VP Wellbeing & Diversity Update

Last term was very busy with new initiatives such as Wobble Week and Coffee Catch-Ups. Since coming back this term, the SU in general has been very busy with Leadership Elections, Varsity and Colours Ball all taking place this term.

officer blogSabbs

Last term was very busy with new initiatives such as Wobble Week and Coffee Catch-Ups. Since coming back this term, the SU in general has been very busy with Leadership Elections, Varsity and Colours Ball all taking place this term.  

I gave out the Sophie Christiansen Shield Award at Colours Ball. This award is named after alumnus and 8x Paralympic Gold medalist, Sophie Christiansen and is dedicated to celebrating inclusivity. It’s a sign of acknowledgement for those who have gone above and beyond in creating a culture of diversity and inclusion within their sports club. It was an honour to present this award to the winning sports group at Colours Ball as VP of Wellbeing & Diversity. The award winner was Cheerleading and Dance, and the runner-up was Ultimate Frisbee. Both groups have done some amazing work this year to ensure their groups are inclusive to all students.  

I also attended the Diversity Fair hosted by the Careers Service this term. This fair aimed to bring together employers, charities, support networks, student societies and student communities to share their opportunities, network, and allow students to find out more about what they do. The event was a success and brought a range of diverse organisations and students together. Me and Alastair also attended the London Campus Welcome Day to welcome the new postgraduate students to the London Campus. We spent the day talking to new students to inform them of the services and support SU provides them with. I have also chaired two Wellbeing, Community and Diversity Executives (WCD) this term. WCD is a meeting that I chair, and all the student Community Officers attend. This meeting allows for feedback and student voices to be incorporated into campaigns and projects that the SU is working on. 

I also had regular campaign 121 sessions with all the inclusion Community Officers. In these sessions, we go through their manifestos, and I support them in implementing their aims through either admin support or helping them make the right connections within the University. 


Alcohol & Drug Awareness Week   

Me and Hannah (SU President) organised an Alcohol & Drug Awareness Week, which ran from 8 – 12 January. The main aim of the campaign was to create a healthy, inclusive culture and give students strategies to help reduce the harmful impact of drugs and alcohol. We also wanted to raise awareness of the impact misusing these substances can have on a person's mental and physical health.    

The campaign was a success, and the week was filled with lots of fun/educational events from mocktail making, community coffee crawls and sober socials to awareness stands in the library. The campaign also included informational blogs and social media posts such as sharing our top 10 ways to enjoy yourself sober and social media posts about sober shaming and interviews with the wellbeing team about the mental and physical effects of these substances.      

Healthy Relationships Campaign    

I also organised a Healthy Relationships campaign week which ran from 22 – 26 January. This campaign aimed to raise awareness around toxic and abusive relationships and promote healthy relationships. The campaign was a success and included a range of activities and events aimed at promoting healthy relationships, such as art expression sessions and self-care workshops. The campaign also equipped students with the knowledge and tools they will need to identify, address, and prevent toxic behaviour in their relationships through workshops and online resources. This campaign was all about raising awareness of what sort of behaviour is not appropriate or acceptable in the hopes of preventing unhealthy relationships.    

Women’s History Month  

Me and Olivia (your Women Student Community Officer) have been organising Women’s History Month (WHM). This year, we have decided to have a different theme for each week of the month. The national theme this year is Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI.) Therefore, the theme we chose for week 1 was women who advocate for EDI. We hosted a few fun events that week including an EDI panel where we invited student volunteers and staff members to talk about the work they do to advocate for EDI at Royal Holloway.  

The theme for the second week was Women’s Wellbeing. This was a campaign week called Women's Wellbeing Week which aimed to raise awareness of women's health and mental health. We had lots of events planned for this campaign such as an art expression session with Art Society, Yoga with Dance Society, a fun kids-style sports day and much more. We also had a library awareness stall where we had lots of helpful information about women's health and free period products! The campaign also included lots of online resources and helpful information related to women’s mental and physical health and addressed issues relating to the gender health gap in the UK.  

The theme for the third week was Women’s Rights. The fight for women's rights has been ongoing for centuries and it continues to evolve today. So, during this week, we honoured the courageous women who have fought and continue to fight for gender equality, reproductive rights, and social justice.  This week also had an informative blog and social media content about the progression of women's rights and included a fun vision board-making event to get women thinking about their futures and what women's rights will be like in the future.  

The final theme for the last week of WHM is celebrating the Women in our Community - so we will turn our focus to the incredible women within our community and celebrate the achievements and contributions that enrich our lives and inspire us every day. There will be a blog and social media content highlighting the achievements and celebrating the Women in our Community. 

Sport Accessibility    

I have also been collaborating with Sport (ALS) regarding accessibility. We want to make the gym, sport and physical activity in general more accessible to women and people with disabilities therefore we have produced a plan to get feedback from students on what they would like to see changed. 

We launched a feedback survey during Disability History Month which was aimed at disabled students. The purpose of the survey was to find out what disabled students want to see from sports. The survey also allowed students to sign up to be involved in future focus groups.   Following the survey, we organized a focus group which I attended alongside Alana (your Disabled Students Community Officer) and other students who are interested in making physical activity on campus more accessible. The focus group was very productive, and the feedback given in the session will feed into Sport's wider accessibility plan. 

We have also produced a feedback survey for women which is being launched during WHM. The purpose of the survey is to find out how we can make sports and physical activity at Royal Holloway more accessible to female students. Once we have the survey results, we will use them to inform the accessibility plan. We will also contact relevant societies and the students who have shown interest in the focus groups to come along and help influence the plan and provide feedback.    

Disabled Student Experience 

Additionally, during Disability History Month, your Disabled Students Community Officer, Alana, kickstarted some research to improve the experience of Disabled students at Royal Holloway. She asked disabled students the following question: “What would you change to improve your experience as a Disabled student at RHUL?” 

Recently we have been going over the results from this research and have put together an action plan to tackle these issues. We have also set up meetings with relevant stakeholders within the University such as the Head of the D&N service to discuss how we address these issues. 

International Student Focus Group/Survey 

I collaborated with an international society to run an international student focus group. The purpose of the focus group was to get feedback from international students on their student experience here at Royal Holloway so that we can work to improve any issues. The first focus group focused on international student integration into university life. Unfortunately, engagement with the focus group was low. Due to the time of year, I will not be running another focus group as I don’t believe it will be well attended due to the exams and deadlines. So I am turning the focus group session into a plan that I will share with the international society and the new VP Wellbeing & Diversity so they can potentially run some at the beginning of next year, I will also be looking into the option of doing an international student survey. 

Festival of Languages and Culture   

I have also been working with the University and Alastair to organize a festival of Languages and Culture taking place on the 14 May. The festival aims to be a big celebration of the diversity we have at Royal Holloway. Student groups have been invited to come along and have a stand where they can give out cultural food or run a cultural activity. Unfortunately, because this event is running during exam season, we cannot have any music or performances at this event. However, I have organized an additional event on the same day just in the evening where we can have music and performances. This will be a cultural showcase where students can sign up to put on cultural performances.