Hi everyone! Natalie here! I hope you enjoyed reading about what I had been up to in Semester 1. I have had a busy few months but loved every minute of it and I’m looking forward to what Semester 2 has to offer. Read on to find out what I have been up to in December and January!
Attended the Officer/Convenor meetings in December and January:
At the start of December and end of January, I attended the officer/convenor meetings. Both meetings included discussing what we had been working on (I will discuss my work in this blog), and the community meet up event ‘Refreshers’ happening in February. In the December meeting, we came up with a name of the event and what we hoped students would get out of the event. Then, in the January meeting, we finalised plans of what would happen during the event and agreed that we should start to promote to our student communities. Through this event, students will not only get to meet and speak with their community convenor about any issues or questions they have, but they will also be able to meet like-minded people in their communities and all other communities in the Student Union! Also, there will be treats/pizza… what more could you want?! Can’t wait to see you there!
Attended the Disability Hub (Leeds City Council) meeting:
As Disabled Students’ Convenor, I was given the opportunity to join the Disability Hub meeting with Leeds City Council at the start of December. As well as the Council, loads of local businesses and local people with disabilities from Leeds attended the meeting too. This meeting primarily focused on the road works that are currently happening in Leeds and how some of these were affecting pathways in the city centre which was becoming an issue for people with disabilities (and especially wheelchair users). A Leeds City Council manager took notes of all complaints and concerns and said they would feedback to hopefully sort this. By attending this meeting, I was able to get up to date on things in the city that may be affecting students in my community and finding out what was getting done about these issues. No student had come to me about any issues at this point, but if they did, I would have been able to provide an update on what was discussed at the meeting. After my next meeting with the hub, I will be providing students with an update of my last two meetings in case any student is affected by any of the discussions in the meetings. As well as this, I will also be giving students a chance to provide me with feedback for me to take to the next meeting.
Attended Leeds Beckett University’s Disability Action Group meeting:
In December, I attended my first Disability Action Group with the university which staff from the disability service and staff and students who are disabled came along to as well. This meeting focused on the mental health charter and the work that is currently happening around this. Through this meeting I learnt that the university decided to apply to something called the ‘University Mental Health Charter’. I also learnt that this is a charter that was created by mental health charity ‘Student Minds’ and that it includes 18 different themes with 2 of the themes the Students’ Union will be leading with (Student Voice and Participation and Social Integration and Belonging). You can find out information here: 191202_summary_leaflet_01.pdf (studentminds.org.uk). By attending this meeting, not only was I able to learn more about the charter, but also make sure I was including the two themes in all the work I do for the students in my community (and know about it in case a student in my community had questions about the charter).
Met with Leeds Beckett University’s Disability Advice:
At the start of January, myself and the EDI coordinator met with head of disability services to discuss our roles e.g., what we all do and how we could work together in the future. I only knew very little about disability services e.g., the support they give me, so it was great to hear about all the help and support that the service provides students with. It was great to find out too in case a student ever contacted me and had questions about them.
Met with LBSU Academic Experience Officer Meg Darroch to discuss #Doitmyway plans:
On the back of the launch of #Doitmyway in November, myself and Meg decided we wanted to expand the toolkit for students. We thought it could be a good idea if we created and added a resource bank to the kit. Right now, we hope that the resource bank will include things like life and study hacks for students, resources to help with stress and a place for students to write about their achievements. The resource bank is in very early planning stages, but we are meeting regularly to come together to our share ideas and bring the bank to life!
Met with Woman’s Community Convenor Yara Vizinho:
In the middle of January, Myself and the woman’s convenor met to discuss our plans to work together in 2022. We decided we wanted to plan a series of ‘Mindfulness Workshops’ sessions online for students in our communities. We want these sessions to help students in our communities with tips and ways overcome things like stress, anxiety, and feelings of overwhelm while being at university. We still need to meet a couple more times but keep an eye out your Teams communities in the next month or so for more details about this!
Planned and led two focus groups with students from the Disabled Community about a proposed ‘Disabled Student Hub’:
Last year before I was elected, as part of the Student Union’s ‘Have Your Say’, a student came to the university with an idea for students with disabilities. Their idea involved the university creating a ‘Disabled Student Hub’ at both campuses. The student hoped the hub could be a place for an online function for students to use on campus, a place for students to go for help and support, a safe and quiet study place and possibly even a place for students to volunteer at. Before myself and the Students’ Union go to the university with the idea, we decided it was a good idea to hold focus groups with students to hear if this would be something that students would want and their thoughts on this. We also used the focus groups as a place to meet and listen to students who had feedback or issues while being at university. Overall, both groups were very successful, and we got a lot of good information/feedback from the students who joined. The Union and I hope to contact the University about this in the next couple of months. Any updates will be posted via this blog or in the Teams community!
Preparing plans for Semester 2:
In January, I have spent a lot of time planning for my last months as disability convenor and coming up with new ideas (you will see these over the next few months!) to make sure students are having the best university experience possible. Having looked over my aims for my year in office, I was pleasantly surprised that I have already covered most of what I have wanted too! Next month (February), I will be running an online meetup/Q&A for the leadership election for anyone who is interested in being the next disabled community leader 2022/23. I am hoping to do this on Thursday 3rd February (AM or PM) but if people can’t do this, Thursday 10th February will also work for me! If you are unsure but don’t have any questions, feel free to join in and hear other people’s questions! This drop-in will also be a chance to chat with me and other students about your current university experience! Hope to see you there!
Continued sharing success stories for Disability History Month:
In December, as part of Disability History Month, I continued to share success stories from the students in the community. Like my update last month for this, by doing this, it gave students the chance to share and celebrate their successes (no matter how big or small) as well as highlighting the importance of the month!
Continued weekly engagement with Disabled Students Community MS Teams group:
Each week in December (when the union was open) and January, I have continued to engage with the group weekly. This has included sharing different opportunities and updates that affect the group. Some examples included introducing ‘#Doitmyway’, the community meetup in February ‘Refreshed’ and feedback opportunities (like the disabled hub focus group). By continuing to engage with the group weekly and share things like feedback opportunities, I am (or hope to be) giving the students in the group a chance to provide feedback about their current university experience (and if they are having issues, using this as a platform to help and support them to overcome what they are going through) as well as hopefully continuing to make it feel like a proper community.
Thanks for reading and see you here again for blog #4!
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! ??