Equity January 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!

#SpeakUp

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We want to create an inclusive campus where diversity is celebrated, antisocial attitudes and behaviours are challenged and any type of harassment, assault and discrimination are not acceptable.

And we want you to #SpeakUp if you see or hear something that’s not right.

We want you to be an active bystander.

What does it mean to be an active bystander?

This means being able to recognise when someone’s behaviour is inappropriate or threatening and choosing to challenge it and safely intervene. If you hear people make racist comments or see someone touch a part of yours or someone’s body without consent, call them out.

Be an individual who’s aware that someone’s behaviour is inappropriate or threatening, and then actively challenges it.

How can you challenge inappropriate behaviour?

You should only intervene when it is safe to do so and the golden rule is your safety comes first. Here’s how you can challenge behaviour:

Direct: Let people know that their actions or language are unacceptable, explaining why it is not OK.

Distract: Indirectly intervene. For example, interrupt, start a conversation with the person to allow their potential target to move away or have friends intervene.

Delegate: If you spot a situation that worries you, find someone to help. This could be a more senior member of staff or someone in authority.

Delay: Wait for the situation to pass and check in with the individual. Take action at a later stage when you have had time to consider. It is never too late to act. One way of intervening is to report it through Report and Support.

Raising awareness online

Students have created some very short video-animations to prevent sexual harassment and relationship abuse within the university community. The aim is to raise awareness of areas such as consent, unwanted touching and groping, social media use and misuse, intimate partner abuse and humiliation ceremonies. Feel free to share them with friends and on social media.

Report anything you experience or observe that’s not right

You can report online any incidents that you’ve experienced or observed around bullying, anti-social behaviour, discrimination and hate incident, physical violence, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence abuse or health and wellbeing concerns.

Disclosing a mental health problem

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by the Wellbeing Service

For some people, the transition to university can be made more daunting by the thought of being surrounded by new people who don’t understand our difficulties.

Opening up

Telling people about your mental health is a personal choice and you should never feel like you have to. However, it can mean that new people around you better understand your experiences, needs and behaviours and can support you more effectively.

Telling people does not have to be ‘all or nothing’ – you can choose who you tell and what you tell them and you only need to share what is relevant. For example, you may want your flatmate to know you get really anxious around new people and ask that they let you know if they’re having people over.

If you choose to tell people about your mental health, be aware that this may be the first time they are hearing about these kind of difficulties. Letting them know where they can access accurate information is really helpful in their understanding. Mind have a great website with particular information for friends and family.

A helping hand

The University’s Wellbeing Service can support you to tell staff and friends about your difficulties if you feel it would be helpful for them to understand what you are experiencing. This could be on-going difficulties or a specific set of circumstances. This would be collaborative and is never done without your consent.

Dealing with diagnosis

If you have a formal diagnosis, our Disability Service can support you with telling relevant people in the university about your needs. They can work with you to prepare what’s called an Impact Statement which informs academic staff about your difficulties and how these affect your studies – for example letting lecturers know you may need to leave for breaks if you become too anxious. The service can also support you to arrange ‘reasonable adjustments’ to make your study experience as accessible as possible.

Access support

If you’re finding it difficult to disclose your mental health difficulties, remember that you can speak to someone at the Wellbeing Service for support. To arrange an appointment, contact us on 0117 32 86268 or email.

How to build emotional resilience

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Life is not without its challenges – but you can navigate through them. Here are our tips on how to build on your resilience.

  1. Build self-empowerment. Learn about yourself! What motivates you? What are your goals?
  2. Build your support network. We all need help sometimes, it’s important to know when and who to ask for help. You can also strengthen this network by supporting others when they need it.
  3. Learn from you past. We can’t be perfect, but make sure you learn from mistakes and use it to keep building on self-empowerment and support so you can be more resilient next time.

How to deal with an unhelpful emotional reaction

When we hear about a challenging situation, like an assignment being due, we can act on instinct and have an emotional reaction which isn’t always helpful. Here are a few examples of negative thoughts which might cause the unhelpful reaction:

  • “I did badly last time, so I’ll do badly again”
  • “I can’t do this”
  • “I’ve never done this before”

All these thoughts can lessen your resilience but are normal. The key to start dealing with these situations is to be C A L M.

Calm down

The key to start dealing with these situations is to be calm, as it will allow you to think more clearly. Here are some examples you might want to try to help calm down:

  • Let time pass
  • Meditate or practice mindfulness
  • Use an app such as SAM app or Calm
  • Exercise or go for a walk
  • Speak to friends or family
  • Write in a journal
  • Listen to music

Ask questions

Once you have calmed down and can think properly, question your reasons for the unhelpful reaction. Ask yourself:

What’s going on here? And why am I feeling like this?

Learn

Knowing why you reacted unhelpfully can help you to learn the cause(s) of the issue.

Manage

Work out how you might be able to improve your situation and lessen the impact of the negative thoughts.

  • What can you do yourself?
  • What might you need support with?

We have a range of self-help resources available online as well as one to one appointments for individual support with the Wellbeing Service. You can book these over the phone on 0117 32 86268 or by email.