Activities Officer

Sophie McDermott

Activities Officer


Hi, I’m Sophie McDermott and I am your Activities Officer for 2018-2019.

I look after all things societies at the Students’ Union. If you’re looking for ways to meet new people, enhance your CV or just have fun, societies and volunteering are great ways to start. We have a range of opportunities on offer, such music, theatre and dance societies, political, religious and cultural societies and many charity and fundraising societies. I think it’s almost impossible to not find a society that suits you at Newcastle, but if you can’t, set up your own- it’s that easy!

We also have a variety of volunteering opportunities available through Go Volunteer. These range from bee keeping to running after school clubs, from helping the homeless to working with refugees in Newcastle. We have connections with many charities so you volunteer that way or join one of our many projects. Again, if there’s something you feel is missing- apply for a grant to start up a new project!

Or, if commitment isn’t really your thing, attend a one-off club or society session through Give It A Go! There are hundreds of events on throughout the year with massively subsidised prices. We don’t just offer society taster sessions but opportunities for making bath bombs at Lush, cocktail making at Revolution or learning a new language! Make sure you check out the big trips at Christmas and after summer exams!

Everything I do in activities links to employability. Through your extracurricular activities you could be eligible for the ncl+ Award, ncl+ Advances Award, and Career Development Module, all of which are either accredited or contribute towards your degree. Not only does it develop you as a more rounded person, but employers love to see you having interests outside of your degree.

Being involved in societies was the highlight of my time at Newcastle. I was mostly involved in charity societies, being Secretary of Coast 2 Coast and Treasurer of Women for Women International. I really felt like I made a difference in peoples lives though the activities we did her on campus, both for those who we were raising money for and the students. I was involved in organising a 48 hours spinathon, cheese and wine night, pub quiz, 200km bike ride and much more, and that’s just the year I was on committee. As a member I got the opportunity to do loads.

Without societies, I would not be where I am now and I wouldn’t have had half as much fun along the way. I also met my friends for life. I would recommend joining a society or volunteer project to anyone. Of course your degree is important but we all need something to do other than studying.  Joining a society is the best way to make the most of your time at University so get involved!

If you ever have questions about societies don’t hesitate to contact me.  I’m always happy to help!

End of Term Report- May 2018

What have you done this term?

This term I have worked on the Performing Arts Showcase. This was new for this year and was overall a success. On the night there were over 150 people present which is better than expected. There was a variety of societies and students performing. This gave them the opportunity to perform when they might not always have it.

I have just finished working on the Celebrating Success Awards. The Societies category received a record 201 nominations and was difficult to shortlist due to the high standard! I shortlisted all categories to the top 3 and the societies exec voted on a winner. The awards night ran extremely well thanks to the events team! The societies exec and two directors presented the awards. Overall the Celebrating Success Awards were a huge success for societies.

My main project this term has been the Graduation Ball. The tickets sold out on 14th May and an additional 12 were released on the 15th. This is the maximum capacity for the venue and almost 100 more than were sold last year. I am currently finalising payments with various entertainment companies (details to be kept as secret as possible). The amazing ticket sales are thanks to the work of the marketing department and how they pushed advertising on social media. On the day, the societies exec will be present to help set up.

The final event I help organise is the Pride of Newcastle Awards. I have been part of the team all year and supported them throughout the organisational process. I will be hosting the awards with Marc Lintern- which is a privilege and something I’m very much looking forward to. Having been part of the judging panel I have also seen the wonderful work our students are doing and have been extremely impressed!


What has been your biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement is definitely selling out the Graduation Ball! I knew that selling tickets was a challenge as they have been slow in previous years which made me nervous when organising the ball. I wanted to organise a ball that people will talk about, meaning the incoming Activities Officer will have no problem selling all of the tickets next year. I am hoping I have achieved this by selling a record number of tickets. My challenge now is to use the budget well to make it a memorable night!


What could you have improved on?

I haven’t been as active on social media as I would have liked. I don’t often use Facebook in my personal life for sharing information so I have found it difficult doing the same for work. Additionally I could have uploaded more blogs on the website to keep students up-to-date throughout the year, however I am not as confident with using the website as I am with other aspects of my job.


I have often let emails get on top of me during busy periods eg during Awards week and the Refreshers Fair. There have been times when I should have blocked out a few hours in my diary to keep up-to-date with them. Overall however, I have replied to student queries quickly and effectively.


What piece of advice would you pass on to your successor?

Don’t get disheartened if you can’t achieve your manifesto pledges. You might soon realise that they aren’t possible or that there simply isn’t enough time. Once you start the job or planning freshers fair, officer training and replying to student emails, you will soon realise that you don’t always have time to work or making huge changes. Within the role of Activities Officer, often the work you do day-to-day helping students has more impact.


It’s not always possible to reply to students immediately for various reasons. This is especially true at the beginning of term. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from the people in the Activities Office as they know so much about the job. It is also advisable to encourage students to copy Mark Bennet and Emma Moses into your emails in case you’re not around to reply to them.


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5:04pm on 9 Jun 18 1
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