George: Student Living Officer
Hi, I’m George. I’ve just finished by BSc in Physics and I’ll be your elected Student Living Officer this year!
My role is all about students and their lives – who would have thought from the title! My focus is on the following areas; Wellbeing, Accomodation, Sustainability, Finance and Community Outreach.
Who am I? This deep philosophical question won’t be answered here, but I can tell you a little about me. I’ve been a part of student groups from my first months at Bristol, from Manor JCR Vice-Presidency to Chaos Physball representative, and loved every part of it! Along with all this, I simultaneously worked 6 part-time jobs over my time at university and also spent time volunteering.
University is often referred to as a ‘journey’, so I’m going to do that too. My journey was a rocky one, which involved both bad physical and mental wellbeing, struggles with finances, and other difficulties. These experiences have given me a real drive to make a difference for ALL students.
I work closely with the ‘RAG, Volunteering and Sustainability’, ‘Wellbeing’, ‘Care Leavers and Estranged Students’ and ‘Parents, Carers and Mature Students’ Networks to champion student voice and create inclusive spaces for all.
If you have any issues or worries, please feel free to contact me!
See everything your SU has been up to here.
My big plan:
Safer use of alcohol and drugs
- Shape a Harm Reduction approach to alcohol and other drugs at the university
- Promote education on alcohol and other drugs in the following areas; socially, safe usage, drug testing and ethics
- Campaign for decriminalisation and regulation of the current harmful drug market
Improved mental health services
- Lobby the university to hire more specialist staff in the Wellbeing and Counselling services to better students’ access to support services
- Help students access the service they need by making the individual roles of ResiLife, the Wellbeing service, and school staff clearer and review the training provided
- Support alternative mental health resources, such as Bristol Nightline, and connect with city-wide services
Climate emergency and sustainability
- Make sure University practices/student facing services are sustainable, such as introducing Meat-Free Mondays and reducing single use packaging
- Educating students on how to live sustainable and why it’s important, with emphasis on first years
- Review SU processes and help student groups become more sustainable
Community building for students
- Review the working processes of JCRs and postgraduate community building in halls of residence
- Update bar and social spaces within our halls; providing places for students to relax and meet friends
High quality student housing for less
- Lobby for a rent reduction strategy in university accommodation which continues to protect quality of service, with affordable options for disabled, international and PG students.
- Ensure students understand theirs rights as tenants and support them in the private housing sector by promoting the services of Bristol SU Lettings, hosting Housing fairs and ‘Find a Flatmate’ events.
Here's what I've done so far:
- June 18 - far as aware we do not have current contracts or dealings with Barclays or subsiduries of Barclays.
- April 18 – Finance at Bristol SU looking in to any contracts with companies with direct connections to Barclays.
- Jan 18 – Met with Lynn Robinson from the University to discuss motion and next steps.
- Jan 18 - SU will take a proactive approach to informing students about drugs and drug misuse and will be collaborating with UWE on this.
- June 18 - Subject to rent strike support will continue - there was none in the past academic year.
- Jan 18 - Kept in contact with Cut the Rent and ready to support them in their campaign.
- April 17- Union is supporting this campaign and Cut the Rent on their rent strike, which is due to take place. Keen to continue conversations with the University on this topic.
- June 2018 - Survey commissioned and report has been written. Support available for society when they campaign. Suggestions from the report and engagement with the University residences will be important in the next academic year to move this forward.
- Jan 2018 - SU working with University on pastoral review which will include changes to hall allocations. Annual survey included research into whether students felt they belonged to their hall.
June 2018 - Met with 'Cut the Rent' group to discuss support we can give and is subject to campaign - likely to be one next year.
Officers have repeatedly brought up the issue of high rent with members of University management and Residences. One sabbatical officer will now sit on the rent setting working group in the university, and will be as transparent with students as we can be on progress. In light of this and the Students' Union petition, the university will be bringing in a £120,000 of accommodation bursaries for 2017/18, which is increasing to £200,000 for 18/19.
We have also been campaigning for Digs to sign the ethical lettings charter.
- 2016 - I have brought this up with the Director of Estates at Bristol University. I have also been helping a local resident, with a child at Bristol Grammar School, to publicise a petition demanding a pedestrian crossing, and have attended a local council meeting where this was put on the agenda for another local planning meeting.
- June 2018 - Bristol SU has been running Mind Your Head the last three years and also lobbying the University for increased support to mental health. Huge developments in wellbeing this year include; residential life service restructure, wellbeing service implementation, ad hoc meetings with University Management to discuss community building and greater connectivity between mental health services.
- 2016 - The committee noted: Sarah Redrup (Student Living Officer) would work with Mark Ames on actions relating to this motion, which had been supported by a number of students. The Committee discussed the increase in the number of students with serious and on-going mental health illnesses who were seeking support from Student Services and the balance between supporting these students, but also promoting general resilience so that students could maintain good mental health and well-being. Mark Ames reported that he was currently preparing a paper for UPARC Strategy Group around strategic objectives for supporting well-being.
- SU Officers have inputted into the schools review of pastoral support and will do the same with the residences review too. We have raised the fact that improvements in support within communities (reidences and schools) must not come at the expense of frontline services such as the Student Counselling Service. The MInd Your Head Awareness campagin will run again from the 24th April until the 5th May, with the aim of continuing wellbeing sessions throughout the exam period.
- A range of Halal sandwiches are available in all Source Cafes, the University are going to make these more prominent and raise awareness. The UoB Head of Hospitality and Head Chef have agreed to meet with the student societies who proposed the motion to further discuss the options.
- The University have agreed to review the application process. As long as this isn't too strenuous they are confident they will achieve the Award. Sophie (Proposer) is working through the application process with uoB Head of Hospitality.
- The University already run "less-meat" Mondays and Thursdays in halls and these have been very successful. The University have agreed to trial half-price vegetarian options on a Wednesday in the Refectory and on a day TBC in the Balloon Bar (subject to management approval).
- 11/05/15 The costs of the bus pass for the 16 bus has moved from all halls of residence to Stoke Bishop only, which is the area that benefits most from the bus
- UoB will be introducing a cashless payment system in September 2016. This will take the form of an app which will allow you to swipe your phone to pay for food at all cafes on the Precinct. The tills have just been put in place and the app will have a soft launch in April 2016 as a loyalty card.
- 11/05/15 Have had meetings with the University finance team to present the student petition which now has over 1,200 signatures
- 11/05/15 Plan to send a letter to the Vice Chancellor within the next month demanding the university divest from investing in fossil fuels
- 11/05/15 Initial planning meeting held to discuss scope and membership of a student committee
- 11/05/15 First elections in process of being planned to have committee in place for 15/16 academic year. Current democracy review may push this deadline back
- 11/05/15 Bristol SU has made organisational pledges for Green Capital year