I’m back!

I’m back! Did you miss me? Truth be told you probably didn’t even realise I was gone.

Having been off work for the past few weeks poorly, I have felt like someone hit a big old pause button. I went from being really busy to suddenly doing absolutely nothing – truth be told I hated it. I am the sort of person who loves to be on the go, constantly occupied and finds it hard to sit still for five minutes.

However, it did make me realise something…. that the most important person is me! Now I’m not trying to say that I am more important than you (well I am but not in a mean way). I have learnt that when it comes to life you have to put yourself first and I need to start doing that more. To be honest most people probably need to give themselves more me time.

A few things I have found really useful for looking after me are:

  • Food! Don’t sit on the sofa with a massive bar of chocolate and demolish it every night (maybe once a week!). Do make sure you are eating at least three meals a day. As soon as you skip a meal your body starts to struggle as you won’t have enough energy. You’ll feel even more lousy and lack concentration. So eat!
  • Duvet Days – Who doesn’t enjoy a duvet day?! Sometimes these are needed on your own, but it’s also nice to have a duvet day with your friends. Get some good films, easy food (pizzas, chips, fruit) and just enjoy relaxing! Don’t have time for a whole day? Try at least a few hours each week.
  • Wash! Now this sounds like a strange one, but I often feel better (or even just refreshed) after a good shower. When you’re not feeling great use a ‘posh’ shower gel! I was bought ‘It’s raining Men’ Lush Shower Gel for my birthday and it makes me feel so much better on those tougher days. Make sure you get up and have a shower or a bath, even if you plan on going back to bed – at least then you can say you have done something today!
  • Switch off! It’s really healthy to try blackout at least once a week. Blackout means you turn all modes of communication off (so mobiles off not just on silent, computers off etc.). You could do this for an evening and instead build a den, eat marshmallows and watch that film you’ve been eager to see or start reading that book you keep meaning to pick up.

Whatever you do make sure you make some me time this week.

Tam x

Have a great Christmas everyone! :)

As if it’s only 6 days until Christmas…

I definitely haven’t started Christmas shopping yet, wups.

So this term has been a very busy term, with lots going on… and lots and lots of meetings.

This year the University have set up 4 groups focusing on Assessment and Feedback, Organisation and Management, Student Support and Improving Good degrees. These were set up in response to our feedback and feedback from the NSS results.

I currently sit on both the Assessment and Feedback group and Student Support group. In the assessment and feedback group we interviewed students, programme leaders and heads of departments to ask for their experiences of assessment and feedback. From these interviews we will be making recommendations to academic board – these will be based on the timeliness of feedback, clarity of the grading criteria, and quality of the feedback.

One of the main focuses of the student support group is the personal tutor system, whether it is effective and how it can be improved. So any feedback on that would be appreciated.

Another successful meeting last week was our meeting with the Director of Facilities management. We discussed issues around gender neutral toilets, the accessibility of campus, increasing the number of launderettes on campus, car parking and food choices for students with specific dietary requirements and FM will now be working on overcoming these issues.  We will also be working with some of our disabled students to put together recommendations on how the campus can be made more accessible and presenting this at facilities management team meeting so they can work together to put together an action plan.

A lot of this came from our very successful International Day of Persons with Disabilities which was organised by our disabled students’ officer Shannen. This day challenged the misconceptions around disability, questioned the accessibility of campus and made people think about the struggles that students with physical disabilities have to overcome everyday by closing off the stairs in the hub and encouraging students to take part in a blind football match. This will be part of an ongoing campaign to increase support for disabled students.

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Another campaign we are continuing from last year is our Rate you Landlord survey and awards ceremony, this is your opportunity to rate the quality of your accommodation and quality of the service – Rate your landlord here bit.ly/ehrateyourlandlord.

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We’re hoping that this will help drive the standards of off campus accommodation upwards, and create healthy competition amongst landlords and letting agencies. We may also contact you about negative comments and advise you to come and speak to our advice center to see what support they can offer you.

Anyway, I’ll leave things there for now as I don’t want to overload you with information.

Have a great Christmas and New Year everyone! And I’ll see you all in the New Year!

xxxxx

The end of term? When did that happen?!

And just like that it was the end of the first semester! I don’t know about you guys but that went so quickly! (I imagine, however, that if your semester was full of assessments, revision, late night LINC sessions and the odd night out (& subsequent recovery!) that maybe it didn’t speed by quite as fast as mine!)

