Our 2019/20 Annual Report

A large group of reps Thank you to everyone who got involved!

We are committed to campaigning on the issues that matter to you and in supporting you to lead on campaigns. Here in the Your Voice team we dedicate our efforts in helping you get the best experience out of Uni. Every year we take your responses from the NUSU Student Survey on the issues that you want us to focus on and create a list of priorities that will shape our work. Have a look at the campaigns and projects we have led or supported that all aim to create positive change.

Student Summit - The Student Summit aims to give student reps access to the people in the University who can help them create change within University spaces. The points raised at this year’s summit included supporting research to investigate the LGBTQ+ attainment gap and more water fountains on campus and you can read the outcomes here.

Campaigning in Covid – When Newcastle (and the world) shut down, NUSU stepped up! Read a full round up of how we represented and supported you.

Personal Development

Student Volunteering Week - Student Volunteering Week is a National annual campaign designed to celebrate all student volunteers. Go Volunteer took this opportunity to support and celebrate the amazing Newcastle Uni student volunteers.

Getting involved in this jam-packed week offered a great deal, including, improving wellbeing, developing employability and contributing positively to the wider and local community life.

Living in Newcastle

Looking – Living – Leaving - Working with the Student Advice Centre (SAC) and Sara (NUSU Welfare and Equality Officer), NUSU Your Voice aimed to support students in making informed choices when moving from Halls into private rented housing as well as help with the issues that crop up during your tenancy.

End Hunger UK - End Hunger UK week of action happened on the 11th-18th October. This national campaign wanted to ensure everyone has access to good food and for no one to go to bed hungry. Students supported the campaign by making a donation to support people in need here in Newcastle, Gateshead and South Tyneside. Ali and Zoe, the students who led the campaign, transported the donations to foodbanks across the region

Voter Registration - Voter registration is an issue every year for students who have usually changed address more than once during their time at Newcastle. This year it was especially important for us to make sure students knew how to register to vote in the General Election. Community and Hall Reps with Society members braved the harsh November, North East, weather to support the register to vote campaign.

Trick or Treat - On Halloween a group of Newcastle students knocked on doors to collect food donations instead of sweets.  Adam Kinneen and Kerri Robson, students who were both involved in the project told NUSU that 18,000 tonnes of food is wasted at Halloween each year and Newcastle students wanted to do their bit to help.

The students were out for hours collecting the donations and then sorted them until 1.30am. They collected 1 tonne of food! Incredible and so appreciated by the people who needed it.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Permission to Pause – The wellness campaign, led by Sara Elkhawad to support you through exams launched in January and returned in May. Even during covid-19 Sara created and delivered a 5-week programme of events and activities to encourage students to take a break from revision and exam stress. Working in collaboration with GIAG, Go Volunteer, Clubs and Societies and instructors there was something for everyone.

S.H.A.G (Sexual Health Advice and Guidance) - Looking after your sexual health can have a positive impact on your mental and overall physical health and because people under 25 are one of the groups at increased risk of being infected with an STI, we return each year with our S.H.A.G. campaign.

This year’s theme was about tackling the stigma surrounding HIV+. The first step in this was launching the HIV+ Free Fast Track testing clinic in the SU. The annual Clubs and Societies STI testing competition also returned.  503 tests were taken over 4 days and 74 Clubs and Societies got involved. 

Inclusive Sport Week - Essentially, to celebrate the diversity of our student-athletes here at Newcastle and to show that sport is for everyone. AU Officer, Joe Gubbins, wanted to give students the chance to play disability sport, with casual sessions in Boccia, Goalball, Sitting Volleyball and Visually Impaired Cricket on offer. All of these gave the chance for all students to play together. The key message was to "help us challenge perceptions of disability sport”.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

Black is Gold - As the first woman of colour as Welfare and Equality Officer, Sara was keen to change and reclaim the narratives currently dominating our Black History “celebrations”, and honour the black beauty and excellence that our black students deserve. 

Proud 2 be - Proud 2 Be was a campaign developed by LGBT+ Officer (Tobias Lawrence) to raise awareness and representation of the LGBTQ+ community on campus.

To mark World Aids Day 2019, Youth Stop Aids (Ncl) introduced information to support people living with HIV and Aids.

This H.A.S to Happen - Racial Equality Officer (Rabeeyah Cheema) had the chance to collaborate with the Hindu and Sikh Society in a campaign aiming to highlight the experience and celebrate the culture of brown people on campus.

Rock the Cis-tem - RTC aimed to challenge systematic oppression faced by trans and non-binary people. Tobias Lawrence (LGBT+ Officer) wanted to highlight issues members in this community face and tackle them head-on to create a more accepting campus.

