student.union@newcastle.ac.uk

Supporting Student Welfare Over the Past Few Months

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View my blogpost below.

Hi I’m Bri, your 21/22 Welfare and Equality Officer! Being my first blog post, I thought I would tell you a little bit more about myself and what I have been up to over the last few months.  

My journey at Newcastle University began in 2018 when I started my undergraduate degree in Film Practices. Coming to uni from New Zealand hasn’t always been easy, but three years and one degree later and the toon can’t get rid of me!  

Although I’d like to begin on a more uplifting note, it’s fair to say that mental health, wellbeing and student safety are three topics that are particularly poignant right now. As such, much of my time has been spent on these three areas. The sabbatical officers and I have taken a holistic and intersectional approach to mental health by bringing student wellbeing to the forefront of all our university meetings. This led to the formation of new working groups focused solely on supporting and improving student mental health. To ensure your concerns are heard, Abbie and I sit on the governing workstream and look forward to seeing the university implement meaningful changes. I have also been exploring how we can offer more avenues of support for students and have been working with the university to offer cognitive behavioral therapies on topics requested by you.  

Across the nation, increasing cases of spiking have highlighted student safety as an issue of critical importance. As an immediate response to the situation, I wrote several statements to reassure students, provide useful information and urge students to report, either to the university or the police. But I want to stress, this is not where our efforts end. Since, we have had a series of emergency meetings with members of the council, the police, licensing officials, and other external partners. These meetings will continue within the city council and I have also partnered with Newcastle’s licensing department to embed spiking and sexual violence prevention into legislative policy.  

Another area of student safety I have focused on is harm reduction. Right from the start of the year, we highlighted our stance toward effective procedures, support, and education by distributing harm reduction leaflets in halls. Additionally, am pleased to announce that we now have drug testing kits that you can collect from the SU for free without judgment. We also house numerous harm reduction resources, including how to contact Reagent UK for any questions around the drug testing kits. In the future, I plan to link up with the city council to provide more guidance on party drugs and their effects on mental health – so keep a lookout for that. 

Now, I know all of the above seems a bit heavy, but I promise it is not all doom and gloom. We are finally back on campus and absolutely loving it! Among all the amazing things that have been going on at the University I also ran a campaign called ‘Our Black History’. Run during the national Black History Month, the campaign was a moment to collectively come together and celebrate our Black community and our collective power to facilitate change. To read more about it you can check out my blog post on the campaign.  

Thanks for reading ad I hope your year thus far has been a good one! 

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