Settling into the office…

For the past few weeks I’ve been settling into my new role as Sheffield Students’ Union’s 2017/18 Welfare Officer. It’s been a whirlwind of an experience! As it’s now my second week in the office, I thought I’d take a minute to step back, reflect on how it’s going and share with you some of exciting plans I have for my year as a sabbatical officer.

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Firstly, hello! I’m Reena. I’ve recently finished my undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature and I’m so heckin’ excited to get stuck in and work with all you lovely folk to ensure mental health and wellbeing is prioritised in everything we do. Mental health is such a multifaceted issue, one that affects every aspect of our lives and yet, it is so often overlooked. I’m going to be continuing the amazing work of my predecessor, the lovely Anna Mullaney, in pushing for better mental health provision and support both within the University and the SU.

Loneliness is a key issue that I’m hoping to focus on this year. One of the main reasons I put myself forward and campaigned for the position of Welfare Officer was due to my experiences as a commuter-student in my first year. I found that, because I was so separate from that ready-made community you’re naturally placed into when you’re living in university accommodation, I didn’t really know how to make friends. I felt so isolated from everything and incredibly lonely. I’d never really considered the importance of having a strong support network around me until it wasn’t there anymore. It was only when I decided to get involved in societies that I began to feel like a part of a community again.

Over 17% of students reported feelings of isolation in our recent Prioritise Our Mental Survey. It absolutely breaks my heart to think that someone could be going through something so profound as the transition to university without the support they need and deserve, and that’s why, in my year as Sheffield Students’ Union’s Welfare Officer, I will be focusing on combating loneliness so that all students feel a part of our thriving community.

At the moment, I’m still learning the ropes of the role and trying to understand how I work best, but despite the fact it’s only my second week, I feel like I’ve learnt so much! Every day is different and I love it. I’ve been using a lot of my time to conduct research and set-up meetings with key members of staff who will help me implement ideas from my manifesto (yaaaas). Sharing an office with seven other (lovely) people is actually so wonderful, too. The office always feels homey and full, which I really like. They’re an ok bunch (I guess).

Reena x

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Got a question? Get in touch! :) Email me at reena.staves@sheffield.ac.uk

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