Keep your money safe from fraudsters

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by Avon and Somerset Police

We want to make you aware of a scam currently circulating on WeChat targeting international students.

What’s the scam?

After a recommendation from a friend, victims are joining a WeChat group where a fraudster is claiming to be selling low-price flight tickets to China.

How is the crime committed?

Victims are sending money for these flight tickets and being told they are able to get a refund at any time before the tickets are issued. Nearer the time of the flight, victims aren’t being issued their tickets and when trying to get a refund, the suspect becomes uncontactable.

How to avoid it happening to you

Do not respond to unsolicited messages on social media or chat platforms. Fraudsters will often offer fares that are a lot lower than their competitors which can be a warning sign. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Only book flights through recognised firms. Here’s some advice on how to spot a reputable one:

  • Look for whether the agent is an IATA license holder. The majority are, and if so, they are required to issue tickets immediately on full payment.
  • A few agents do buy in legitimate tickets from other companies which will have an ATOL license – ask for a confirmation invoice from the ATOL holder supplying the ticket.
  • In both cases, full details of the flights and itinerary should be shown along with a six digit number (the PNR – Passenger Name Record) – which is the unique id for your flight reservations – check this to make sure your ticket is genuine.
  • Preferably pay by credit card and avoid paying directly into a private individual’s bank account.

If you are the victim of fraud you can report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or on their website.

Equity blog post

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by Equity

The Equity programme has now come to an end for the year and this will be our last blog post before the new term.

This year it was great to have some events and sessions taking place in person, as well as some online events. We were also nominated for Team of the Year award at the Welfare Awards 2022 and although we lost out to the SU Advice Centre it was an honour to be recognised.

What have you said about Equity this year?

Throughout the year we’ve had some great feedback from you about the Equity programme with many saying it provided an, ” inclusive and safe space to talk about [their] experience as a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic student” and helped them to gain “a sense of belonging”.

Many also mentioned how they “learnt useful skills such as how to professionally deal with a conflict of interest” and “felt more confident after every session”.

One student also said that Equity had “made [them] feel like [they] mean something, matter and can achieve [their] goals, even if [they] sometimes don’t feel [they] can.” They also said it empowered and motivated them in their wider university life.

And finally when asked about their expectations for the Equity module, 43% said it met expectations and 57% said exceeded expectations.

Planning is underway for the launch of Equity programme 2022/23 so make sure you join us next year for more exciting events.

In case you missed it…

The Ashford Essay competition – deadline Friday 17 June 2022

The competition is a positive action activity open to all Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students across campuses. You are tasked with writing an essay, answering the question that corresponds with your level of study during the 2021/22 academic year.

If successful you could win one of eight cash prizes up to £1,000.

Feel free to share our post with your friends to help grow our Equity network. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We’re here to support you and if you have any questions or ideas for Equity please feel free to contact us at equity@uwe.ac.uk.

We hope you have a lovely summer and we look forward to seeing you in the Autumn term!

Mental Health Awareness week

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Today marks the first day of the Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week for 2022, an annual event where there is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. The theme of the week this year is loneliness.

Loneliness is the negative feeling we have when there is a mismatch between the relationships we want and the ones we have, both in terms of quality and quantity. Loneliness is feeling alone, not being alone.

As a student, it is likely that you will be experiences many life changes, including starting university, making new friends, moving away from home for the first time, and so many other changes too. Experiencing changes and making life decisions can have an impact on our sense of belonging, and a perceived lack of belonging can be linked to an increased feeling of loneliness.

Loneliness is very closely linked to mental health, and can be a cause and an effect of poor mental health. If we feel lonely, it might lead to poor mental health, and if our mental health is poor, it can lead to feelings of loneliness.

So what can we do to tackle loneliness?

The Mental Health Foundation’s Unlocking Loneliness Campaign highlights 15 things to do if you’re feeling lonely, including:

Explore your feelings

Think about how you are feeling and what could be contributing to this. It can be useful to keep a journal and note down what you have (or haven’t) been doing, and how you are feeling. By better understanding what makes us feel- the way we feel, we can do more to learn what works for us and protect our mental health.

