Blog: Looking After Our Bears

One of my main manifesto points this year was to encourage groups to start thinking about the welfare of their members. A way of achieving this has been providing a way for student groups to implement welfare-orientated committee roles, which can then be trained through the Union’s Mental Health Training.

So far the uptake has been fantastic, but we would love for more groups to be thinking about how it could fit into their own club or society. A few of the groups that have implemented the role or remit have noted their experiences below so make sure you have a read and think about it for your group!

Netball

"Netball created the role of Welfare Secretary halfway through first term of the 2019/20 season. At the moment we are trialing the committee role as its own role, and in future years may combine it with our Kit Secretary role – since ensuring all our members are in the correct kit is a form of welfare.

"It’s important to have the committee role to look out for individuals in the group, look out for flags that we identified and were taught in the mental health training session, as well as being the pastoral hand if anyone needs it. We’ve done that by chatting confidentially with girls who are stressed with things relating to Netball, wider university, and home things, taken girls to A&E when needed, and just overall looking to boost morale in the group.

"Going forward we’d like to familiarise our squad with the mental health services that are available to them at university and wipe out any stigmas that may be attached. We’d like to put on more wellbeing-focused socials and charity events. Examples would be more socials that aren’t SU and drinking-related to connect with the girls that don’t feel particularly comfortable going out or around alcohol, and more charity events raising awareness like we did last term by collaborating with the charity Sport in Mind for our Net-athon last term."

Men's Football

"We introduced our Welfare Secretary positions provisionally at the end of Term Two last year, however this year, we made the position official through the SU and announced Peter Udida as our official Welfare Secretary. Peter takes on the role individually, as we believe it requires a level of commitment and dedication that might not be possible if it was juggled alongside a second committee role. We believe the role has provided a different aspect to the Men's Football Club, as it has allowed members to feel at home and feel comfortable enough to approach us with any concerns they may be having, which allows the club to exist as more of a community for our members.

"Going forward with the role, we aim to promote it much further and make it a readily available resource for our members to approach, and use whenever they feel necessary. This is because at the moment, in Men's Football, and we believe other clubs, the Welfare Secretary position may not be very well publicised, meaning club members may not know where to turn if they ever needed them. Therefore we aim to make the role well publicised, and accessible for anyone who needs it.

"This current year we don't have any upcoming events involving welfare, however there are suggestions being put forward currently for welfare talks being held by Welfare Secretaries, with the possibility of collaboration with other clubs on campus in order to maximise the benefit from the talks."

Riding

"We introduced the Welfare Secretary role in October, as a part of the current Social Secretary's role. The role has really helped to open up healthy conversations within the club, allowing people to admit when things may not be going so well. It has also provided a safe space to ask for guidance in seeking help if necessary. All socials and events are more actively considerate of everyone, and this has also translated into the members themselves being more mindful. Welfare has become a much more approachable subject among the club and we are all extremely pleased to see this progress.

"Going forward with the role, we will endeavour to make it more well-known within the club and see it help to make welfare a more prominent factor in the running of the club overall. We have set in motion a 'chill and chat' social at the start of each term as a way of introducing a safe space for meeting people and opening up discussions right from the start, helping the club to become a stronger, more cohesive unit for the following term.

"We have seen so many positive changes from bringing in this role, and we can only predict more positives going forward."

Dom Brown // Vice President Sport