VP Societies & Sport
This past year has been far from what any of us would have expected, but thankfully we have been able to rely on virtual communities to help keep us connected and provide support for each other through these difficult times. Clubs, societies and media outlets have been a big part of this, adapting to the virtual environment brilliantly and providing a community that is always here for you!
I asked a few of our groups to send me some examples of the great things they are up to at the moment - have a read below.
For 24 hours from the 24-25 February, various members of the LGBT+ Society hosted a charity Twitch livestream in aid of Mermaids UK. We were well-prepared by the time the first hour arrived, but we greatly underestimated the response we would receive, averaging around 10-20 viewers for most of the 24 hour run, and raising a total of £850! Livestreams like this seem like a perfect fit during a national lockdown, and in many ways it was, if only in that everybody’s inability to leave the house gave us something of a captive audience. However, we did run into some problems. Ideally, we would have liked to have streamed from one location, with everybody appearing together, and keeping the stream online for as long as possible. Naturally, this wasn’t possible, so we ended up with brief moments where the stream was offline when we needed to switch to a different host. Equally, this meant that only the host was visible on camera at any one time, too. That all being said, having learned from the experience, we’re excited to hold another livestream event in the near future, so stay tuned to our social media channels!
The pandemic has unfortunately meant we have not been able to swim, but this has not stopped us from encouraging our members to be active. Royal Holloway Swimming club are taking part in the 27 miles in 27 days challenge for Mind. This fundraiser is to recognise the 27% of university students who have a mental health problem. This activity was promoted by one of our captains and has received so much support, with our members fundraising for a charity very important to us all. Not only has this been a chance for us all to get active, but this challenge has also made us feel closer as a team.
This year, we haven’t been able to compete as we normally would. This also included the cancellation of our annual trip to Blackpool, which we were all disappointed about. So instead, we brought Blackpool to us by doing the Danceathon to fundraise for Mind UK! The event demonstrated the resilience of the dance community at Royal Holloway, as the different societies that came together to donate and organise and participate in the workshops helped us create an amazing and diverse event. The support we had from everyone involved meant that we exceeded our £700 fundraising goal, which is something that we are very proud of and grateful to achieve. The fact that it was hosted on a Zoom call didn’t diminish the enthusiasm people had for the event, and it shows that the lockdown can’t get in the way of people getting together to achieve something great.
Working online this year has been a challenge but we’ve tried our best to make sure our members feel engaged, connected and motivated. We’ve done various fundraisers, socials and shared as much helpful content as we can throughout lockdown while we’re unable to do in-person activities and training in hopes to keep everyone’s spirits high. One of the things we have tried to focus on, above all, is our members wellbeing throughout this strange time so we started a Wellbeing Wednesday series on our Instagram Page. The series focused on different themes each week that we felt could bring some comfort, insight or support to our members - for example we explored topics such as ‘Homesickness & Settling into Uni’, ‘Sport, Active Lifestyle & Mental Health’ and various others. Our aim through the series was to create a safe space for our members, making it aware we were there for any support or advice and ensuring them that others were feeling a similar way to them. We received great feedback from our club and various others on campus so hopefully our goal of creating this comfortable environment and providing some support, no matter how big or small, was met!
When news of the second lockdown was announced during first term, the MTS Charity Volunteers Group – a collective of members interested in proposing ideas, and helping to organise MTS Charity Initiatives – created #MTYES. This was an online awareness campaign about the importance of prioritising your mental health during lockdown and in the run-up to Christmas. We set a different challenge weekly via our Instagram stories for our members to get involved with and tag each other in, including sharing photos with themes such as: pictures that make them feel happy, walks they’d been on and show memories. We also challenged them one week to share a new musical theatre song every day, and had a ‘Make Something and Bake Something’ week that ended with our Inter-Societal Performing Arts Christmas Crafts Fundraiser. It was a lovely way to motivate ourselves to reflect on things that made us happy and feel connected in a time of such separation. We’ve tried to continue this theme of community throughout our charity events this term and are excited to be premiering SurpriSing on Friday 2 April – a collaborative charity concert where people pick songs for each other to learn to develop their skills and support one another.
Throughout second term, our focus as a society has been bringing people together through a big project, for us that meant putting on a show! We have been rehearsing a virtual production of Fame The Musical, with over 50 members being involved over the last couple of months which has enabled our members across all years to form new friendships and produce a full production, all over Zoom!
The virtual nature of Term Two has inspired student groups to continue delivering and improving their online activity, so wherever you are in the world, you can become a student group member and join in! With many student group memberships now being cheaper, and some even free, there really is no better way to engage with other students and help keep you connected to the world outside your house.
Check out Term Two memberships
Registered charity no: 1141998
The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
Egham, TW20 0EX