Friday, 21 May 2010

National Blood Service

Following our Final succesful blood donatation drive of the academic year on Monday 17th May we have been in contact with NBS about securing the donation drives for the following year, based on the success of this year and the demand that far outstrips supply we are hopefully going to be expanding the service that we offer.

Holding a donation centre within the Guild for upto 140 donations per day and ensuring that we really contribute to a fantastic cause has been a long term goal of mine since the service was reintroduced in Welcome Week.

Let's hope we can make it happen and I will let everyone know when it is confirmed.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

End of Term Report

Hi everyone,
This is my report of the main things that I have been up to over the last term, as I did before I have broken everything down into things related to my remit and more general things that I get involved in, any questions then contact me at

Key Campaigns:
• National Blood Service – The national blood service returned to campus on the 22nd May for another donation drive. We had even more interest than last time and all available appointments were filled way before the day itself. Due to the volume of interested students I am currently trying to explore increasing the provision for the next academic year, however in order to do so we need to make sure that more people who book appointments are actually eligible to give blood. So if you are interested then the next appointment is on the 17th May – check that you can donate at

• Nightbus - after the massive success of term 1 the Nightbus has continued to prove popular with our students, running throughout term 2 it took over 5000 students home from club nights in town meaning the total for the whole academic year including Freshers Fest now stands at a huge 18,788 students!!! This is a fantastic achievement and clearly demonstrates the importance and the impact that this service is having on our students. Plans for the future of the bus are well under way and I am on the brink of agreeing a long term plan for making this service sustainable. In addition I am exploring how we can expand this service, increasing its reliability as well as looking at plans to go to more venues and on more nights of the week. Watch this space.

• S.H.A.G (sexual health awareness and guidance) week – this took place in the lead up to Valentines day in February and was a continuation of the work that I had done in Term 1 in relation to World Aids day. This was the first time that the Guild had run an event like this and so we kept in on quite a small scale, throughout the week the ARC was giving out condoms and advice on sexual health and there was a mentor campaign that also went out on how to safe about relationships and sex. In addition the Guild held a sexual health fair which was attended by over 300 students, this fair gave information on STI’s, relationships, contraception and we invited the local PCT in to do screenings for STI’s as well. Finally we also held SHAG roadshows at halls of residence, taking the advice, condoms and STI testing kits to the students directly, again we had huge interest from the first year students.

• Student Parents – I have been working hard to imbed the work from term 1 into what we do over here at the Guild. I was also asked by the NUS to complete a case study on the work that I have done so far and what we are planning moving forward. We have continued to meet with student parents and work with them on how to support them better. I gave feedback to the University on the new student parent web page that they are creating and we are in the process of setting up a joint working group between the University and the Guild in order to try and tackle some of these issues. I was also interviewed by Redbrick who ran an article on the issues facing student parents and we are hoping that this will be a catalyst for so positive change moving forward.

• Mitigations – One of my key manifesto pledges was greater awareness and promotion of the mitigation process as well as trying to standardise how they work across campus. I have met with both student conduct and appeals this term as well as Chris Twine the University’s new director of student support and development to discuss the issues that students face in this area as well potential plans moving forward. Following on from the University’s Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Audit mitigations has been identified as an area for improvement by the University. A review of the process and recommendations for improvement has since began and I have been involve in the consultation for this review.

My key priorities to get out of this review and things I talked about in my consultation are:
1. Standardisation on the deadlines for handing in mitigations – if not at a University level then at least at a college level, this is still not ideal however as issues could still arise for joint honours students who span 2 or more colleges.
2. Standardisation of who you give the form into – there should be a designated mitigations officer or administrator within each department who you can speak to.
3. Simplification of the form, making it seem less daunting and off-putting for students to fill in as well as making it more flexible to the different types of mitigating circumstance
4. Introduction of a ‘fit to sit’ policy which means that if you know before you take your exam that you not fit to sit it then as long as you provide supporting evidence you can defer your first sit until the next available time (normally the re-sit period)

Other activities (remit related)
• Appeals / Fitness to practice / misconduct - the Vice President Welfare is responsible for co-ordinating the sabbatical representation for students in Appeal, Misconduct or Fitness to practice hearings, this means that if anyone has one of these hearings and wants a sabbatical to go with them then they speak to the ARC who contact me. I try my best to represent as many of these students myself as I can, if I cannot though then the rest of the team will step in as needed. I also sit on the committee for the University Misconduct Panel. This term I represented 14 students on a variety of different hearings.

