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Sabbatical Officer Report: Verity Lemm, VP Activities

VP Activities – Verity Lemm

 

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

I have also been doing regular updates on the SU Instagram, which can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17894021452645538/

 

Key aspects of my role:

  • Sports
  • Varsity committee chair
  • BUCS student south-west chair
  • Societies
  • Volunteering
  • Lead Sabbatical for the Faculty of Health
  • University Governor
  • UPSU Trustee

 

Sustainability: Promote environmental sustainability, embed environmental action points into icons (student group recognition scheme) to reward student groups for their efforts. Work with student groups to help them become more finically sustainable moving forward. Ensuring long term sustainability of student groups by helping them target all student demographics, this will help with inclusivity and diversity.  

  • This manifesto point has at times been hard to achieve due to Covid-19 restrictions.
  • Please note- financial sustainability related points can be found throughout the rest of the report. This section mostly focuses on environmental sustainability.
  • Have supported RAG through committee changes and difficulties with their normal functioning due to Covid-19.
  • Encouraged student group member to attend sustainability forum and to reach out the newly elected PTO with ideas or if they need support. 
  • Started looking into kit for sports club for next year to break away from AKUMA, will take to forum. This could be a great way for clubs to source locally.
  • Have managed to have a discussion with the university, regarding how we can include our students groups in sustainability projects across the campus. We discussed the idea of sustainability champions, where we could have individuals representing our student groups. The University is looking to get funding for a staff member to look after this initiative.
  • Inputted on ICONS with environmental Sustainability points, but this has also changed this year due to covid-19.

 

Mental well-being and support: Continue to develop mental health support within student groups. Introduce Well-being Advocates into societies and volunteering groups and continue to enhance within sports clubs. Make sure the mental well-being related courses are readily available by demonstrating their importance to the University. 

  • With covid-19 this manifesto point is also found throughout other projects, which can be found at the end of my report.

 

  • Have encouraged student groups to continue to run activities (virtual) over the year to keep members engaged. Activities have been open to all students to reduce barriers. Student groups are being funded for running these events to also support them.
  • The Sabb team participated in a Christmas break well-being video encouraging people to reach out over Christmas. 
  • Have been organising Look After Your Mate training for student groups alongside separate SU training. This was done in semester 1, 2 and is planned for 3. This allows committee members to be trained as well-being advocates, to aid them looking after their members.
  • Investigating the possibility of introducing by-stander training alongside the well-being training for the new committees, ahead of the bars/clubs/socials re-opening.
  • Helped organise BRIT challenge which will be coming up during second/third semester which will encourage students to get active and support charities, which are all mental well-being related. This is a national campaign.
  • Worked with other SU staff and Union staff to pull together a shot campaign on support for women and anti-violence.

 

Appropriate facilities and funding: Continue to lobby the University into providing appropriate room space and facilities for all students, so they can achieve the most out of their extra-curricular activities. Support student groups with sponsorships and partnerships to help with long term financial sustainability. Follow through the newly passed sports strategy to ensure the University is working towards developing sports at UoP.    

  • This manifesto point has been incredibly challenging, but the most rewarding.
  • This manifesto point includes a lot of detail about financial and long term sustainability.

 

  • Due to Covid-19 and facility restrictions, I had to lobby the University to provide alternative space for our groups. I was able to extend the time used in current facilities and secure additional facilities for our performance based societies.
  • I have led discussions with the Head of Estates to address a couple of issues – firstly the lack of space to run our physical well-being classes e.g. yoga or other exercise classes. Secondly – the general lack of proposed well-being spaces (physical and mental) for the future of our campus. Our students need looking after and we have limited space for this e.g. sensory rooms, quiet rooms, and lounge rooms. I will be creating a portfolio of proposed rooms and spaces based off of what other SUs do well and what we believe to be achievable.
  • Working closely with our water sports clubs. Due to their large assets, they need more attention paid to their finances, especially after having no income this year. Successfully gained funding to purchase 3 fireflies from UWE, which will be viewed after lockdown. Have been investigating yacht club finance, I successfully lobbied the University into supporting the club financially through to the next year.
    • As part of a bigger project, I am challenging the Uni on their view for water sports and how this fits with the University 2030 strategy, and how our water-based sports clubs are valued.
  • How are our student groups going to recover from Covid-19? Have been challenging the Uni, asking them how are they going to support the student’s union with student experience? What funding is available? Potentially some funding from UUK and I am doing some investigating with some Alumni funding through discussions with the Vice Chancellor.

 

Recognition and Celebration: Continue to build on #TeamPlymouth by using this platform to celebrate all student groups. Continue to spotlight student groups monthly for outstanding achievements.  Evaluate the icons scheme (student group recognition), based on student feedback and current student trends.  