Be aware of social media

Remember to take social media with a pinch of salt. People tend to post the positive aspects of their lives. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have negative experiences and may be feeling lonely too. If social media is having a negative impact on your mental health, or making you feel lonely, why not try unfollowing or muting the accounts that bring up those difficult feelings, and start following accounts that make you feel empowered

Find your tribe

Finding people with similar interests you can relate to can help you feel more connected. University clubs and societies are a great place to start, UWE MOVE, Centre for Music and Student Life are brilliant places to meet new people too. There are also sites like Meetup specifically designed to help you find people with similar interests. Give a go and see!

Find balance

The increased workload at university can make it easy to neglect looking after yourself and making time for the things and the people that you care about. Being disconnected from these things can increase your feelings of loneliness, so remember to schedule in time for you and the things you enjoy too.

How can you get involved in Mental Health Awareness week?

On social media, we are encouraging you to share your experiences of loneliness using the hashtag #IveBeenThere to support others and raise awareness.

If you’re looking for a challenge, sign up to the Mental Health Foundation’s 80 Miles in May Challenge, to walk, run or jog the distance over the month, to raise funds and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation.

Resources to support your mental health

Check out our Tackling loneliness webpage or the Student Guide to Loneliness, for lots of advice, tips and information about how to support yourself, as well as organisations that are there to listen to and support you.

The NHS also have extensive expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your own wellbeing, on their Every Mind Matters webpage.

If you need someone to listen

The Mix – whether you want a quick chat or more focused help, text THEMIX to 85258

Shout – if you are struggling to cope and need to talk, day or night, text SHOUT to 85258

Student Space – for one-to-one student support for whatever challenges you are facing, text STUDENT to 85258

Samaritans – whatever you are going through, you can call Samaritans anytime. Call free on 116 123

March Feel Good Focus

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By the Feel Good Team

Thank you for Feel Good February

We wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone that attended and helped out with Feel Good February.

We loved hosting these events and we hope that you enjoyed attending and entering our competitions. Stay in touch with us on social media and we’ll see you for other Feel Good events later in the year!

Did you know March is Women’s History Month?

There’s lots going on for Women’s History Month including a wellbeing Yoga Nidra session, a talk by the Clifton Suspension Bridge Master, weekly film reviews, and much more! All the events can be found on the events diary. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

#Find15

As the weather is getting a nicer, and the days are getting longer, exercising outside might become less daunting. Going for a short walk outside increases our oxygen levels which boots serotonin levels and improves our moods.

And with it being spring, it’s a great time to get outside and see all the wildlife and the flowers blooming. Perhaps when you’re on a short walk, tags us using #find15 to show us how you find 15 in your day to help improve your wellbeing.

It’s important to make sure you find time throughout your day to take a step back and be mindful. Whether this is by walking, having a bath, watching a show, cooking your favourite meal or meditating. Whatever works best for you, it will help you feel good.

Additional support

The conflict in Ukraine has created great anxiety for many, particularly those in our community from Ukraine but also those from Russia and other neighbouring countries, and those whose families and friends may be affected.

We would like to remind our students that we are here to support you and that our wellbeing services are on offer for anyone who has been affected by the events unfolding in Ukraine.

Our fantastic Advice Centre team are on hand to provide you with friendly, non-judgemental, and confidential support. We also have a range of wellbeing services available to all students and the Global centre for international student support.

Equity blog post

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by Equity

We hope your assessments have gone well and that you’re back in the swing of your studies.

Things you might have missed…

We started the year with the good news that the University has dropped the use of the BAME acronym and will use more specific terms to describe someone’s ethnicity. You can read the full article on the UWE Bristol website.

On the 9th March, we hosted a watch party of Bobbi O’Gilvie’s original Networking to Succeed webinar. Speaking to students after the event, they said they liked how Bobbi linked to anecdotes making the points relatable especially when talking about the anxiety of networking. They also appreciated how she encouraged networking when you feel it’s necessary rather than pushing it as something to be doing all the time. And they also liked her suggestion of reducing networking anxiety by giving yourself a script to follow.

You can catch up with Bobbi’s webinar and others on our Equity webpage.

Things to get involved in…

Become a PAL leader

PAL leaders play an important role in supporting their fellow students during their time at University. There are a variety of roles on offer and it’s a great opportunity for you to learn soft skills such as planning and organisation as well as learning mentoring and communication skills.

