student.union@newcastle.ac.uk

Term 2 Update

What's been happening?

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What is the Welfare and Support Centre?

A welcoming space for students to drop in, pick up resources, speak to a member of staff for signposting information or attend a wellbeing clinic.

All without barriers or judgement and with a holistic and intersectional approach to wellbeing including drug harm reduction, sexual health and wellbeing support. We are located just behind main reception of the SU however you may have noticed the building work has now started so you can find us upstairs on Level 1 for the time being.

So what have we been doing in term 2? 

Ukraine Crisis

At NUSU, we are all incredibly concerned by the ongoing war and humanitarian crisis inflicted in Ukraine. The sabbatical officer team stand with the National Union of Students’ statement and reflect on the point that the student movement was set up as a direct response to the First World War, to prevent the horrors of war and pursue fair and just treatment of all.  

At NUSU we have heard the voices of Newcastle students calling for collective action and we wanted to provide a central resource for students to see how they can show solidarity through action. Students have already began fundraising and organising events to support the humanitarian effort in Ukraine and you can find information from our Go Volunteer team, NUSU Clubs and Societies, as well as information on our vigil in solidarity with Ukraine here

Spiking Incidents

In term 1 we were appalled to hear from students about the increase of spiking in town as well as on a national level.  We continue to work in partnership with the University, Northumbria Police, Public Health Newcastle and the local authority on our aims to make the city safer and in the reporting and ongoing support provided for those affected.  NUSU have been pushing for an overall response from the Police and hospitals and we now have guidance from the City Council to share.

This work continues but you can read our FAQs here.

Spiking Survey

We launched our spiking survey to gain a better picture of what has been happening out in bars and clubs or at parties, we also asked about reporting to help understand this and to improve or support. Read the full update here.

Check your Drink

NUSU are working with University SHWS on ways to support you and one of these is in taking practical steps to test drinks when you are out or at parties. Students can pick up drink testing strips from Luther's Bar or from the Welfare and Support Centre (ground floor NUSU). The tests are provided by CYD - Check your drink and are available free of charge. Read all about how to use them here.

Important Spiking Information

If you or someone you know has been affected by spiking, there is support available. You can contact any of your Sabbatical or Liberation Officers or the University Student Health and Wellbeing Services

  • Spiking incidents can be reported to the Police via 101 (non-emergency) or 999 (emergency) or alternatively use the online reporting form. You will be offered support following a report.  You can choose to report matters anonymously to the police. 
  • The University Report and Support is a way of letting the University know that this has happened. You can report anonymously or choose to speak to an adviser for support. You can also report on behalf of someone else as long as you have their consent. You can report to the Students Union here if you prefer. 
  • University Health and Wellbeing Services are here to offer support even if you don’t report it. Please get in touch
  • Email the SU generaloffice.union@newcastle.ac.uk generaloffice.union@ncl.ac.uk to be put in touch with one of the Officers or welfare staff members.

Our Impact - Drug Testing Kits

We launched the free testing kits in the Welfare and Support Centre in term 1 and this offer continued in term 2. Reagent testing is a simple and fast way to determine if a substance matches the presumed identity. With harm reduction as our priority, we see the provision of drug testing packs as a positive way to support students, but it should not be the one and only way in which you practice harm reduction in your choices - find out more here.  Read the full Our Impact here.

Strike Support

We know that staff striking can have an impact and our main priority is always to help provide support when we can. During the strike days in term 2 the Officers stepped up in offering support and we helped in providing a neutral space in the SU with free hot drinks, fruit and biscuits. Sometimes it is the little things that can help a lot and we hope you found this space useful.

Supporting the NUSU elections

The Students’ Union is run by students, for students – but how? Every year, we run the Student Elections which consists of students standing for a position, running a campaign to endorse themselves, and getting elected by a student vote. The elected Officers then go on to get paid to work full-time in the Students' Union for the next academic year. We aim for the elections to be as calm and fun as possible but know that campaigning can be stressful so we were on hand to offer welfare support for those who found it helpful.

Shout Up!

NUSU is now an official ambassador venue with Shout- Up!. Shout - Up aims to make Newcastle a sexual harassment-free city by working with bars and clubs to support them in tackling harassment.