So as we whizz off into the first big holiday of the academic year, and prepare to make some ill-advised resolutions to ourselves during the fireworks of New Years’ (which are often broken amongst used party poppers and the first hangover of the year) it seems like a perfect time to reflect on your first academic semester & my first term in office!

Freshers seems a million years ago, but I am not ashamed to say that I have the picture of the team with Hodor on the wall of my new apartment – despite still having not actually seen the show! There is so much planning that goes into Freshers’ week, from the moment The Quad closes it’s doors on the last event of one year, the team are already thinking about how to make next year even better!

For those of you who don’t know, Refreshers’ Week kicks off when everyone is back in January, as a chance to celebrate the start of the new term and we hold a Refreshers’ Fair (Tuesday 20th!) to give you chance to sign up to the societies you may have missed at the beginning of the year!

This year we launched our Student Book Club which is a highlight for me! We kicked off the first meeting with’The Five People you Meet in Heaven’, followed with ‘You Before Me’ and have chosen ‘The Shock of the Fall’ for the meeting on the 20th January. Everyone is welcome to come along – there are some snacks and refreshments and really great conversations. I’ve just finished the book and it really is worth a read! This would be the perfect one to join as you have the holidays to read the book and maybe, if you have been good all year, Santa may bring you it!

The EHSU <3 Consent team have been busy, and are ready to kick things up a notch in January – keep a look out for our new materials and workshops, and if you want to get involved, or have any ideas let me know! suvpfas@edgehill.ac.uk

I’ve been training course reps left, right and centre and it’s so great to meet so many of you who want to be a voice for your course! If you don’t know who your course rep is – find out! They are the people whose job it is to listen to your comments about university and take them to the people who can make a change!

We had our Liberations and Sections Officer elections and have successfully elected; Black Students Officer, Faye; Womens Rep, Kiah; Post Graduate Students Rep, Alex; Disabled Students Officer, Shannen; International Students Officer, Pedro and LGBT Officer, Shaun! They are all working on various campaigns and we will be hearing from them much more next term!

Don’t forget about our Rate Your Landlord survey! (bit.ly/ehrateyourlandlord) It is your chance to tell us all about your landlord and student house, anonymously! We use this information to help improve the accommodation for students in the future, so it’s really worth doing!

And that’s only half of it! It’s been a really busy and successful semester, but as we welcome in 2015, we can make it even better! Remember that this is your Students’ Union and we welcome your comments, suggestions and ideas!

Have a really great Christmas if you celebrate it, Hannukah if you celebrate that, and enjoy the time off if you don’t celebrate either! See you in 2015!

The blog roll…

So, it has been a busy old few weeks living the high life that comes with Vice-President territory, from underwhelming buffets, to meetings where one learns to sleep with their eyes open, to cups of tea with lovely Edge Hill students to hosting SPEAK: A Student-Led Lecture Series to playing table football with the new Bishop of Liverpool.

On Thursday, Edge Hill University was visited by the new Bishop of Liverpool, The Right Reverend Paul Bayes. Along with the lovely chaplaincy team, I had the pleasure to deliver a campus tour for the Bishop in difficult weather conditions. Put it this way, I haven’t experienced that much wind since I had that Jalfrezzi from Terry’s Balti House in Blackpool. Bishop Paul Bayes was a real treat to chat to and spend some time with and it was a pleasure to be entirely defeated by him in a game of table football in your Students’ Union Bar, even if such a harrowing loss was not listed on the tour agenda.

Later that evening, Edge Hill University played host to SPEAK, its first ever student-led lecture series. I had this idea a little while ago and thought it would be the perfect opportunity for students to essentially come together and share their unique research, ideas and perspectives on life, society and a variety of subjects in front of an audience, inclusive of academic staff, family, friends and peers.

There were three speakers on the night, the tremendously articulate Alex Prestage who talked about drag culture, the fabulously bespoke Codie Austin who discussed irritable bowel syndrome and my mildly competent self who lectured on mental health amongst stand-up comedians. Professor Mark Schofield, Dean of Learning and Teaching was in attendance and delivered a warm welcome and encouraging opening speech and a concluding plenary, eloquently tying all the ideas discussed together and rounding it off with his own perspectives.

This event was a treat to organise and host for such a supportive and friendly audience. The next lecture in the series will be held on the 29th January 2015 and we already have one speaker lined up, if you wish to fulfil the remaining two slots then feel free to contact myself at suvphealth@edgehill.ac.uk.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Thomas X

What do you even do?!

