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 December 2018

What have I done this term?

This term I have run several training sessions, for executive officers, social secretaries and welfare officers. I put on the clubs and societies fair which spanned three days and had over 6,000 attendants. I hosted the society AGM and help several society Executive meetings where we distributed Initial and Special Grants. Many enw societies have been set up here in Newcastle and at the London Campus. I created and awarded several Inclusive Society Awards. Volunteering Exec has met this term. Society of the month has run with three societies winning so fai (Salsa, Musical Medics and Speech and Language Therapy). I have started organising an International Festival celebrating culture and arts on campus which will span two weeks in March. I have started organising Graduation Ball which will take place in June 2019. I have run several coffee mornings for societies, attended numerous university committees and meetings. I went to Chicago with the Accommodation Services to look at first year accommodation and how Newcastle can change what they offer. I went to the UK Town and Gown conference in Belfast where I collected the Community Award on behalf of the University and Students’ Union.

What has been your biggest achievement?
Creating and producing the Inclusive Society Award has been a big tick. It was a huge point on my manifesto to deliver a scheme that awards societies for the inclusivity, but also supports societies to achieve this and understand what inclusivity really means. It has been so great reading all the applications and getting to know the Welfare officers (and other officers) who are taking the lead on this. 

What could you have improved on?

Fresher’s Fair was very successful this year however not enough planning and preparation went in to the online sign up and this was very difficult for societies and I felt I let them down here. It made for a very frustrating few days and although almost all societies have seen an increase in membership it could have been even bigger if we had the form right straight away. This was disorganisation and poor preparation on my behalf and we are working hard for Re-Freshers to make sure the same incident does not happen again. 

What do you plan to do next term?

Next term my big project will be the International Festival and making that a success. I also want to run more detailed handover training sessions as well as offering more coffee mornings and 1-2-1’s with society committees. Grad Ball tickets will go on sale next term and I hope this will be a sell-out. And re-fresher will be taking place for our clubs and societies. It is also elections for so hopefully I will be engaging with the candidates running for Activities. 

Any additional sections that the report writer deems necessary


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