Everyday Sexism – Lead by the President (Katie Smyth), this virtual campaign offered support and guidance to students graduating and looking for employment. Seeing it, calling it out and moving on from everyday sexism and the importance of keeping the equality conversation going following covid-19 were important aims of the campaign.

Black Lives Matter – Following the murder of George Floyd and others we wanted to support black students and staff in looking after their wellbeing in the hardest of times. Alongside this we put together guidance for non-black students on how to be a good ally.

Stand up to Racism - The amazing student society were quick to action when racist videos circulated and again when racism towards Eastern Asian students surfaced during the onset of the Coronavirus. Demos on campus brought communities together. We stood and continue to stand in solidarity with all students who face racism. These racist incidents as well as a mishandling of a stalking case led to the

University Student Policy Task and Finish Group - Katie Smyth (President) and Sara Elkhawad (Welfare and Equality) were the vital link between students and University policy within this group.

Racial Equality Charter - The BAME attainment gap and decolonising the curriculum form part of the remit of the University’s Race Equality Charter (REC), EDI groups within schools and faculties, the?REC Self Assessment Team and the staff BAME network. Sara Elkhawad was a key member of the group, representing students.  Sara also worked alongside our BAME Officer to lead on black student focus groups with University staff, for students to give perspective on their lived experiences at Newcastle.

President’s Blog Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at NUSU- Katie wrote that NUSU must stand by its values and be progressive, inclusive and diverse. Read the EDI proposals that were taken to the NUSU Trustee board to ensure a safe and welcoming place for all.

Student Safety

The 2019-20 NUSU Student Survey told us that student safety is a concern and in particular safety on a night out. Katie Smyth and Sara Elkhawad took part in two Northumbria Police operations aimed at protecting vulnerability. Operation Cloak (in short) is an initiative to identify sexual predators within bars and clubs before a crime is committed and Operation Oak is the community based operation to protect students and to handle anti-social behaviour complaints within the areas that students live. These opportunities triggered the Know Your Rights in the Community and the soon to be published Know Your Rights on a Night Out in our Help and Support pages. Look out for more next year……..

Black and Blue, Believe me now? – Lead by Eleasha Haslam (NUSU Marginalised Genders Officer) this campaign supported survivors of gender based violence and encouraged them to move forward in a safe space in owning their own narrative. Additional information was given during the lockdown when abuse was felt more intensely for some and when vital services moved online. 


President’s Blog – Katie Smyth gave an overview of the work NUSU is leading on and supporting, highlighting good work but that we must all do more as global citizens.

F.U.C.C. (Future Under Climate Crisis) - This environmental campaign led by Eleanor Killner (Activities Officer) aimed to encourage students to adapt their behaviour to become more sustainable. Alongside this we campaigned to create University wide ‘green’ pledges to create positive environmental change and NUSU confirmed their commitment in their own pledges.

Newcastle Fossil Free - Amazing news for the students who had campaigned for years, when it was announced  that ‘The University has committed to divesting from fossil fuel companies across all funds by 2021’. The students involved in the years of campaigning have now formed the People and Planet society, making future campaigning easier.

Extinction Rebellion ‘Die In’ - The University’s branch of Extinction Rebellion North East held two ‘die-ins’ on the Newcastle campus and the Northumbria campus during Freshers' Week to alert students and staff to the climate & ecological crisis.

Climate Strike Demo - Officers and NUSU staff took part in a 30-minute workday solidarity stoppage to coincide with the global school student strike on the 20th September 2019. 

Academic Interests

Rep Awareness Week #NUSU is Your Voice - Rep Awareness Week campaign aimed to raise the visibility of Academic, Hall and Community Reps on campus - highlighting their achievements and giving you the opportunity to feedback to them on your student experience.

NUSU Big Wins - When it comes to the decisions that affect your academic experience, NUSU is here to ensure the student's voice is heard right across the University. Based on student feedback, our student Reps & Officers are able to secure University-wide changes to benefit students - we call these our Big Wins.

Financial Support

National Student Money Week – Spend Healthy, Be Healthy. Brought to students by the SAC, this annual awareness week aimed to promote healthy spending and healthy living.

Real Living Wage - NUSU President, Katie Smyth, was inspired by Newcastle University and many others, to make progress in paying NUSU staff the Real Living Wage. After a year of meetings, focus groups and financial planning Katie (President) was thrilled to announce that it was agreed at the final Trustee Board meeting of the year that NUSU would become a Real Living Wage Employer.

An amazing amount of work, thought and passion goes into each and every one of the NUSU and student campaigns and there are many more inspirational students campaigning for a better Newcastle that we have not listed here. Be proud if you were involved this year and if you have been inspired to get involved in 2020-21 please get in touch, head to the Campaigning Section of the Website or submit a Campaigns Fund application here.


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