This is a question that I am asked often, by students, staff members and my proud-but-not-sure-why family. I figured it was time for a blog to explain what our purpose is at the Students’ Union and honestly, why should you care?! Quite often, thanks to old episodes of Hollyoaks, students think that ‘The SU’ is the bar on a campus. Sure, the SU Bar and the Quad are part of the Students Union and we are rather proud of it. But in terms of what we are all about, events are just the tip of the iceberg! Generally speaking, the whole point of a Students Union is to make life better for students. Sometimes that is running campaigns (Such as EHSU <3 Consent and Rate your Landlord) and sometimes it is representing student views on panels and committees (and boy do we sit on a lot of these!). The SU consists of the four elected officers – a Vice President of each Faculty (Education, Health and Social Care & Arts and Sciences – Me!) and a President, plus a whole host of full time staff who work behind the scenes on things like volunteering, societies, advice and all the things that go into our events and campaigns! Representing a whole host of students is a hard job. We have introduced some new part-time liberation and sections officers this year to help us with that and they’re already doing a great job! We have to get feedback from students to know what needs changing, and we do this through our network of course reps, surveys (like the NSS!) and just from individual students with something to say. A union can evoke change. One student with a passion, an idea or an opinion can make a difference and we in the SU are here to facilitate that. We have a pretty amazing Advice Centre who offer impartial advice about housing, benefits, academic issues, (I can’t take any credit at all for this!) who have helped a huge number of students. The SU is, even if I say it myself, pretty damn amazing!

I’ve noticed recently that I am working harder than ever, but because it’s not all on something visible like a campaign or an event, it may seem as though I’m doing nothing. I am sat on various committees and steering groups full of Big Cheeses within the university, representing the student voice where it counts. I’m in a group who are working on the best ways to support students in order for them to get the best degree they can. I’m in talks with a whole bunch of people discussing how we can improve employability, and I’m even working on something of my own to help with this. We are all doing Periodic Reviews, which is a big, official process in which all courses must be reviewed every few years by a board to ensure it is working efficiently. I am trying to train over 100 course reps and taking in feedback via these guys on what to work on in the next few weeks. I meet with so many different departments in the university, FM, Academic Registry, Teaching Staff, Learning Support, everyone to see how we can work together for you the students. Those things are not fun, or attractive, but they are necessary and I’m weirdly enjoying doing them! This job is never the same two days in a row and it makes for interesting “work”. But the whole thing, our whole purpose, is for students. So get involved! We are here to listen and help change things for the better, whether you drop a Facebook message about a campaign idea or come up and chat about academic issues, it’s the only way we know what to work out – from you!

Don’t forget that these roles will be up for Election in March (eek!) and you could have my job! If you want to know more about this, or anything at all we do in the SU, please ask!

“A whole lot goin’ on!”

I really had intended to write these blogs every week, filled with all the wonderful events and campaigns we are running – the problem with this, however, is the more content I have, the less time there is to write about those things! Catch 22!

I have however, decided to set aside some time on this surprisingly sunny November morning to write a blog (which happily goes towards my target of writing 50,000 words this month! – You can follow my progress on my personal website, www.codiekinz.co.uk) updating you all about some pretty exciting things that have been going on!

Firstly, you are looking at (or reading…) a fully qualified Mental Health First Aider! This is a really exciting course that myself, President Kayley and VP Education Tami got to attend with one of our lovely advisors, Esther (VP Health Thomas was busy with various panels but luckily will be able to attend in the next few months!) and resulted in a shiny badge and a certificate. The course is based on the fact that every work place is required to have a certain amount of physical first aiders – but what about our mental health! Depression is more common than dandruff, but we never seem to talk about it! 1 in 6 people in the workplace experience depression, anxiety and/or stress -university and the changes that come with it, can be a catalyst for this. That’s why it’s important for as many people as possible to be trained in this. We are not taking the place of councillors and other professionals, we are merely a knowledgable link between.

Another exciting thing that happened last week, was Trick or Eat, our collection for Southport Soup Kitchen and Ormskirk Food Bank. More people than ever are having to turn to food banks for their family’s food so instead of filling up on sweets for Halloween, our wonderful team of volunteers asked for odds and ends from people in Ormskirk – who were incredibly generous! It’s crazy how much stuff you have in your cupboard that you’re probably never going to eat (so many packs of microwave pasta and tins of baked beans!) but that will make a really great meal for someone in need. We’re going to be collecting behind the SU Desk (near the Community Bookshelf!) until the 6th November, so if you have anything to donate, please pop along!

