could go if they needed any support from myself or the Union. I also let the students know what I had/have been up too and my aims for the year (I specifically spoke about the safe space for students with disabilities). For this aim, I hope to be running a focus group/survey in January so keep your eyes peeled (if this interests you)! We also mentioned Meg Darroch’s (Academic Experience Officer) new #Doitmyway toolkit and let students know what it was and where they can find it!
10. Continuing to engage weekly with the community via the MS Teams group.
Lastly, I have been continuing to engage with the community group to let them know about opportunities or events that are happening within the university which may interest them. One example of an event that I posted about was the Beckett Careers event (point number 3 in this blog). This event provided an insight of what a first week may look like and allowed students to ask questions about this. Feedback provided said students felt a lot more prepared on what to expect and do when they finally go through this transition. Another example of this was the questionnaire I posted in the group. By sharing this, I hoped to give students the chance to use their voice and feel part of something!
Thanks for reading and see you here again for blog #3!
P.s any questions about the above or in general, or if you have any ideas that you think could benefit the community, please do not hesitate to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.