• DAMSA – This term I worked alongside the VPSAD and the newly elected Disabled Students Officer to ensure that the disabled students association was back up and running. The decision of the DSO which was ratified at the AGM for the association was to change the name to Disability and Mental Health Students Association (DAMSA) this was felt necessary to ensure that the group was as relevant to all students as possible including those who may have issues relating to mental health but would not want to define themselves as having a disability. The group has elected a committee and I look forward to supporting them in their endeavours.

• Satellite sites outreach – I spent time doing outreach work on our satellite sites this term, I went and spoke to our students at the Shakespeare institute, we had a mini Guild fair with lots of our support services, the job zone and volunteering on hand to offer support.

• Business Continuity Planning – because of the risk of swine flu I was the nominated sabbatical officer to be involved in the Business continuity planning for the organisation, deciding what the Guild would do in an emergency, who to contact and what people are responsible for. I have been involved in making sure our assessments and plans are up to scratch and continue to be involved.

• Corporate Social Responsibility alongside the VPDR and the VPHC I have also been working on developing a corporate social responsibility document for the organisation, taking a holistic approach to the actions and activities of our organisation and how we can be more socially responsible; be that alcohol pricing or community volunteering.

• ARC Review – We finished the new model for the ARC. This includes how the volunteers within the ARC are going to work. I then gave a presentation to the student advice volunteers about how this is going to affect them in the future. Student Advice will no longer be running the volunteering section in the ARC, this will be managed by the ARC directly under a new surgery / drop in model. Volunteers will still be involved though and we will be focussing on their training and development over the summer term.

• Mentor Review - The mentor review has also taken place. I was interviewed along with the VPHC about our thoughts of the system, how it should work and what we would like to see it achieve in the future. The final report is being collated and we should have the results soon. After this we will be able to start thinking about changes to implement for next year, in particular how we measure impact.

• Jobzone Review – I have also been involved in reviewing the Jobzone service ahead of plans to try and incorporate a brand new temping agency into the service. This has involved us reviewing the workload and roles of the staff within the department, where we can use IT and online services more to make the service more efficient and looking at whether we are just about promoting jobs or about skills development for students as well. We are still working on the last part and are in discussions with the University about what services they will run next year and whether there are any gaps.

• Misconduct Review – I have also been working with the University on their misconduct review. We had new codes of practice and regulations implemented around 18 months ago and this has been our chance to look at how we improve. For the large part the new system which has been modelled on colleges has been working well, there have just been some tweaks behind the scenes mainly in terms of how the cases are administered.

• Mentor Campaigns – I have been involved in the creation of mentor campaigns surrounding Sexual health, Mitigations and Exam Survival. For each of these campaigns materials were given out in halls and mentors were talking to students about issues they may have surrounding these. In addition I worked with the VPS on the exam survival campaign to put together a mini site on the Guild website with more information and links.

• ARC EGF- I have made decisions relating to the Guild Emergency Grant Fund on a couple of cases, this is a small pot of money that is available as a very last resort for students who literally cannot afford to live for a short period of time, i.e. delays in money coming in so you can’t afford food or rent.

• Student Loan Company – I attended the consultative forum as the representative for the West Midlands. We had quite a frank discussion about the problems that had been caused this year and about what the SLC have been doing to try and rectify these problems in future years, this took into account the brown review and feedback from HEI’s. I then did a presentation to Guild Council about the problems faced and the plans moving forward as well as what I would be doing to keep pressure on the SLC.

• Welfare Practitioners forum – I along with the VPEA hosted this forum in the Guild in January, there are monthly meetings to talk about different aspects of support out there with which Welfare tutors can interact. We gave a presentation on the Guild Services, how they worked and what they did to hopefully improve our visibility to academics and ensure they refer students to us when they have an issue that we can help with.