There’s also the option to undertake the ILM Level 3 Award in Mentoring which will help you stand out to employers when you graduate.

Things to look out for…

Ashford Essay Competition 2022

Last year saw a good calibre of essays from UWE students and Ashford’s said they were grateful to all who entered and found it hard to pick winners. Ashford’s picked their top four essays from students across faculties with each winner receiving prize money of £1,500.

The competition is open to Black Asian and Minority Ethnic students and we’ll be announcing the details of the 2022 competition very soon!

Celebrating Culture Conference

Soon we’ll also be sharing the details of our end of year Equity event in collaboration with the Students’ Union taking place in May 2022.

For any further information visit our Equity webpage and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And feel free to share this post with friends and help build the Equity network!

University Mental Health day

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by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity team

Following the events of Feel Good February, we’re continuing the promote the importance of practising self-care and managing your mental wellbeing with University Mental Health Day on Thursday 3 March, founded by Student Minds and the University Mental Health Advisors Network.

Learning more about mental health

1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England , with 1 in 6 people reporting a common mental health problem in any given week .

These include, but are not limited to: anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While they are not mental health diagnoses, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm are also related to mental health.

Supporting your mental health

Professional services

Whether you’re living with a condition, know, or are supporting someone who is, it’s important that you seek out daily and long-term support. UWE Bristol are proud to feature a range of professional health and wellbeing services to support you, that include out of hours support and are also partnered with local organisations such as Off the Record and Bristol Mental Health, endeavouring to provide you with an extensive range of care.

Exercise

Exercise is also a great way to raise endorphins and the free MOVE programme at the Centre for Sport, offers over 40 activities for you to engage in, including: dance, hiking, mediation, Tai Chi, and yoga. If you require quiet and self-reflection, there are sanctuary spaces across all campuses and the Student Centre based on Frenchay Campus, is also home to the out of-hours team on the first floor. If you require pastoral support, 2OCT003 based in The Octagon is a 5-minute walk from there.

Diet

Diet can also impact mental wellbeing and the University strives to offer a range of nutritious food and drink outlets on all campuses that accommodate dietary requirements including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free and are open to any recommendations to diversify their options.

There are also Hydration stations located throughout each of the campuses to encourage you to work towards drinking 1.5 to 2.3 litres of water a day, as recommended by the NHS. Water has many benefits, including improved focus, boosting your immune system, and mood maintenance, so you could also combine a short walk to a station in another building and get some fresh air to maintain those endorphins.

How to get involved in University Mental Health day

Get involved by inspiring conversations, taking action, and creating change through hosting an event, signposting a friend to the available resources or sharing your experience on social media using #UniMentalHealthDay.

No one should ever feel alone with their mental health, so we encourage you to engage with the links embedded within this post or to speak with your personal tutor for further support.

Equity blog post

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by Equity

Happy new year and welcome back – we hope you’re settling back in!

We’re starting the year with our very first Equity blog post to keep you updated on upcoming Equity activities and events.

Have a read and share it with your friends to help grow our Equity network. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

What is Equity?

Equity was designed to help Black, Asian, and minority ethnic students enhance their personal and professional skills. By participating in Equity, students have the opportunity to develop the confidence and abilities they’ll need to succeed at university and in their chosen profession.

Equity also allows students to experience a safe space and sense of belonging by conversing with fellow students on lived experiences, whether being on the same course or around race and racism.

We also share specific opportunities for Black, Asian, and minority ethnic students, including mentoring and coaching sessions and work-based learning activities such as internships and placements.

During my first year in university, I was a part of the Equity programme which helped me develop a sense of belonging.

Nazifa

Upcoming Equity events

Wednesday 16 February – ‘Networking to succeed’: webinar and watch party with Bobbi O’Gilvie

This will be a guided discussion and watch party of the original networking workshop from March 2021, with added insights and a live Q&A with Bobbi. Bobbi is a coach from Ready to Blog and Director of Startup Grind Bristol, a global community of over 600 cities helping business people to connect.

Bobbi’s work is focused on building people’s confidence in reaching their goals, especially around networking, an area which Bobbi is always working to improve on.

