Candidate Interview: George Seabrook, VP Welfare

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In the run-up to the 2016 SUSU Elections, the Wessex Scene team have been interviewing the candidates running for sabbatical positions. Here, I interview George Seabrook, who is hoping to become the next VP Welfare.

Why have you decided to run for this role?

The idea came to me over the Christmas holidays. I had a bit of a rough Semester One, and I’ve always wanted to run for a sabbatical role. The idea in the holidays sort of stuck, and I realised I could do it if I wanted to. So, I researched it, and I thought about what I wanted to change and what I wanted to improve. The more I did that, the more I realised that I actually had a lot more legitimacy in doing it. So, it became a game of ‘once I’ve finished my manifesto, I’m doing it’. Then, when I put all the sabbatical roles in a list, I realised I could only do two of them, and those were DCI and Welfare. I did welfare last year as JCR Welfare Officer, and I thought that it felt like a better fit for me to go for Welfare. All of the problems I had in the first semester were related to welfare, and I wanted to help other people through similar problems.

What area of welfare are you most interested in improving, and why?

I think it’s most important to improve the engagement that students feel with what SUSU does to promote welfare issues and to empower students. So, when I was asking people what their thoughts were, most people were complaining about the promotion of women’s issues, mental health particularly, or what did SUSU did for Black History Month. But behind the scenes, they’re doing a fair amount – and could be doing better, particularly in the area of mental health. I think it’s important that our provisions are at the top of the line.

How are you going achieve that? 

The current mental health campaign is based on ‘the elephant in the room’, and there was that huge elephant that was moved around campus at times. In Semester One, it was in the Civic Centre in the centre of the city, where no students would really go. At one point it was in the Library and I didn’t realise it was there. It’s just past the barriers and people are just going walk right past it. To think about where to put it or new places to put it would be a good start, making it more provocative. It’s supposed to be the elephant in the room that we’re all ignoring but it’s too big to ignore – just simple things like that. And also, we need to be a bit more daring and forthright in provoking these conversations about mental health through things like videos, online information and engaging students face-to-face about these issues. That stuff is really important. I think we could do better.  We can’t get engaging conversations when people are just ‘ignoring the elephant in the room’, so we need to be strong about that. You won’t know unless we provoke a conversation.

In your manifesto, you talk about current Welfare campaigns and you talk about improving them. What would you add?

I think it’s really important to think about sleep and the way that students manage their sleeping patterns; it’s kind of an in-joke for students that we are night owls, that we don’t get up in the morning, that we end up having really bad sleeping patterns. The big irony is, in making my manifesto, I was having bad sleeping patterns. It’s really important to make sure students are aware of the risks of doing that and the ways to improve sleeping habits.

Really simple things can make you feel better even if you’re not getting as much sleep; things like not paying attention to any laptops or screens for half an hour or so before you actually go to bed are really basic ways of just trying to calm down, even if you’re doing that at 1 in the morning and you have to get up for a 9am.

To promote this, I’d work with the Welfare Campaigns Officer in Halls quite a lot because it’s a thing you can fall into in first year. You’re often being kept up when you’re surrounded by freshers or going on nights out.

You also mention The Advice Centre in your manifesto; how will you improve it?

I think the advisers there are really good. I’ve been there before to get some one-to-one advice and was given the advice I needed, but when I went there I almost didn’t get the appointment that day. I needed help with my sleeping patterns because I was feeling quite low at that moment, and the appointment I was originally given would have been for 8 days later. This would have been way too late because 8 days later I would have been in a worse state – I wouldn’t have felt like getting out of bed at all – but luckily there was an open space that I was able to attend. It was helpful at the time. So, to solve this, I would ask them if they can have more advisers available, ask them to stay open a bit longer, or something like that. The volunteers at Nightline, I think, are the first points of call for a lot of students for their wellbeing.

Your slogan is all about making noise. Can you expand on your slogan for me?

SUSU does a lot behind the scenes but we’re not really promoting. I think people are trying to make change, and I think that is going well. However, they need to be better at promoting what they do and empowering students with what they want to do. It’s about engagement. SUSU doesn’t do enough. They’re doing well but can always improve somewhere. If you turned round to someone and said, ‘Look, SUSU are doing this for mental health,’ people would turn around and say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that,’ which I think would happen a lot right now.

More articles in SUSU Elections 2016
  1. Candidate Interview – President: Thomas Gravatt
  2. SUSU Elections: Please Stop Treating Us Like Kids
  3. Exit Interview: Sam Bailey, VP Welfare
  4. Candidate Interview: Christina Vinothan, VP Welfare
  5. Exit Interview: Ben Franklin, President
  6. Candidate Interview- President, Liibaan Mohammed.
  7. Candidate Interview: President, Sam Bailey
  8. Candidate Interview: George Seabrook, VP Welfare
  9. Candidate Interview: Michael Clarke VP DCI
  10. Candidate Interview: Bryony Newman, VP DCI
  11. Candidate Interview: David Allwright, VP Welfare
  12. Exit Interview: Kerry Slater, VP DCI
  13. Candidate Interview – President: Alex Hovden
  14. SUSU Elections: A Pioneering Union Or A Waste of Time?
  15. Candidate Interview: Cameron Meldrum, VP DCI
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Wessex Scene Editor 2016-17 and Features Editor 2015-2016. History Student, Blog writer (http://emeraldalice.blogspot.co.uk/) and traveller. Student Brand Ambassador for the i Paper 2015-2016. Tea lover, cat enthusiast. @Alicetotheskies

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