Geoff's Update - STAR Spotlight - Students' Union
As is becoming the norm in these challenging times, it's a pleasure to recognise the innovative ways we are working in order to ensure that we are fully engaged with students and that they are reassured that they are still a part of a functioning University which has the ultimate aim of ensuring that they achieve success.
This week I wanted to shine the spotlight on the work that the Students' Union have been doing in offering our students a range of activities, support and advice and guidance to help them navigate through a new way of studying, working and living.
These are some of the the things that our SU has achieved over the past few months.
Students’ Union secure additional funding to create Covid-19 Student Support Fund
Additional funds were secured to top up the SU’s current Santander support fund. This Student Support Fund has been created to help alleviate pressures students are facing in balancing buying resources for studying and basic necessities during this time.
The giveaway, a grant meaning that students will not have to repay the money, is in the form of shopping vouchers to help alleviate the financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis. It is estimated that this additional funding could help up to sixty students.
How services have adapted during Covid-19
The SU continued to provide Advice and Representation for all students to access online and School Reps are still accessible. Well@Wolves is offering cooking/baking sessions, craft sessions and fun workout/skills learning with dancing lessons.
Students’ Union create ‘Just for Fun’ section on website
A 'Just for Fun' virtual resource for students and staff was created on the website to help people during the lockdown period. The web page offers a series of activities and entertainment to help break up the days and encourage productivity outside of studies and working from home.
The SU worked with partners at the University, such as WLV Sport, to highlight exercise activities to help with students' physical and mental health.
Students’ Union Awards to go virtual for 2020!
The Students' Union Awards 2020 were held virtually this year for the first time via a Facebook watch party. The nominations were fantastic this year and it was important to continue to celebrate the achievements of both students and staff.
Jeff Thompson – School Rep for Mathematics and Computer Science
I have been writing weekly blogs to encourage engagement and to try and promote a positive attitude amongst my students and course reps, in addition to this I have hosted several Online Chats to really get to understand the different issues students are facing in these uncertain times. On top of that, I have been using several groups on WhatsApp to reach out to as many students as I can. We are all here to help each other. Finally, I have done a video post on how to budget!.. long live the Student experience!
Paul Jones – School Rep for Institute of Health
The School Reps in the Institute of Health have been providing key feedback between the University and students during this time. With many students having difficult choices regarding employment opportunities being offered and how to balance home study and providing support to the NHS, this feedback has enabled University staff to liaise with external providers to ensure that there is a fair balance and that those not taking employment are not adversely affected. School Reps have also been able to highlight concerns throughout the University regarding student wellbeing which has been well received and we have received assurance that additional measures are being put in place to support students during this time and upon return to face to face teaching.
Shianne Tashain-Croft – School Rep for the Institute of Community and Society
I think school reps are helping not only the students but us as workers, it has given me a lot more confidence to speak to students and it has allowed me to feel more comfortable in campus to find buildings and speak to lecturers. Furthermore I believe it gives the students chance to have a voice and feel confident that the information that they are providing is safe and going to be kept confidential. Being a Student Rep is also assuring the students that their issues aren't going unheard and that we are actually here to help, and they can see the changes through our blogs and direct contact
Emily Banks – School Rep for the School of Humanities
The pandemic is affecting everyone but the good news is we are surviving with the help and support the University is giving. The Student Union has also continued to provide a distraction. I see regular posts on social media and the weekly Tuesday quiz is a great element to the week. In addition to this all the School Reps have continued to work hard and ensure that any student worries are dealt with quickly and smoothly so that they can continue on in studying and achieve their best potential.
Personal comments about the University
The University has helped its students survive the stress that the pandemic has created. All my lectures have been a network of support through these difficult times and it has been comforting to know I could go to them for support. But it has not just been my lectures offering support but the wider University staff. In particular the library staff have dealt with many of my problems of lacking the correct sources I need to write my dissertation and have always been able to provide a solution that works for me. I cannot fault the University in dealing with this crisis.
Anthony Gallagher, Walsall Bar and Café Student Staff Member (speaking about the SU Quarantine Quizzing)
It’s a prime example of making the best of a bad situation. Little things like the Quiz helped a lot of students have something to look forward to every week. So to manage to still keep it going virtually has been a wonderful and welcomed idea. It has carried on the sense of community that Walsall had and it’s a great way to keep everyone’s spirits up at this difficult time. The numbers participating are testimony to that.
I'm sure you will agree that these positive endorsements from our students, along with the amazing initiatives shown by our Student Unions members, are certainly worth recognising and, once again, I thank you all for your efforts during this time.