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Disabled Students’ Community Leader End-of-year Report 2022/2023

Hear from your Disabled Students’ Community Leader, Susan Hirst, as she recounts her activity over the academic year.

Disabled Students CommunitylbsuStudent Voice

Hear from your Disabled Students’ Community Leader, Susan Hirst, as she recounts her activity over the academic year.

During the last academic year, in my role as Disabled Students’ Community Leader, I have come to better understand access and inclusivity issues for disabled students at Leeds Beckett University.

I started in the role with three key objectives, to engage with our disabled students, to improve links and information between disability services and students and to raise mental health awareness for all students of all genders.

Whilst I admit that I have only just scratched the surface in terms of addressing the wide and diverse needs of the disabled student community, I do believe that I have achieved those goals in the activities and events of the last year set out below:

  • I attended a welcome day for disabled students intending to enroll at Leeds Beckett as well as all three fresher’s fairs in September to meet and greet all students from all communities and to liaise with my fellow community leaders and LBSU officers.
  • We followed up from the freshers’ fair with an informal welcome mixer on the 27th September 2022 at the Headingley campus to introduce students to the communities and the work we do with them to create change.
  • I hosted drop-in sessions to support disabled students and to improve general knowledge of the kinds of support that student services can help with. These were held on Thursday October 6th at City Campus and at Headingley Campus on October 13th, with subsequent sessions then hosted virtually on teams.
  • I participated in Disability History Month in November 2022 by publishing an article on disability inclusion at the university and the University itself was lit up in support of the occasion.
  • I helped to raise awareness of the disability and wellbeing services with a comprehensive article “Prevention is better than cure” on disability support available at LBU. This was published to recognise University Mental Health Awareness Month in March 2023.
  • I also attempted to improve links between disabled students and staff and services by meeting with the Disability Advice Manager and liaising with other members of the LBU disability and well-being team; obtaining up to date information and links to include in my prevention article.
  • In April, in recognition of Autism Inclusion week, I prepared an article giving ten top tips for Autistic Students to access support if needed.
  • I finished off the year by attending the NUS Liberation Conference from 17th to 18th April in Blackpool along with the Trans Students’ Community Leader, Gigi Meyer. We participated in workshops throughout the conference to develop national policy and both of us stood campaigned together in the national NUS elections for places on their Liberation Committee.
  • My final community event was a sensory floral workshop at City Campus in May which was extremely popular amongst students from all communities.  The students were invited to a hot drink and snack whilst they selected flowers to make up floral posies to take home with them, which were designed to soothe the senses with flowers of varying colours and scents.

Thank you to all community members who engaged in activity throughout the year, it was great to see you and hear about your university experiences. If you have an idea for a campaign or project that would improve the lives of disabled students at Leeds Beckett, get in touch with us at studentvoice@leedsbeckett.ac.uk and we can support you to create the change you want to see.