• Two Ticks accreditation – The Guild has been accredited with the two ticks mark for a number of years which shows that we are an equal opportunity employer with regards to disability and actually pledge to interview all disabled candidates who meet our minimum criteria for a job, ensuring that we give every opportunity to be fair to those with disabilities. I worked with the HR Co-ordinator to be reassessed for this mark and we were successfully re-accredited.

• I met with various members of staff from the University – to work on a range of projects, I met with Rebecca Wooldridge from Student Conduct to talk about a joint campaign around cheating in exams, I met with Jo Bryan the student funding manager to talk about the money doctors scheme which is about helping students to be good with their money and see how we can be involved. I have continued to regular meetings with Jane Tope the Equality and diversity across a variety of areas and I have also began having regular meetings with Chris Twine, the new director of student support and development to see how we can work more closely with the University.

• Meetings with schools/colleges – I have also had several meetings with different schools about issues students have raised with me and the VPEA including lectures being scheduled late in the evening, how plagiarism and mitigations are dealt with and financial problems of students.

• I attended Accommodation Management Group (AMG) – this is a joint meeting with the University to talk about all Unviersity owned accommodation matters, this is lead from the Guild by the VPHC but also covers the work of the mentors and welfare issues more widely which is why I attend

• Disability support team – I have met with this department a number of times to talk about the recruitment of support workers for students who need note takers or other support with their academic work and to see how the Guild and jobzone specifically can help with this. We also talked about a buddy scheme for the first few weeks of term to offer students with disabilities some peer support when trying to get a feel for the campus and Uni life.

Other activities (non-remit related)
• Democratic Structures review – I have spent a lot of time both in weekly meetings and in a two-day away day focusing on the review of our democratic structures, consulting with students and coming up with a final model that was taken to referendum at the end of term 2. This referendum was passed by an 80% approval.

• Officer Review – this is the other part to the democratic structures review, we are in the process of reviewing the remits of the officers and also how they interact with the organisation and whether the workload and the level at which we work is pitched in the right place.

• Job Evaluation - the Guild is also undergoing Job evaluation – as the sabbatical lead on this (as chair of the R and HR Committee) I have been working hard to co-ordinate the evaluation, liaise with staff about the process and score peoples jobs so that we can make sure that staff are being treated fairly and their jobs are relevant and well structured and that people are getting paid a fair amount for what they do. The Jobs have now been scored, the pay scales being finalised and we are into the final stages at looking at other benefits.

• Wellbeing group – alongside the VPS who chairs this group I sit on the wellbeing group, this is about making sure we are keeping our staff happy and motivated, activities this term included the Wii bowling challenge, yoga classes and football.

• Student Staff recruitment – although I was not involved in the main bulk of the recruitment at interview stage as I was on leave for the officer elections I did get involved in some of the recruitment and also did some internal interviews for senior assistants within departments.

• Reception meetings – As chair of R and HR and someone who previously worked on reception as student staff I have been involved in the reception working group meetings, in the new development we will be streamlining our services and centralising all enquiries through the main reception desk. This is going to require a new type of service being delivered here, including a broader range of knowledge and more of a focus on customer service.

• Honey Pot interviews – I spent two and half days interviewing for the honey pot, an award funded by alumni and given through careers to help students over the summer with work experience or internships, which without financial support wouldn’t be able to take on these opportunities.

• Trustee board away day – I attended this away day which was focussing on the market research we recently undertook and the future direction and strategic priorities for the Guild.

• SEOTY - I was a judge for the Student Employee of the year awards which look at rewarding the hard work and effort that our student staff have put in.

• Know Your World – I gave various shout outs in lectures and seminars to promote the Know your World campaign as well as being out on campus in our kiosk giving out guides to the activities of the Guild and speaking to students about what the Guild does.

• Alumni distribution panel – I sat on the panel that decided where all the money raised by alumni would be going this year. We gave out vast amounts of money to projects across all the different colleges as well as central services such as student support and careers and money to UBS and the Guild.