“Here at NUSU we want everyone, in our venues, to feel safe and welcome and because of this we are proud to be a Shout Up ambassador. Being part of Shout Up means our staff feel confident in identifying when situations occur, in taking steps in managing incidents, as well as taking a firm stance on unacceptable behaviour within our venues. It has also given us clear guidance and support on how to have difficult but needed conversations. Nobody should have their freedom to enjoy living their life taken away because of others and that is why we are proud to wear the Shout Up badge.” Dawn Hathaway (NUSU Senior Ops Coordinator)

With the online staff training complete and managers also completing the training we wear the Shout Up badge with pride and join in the coalition in stamping out harassment in the city’s bars and clubs. Look out for the posters and promo in the bar and across the SU.

Policy and Partnership

Alongside our student-facing service, we are also members and active participants in partnership work aiming to support students on and off campus. The University Drug and Alcohol Group, Students in Newcastle Forum, Changing the Culture and our internal policy work are just some examples of this. Email if you would like to find out more.

Trans Fund

The Trans Fund is a vital support to our students who are trans, non-binary or questioning their gender identity and with a recent donation from the NCL Rainbow fund we are able to help even more students.

We received the following feedback from one of students accessing the fund "I feel the trans fund is a brilliant way to support students who have or are facing issues with their gender identity, allowing them to explore themselves with gender-affirming items without the financial burden that can often be associated with it due to the expensive nature of some products. This can be especially true for students without support from parents and need to carefully manage their finances to simply survive, providing a boost to their mental health and allowing them to try and live more comfortably." Find out more here.

Report and Support

We are working with the Student Advice Centre to make improvements to the NUSU report and support from. It is so important to us all that Report and Support is survivor centric and is an easy process for those who choose to use it.

The University Mental Health Charter

The University Mental Health Charter was created by Student Minds, in partnership with leading higher education bodies and thousands of staff and students, to shape a future in which everyone in higher education can thrive. 

Published in 2019, the Charter framework provides a set of evidence-informed principles to support universities across the UK in making mental health a university-wide priority. 

NUSU Officers and staff members are a key partner in representing the student voice in developing the charter’s framework.

Support for student sex workers

We recognise that sex work can be a choice for students and that stigma and fear of consequence can be a barrier in seeking support for those who might need it. The NUSU Welfare and Support Centre alongside the Welfare and Equality Officer aim to provide non-judgmental and improved support for those students who may find it helpful.

Putting students with a lived experience at the centre, this work begins with signposting information and will develop into a policy aiming to give the full picture on legislation and how standing together can help bust some of the outdated myths surrounding sex work.

Staff members recently attended training delivered by the Changing Lives GAP/MAP projects, which support people involved in Sex Work, Survival Sex, and those exposed or vulnerable to Sexual Exploitation. The training covered Sex Work, Survival Sex and Sexual Exploitation and was a valuable session as we begin our research and continue to learn.

In the meantime, existing support routes can be found here.

Day to day student support

On top of our campaigning and project work we hosted a listening forum and are in the process of defining the Welfare and Support centre priorities to make sure we are getting it right for you. We are thinking about how best to meet your needs and will be showcasing our priorities when we return back into the newly developed Welfare and Support centre on the ground floor of the SU.

Misogyny is hate

Campaigning to make misogyny recognised as a hate crime has been going on for many years now. Some progress has been made but there is a lot to do. With the government taking steps towards this addition to hate crime legislation NUSU are working with partners to help move it along. A network of activists has formed in the city and the welfare team alongside sabbatical officers will be repping the student voice within the network. This term we met to discuss the student experience of reporting misogyny and how this links into the student charter and disciplinary procedures. NUSU President, Abbie Hutchinson plans to work with the University on improvements to the charter and how this impacts student life. We also attended the Tyne and Wear Citizens Accountability Assembly.  

HIV+ Testing

The Welfare & Support Centre also provides an HIV+ Testing Clinic for students to access, where you can also talk to a sexual health adviser from MESMAC and/or Shine. The face to face clinic returned in February and March.

The test, although booked with NUSU is confidential between you and MESMAC & SHINE who follow their own privacy policy. They will also offer further support depending on the test result and can help you access other services if required.

During the appointment you can also discuss sexual health in general, any worries you may have, information on how to stay safe, and how to take the HIV+ and STI DIY tests. 

To book a place or enquire about the service, message Kay here

Massage Therapy

Wan the resident masseur was welcomed back again in term 2 to help soothe our aches and pains. You can find Wan in and around the SU during weekdays or at the Sports Centre on a Wednesday and Friday.

Get in touch

We would love to hear more from you about your views on the Welfare and Support Centre and especially the types of resources and information you would like to receive from us. Please email Kay to let us know the things you like, like less, and your ideas.

 

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