Your Students' Union VP Activities Sophie has been working hard on her manifesto and COVID response throughout term. This report details her recent update to the Students' Council. Check out her recent focus points below:
Despite moving activity completely online, the department has been busier than ever putting on virtual activity to connect students and represent issues. Here is a brief overview of what I have been up to since Christmas as your Vice-President of Activities, representing Sports, Societies, Volunteering and Media.
Throughout the festive period, union staff worked collaboratively with the university to ensure wellbeing services and safe activity were in place for students staying on campus or returning home. The Inspiring Projects team created a schedule of One-Off Wednesday craft sessions throughout the break and we put together many packs to be collected from the welcome point. I also lead a few of the craft along sessions live on my Facebook page. We also coordinated a take-away Christmas meal for on campus students to collect and it was a pleasure to volunteer my time on Christmas Eve welcoming guests.
I also began communications with the Halls Facebook groups, setting weekly challenges and posting any upcoming activity and updates. This was to open conversation and build a relationship in the lead up to presenting a range of Halls Forums, seeking feedback and giving opportunity to raise student issues. These forums will be held in time with the publishing of the new Accommodation Handbook coming soon.
Alongside my BSL course, myself and the officers were also involved in Anti-Semitism training and Islamophobia training. I have also had the pleasure of being part of Opps Club, run by Organised Fun. Here, I meet monthly with them and Activity Officers from around the country to develop our leadership skills, discuss projects and recently had sessions on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
There are a lot of exciting development plans in the works. The Activities Department has been reviewed by Organised Fun and we have been given notes for improvement which we are now implementing through strategy meetings and creating development plans.
Similarly, I also took part in the Trustee Board Governance Review with NCVO to ensure we are doing everything we must to follow regulations and work effectively as a team to develop the big picture strategies for student experience. With the board, I have also been looking at the union’s strategy and going to meetings, with a personal focus on community building. I am working on three different development plans around student networks, halls and improvement of the Sports and Society Development Committees.
We also have regular meetings to check in on the progress of our Union Priorities; Mental Health, BME Experience and Student Hardship. Students have the opportunity to raise concerns, ask questions or provide feedback at our weekly Officer Hour drop-ins on Wednesdays at 4pm.
I have been meeting weekly with university sports staff to develop the sports strategy moving forward and supporting the event launches through the My Wellness App. Through this we have secured our clubs free new kit with the new branding and hired impressive coaches to help students get into top shape for the return of sport. Sports groups have been encouraged to work with coaches to put on online work out and I have supported leaders in creating innovative activity and socials to retain members. The Sports Development Committee have continued to meet monthly. Although there are no grants coming in, we have affiliated a new Medics FC, a social football league for medical students.
I have continued to virtually meet with club and society leaders when required and work to make myself as available and visible as possible. It is important that I maintain my social media platforms and promote opportunities for our leaders. I have put a focus on encouraging collaborative events between groups to support committees with lack of engagement. Although attendance has be lower this year, I am working with groups to create alternative content to boost visibility. It was also great to speak at an event at the University of East London about Societies and Covid-19, sharing ideas and suggestions from the success of our UCLan groups. The Society Development Committee has continued to meet monthly to affiliate new groups and award grants for virtual activity.
I have also been maintaining the Societies Scoreboard with 15 groups engaged and awarded £25 to both the Chinese Society and Cheer Club for being top of the leader board at the end of Semester 1.
The Volunteer Leads for the Inspiring projects have a done a great job adapting to virtual life, you can find their recent achievements in my Pulse Article below.
I have also been involved in the organisation of a two-week Volunteer Development Programme free for all students, with a range of sessions. I facilities one on Conflict Management supported by Organised Fun, which was well received.
I have meet regularly with the RAG community volunteers who have put on a range of fundraisers for Lancashire Mind and Guide Dogs UK, while supporting clubs and societies with their ideas. We have currently raised £4300 for charity and celebrated achievements throughout Volunteer Week. I also supported the promotion of volunteer activity for Time to Talk Day and during Volunteer Week hosted a collaborative event with Student Minds on mental wellbeing and we did some crafts.
The Performance Society Coordinator and I have continued to meet the volunteers every fortnight to induct new members and check in on project progress. We have over 100 volunteers creating content that is posted three times a week, Tuesday to Thursday. We also elected a new interim Head of TV to assist with video content. Congratulations Alana! We are working now on our election coverage, supporting the Review Empire content and have a few special things in the works.
We are facing a rise in student issues due to the current circumstances and confusions around the standards of virtual teaching. We have always met twice weekly to discuss upcoming issues and working on solutions. I have supported the 9k4what student campaign group in their promotion of complaints procedures to reduce tuition fees and support the work on rent reductions through my networks with students in halls and meeting multiple times with other officers nationally to develop plans.
I ran trials and found us a University Challenge time for the first time in years! We are currently waiting to hear back if we have made it onto the telly after interviews and testing a few weeks ago.
I am also still hosting my monthly open mics on Teams in hopes or organising a virtual music event in the future.