Helen Marchant - Vice President for Education

Helen Marchant is your new Vice President of Education and Welfare! A 2016 graduate of  Philosophy and Religion BA. Helen was previously involved with the Union as a Senior Course Rep, Vice President of PhotoSoc, and a Student Volunteering Project leader, alongside supporting many campaigns throughout the year.

Helen works with the Student Voice Team on everything from academic issues and the course rep system to make sure that your educational experience here at Bangor is the best it can possibly be. Her role also covers welfare so if students have any issues, pea or planet sized, let her know and she will do her best to help! 

Primarily this year, Helen hopes to focus on Mental Health Support, Student Parents and childcare, Hidden Course Costs and Housing focusing on a ‘Love Your Landlord’ scheme. 

First six weeks!

So it’s been six weeks on the job apparently, and I’m finding that quite hard to believe. HOW DOES IT GO SO FAST?! I feel like I’ve done nothing and everything all at once- there’s so much I want to do, and so many things I’ve already done. It’s pretty crazy, but I am loving it.

So far, I’m in the midst of trying to figure out an answer to the question ‘so what exactly do you do?’ - the answer really isn’t as straightforward as I initially thought. Splitting my
time between the things I want to do and envisaged and the general wider responsibilities that fall onto you as part of being a sabbatical officer is different than I first imagined. And currently without all the students around, it’s been a lot of waiting around for people, the chaos and planning ahead, for when welcome week inevitably hits
hard. (I cannot believe how fast it’s coming around...)

But, the first six weeks of the job have been incredible. I’ve been doing a lot of training and introductions to meetings and concepts. The first two weeks were spent with Lydia,
and I couldn’t ask for a better person to show me the ropes. This was followed by our officer residential to Surf Snowdonia, and we learnt a lot about working collectively as a
team alongside deciding our priorities for the year. I’ve been to NUS conferences SU 16 in liverpool and Lead and Change in Lincoln, which has definitely given me some food for
thought. We learnt a lot about our privilege and the struggles students naturally face. 

Lead and Change gave me chance to meet other education officers and form friendships that are helping establish joint campaigns, particularly between Bangor and Cardiff. I’ve
sat in a LOT of meetings and met even more people, all of which have been supportive and lovely (which helps a lot), and learnt a lot of acronyms. (How are you
meant to know what TEF means on day one?) Myself and Rob, the Course Rep Co-ordinator, have been looking at course rep training for next year and developing it further, alongside holding staff training on how to work with reps. We’ve come up with what we think are pretty cool ideas to make it a lot more interactive and engaging, and developed returner rep training so they can get more from the system.

I’ve got plenty of ideas to keep me going, first point of call is setting up a student welfare committee hopefully. Alongside ideas to engage student parents, particularly during
welcome week, increase mental health support and bereavement support groups, and also look at a reference system for housing ‘love your landlord’ that could tie in quite
nicely with the landlord awards. I’ve introduced a ‘Mind Your Head’ awareness week revolving around world mental health day on October 10th.

I’ve also enjoyed the freedom of the Summer and engaging with students during the Summer Sessions! It’s so great to see so many happy students out and about enjoying
activities, I’ve been to Bounce Below, Puffin Island on a powerboat, Bodnant Gardens and even tried a go at Salsa dancing. Definitely not for me, but Ifan, UMCB President, loved it. Through these sessions I’ve managed to build up a lovely network of helpful students so I’m looking forwards to working with them.

I’m excited for Welcome Week 2016 and currently working on ‘Welfare on Wheels’ with the team to ensure that students are looking after themselves during the heavy period,
providing fruit, water and condoms. But mostly I’m looking forwards to meeting all the new students coming in for the next few years and making my priorities happen.

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