April 8, 2019, by Dr. Meghan Gray
Welfare manager’s blog: Spring 2019
Today’s guest post introduces an crucial part of the network of support offered to students within the School: The Student Welfare Team. (More information on student welfare can be found in this interview with Senior Tutor Dr. Keith Benedict on the School Youtube Channel.)
Hello, I’m Tom Elgood and along with my Welfare colleague, Rebecca Miller, I manage the Welfare provision for the schools of Physics & Astronomy, Psychology, Mathematical Sciences and Chemistry. The current Student Welfare Team has been in existence since August 2016, and as such is still emerging and developing as a service within the University.
Consequently, I am often asked ‘What do the Welfare Team actually do?’ – This is an important question (especially for someone working within the University Welfare Network). I’m going to attempt to provide my definition and vision, in this short blog.
In brief: ‘Welfare Officers and Managers signpost students to appropriate specialist services.’ This ‘signposting’ usually occurs when a student encounters a challenge or difficulty they are unable to resolve for themselves. However, through my student welfare interactions, I would suggest our role runs deeper than this basic, functional definition.
A large part of our job is listening to students. Our aim is to more fully understand the ‘student’ as a ‘person’; their unique perspective, background, university journey, and critically, their current challenges and concerns. Once we obtain a fuller comprehension of the person, we are better placed to provide informed access to relevant and viable options of support. It is also important to note here, we are not, ‘telling students what to do’ – our goal is to provide options and aid individuals to make an informed choice.
We all need help sometimes, we all strive for autonomy and self-direction, but ultimately, it is ‘OK, not to be OK’ and at these junctures in our lives, it can be reassuring to have a chat with someone who has encountered others at similar, challenging circumstances.
Personally, I have seen a positive trend in student outcomes for those who engage with specialist support – individual counselling, group workshops, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Mental Health Advice (to name but a few) are all invaluable resources at our disposal – knowing the ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ are critical components of engaging with these services. My hope, is that our Welfare provision can empower students at UoN to make informed and confident choices when considering support engagement.
My Welfare colleague, Rebecca Miller, has a wealth of experiencing in the process above. Please do feel free to contact us on the following email if you want to talk – PC-Sharedwelfare@exmail.nottingham.ac.uk
Tom & Rebecca