Vice President (Welfare) The VPW supports university students experiencing difficulties by making help available on campus. They also protect and improve student rights, as well as supporting lifestyle changes to enhance student well being. Candidates Matt ‘Rolfe’ Harris Katherine ‘eastyJet’ East ‘Ask’ Jess Bethom Claire Lister Matt Rolfe ‘Harris’ What made you decide to run […]

Written by Judith Hawkins
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Vice President (Welfare)

Campaigning on campusThe VPW supports university students experiencing difficulties by making help available on campus. They also protect and improve student rights, as well as supporting lifestyle changes to enhance student well being.

Candidates
Matt ‘Rolfe’ Harris
Katherine ‘eastyJet’ East
‘Ask’ Jess Bethom
Claire Lister

Matt Rolfe ‘Harris’

What made you decide to run for VP Welfare?
It’s something I’ve always been passionate about. I’ve used the welfare system before and some elements of it were good but others were bad, and it depended on your school or department. I want to make it fairer by standardising it across the board. As long as you are a member of the university we should all be treated equally when it comes to welfare.

What are the key changes that you plan to make if you win the election?
I think a lot more can be done to raise issues on the university, for example World Aids Day, SHAG week and Mental Health week, as currently there is not enough publicity to get people involved.

Whenever there is an event like these we should let people know weeks in advance, so that it can build up and become a big event. I also want to promote a healthy living scheme, with simple things like healthy eating, sleeping well, and teaching people how to do basic first aid.

My other policies are to bring back the Night Bus, and to create a my.finance tab on everyone’s my.bham portal, to streamline our finances and to provide advice on the financial support available.

In what ways have your previous roles given you the experience needed to be VP Welfare?
Before I came to university I was a full-time care worker for people with mental disabilities, so I’ve always been involved with welfare. Within university I’ve been on the Carnival Rag committee, and am currently on the Aussie Rules committee so hopefully I could work with the new VPS to create something sporty for my healthy living scheme.

I also work in the ARC so as part of the Guild staff I know what needs doing, and as a Guild counsellor for my department I know how people can be looked over and I know the formalities of the Guild and its proceedings.

Give three short reasons why people should vote for you as VP Welfare.
I’m passionate. People will see from my campaign that I go hell-for-leather on everything I do, and give absolutely 100%. I’m trustworthy. I don’t have a hidden agenda, as I want to change things, but I want to change it with the people.

I want to get into office and throw the doors open. And I think I’m a breath of fresh air, as everyone’s all a bit ‘I’m really into the Guild’, and while it’s good that they know the ins and out there’s a lot more to the university than just the Guild.
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Katherine ‘eastyJet’ East

What made you decide to run for VP Welfare?
I decided to run specifically for VP Welfare when I went through the mitigations process last year. It was terrifying and I saw so many errors and things that I could change as VP Welfare. As a person who was so ill that I had to miss my exam, it didn’t feel fair that I then had to wait 3 weeks to find out whether I could re-sit it. So personal experience inspired me to run for VP Welfare.

What are the key changes that you plan to make if you win the election?
Obviously the mitigations process. I want a complete overhaul of it to make it fairer, and a mini mitigations board to sit every week so that you know before you sit an exam that if you miss it you’ll be able to sit it again without the 40% cap.

I also want to make campus healthier by bringing in healthy, good value food. I want to bring back SHAG week to improve sexual health awareness, as Birmingham has one of the highest rates of chlamydia.

Lastly I want to introduce an information package for new students which will include all the things you need to know on coming to an alien place, such as money advice, and where to find the nearest doctor, dentist and hospital.

In what ways have your previous roles given you the experience needed to be VP Welfare?
I’m on the Law Society committee and that has shown me a lot, such as working within a team and deciding what ideas are feasible. I’ve learnt to compromise, to negotiate and have become a good public speaker.

Before university I was a student mentor for 4 years at school, where I faced and helped sort out problems regarding instances of abuse and bullying, and worked with social services. Lastly, juggling all these roles as well as being on the Law Netball team and University Gymnastics team, I’ve learnt to be an incredibly organised person.

Give three short reasons why people should vote for you as VP Welfare.
I’m confident, committed, outgoing, and if I put my mind to it I will achieve it, which means when I make promises I keep them. My policies are achievable, they’re not idealistic but things that I know I can do. Finally people should vote for me because I’m making changes that are for them, that are fair and that students need.
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‘Ask’ Jess Bethom

What made you decide to run for VP Welfare?
I’m really passionate about welfare issues. I just think it’s really important that students know what is available to them and it is very easy to change the system so that they do. I feel that I am the candidate to do it because I know what welfare services are available and how they can be made better.

What are the key changes that you plan to make if you win the election?
I want to reform and rebrand Welfare Wednesday. It was a great initiative undertaken by Luke the VP Welfare for last year, but just with the timing of it and a lack of publicity it didn’t kick off. By rebranding it I’d make sure it has a big impact next year.

I think this is really important especially considering that students are going to be paying £9000 in fees. They’re going to need a lot more financial help and help from the JobZone, so there needs to be a bigger presence of welfare support on campus.

In what ways have your previous roles given you the experience needed to be VP Welfare?
I work at the students’ support centre. I’m a note-taker and I help with mobility support, so I understand how 3 Elms Road works. I was an Erasmus student last year which gave me an experience of other universities and their welfare systems, and by incorporating and amalgamating what was good about them I can create the best possible welfare services here.

I also sit on the student staff committee in the Languages Department so I’m good at interrelating with students and finding out what they want, and taking that up to the next level to translate into policies and into changes.

Give three short reasons why people should vote for you as VP Welfare.
I’m passionate about welfare issues. I’m competent and really feel that I am the best person for the job, because I’m motivated and because I know about these issues.
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Claire Lister

What made you decide to run for VP Welfare?
As a disabled student and as disabled students’ officer, I have a firm grasp of the welfare needs of students. I have seen first-hand the difficulty in accessing services that are so vital to the welfare of students.

What are the key changes that you plan to make if you win the election?
I want to ensure better promotion of Guild services. I would also like to see an increase in access to student support and counselling services as well as an increase in the number of counsellors to decrease waiting times. Last but not least, I’d like to see better representation in the Guild with strong campaigns for liberation associations.

In what ways have your previous roles given you the experience needed to be VP Welfare?
I’ve been a Disabled Students’ Officer, and I was on the NUS disabled students’ campaign in which I worked closely with other liberation groups. In a national organisation I’ve created liberation caucuses, and I’m a user of welfare services myself so I’ve got a strong grasp of the welfare needs of students.

Give three short reasons why people should vote for you as VP Welfare.
Because I want better representation in Guild democracy, better access and promotion of Guild welfare services, and decreased waiting times in student support and counselling services.
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