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 and will be having a facelift soon to make the area even better for students to access.
So what have we been doing?
During Freshers’ welfare was a big focus. With so many brand new students arriving and returning students seeing the city for the first time we wanted to make sure we helped you keep on top of things. Alongside the welfare provision in the centre we organised an extra layer of support for students attending Freshers’ events with our Welfare Stations. We introduced Welfare Stations in town for Freshers’ events with water, sweets, phone chargers and welfare information available.
We created an information leaflet to complement the online resources here. The leaflet offered drug and alcohol risk reducing tips to help minimise harm. The leaflets were all over the Su and our Fresher events as well as in the Uni Halls for students on arrival. As well as the leaflets we posted a series of harm reduction messages on our social media to raise awareness and to give information on reducing risk.
We are all concerned about the increase of spiking in town and on a national level. We are working in partnership with the University, Northumbria Police, Public Health and the local authority on our aims to make the city safer and in the reporting and ongoing support provided for those affected. This work continues but you can read some of what NUSU have been doing here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com to be put in touch with one of the Officers or welfare staff members.
Drug Testing Kits
We launched the free testing kits in the Welfare and Support Centre. 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.
NUSU is working towards becoming an ambassador venue with Shout- Up!. It 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)
The online staff training is happening now and with more managers booked to complete the training in the New Year we are proud that we will wear the Shout Up badge and join in the coalition in stamping out harassment in the city’s bars and clubs.
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.
The Trans Fund is a vital support to our students who are trans, non-binary or questioning their gender identity. 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." With funds still available please get in touch. Find out more here.
Safe Taxi Scheme Relaunch
We know how important it is to get home safe from a night (or day out) and that is why we have collaborated with SHWS to provide the Safe Taxi Scheme. Relaunched in October we hope that the new process is an easier way to ensure students get home safe if you are stranded with no money. Read more here.
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 attended a conference hosted by Tyneside Citizens to find out how we can collaborate with others. Read more here Newcastle women gather to help stop racist and misogynistic hate crimes - Chronicle Live. We will be meeting before Christmas to explore the journey to changing the law and to address the point -how we make the recent changes mean in the city and on campus.
We work closely with other organisations throughout the year so were thrilled to be able to support the U=U campaign. Eyes Open launched a new and exciting campaign, promoting the message that an Undetectable HIV viral load means the HIV virus is Untransmittable; U=U. This means a person living with HIV on effective treatment can’t pass on HIV.
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 November after a long covid break. They return on the 7th December so still chances to get tested before you leave for the holidays.
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.
What is S.H.A.G? SHAG stands for Sexual Health, Awareness, and Guidance. It’s useful bits of information intended to help you keep sexually healthy. This year as we return to some sort of normality we focused the campaign on the basics; getting tested, why this is important and how to make the process as easy as possible for you.
Don’t forget we have sexual health resources available all year round in the Welfare and Support centre just next to the Co-op. You can read our full resources page here.
Congratulations to the winners of the S.H.A.G Week STI competition and thanks to everyone who came in to the SU to take a test.
- First Prize £150 – Cheerleading
- Second Prize £75 – Women’s Rugby
688 tests were taken throughout the week and 81 clubs and societies got involved!
Wan the resident masseur returned and is welcomed back 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.
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.