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Sabbatical Officer Report: Fawziyyah Ahmed, VP Wellbeing & Diversity

VP Wellbeing and Diversity – Fawziyyah Ahmed

 

Manifesto page on the SU website: https://www.upsu.com/representation/representatives/vpwellbeingdiversity/

 

Wellbeing

Manifesto 1: Make Wellbeing forums as regular as sports and society forums, this would create a platform that would break the stigma surrounding mental health, and give students the opportunity to have their voices heard and for students to give feedback on student support services. 

  • The forums are essentially be a platform for students to find out information about the support services available for them. It will serve as a feedback session to find out what works for them and what does not work for them
  • I have hosted a total of 4 Wellbeing forums this academic year which have proven to be successful. These forums are an open space for students to talk about anything relating to Wellbeing and also for students to provide feedback of the support services and how students want to be supported by the University.
  • The most recent Wellbeing forum was on the 24th of February 2021.  I got in touch with the Law and Criminology school rep to send it to course reps within their school. The attendance was better than the previous and some very useful was collated which will be passed on the support services team. The theme of the feedback was on accessibility of the website, how the support services are advertised. Some students shared their experiences of using some of the support services to other students which was very useful.
  •  I also asked the students present about the possibility of Wellbeing Champions, some of the students welcomed the idea of having Wellbeing champions, whilst some students did not feel comfortable with the idea of students supporting students as it may put additional pressure on students. I will be exploring this idea further.
  • One student mentioned that the Wellbeing forum is a great idea and they believed that more students would benefit from it. I am looking to host the next forum sometime in March and will focus on promoting it to reps 

 

Diversity

This manifesto point was aimed at working alongside the EDI committee to champion equality and diversity by running campaigns that celebrate and educate our diverse community. Due to the restrictions in place, majority of the campaigns have been virtual

Manifesto 2: Work alongside the University Equality and Diversity team to champion equality and diversity using promotional videos and posters to tackle issues relating to racism, islamophobia, homophobia, or any other form of prejudice thus making campus a welcoming environment for all

  • I attended a training session for privilege and bias at the beginning of August last year. It was very useful and insightful. It also included a privilege walk which was very useful and gave me some a better understanding of privilege and bias and will be useful for organizing campaigns on this topic area 
  • Last year, I led the campaign for Black History Month 2020 and Disability History Month 2020. Due to the restrictions, most of the events were virtual. I hosted events ranging from Open forums to Virtual Cook-A-longs to watch Parties. For Black History Month, I worked collaboratively with some of our societies, they took the lead on a number of events and it was quite to see students celebrating who they are. Majority of the events were well attended and the student body engaged with posts on social media
  • For LGBTQ+ month, I worked with the LGBT+ Part Time Officer and Trans Part Time Officer to put out a post that celebrated and created awareness of the month.  
  • For Movember (Men’s Mental Health), I ran a digital campaign to raise awareness on issues around men’s physical and mental health on social media to create awareness of the importance of Movember and why it is important.
  • #BeAnAlly Campaign: This campaign is set to launch in a few weeks’ time, I am taking my time with this one so I can get the best out of it. It will focus on sharing tips and creating awareness of some microaggressions faced by some marginalized groups such as BAME, People with Disabilities, LGBTQ+, Muslim and Women. The main aim is to create awareness of some of the prejudice that people face in our community such as Ableism, Homophobia etc. I will be working with the University’s EDI committee to create awareness of this campaign, so it is shared across the University. This has slightly progressed since my last update, I sent the information of the campaign to the liberation PTO, so far, the Trans and Non-Binary PTO and the Faith and Belief PTO have expressed their interest in taking part. I will be getting in touch with clubs and societies that identify as being part of liberation groups to ask if they would like to get involved in the campaign. 

 

International Students

This is one of my main manifesto points which focuses on improving the support of International students in the University of Plymouth. I have covered quite a bit where I have worked with different parts of the University and the SU to see how we can support international students better

Manifesto 3: Work alongside the Student Support Services to orientate international students to be knowledgeable about mental health, thereby enabling them to support themselves as well as their peers. Using the welcome week and social media as a platform to engage the students.  

  • At the beginning of my role back in the summer, I worked alongside the University with the quarantine procedure for international students arriving in the UK, to ensure that these students would be adequately supported on arrival which includes where these students can know where to access support services.
  •  I have regular catch up with the international student advice team (ISA) to find out how international students are coping and if they require support and how the University can support them further.  
  • I will be sharing posts on social media to try and engage all students including international students on how they can care for their wellbeing during this unprecedented time.
  • The SU president and I are hosted an international student open forum on the 3rd of February 2021, where international students can come along to provide feedback and to be signposted on a range of topics such as Wellbeing, COVID hardship fund and more. The international student advice team will also be attending the session to provide information/answer questions relating to immigration/visa. Although the session was not well attended, a few international students sent their questions through the reps and via email. Moving forward, we agreed to hold another forum but ensure promotions are more and ensure emails are sent to students via ISA and the English learning center.  
  • I am looking to compile an International student mental health guide after being aspired by other unions. I have reached out to some of these other unions asking them some for some tips and information that will be helpful for international students in Plymouth. 

