Hi everyone! Khadija here, chair of the BME network, elected by BME students to represent BME students at a university and SU level.
Many students struggle with finding support, and in my role, I particularly find this as an issue for BME students, who often find it difficult to see how to access the university’s services. As such, I’ve become familiar with what is available, and have had some great discussions with the staff behind them already to incorporate the needs of all students, including those from racial and ethnic minorities! How to Find your Support:
1. Student Wellbeing Service
This is your first port of call if you’re struggling, and includes a range of services, from:
– Student Wellbeing Advisors, who can help direct you to where you need to go.
– TalkCampus app, giving you online peer-support any time of day and night.
– Self-help resources, including the FIKA Covid-19 support app, which is designed to help you learn practical mental and emotional fitness approaches which you can apply to your everyday life.
– The Student Counselling Service, including a specific BAME Counselling service run by NILAARI, which the BME Network supported being expanded into the university last year.
– The uni are working with Bristol Drugs Project too and ‘The Drop’ harm reduction service. If you’re thinking about trying drugs or if drug use has become a problem, reach out via email firstname.lastname@example.org find them on Instagram above or call 0117 987 6000.
2. Personal Tutors
Make sure to reach out to your Personal Tutor whenever you need them, for any issues, no matter how big or small. As a network, we’ve engaged with the services to try and work on some diversity training so they can better support all students.
3. Study Skills
Check out the Study Skills online! I’ve been a medical student for 3 years, and now I’m intercalating in a Masters and having to manage my own learning far more. So I used these pages for the first time this year and found them surprisingly helpful!
4. Library Services
The Library Services are always there as a channel of support with subject librarian advice, if you have any issues finding resources and there’s a Library Support team too for accessibility. In light of COVID they have some great online resources, including the 24/7 live chat service and a great range of self help books too – their One-Stop Shop page is super helpful.
They’ve also just collaborated with the BME Network on sharing resources and books by Black authors for Black History Month, with students like yourself writing the reviews!
I’ve spotted they’re offering Online Study Lounges during October, they’re half-day events led by the Study Skills team and an opportunity to connect with other students online rather than working completely alone.
5. Students’ Union
You can become a course rep and advocate on the issues that you’re finding in your course to help feedback and represent your fellow students.
As well as this, engaging with societies and volunteering can be a great way to find friends and build your student community. I dressed up as a Banana for a week to raise money for charity as part of the Islamic society, something I never dreamed I’d be doing when I first started!
The BME Network believes in collaborating with a range of societies to create a variety of spaces to suit all needs – from large social events like festivals and cultural exchanges, to smaller more relaxed sessions like political discussion groups or wellbeing chat.
At the beginning, the range of what’s out there can feel confusing. It’s all about finding the areas you feel you belong and understanding what helps you feel good early on, so that you know where to find it in times of stress. Maybe sport is your thing? They’re part of the ‘Give it a go’ taster sessions currently running.
6. Peer Mentoring
If you’d find it helpful talking to a current student studying a similar subject to you, look into the Peer Mentoring scheme. It’s open to first year undergraduates to help you settle into uni life and nice to talk to someone who likely knows how you’re feeling and may have the answer! You do need to complete the form before the end of October.
This university should support you in thriving both academically and socially, so make sure you access and use the full range of services available, and if there’s something missing, don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Remember, even if you might not feel like you fit in to the university community immediately, you still have the right to take up space in being unapologetically yourself!