  • On the Team Plymouth Instagram, I led on a project called ‘Students of team Plymouth’ which highlights students from across sports, societies, volunteering and student development. This aimed to help with recruitment and also help towards to ongoing loneliness issue. This project can be found on the Team.Plymouth Instagram https://www.instagram.com/team.plymouth/
  • In discussions about the SU awards, it was generally decided that they need to be different to reflect the difficulties faced this year.
  • Have been part of the re-evaluation of the recognition scheme. Staff are aware that in previous years there has been some short comings e.g. hours achieved and not the desired recognition. We are looking at going back to a tiered approach, also looking into ways we can recognize people with employability benefits such as linked in.
  •  At sports and societies forums I have been allowing groups the opportunity to share their successes and share best practice. 

 

BUCS Student chair role 

At the start of this year I put myself forward in the regional BUCS staff elections to be the Student Chair for the South-West region and I was delighted when I was elected. The main aspects of this role include co-chair of the regional meetings and also meeting with the other student chairs across the UK to share concerns and share best practice.

  • I met with the Student Chairs and officers from across England Scotland and Wales where we have spoken about 2 topics, varsity and online engagement. Speaking about varsity was really valuable (see varsity section further down)
  • I meet regularly with the Staff chair for the south west (Sophie from Uni of Bristol). We discussed the sport for the south west and our thoughts about the year and how we can support students getting back into activity.
  • In December I was also given the opportunity to chair the BUCS regional meeting. I generally really enjoyed this and it was a great experience. The staff were very supportive and I have also asked for feedback to I can work on improving my skills. 
  • I attended the BUCS national AGM in December which gave me great insight into the plans for BUCS in the coming year and the opportunity to vote on behalf of our institution and region.

 

Faculty work and Union council.  

As part of my role, I chair both the Societies and Sports Forum and I attend Union Council.

  • I had a 1-1 with the chair of the FTLQC to have a more in depth catch up with her regarding changes to exams, placement and time tables in light of covid.
  • Have been in touch with the Faculty of Health (FoH) school reps at the drop in sessions to discuss their concerns regarding their schools and ensuring I take their feedback forwards. For example – Covid Testing, webcams, professionalism, placement hours (just to name some themes)
  • Emi and I hosted a confidential drop in session for FoH student on placements. This was a safe space where they were able to raise their concerns and provide feedback.
  • I have been listening and raising many concerns to do with webcam usage and as a result will be sitting on webcam policy working group.
  • At Union Council I have been able to feed into the policies coming in and listen to the councils concerns regarding issues such as advertisement agreements, refreshers fair and referendums (just to name a few)

 

Sports and Societies Forums

  • Forums have been very different to normal years due to Covid-19 restrictions, a lot of the forum updates have focused on returning to activity and what we can plan in the meantime.
  • We also focused efforts towards running AGMs online, and how the SU will support the student groups through this difficult period into next year, to ensure they will be sustainable going into the year ahead.
  • We have also had a series of student focused discussions such as sports kit, sports logo, refreshers fair and student engagement (just to name a few)

 

Varsity 2021 

As part of my role I am chair of the varsity committee, which comprises of members from Marjon and Plymouth. We meet monthly to bring ideas together and plan the logistics. This year has been very different as we have had to plan around Covid-19 restrictions and try to come up with new initiatives.

  • Organized virtual offer for worst case scenario- Strava challenges and online fundraising groups. 
  • We have discussed the planning of physical outdoor and indoor events, working out venues, dates, times and restrictions. We have been meeting with the captains to convey this information.
  • Working out how we can keep everyone safe with covid-19 restrictions!
  • Physical offering (outdoor sports) we have identified some suitable neutral ground locations that can be used. We are not doing outdoor events at Marjon as this will be too hard to crowd control and we have zero budget for things like security when we are not selling tickets.
  • Ensuring we still have a way to raise money for charity as this is primarily still a charity event.

 

Other Updates / campaigns

As part of my role, there are lots of projects/updates/campaigns that do not fit into a distinct category, but are still worth mentioning.

  • Have supported Emi where needed with the safety net discussions by attending UTLCQ. Due to my involvement in the planning last year (lockdown 1) I have ad useful insight into this area. It has been great to support Emi where possible with her fab work.
  • I have supported with any housing and accommodation campaigns led by Fawzy and supported by the Sabbs including lobbying for accommodation refunds, letters to landlords and meeting with rent strike
  • During the Sabb election periods it was great to support the new incoming candidates via thinking of running sessions and attending the candidate lunches to offer support where possible. And during the week I also hosted question time for the VP Activities candidates.
  • As a Sabb team we have done a couple of short campaigns – Housing videos, face masks in the library, hidden disabilities/ sunflower lanyards and hardship fund information.
  • Have spent time linking up with PCA and Marjon Sabbs to support each other, come together on projects and share best practice.
  • Got involved with anti-Semitism training and holocaust memorial day.