 


 

This section of my report will highlight some of the work I have undertaken outside my manifesto points but are relevant part of my role as a sabbatical officer

 

Faculty Teaching and Learning Quality Committee (FTLQC) (FoAHB) 

 

I am the lead representative for the faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business. My role is to work with the school representatives within that school to ensure that the students within that faculty have adequate support and have appropriate learning experience.

 

I have been attending the FTLQC for the faculty of Art, Humanities and Business alongside the other school representation. I raised a number of issues based on the feedback I had received from the School reps and course reps. I have also passed this feedback to the VP education to see if there is anything that can be raised at a higher level. Here are a few of the issues that have been raised within the meeting.

 

  • For the pre-recorded lectures: someone from the CCJ school asked the school rep for CCJ to raise at the TLQC as well as follow up with him in an email. 
  •  For the personal tutor support- Bonnie said she would email all the ATL to email personal tutors, reminding them of their duty in supporting students. Also, the school reps where told get specific examples and raise at TLQC. 
  •  For library resources-the person from the library has said the lack of e-resources is a problem across the UK but they are working to get alternatives for students 
  •  For Quality feedback- The School rep for CCJ was actioned to follow up with the module lead on the specific course and I also mentioned that it’s something we are starting to see in other schools 
  •  For Access to resources for practical courses- they said they are currently working with to reopen facilities by the 8th of March, but Bonnie said she will email the head of school to see if there’s a chance it can be reopened sooner.  Library also said they have some resources such as cameras, but they will have confirm first

 

Access Participation Plan

This is one of the projects that the University is working towards and it focuses on improving the access, progress and participation of underrepresented groups which includes BAME, Students with Disabilities, Mature students as well as students from low income backgrounds. The University has made some pledges on how they are working towards enabling access and promoting success for all students, regardless of their background. But the key thing that is missing is student engagement

  • As part of the Office for Students (OfS) requirement, I am the lead representative for the student submission for the OFS review which is focused on holding the University to account for the promises they made to students from underrepresented groups on the support they have been given with regards to Access Participation and Success of underrepresented groups.
  •  I had a meeting with the director of student experience and part of the APP group. This meeting was for us to ask questions to have a better understanding that took place in the 19/20 plan.
  • For the submission, we are looking to put together a survey based on the student submission that will be sent out to students from the underrepresented groups to have clear students' feedback on how they feel they have been supported by the University based on how the promises on that were made.  
  • We are also looking to put together a focus group of some students. I have had conversations with a few students who may be interested in taking part of the focus group. As an SU we are working towards the deadline in April and are hoping to have something ready for Board of Governors so they can have a look at our submission before the date.  

 

Sexual Health/Sexual Violence Campaign

Week commencing 16th November, the University launched its Sexual Violence Misconduct Policy. During this week, I arranged an interview with the UPSU President, KC and head of student services, Alice Ludgate to introduce the week. The interview consisted of aims and importance of the week, what is the SVM policy, what's on during the week and lastly where students can access both internal and external support. During the week, I chaired a debate, alongside the part-time Welfare Officer, on topics relating to sexual violence such as sugar dating.

 

Accommodation/Rent Rebate Campaign

I hosted know your rights session last year with the student advice team to inform students to their rights as tenants staying in a student accommodation. The session was very formative and highlighted the rights of students as well as the rights of landlords. The session ended with me and the advice students to stop and think before signing any tenancy agreements for the 2021 session and informing students that the advice team carries out free tenancy checks for all students, and are free, independent and confidential, so it would be a good idea to pass their tenancies to advice to go through before signing it off. The session was good as the students that attended were happy with the session and had a few questions, we had about 20 minutes of question time. 

I raised this issue in several University meetings such as student life committee. On behalf of the Sabbatical team, I wrote a letter to the Plymouth MPs urging them to lobby the University as well as Private landlords to offer students some financial relief during this ongoing situation. I put together a private landlord toolkit for students renting with private landlords which contains tips and information on how to rent during this pandemic. I will continue to raise students growing concerns with regards to rent and accommodation and ensure that their voices are heard. I will continue to raise students growing concerns with regards to rent and accommodation and ensure that their voices are heard. 
 

 

Social Media and Digital Q/A

 

  • The Sabbatical team did an Instagram social media takeover where we spoke about everything related to the student union for prospective students on the plymuniapply page: https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17879154136730220/ 
  • The Sabbatical team also answered a Question and Answer session for the student life magazine going to all prospective students. This was to give students understanding of who their sabbatical officers and their background .This was also published on the UPSU website and UPSU social media pages 
  • The Student Union has been working with the University to put on Digital Q&A sessions to address students' questions on important issues such as the safety net, support services and Accommodation. This was launched to promote transparency in the University and students are more aware of the issues that affect them
  • I hosted the 2nd Q/ A session where the topic was Student Support Services on the 4th of February with Alice Ludgate, Head of student services and Anne Bentley, Head of Mental Health Services.