The aim of the webinar is to give students the courage to look for people to connect with by signing up for zoom rooms and networking events and then put into practice some of the networking tips and tools discussed in the session.

To find out more about the webinar watch this short promo from Bobbi. And if you’re interested in attending, sign up by filling out our short registration form.

Please note this webinar is only for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students to provide a safe space for discussion.

Missed previous Equity webinars?

You can catch up with past webinars on our Equity webpage. Past themes include looking after your wellbeing, led by speaker Vanessa Maria and self-realisation and success led by poet and award-winning journalist Sayo.

Coming soon

Soon we’ll be sharing information about Equity student committee social events on our social media platforms and towards the end of the year we’ll share details on our Celebrating Culture Conference in collaboration with the Students’ Union.

The skills I developed during my time with the Equity programme are strong leadership, excellent verbal and written communication and teamwork skills.

Bassmala Elbushary

You might also be interested in…

Strive internship programme 2022

Strive is an exciting paid summer internship programme providing the opportunity to get ahead and work with market leading businesses.

Employers include, Avon and Somerset Police, Bristol City Council, Encounters Festivals, Hargreaves Lansdown, Intellect Books, True to Nature, West of England Sport Trust, UWE Bristol and many more.

To apply you must be:

  • UK domicile Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic student.
  • Be living or studying in the region, or have graduated from University within the last 12 months.
  • Be available to work full-time from June 2022 for a minimum of four weeks.

To apply just send in your CV and cover letter to striveinterns@hl.co.uk by Monday 31st January. Successful candidates will be invited to share their internship preferences in terms of sectors, roles and/or organisations.

Feel Good February

The Feel Good February team are looking for a 30- 60 second recordings of ‘what feel good means to you’. You can include any feel good theme (relax, try something new, get active or eat well) or if you’d like to share your general/personal approach to health and wellbeing that’s good too!

Just send your video to Stephanie.Todd@uwe.ac.uk by Monday 7 February.

We’re here to support you and if you have any questions or ideas for Equity please feel free to contact us at equity@uwe.ac.uk.

Essay mills, ghost writing and contract cheating

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When your assignment deadlines are approaching many of you might receive spam emails from companies offering ‘advisory’ or ‘example’ essay services to help ease the pressure of deadline hand ins. Paying to use one of these services however is known as contract cheating.

What is contract cheating?

Contract cheating is where a student pays someone else to write an essay for them and then submits it as their own. For example, a student might submit an assignment brief to a website, along with the deadline and decide what grade they would like to receive and will then pay accordingly. As with other assessment offences such as plagiarism and collusion, this is taken extremely seriously by the university and can have implications when a student is being assessed by an employer for professional suitability.

Contract cheating is becoming a real worry as it undermines the genuine efforts of other students. In addition, the companies or essay mills offering these services target stressed students with spam emails during the busiest hand in periods. There have also been examples of students being blackmailed by the companies for additional fees after assignments have been submitted. It is also likely that such activities will soon be criminalised in the UK.

The key therefore is to help the university identify these companies and the promotional emails they send out and to make you aware of the support options available to you should you feel as if there is no other alternative.

What to look out for

As mentioned, the company might claim that you’ll only be paying for a model or example essay but in the same breath guarantee the grade you ordered. When challenged, many of these companies state they never expect students to submit the essay. They might also quote testimonials from happy customers to try and normalise the service to suggest it isn’t cheating. They might also list clients from top universities to show it happens everywhere.

What to do if you’re feeling the pressure

We want to raise awareness and make sure that you know the options available to you so that you never feel the need to use one of these companies and jeopardise your experience of university. If you receive one of their emails do not respond and simply forward it to us via email. Our specialised team will block these emails from getting to students in the first place.

More importantly though, if you are feeling overwhelmed remember you can speak to one of your tutors if you have concerns about your course; we also have a wealth of study tools and wellbeing support to help you manage your deadlines, discuss your worries and get back on track.

Your December Feel Good Focus

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by the Feel Good Team

This time of year might seem all glitz and glam, but that often isn’t the case for everyone, so it’s important to look after your wellbeing and to keep in touch with your friends and family.

Here are some of our top tips to help look after your wellbeing during this time:

Talk about your feelings

When things are difficult or if you are feeling down, it is always a good thing to try and talk to someone. Message your friends, family or even speak to the university about how you are feeling.

