Welfare in Sport

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I’m Maggie Elstob and I oversee the 65 clubs we have at NUSU. As of the 2019/20 academic year, all NUSU sports clubs will have a designated stand alone welfare officer. It will be compulsory to have this officer in order to be able to run as a club, in the same way that it is currently for a President, Secretary and Treasurer. We are already most of the way there, as all clubs already have a welfare officer or sent another officer to the training sessions that we put on for them. I think the transition will be easy, as students are seeing the importance of wellbeing more and more, with mental health placing third in issues that our students care about the most.

The role of a welfare officer is not to be a counsellor or therapist, but to be a point of contact for any wellbeing issues with the knowledge to signpost students to the appropriate service where necessary. This year myself and the Sport Development Coordinator facilitated three two-hour training workshops covering the following: Introduction to the role, inclusivity and the wellbeing service; the Changing the Culture project; Mental Health in Sport, Alcohol and Drugs. 

We are also running a trip to Kielder Forest to visit the Calvert Trust which we did last year, but this year plan to extend the trip to include an overnight stay and be able to fit in more activities. The Calvert Trust is the inspiration of John Fryer-Spedding, whose vision was to enable people with disabilities to benefit from outdoor activities in the countryside. As a group we will take part in various activities across the weekend to further expand our knowledge of the issues facing our disabled students when it comes to participating and enjoying sport. There are also sessions which teach students about their own communication and the role they take on in a team, which is always beneficial for club development.

Next year we will look to further develop the training to include more work on inclusivity and accessibility as we find the need to address these topics increases. Within our clubs we also have the Earn Your Stripes accreditation scheme, which financially rewards clubs for making steps to promote inclusivity, and taking part in our campaigns and schemes. Pledge Cards are also an important responsibility of the welfare officer and club to complete, and involve pledging three steps towards welfare in sport. Next year in order to apply for Earn Your Stripes, clubs will have to have a welfare officer and have completed a Pledge Card, to ensure all those who receive funding are at the forefront of taking steps towards inclusivity and wellbeing within their club.

Although I won’t be here next year, I am confident that NUSU is making great strides in terms of wellbeing within our clubs and welfare officers are a great way to promote that.

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