- Sabb Interviews: President, David Mendoza-Wolfson
- Sabb Interviews: VP DCI Megan Downing
- Sabb Interviews: VP Engagement, Ellie Cawthera
- Sabb Interviews: VP Communities, Anjit Aulakh
- Sabb Interviews: VP Welfare, Beckie Thomas
- Sabb Interviews: VP Sports Development, Katie Lightowler
- Sabb Interviews: VP Education, Sophia D’Angelico
As part of the mini-series of 2015 sabbatical interviews, the Wessex Scene team are interviewing all sabbatical officers this week to catch up on their progress, what’s gone well or badly so far and what plans they have for semester 2 and beyond.
Hi Katie, how do feel your role has gone so far?
It’s been really good, if quite hectic! It’s been a bit of a balancing act, dealing with staff and external companies involvement. It’s been very rewarding though.
What do you believe to be the biggest difference you’ve made since taking up the role?
The biggest difference has definitely been the sports strategy, implementing this has given an increase in student involvement. The focus sport programme has been developed with the help of £5,000 and has been really successful.
How has this amount been specifically used though?
It’s been very helpful as it has gone directly towards the focus sport programme. Thanks to this funding another five sports have been added to the programme. so not only has there been an increase in participation and sports but there is also now a higher level of training being provided, as part of the sports strategy.
Have there been any areas of the job you’ve found particularly challenging? If so, why?
That’s quite difficult to answer actually. I would say it’s been tricky to balance talking to students and making sure their voices are heard, yet at the same time providing clear communication around the whole student community.
It can be a little confusing for students to always know where to get the best advice/support from..
It would be fair to say that side has been a bit of a struggle in comparison to the other work we’ve done. However I have no doubt it’s improved greatly over the last six months. Increased participation and levels of students involvement shows that there is a clearer line of communication than there perhaps has been in the past.
Would it be fair to say there are still issues with AU clubs and funding? It’s an area you said you would address..
This area is never going to be easy in terms of being totally fair to each club as a whole. We work hard with the clubs to make sure their experience is as good as it can be, but there are limited funds as well as guidelines we can’t overlook. That said there is definitely room for improvement, hopefully we’ll be able to improve the subs available in the next budget round, we’ll do our best!
How is ‘ Team Southampton ‘ coming along?
It’s going well so far. We’ve recently had an online shop go up. It’s being developed as we speak and we’ve worked closely with UnderArmour, so we’re hoping to have better products for everyone to purchase. We’re also having an actual shop upstairs above the student shop. Work is underway with university marketing and with the maintenance services to put up ‘Team Southampton’ boards around the main area of campus, so I would say it’s coming along nicely.
In your manifesto you focused on better access to sports for those with disabilities. What have you done to improve their sporting experience?
Yes I did, there’s been a couple of important things we’ve taken a look at this year. Better and easier access to a range of facilities and activities has all been a part of our sports strategy. We feel it’s important we can offer improved participation in target sports such as archery, but also athletics as a whole. It’s something we’ll continue to work on.
Are there any aims in your manifesto that you’ve had to seriously reconsider?
Definitely transport! I originally looked to have all matches on the same day if they were going to the same place for example. So with the likes of the football, rugby and netball teams going to locations like Cardiff, I anticipated trying to get things running on the same day. I probably talked a bit too much about it as I’ve found that quite unrealistic really. There are still problems with the mini-buses and making sure that they get out or are allocated at the right times, to the right people. We have to look at how this is prioritised.
Finally, what is your biggest target for the remainder of your role?
I think it’s essential to solidify our sports strategy going forward and over the next few years have it as a signpost for where we want to go. I think it’s getting there! Aside from that I’m currently working on a physiotherapy project and I’m excited to see where that can go in the coming months.