Talking about how you feel always helps. Another idea is to write things down as it can help if you are feeling anxious. And remember that UWE Bristol are always here for you with a number of support options available to you if you need them.

Look after your health and wellbeing

Even though it is cold, it is important to try and stay active. Perhaps go for a short mindful walk around campus or around where you live. Try and not just walk, but take in what is around you, breathe in the fresh air and look at the different colours of the leaves on the trees.

Keeping active and being mindful can help you relax and improve your wellbeing. If you are more into activities rather than walking, sign up to get a free MOVE membership card from the Centre for Sport.

Be kind

Being kind helps give you a sense of feeling good since you have done good, which helps improve your wellbeing. This year, try volunteering some of your time. You can always look on the UWE volunteering page for current volunteering opportunities, or you can contact local homes or charities.

If you can’t give your time why not donate some old clothes to the salvation army or blankets to animal rescues. Many charities also allow you to buy presents or packages for specific causes, like the Hartlepool Giving Tree where you can presents for children.

Treat yourself

This time of year, is for giving, but don’t forget to also treat yourself. This could be from binge watching that TV show, watching Christmas movies, buying that thing you have wanted for ages or eating a little too much (as we all do this time of year).  Giving yourself a treat will help boost your mood and will make you feel happier.

Events to look out for

There’s always something going on at UWE Bristol especially during the festive period! Keep your eye out on the UWE events diary and The Students’ Union What’s on page for updated events and activities to get involved in.

And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Twitter for all things festive Feel Good!

Your University Health Centre

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by Lucy, Patient Services Manager at the University Health Centre

Did you know we have our very own doctors’ surgery right in the heart of Frenchay Campus?

It’s open to all UWE Bristol students, no matter which campus you’re studying at. You can stay registered with us for your whole time at university, which means you won’t have to worry about finding another doctor as you move in your second and third year. Plus, as we work in partnership with The Old School Surgery in Fishponds, registering with us means you’ll be automatically registered with them too. Effectively you’re getting two doctors’ surgeries for one!

It’s easy to register online and registering now means that we’ll be able to get your records from your previous GP so that we’re ready to treat you if you need us. It also means you won’t have to worry about going through the registration process or finding a walk-in centre when you actually need to see a doctor – you can just book an appointment with us without all the extra hassle.

And don’t worry – you can still see your previous GP if you go home for the holidays. You’ll just need to see them as a temporary patient. It won’t affect your registration with us in Bristol and you can easily re-register with them if you move back home once you’ve finished your course.

So why register with us?

We’ve got a great team based at the Health Centre, made up of GPs, nurses and same day Urgent Care Practitioners. We also have Mental Health Nurses, who are available to assist you with any concerns or support you might need whilst you are studying at UWE. We’re a friendly bunch and you can talk to us about anything – trust us, we really have heard it all before!

We offer all of your standard GP services, including appointments, blood tests, travel vaccines, sexual health advice and free chlamydia screening kits. We can arrange your MenACWY vaccination, which protects you against four different causes of meningitis and septicaemia, if you didn’t have it before you arrived – and we really recommend that you have it. We also work in partnership with the University’s Wellbeing Service, offering you support for your mental health such as counselling appointments. We’ll also refer you to other services in and around Bristol where required, to make sure you get all the medical help you need.

Remember that some common minor health concerns like coughs, colds, hayfever or an upset stomach don’t need to be seen by a doctor, unless they last for more than a week. Pop in to talk to your local pharmacist for advice – they’re experts who can recommend certain medications that you can take without a prescription. If the doctors’ surgery or pharmacy is closed, you can call NHS 111 for urgent medical advice.

If you’re an international student our healthcare system may be different to what you’re used to – don’t worry, we’re here to explain everything you need to know. Most services such as GP consultations and emergency treatment are free for everyone. You may need to pay for prescriptions, dental treatment and sight tests – although most students can get these at a reduced cost or free (just collect a HC1 application form from us or from the UWE Information Point). Doctors’ surgeries don’t provide eye tests or dental check ups – you can find an optician or a dentist through the NHS website.

Remember, we’re here to help you so that you can get on with your studies and fully enjoy your university experience – so register with us now!

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