Speaking of the 6th, this Thursday marks the very first ever Student Book Club, in association with the library, and we are reading my favourite book, The Five People you meet in Heaven. It’s short, so there’s still time to devour it before the book club (refreshments will be proScreen Shot 2014-11-03 at 11.23.59vided!) and last week I got to do a super cool interview with Helen downstairs in Creative Edge, you can hear that here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9_zvLZqrNc&feature=youtu.be

So there you have it! A short insight to what I, and the team, have been up to the past week! No two days are the same, and that’s what I love about this job – that and getting to speak to you guys and call it work! </cheese>

Thank you for another wonderful month of adventures, and I can’t wait to see what November brings, starting with a whole load of Course Rep training today! 🙂

Back to reality

Just over a week ago I said to my friends that so much would change in the coming week and it really has. Freshers Week is the craziest and busiest week of university. Freshers BandsIn the past week you have started to settle into your new home, met so many new people (and probably found friends who will stick with you for life!), possibly drunk more than you ever have before, signed up for about 50 societies and tried your hand at cooking. Last week was amazing, but I know I was more than ready to enter the real world again – mainly because I wanted sleep!

Wednesday Socials HodorSo how do you cope with uni life now the lectures have started, you need to start eating properly and you actually have some time on your hands?

Lectures & Seminars – Turn up to these! It’s actually really useful to learn face to face and you’ll get so much more by being in the sessions rather than copying your mates notes up because you decided to stay in bed. See if you can find people to walk to sessions with (even if it’s just from the car park!) – you’ll be able to motivate each other, which you’ll appreciate on the cold snowy mornings later in the year.

Food – It’s almost guaranteed you were sent to uni with a student cookbook (or 5!) so use them! A diet of beans on toast is not going to get you through the year! Try cooking with your flatmates or housemates – maybe have a Come DIne with Me type event. Fajitas, pasta bakes and curries are all pretty easy to make so don’t be scared, just have a go! I would recommend Sorted Food for ideas.

Time – It’s far too easy for you to sit in your room or curl up in your bed watching Harry Potter and/or sleep the time away. You’ll probably need quite a bit of sleep after last week (I know I do!) but how can you stop that homesickness feeling? The trick is to keep yourself busy, spend time with your housemates and friends and why not join a society or sports team? (You could probably study too…..) University is what you make it – so make it amazing!

CoppaFeel!

Also I just want to say a HUGE thank you to my CoppaFeel! team for representing the charity so well last Wednesday. This is one of the charity’s I am supporting this year – the aim being to raise awareness about Breast Cancer in under 30s. It’s great fun and you can find more information out on our Facebook page.

Freshers’ Week 2014 – INSERT WITTY AND/OR PUNNY TITLE.

Hello!

Thomas here, one of your Students’ Union sabbatical officers, specifically Vice-President Faculty of Health and Social Care.

So, we are approaching the end of Freshers’ Week and well, I am tired. On Sunday, a mass of new students descended upon our campus, most likely excited and nervous in equal measure. It has been lovely meeting you all, talking to you all and well, telling you where the toilets are at least six times a night in The Quad.

There has been and still is lots of wonderful activities coming this week, so far we have had the Freshers’ Launch Party, the Liverpool Takeover, a jam-packed Freshers Fair and an incredible DJ set from Kristian Nairn (aka Hodor) who is so tall he was clearly born in a greenhouse. Last night we had the UV Paint Party with Judge Jules and yet to come is the Top Banana Comedy Club tonight and Radio One’s Danny Howard at Sundays Freshers’ Finale.

Our job here at Edge Hill Students’ Union is to ensure that you have the best student experience possible and our aim is to make students’ lives better through a variety of ways, methods and generally in any way we can. If you ever see us out and about, come and grab us, we will talk to anyone about anything! Plans for this year consist of the EHSU Heart Consent campaign, World Mental Health Day, Halloween and Reverse Trick or Treating, HUB Sleepovers, Coppafeel Week, Liberations Elections and Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance Week, including the return of Edge Hill’s Fake Me Out!

We hope you are all settling in nicely and enjoying all the fun of the fair that is Freshers’ Week 2014, we allare

Ps. I hasten to add that it has been a pleasure to spend considerable amounts of my evenings telling you all where the toilets are.