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Union President Blog #4

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This is a weekly blog series by your Sabbatical Officers; students/graduates elected to take a year, and work for our Student Union.

This week’s blog is by your Union President, Astrid Smallenbroek. She has the responsibility of representing student views to the University. Her priorities are mental health, equality diversity and inclusion, study support, housing, and transport. Find out more here.


‘Lead and Change’

Lead and Change

This week Jamie, your VP Communities, and I went to Lead and Change in Nottingham which is a series of training programmes run by the National Union of Students (aka. NUS). Each training programme is specific to your sabbatical officer position, so mine focused on the issue of good leadership. I really enjoyed networking with other Student Union Sabbaticals and met a fair few people from Scotland! I particularly enjoyed the work we did on effective problem solving. We also got loads of training on equality, diversity and inclusion and how to integrate this into leadership.


Before Jamie and I went off to the Lead and Change training event, we had a joint meeting with the University and First Bus. In this meeting, we discussed ways to improve our working relationship and what issues students, as well as staff, are currently facing with the bus services. We highlighted that students are often displeased with the irregularity of bus services – especially in the morning! We also noted that students are often frustrated when buses don’t show up. FirstBus let us know that there is now an app, which will tell you the accurate bus timetable. Do you take the bus regularly? Download the app here!


I’ve also been working hard on the Strategy to Prevent and Tackle Sexual Violence and Misconduct. The current area we are working on is recruiting #isthisok? workshop facilitators. The workshop facilitators will be trained to deliver a student workshop that is aimed at preventing sexual violence and improving bystander intervention. If you’re interested, you can find more information here.

Interested in becoming an #isthisok? Workshop facilitator? You can apply here.

Mental Health

Another area I have been focusing on is mental health and wellbeing, the University and the Union are looking at how we can work together to improve Mental Health provisions for students and how to accurately evidence the need for specific provisions.

I’ve also been looking at how we can link mental wellbeing to our Healthy Body, Healthy Mind campaign. We have been looking at all the different ways that The Union can make sure we are offering students regular opportunities to de-stress and take care of themselves. First semester, I am planning to introduce a bi-weekly event that would be a taster session to a regular mental health and wellbeing opportunity we have on campus. This way if students come along and find that they enjoy it, they can continue going along and using it to de-stress. Events will include activities like gardening, volunteering, or going on a group walk.

As we gear up for Fresher’s, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, queries or concerns that you might have! I can be reached by e-mail at or pop by the Union Offices.


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