Meetings: regular meetings that I attend.
• R and HR Committee (monthly)
• Equality and Diversity Committee ( Guild Staff committee)- monthly
• Equality and Diversity Committee (Guild – Students)- 8 times a year
• Equality and Diversity Committee ( University) -twice a term
• Student Support and Development Meetings – twice a term
• Res Exec ( attended most as Vice Chair) - fortnightly
• C- QAEC – 4 times a year
• Accomodation management group – 4 times a year
• Welfare Practitioners forum – monthly
• SOG – weekly
• Team 10 -weekly
• GOG - monthly
• Sabb catch Up - weekly
• Staff Forum – 4 times a year.

• I attended regular meetings with ISOC and the VPSAD to talk about how we can help the committee and the society to run more events and make sure they are doing everything they need to do.

• I was interviewed by BURN FM to talk about my remit and some of the projects that I have been working on

• I was interviewed by Redbrick about work on student parents in a great article that highlighted was it is like for them as this University

• I attended Question time with the Vice Chancellor and Fabian our President.

• I inducted lots of new student staff into the Guild, explaining how the Guild works and how we can support them.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

the future of the nightbus

I have been working on securing the future of the Nightbus over the last term and it looks like we have had some really positive results. Through our affiliation with Castle Cars it looks like we are going to be able to secure the current level of service of two busses per night three times a week for the next THREE YEARS!

This is fantastic news and will really enable us to now embed this service, market the service more and make it a constant service that students can get into the routine of using.

I don't want to leave it there though, I am currently in the process of having meetings with some other stakeholders about the future of the service and what role they can play.
I will let you know more when I do, my end of term report for last term is on it's way as well so keep a look out for that!

Finally don't forget to protect your welfare with a Johnny!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Re-Election sucess!

Hi everyone,

hope all is well, just a quick blog to say that I was re-elected as your Vice President Welfare this weekend. I can't wait to get stuck back in and really make some change over the next 16 months.

Thank you so much for the support that you have all shown me once again! I really do take this responsibility very seriously.

To find out about my brand new manfiesto check out my website If you have any ideas / projects or suggestions on projects or issues you want me to tackle during my second term of office then please get in contact (details on the right hand coloumn of the blog).

For now it is back to work for me, i'm hoping to have a few days off over Easter to recover but in the meantime keep protecting your welfare with a Johnny!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

reviewing the situation.

Hi everyone,

Over the last few weeks I have been getting stuck into a lot of internal things in the Guild. It's not the sexiest stuff to be dealing with but it should make a real difference to the service that we deliver here in the Guild to the student that need it.

ARC review - as part of the redevelopment, the ARC will be getting a brand new look and to go alongside this we want to make sure the advice ansd the service that we provide is the best it can be. We are looking at getting alot more of the basic info into leaflets and on the website that students can take away and deal with in their own time. In addition to this we are improving the way in which we use volunteers in the ARC. Providing them with additional training and getting them more involved in the advice work itself we feel will provide a more efficient and personable service to students.

Mentor Review - the Guild has been working with the University to provide the student mentor service for a number of years and bi-annually we have to review this service. We recognise in the Guild that students know who their mentors are but it is much harder for us to understand what the impact is or how to measure it. This is a key area that we will be working on and once we know this we can work on maximising that impact.

The jobzone agency - I have been working hard with the staff in the Guild to move forward the project of a job zone agency. This will mean that we can offer temporary jobs on campus to hundreds of students instead of non-students being brought in to do these jobs. This will mean that many of those students who are desperately looking for jobs will be able to get them in the safe environment of campus and will paid through the Guild.
This has meant that we have needed to review what the jobzone currently does, we are streamlining its processes as much as possible to make sure that we can deliver this brand new service.

Over at the University there are currently reviews into how joint honours work and mitigations - both of which are key pledges for me this year. The Guild is feeding into both of these reviews and I am hopeful that we will have some positive results by the summer term.

Thats it for now, as ususal any comments or questions then let me know!