June 4, 2021, by Grace Dixon
Leadership Academy Volunteer Spotlight: Fergus Stevens
Did you know that our Leadership Academy offers University of Nottingham students support to gain recognised coaching and sports-related qualifications? Students can apply for a huge range of options and have the qualification fees partially or fully funded by University of Nottingham Sport.
We spoke to Fergus Stevens, currently in his second year of a MSc in Mathematical Physics who recently applied to the Leadership Academy Qualification Fund. Fergus, who’s part of our Men’s Hockey Club, chose to attend a Mental Health First Aider course. He tells us about his experience:
I chose the Mental Health First Aid course as I felt would benefit multiple aspects of my personal, professional and sporting life. It’s also a globally recognised course.
My plan was to use the training within the Men’s Hockey Club to help improve the welfare of our members . As one of the biggest clubs at the University with over 120 members, it is essential for that welfare is easily accessible for everyone involved.
I am also a Movember ambassador for the University, so I had an underlying interest to purely learn more about mental health and spreading awareness about men’s health.
My two-day Mental Health First Aider course was fantastic. It was an excellent combination of teaching, case studies and discussion. This really allowed me to deepen my knowledge and understanding of the topics covered.
The main focus of the course was on what to do as the first responder in a crisis. They used an important framework of ALGEE. ALGEE is an action plan acronym that can be specialised to four main areas in mental health: Depression, suicide, anxiety, and psychosis. I’m looking forward to delivering a Teams meeting to the club on the content of my course with a main focus on the ALGEE acronym.
Looking to the future
I will be using the knowledge from my course to volunteer within the hockey club in the 5th and possibly 6th team. As a player in the 2nd team, I also have a platform to inform others and use my new skills in the upper half of the club. I feel this will help create a whole club culture of everyone having the same knowledge and engagement regarding mental health.
With the current situation, we are unaware when normal training will resume. In the meantime, I, along with several other players are setting up weekly open team meetings for everyone. Attendance is increasing, with at least 10-15 members every week.
It has been a great opportunity for first years in particular to meet and interact with members from other teams. Members have also been able to breakout rooms and have a more personalised chat. This gives flexibility for the people coming onto the call for different reasons. Hopefully, this is the first step towards improving the hockey club’s support system.
We are also in the midst of redesigning the club’s welfare system for the future. Finding the right balance between in depth coverage across the whole club whilst also remaining informal and approachable is essential.
The most important thing that I learned from the course was the power of listening. As long as you are friendly and non-judgmental, you will be helping. You don’t just want a “fine thanks” when asking how someone is, but allow them the space to have a much needed and relieving conversation should they wish.
The Leadership Academy would like to thank Fergus both for sharing his story and for his commitment to supporting mental health within his peer group at University. Mental health is a really important topic, more than ever as we manage the effects of the current pandemic. We look forward to seeing the positive impact Fergus and his teammates make within the Men’s Hockey Club!
The Leadership Academy Qualification fund is now open and University of Nottingham students can find out more and apply here.
To find out more about getting involved with leadership and volunteering at the University of Nottingham, please check out the Leadership Academy website and join our Leadership Academy Facebook group to chat with other leaders.
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