- Candidate Interview – President: Thomas Gravatt
- SUSU Elections: Please Stop Treating Us Like Kids
- Exit Interview: Sam Bailey, VP Welfare
- Candidate Interview: Christina Vinothan, VP Welfare
- Exit Interview: Ben Franklin, President
- Candidate Interview- President, Liibaan Mohammed.
- Candidate Interview: President, Sam Bailey
- Candidate Interview: George Seabrook, VP Welfare
- Candidate Interview: Michael Clarke VP DCI
- Candidate Interview: Bryony Newman, VP DCI
- Candidate Interview: David Allwright, VP Welfare
- Exit Interview: Kerry Slater, VP DCI
- Candidate Interview – President: Alex Hovden
- SUSU Elections: A Pioneering Union Or A Waste of Time?
- Candidate Interview: Cameron Meldrum, VP DCI
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 David Allwright, who is hoping to become the next VP Welfare.
Why have you decided to run for this role?
I had 3 really big issues with my own student experience. Firstly, I struggle with mental health issues myself. Probably 1 in 4 students struggle with mental health issues. There are millions of people round the world who have relationships and careers and succeed despite their personal issues.
The other reason is I’m really passionate about sustainability. I look back over last 2/3 years and there hasn’t been any candidates for a couple of years who have had sustainability as a key point. It deserves it’s own space.
Thirdly I had a really bad student house. It had mould, the landlord was rubbish, it had a broken side gate, broken paving slabs, leaking windows. It was really horrible. I want to improve that.
What area of welfare are you most interested in improving and why?
Mental health, We’ve just reached the point in society where it’s the right time. I think that if we make a really big push now, we’re going to get over that tipping point where it just gathers natural momentum. The prime minister has finally come out and said it’s a big issue. Last year, when Becky when was VP Welfare at the time, and was thinking about this Elephant in the room campaign, I contacted Dame Kelly Holmes in order to sell this to students, particularly sports teams and I thought that having a sports person would really aid that.
The video we made got around 600 views despite all that work and effort. It struck me that, that’s what we do. We do things that are Sabbatical officers think are achievable in the short term, like a welfare day or week, but we don’t have a lot of long term things. What I’ve tried to do with my manifesto is to put in things I know are achievable. What I’m going to do will hopefully have a longer lasting impact.
You would like to start the Don’t Rush to Rent campaign at the beginning of the academic year. How would you juggle this campaign and freshers fortnight?
We would still run the campaign at a similar time that we do now in terms of the advertising. But, we’d have the information in a freshers pack to begin with so freshers get like a double whammy. You’ve planted the seed. We’d have a logical progression through the pack; what you need to know, when you need to know it. So, hopefully they would have already seen it and they need to know when they need to start looking. During Autumn term we would also run the same information in our advertising but, because its already there, you’re going to pick up more people than if you just ran the campaign on it’s own. We want to have very clear simple direct messages that don’t contradict or overlap each other. We want to make sure we have one thing that students focus on that one time and then you finish and focus on the next thing.
You would like to provide monthly support meetings led by a professional councillor and you’d like to start workshops, how will you staff this and fund this?
We would have a professional councillor for support groups, but we could also invite alumni, local MPs, or celebrities, people who talk about mental health and have experience with how they dealt with it. It would also be hopefully quite student led as well with student volunteers. We’ve just trained up a whole bunch of peer mentors. There are loads and loads of well trained, welfare students who also have a lot of experience. I would also like to have peer mentors involved.
I’d like to have self defence classes provided by martial art societies (they’ve already offered to help). The great thing about this is that you’re providing a service to students and also improving the experience and involvement of societies within SUSU as well.
It’s been said that the university and the students union don’t do enough to promote their services for mental health. In the role as VP Welfare, how will you solve this problem?
To solve this it would come down to this guidebook I want to create, and to make sure it doesn’t just get thrown away at the end of Freshers. So, in a sense you’re getting more long term advertising through that. I would like to advertise the advice centre less as somewhere to go to but more as somewhere where you can find out information about where to go. The Advice centre isn’t there to solve all your problems. I also believe that the advertising is more Highfield focused, which I think a lot of people would agree with. Personally, my campus is the NOC. After refurbishment there is going to be a spare room so I would like to see enabling services do drop in services at the NOC. Regarding halls, I think it heavily comes down to the training that we give halls officers and fresher reps.
What sets you apart from the other candidates?
The majority of what is in my manifesto is about what has come straight from the heart. It’s about stuff I’ve experienced personally or my friends have or course mates. It’s all led directly from student feedback. I’m not trying to prove to people that I have all the answers. I’m trying to prove to people that I will try and find the answers by talking to the right people.
Because I’ve done a lot of research, I have a level of detail that I don’t think either of the other candidates do have. I’ve moved beyond talking about wanting things to be more or better or improved and in every answer I’ve given I’ve tried to give you a specific example of how that can be done.