Although I have been in the role of VP Welfare and Diversity for nearly two years now, the majority of my projects and campaigns have been focused on student housing, council tax and university mental health, which I dedicate time for when I am in the office during the day. As such, I seldom have an opportunity to witness the behind-the-scenes function of the Students’ Union in the evening, when many students come out and party.
Last term, I had an exciting opportunity to go on a shadow shift during Winter Blowout to find out how the changes we’ve made to our venue security have made an impact so far. During my shift, I wore a neon pink hi vis-vest, and a student staff member was assigned as my partner to show me the ropes.
As I wore the vest, my duty as part of the Good Night Out team was to be visible to all students during their night out and help answer questions, such as the location of the cloakroom, how to access the Union Bus service or even where to get free water in the venue.
As such, the role of the Good Night Out team is to be approachable to students and guests within the venue. Our focus is to promote positive engagement by addressing your queries and concerns, and signposting appropriate services when necessary. No question from a student will ever be treated as silly or too small to answer. During my shift, I was part of a team that valued being able to help out and support students to have a good night out at the Students’ Union.
For example, I conducted regular checks throughout my shift in the gendered and gender neutral toilets to ensure any student experiencing issues was offered the support that they needed, including a free ride on the Union Bus to get them home safely.
Whenever I witnessed a situation where a student appeared to be visibly upset or distressed, I would approach them and check how they were doing and if they needed any assistance. Understandably, some students may feel uneasy when a staff member approaches them as they are worried about being removed from the venue. However, the Good Night Out team’s priority is always to check on the wellbeing of the student first and ascertain if they needed assistance. This could be anything from recovering a lost item, to getting home safely because they’ve lost their wallet or getting a glass of water to recover from the effects of being intoxicated.
Some of you may be wondering how the Good Night Out team approaches every situation with the aim to help as many students as possible have a good night out.
Since last August, the Students’ Union has enrolled eight permanent staff members across different teams on a mental health first aid course, which has consequently empowered these staff members to educate a wider pool of elected student representatives, student groups and student staff members on the importance of active listening when dealing with student wellbeing and mental health at university. This is also why the resources created by the Mental Health Network plays a central role to the signposting and support that the Good Night Out team provides to students on any nights out at our venues.
Ultimately, nothing is above the Union’s duty of care to our members. The reason we organise nights out is to make campus fun and we strongly believe that all fun can only be had when we also look after ourselves and each other’s wellbeing.
So the next time you’re on a night out and see our Good Night Out team wearing the neon pink hi vis vest, please feel free to approach us! We are happy to answer your questions and offer support if you encounter any issues during your night out.
If you have any feedback on our venues operations, please contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registered charity no: 1141998
The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
Egham, TW20 0EX