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Candidate Questions: Welfare Officer

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How do you plan to rectify the issue of not enough accommodation for First Years on campus?

Robert Hughes: To step in initially to establish a two way communication system with the accommodation office so that they are aware of problems straight away. For those who do fall through the net, I'd like to get them as close to campus as possible and get them involved as much as possible. I'm also against further price rises and am prepared to lobby against unnecessary 51 week lets.

Laura Borisovaite: One of the problems this year is that there were definitely too many second and third years let back into student accommodation. There needs to be adequate and substantial support put in place to help for first years that is planned and not just reactive to the situation.

What undeveloped areas of welfare would you like to improve?

RH: I'd like to focus on mental health and wellbeing, which has been ignored a bit in recent years. The Open Door Counselling service is oversubscribed and not widely known around and I want to raise awareness about that. I also want to do a survey about what students know and don't know about sexual health, expand testing of STIs beyond Chlamydia and lobby to expand GUM clinic opening hours. There should be a massive calendar to inform students what's going on early, with a definite idea of the help they can get and sign posts of the people they can go to for advice.

LB: We've had people this year saying that they've wanted to get involved in volunteering that's non-elective, so we've been thinking of ideas like helping people get library books who either can't get there or who live far away. With student parents and families, we're planning lunches which we hope will become a regular thing, providing a platform for people to meet and discuss issues that are affecting them. Also, contacting all the different STI clinics to test for other diseases after the success of the Chlamydia challenge and it becoming a regular feature every six months as recommended.

What do you think of the current state of the Health Centre?

RH: The health centre has always had many issues, particularly with anonymity, for example calling people's names out for the GUM clinic. There should be a student-lead approach to making improvements.

LB: I think things in the health centre have actually improved. From the results of the student health survey last summer, we've given them the results and it's told them where to improve, and they're working on that. There's a lack drop-in sessions for emergency, but changes like that need careful consideration.

Name one good thing and one bad thing that your predecessor did during their term?

RH: Laura is a really happy, approachable person and has provided a friendly face.

One bad thing would be that there hasn't been a clear enough message about what's coming, which has sometimes meant that campaigns have fallen through- a calendar would hold officers to account for things not happening.

LB: I think the good thing, because I'm always asking people for feedback, has been the approachability and I think there just be an always and constant push towards an increase in provisions as the number of students increases as well.

But, I'm still working on improving campaigns and I'd still like to do one on mental health.

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