Ways to curb lockdown boredom

Hi guys, my name is Elaura and I’m a second year History student! Here are some of my tips and recommendations on how to stay productive and positive during the COVID 19 lockdown!

It’s now the third week of national lockdown from the COVID 19 pandemic and we’re all starting to become climatized to life indoors. At some point during this experience, we will all have days where we struggle a bit more and find it difficult to think positively and be productive. So, it’s important that we all look out for one another and find ways to make the long-haul of self-isolation manageable and enjoyable if we can help it. I’ve used this space to share some ideas on how to stay positive, things I’ve found to do with my household to pass the time, and things you can incorporate into your routine to boost productivity.

Things to try at home

Work out

Exercise is a pretty obvious one that I’m sure everyone is doing, but scheduling time to do a routine with family members, or even by yourself, helps pass time, release endorphins and make you feel rewarded after. There are loads of YouTube follow along videos, Live streams from channels via Uni Days and 30 day challenges you can find and try to complete!

Virtual Pub Quiz

As of last week, Jay Flynn created an online pub quiz via Facebook that turned into a massive success. I did it with my family and it was really good fun, I think he’s doing another one soon so keep an eye out!

Online Board games

Something I’ve really enjoyed doing with friends over group calls is play online versions of board games. You can find pretty much anything online from Chess, Pictionary, Cards Against Humanity, the list goes on. It’s great fun and a nice break from chatting about coronavirus.

Bake/cook

Baking is a brilliant way to pass the time if you’re able to get the ingredients right now, if not then offering to cook for your family, cooking new meals for yourself, making the most out of what you have in the cupboards and getting creative is a brilliant way to practise self-care as well as sustainability.

De-clutter your room

Now is a great opportunity to have a real sort out of your space. Dedicate time to sorting through clothes, products and other items to make room for new things when we’re able to go outside.

Read/Watch films

There’s now no excuse not to dive into the pile of books you bought and never got around to reading or start watching all the classic films you’ve been recommended. As a film fan, I recommend downloading the app Letterboxd and creating a Watchlist to get through. Similar apps for books can also be found- this is a great way of keeping record of things you loved and want to recommend to others.

These are just some things I’ve done that I’ve found work for passing the time well and mixing up my daily routine. Give some a try if you’re struggling for things to do, and hopefully it’ll encourage positive thinking and productivity around Uni work! Remember to keep safe and be kind to yourselves!

Self-Isolation: A final year’s guide to coping

Hello everyone, my name is Kiki and I’m a final year student at UOB. I’m writing this blog to reach out to students during isolation. I am sure that this is a very anxious and stressful time for many of you. Being a final year student, my whole education has been turned upside down and I have no choice but to try and respond to it in the calmest way possible.

I am sure many of you will have heard a lot of advice on ways to stay sane, so I have included general advice at the end for anyone interested. I’m hoping however, that if you’re reading this, you’ll gain an insight into something that may help you during these incredibly challenging times as these are some of the methods that are helping me to remain positive and calm.


Staying as productive as is possible for YOU
The first thing I can recommend to students in to stay as productive as is possible for YOU. Of course, everyone’s individual situation is completely different and you have to evaluate what works for you and what things you feel you can do, and if that means simply staying in bed, relaxing and watching Netflix all day, there is nothing wrong with it!!

Listen to what your body and mind really need right now and don’t compare this to anyone else. Your situation is individual, as are your needs and you need to honour this in a way that is right for you.

That being said, I have found that creating a routine and checking off potential tasks really helps to keep me grounded and it gives a sense of normality and accomplishment that most of us seek in normal daily life. Here are some tips of what I have been trying to do to stop myself from falling into a slump. You have never and probably will never have more time than you do right now, so it’s a great time to get started on tasks/hobbies/goals that you may have otherwise pushed aside and focus on yourself.

TIP: Figure out the tasks you wish to complete and group them in a table:

1. Make a list of all the things you ideally wish to achieve in quarantine
2. Subgroup them e.g Work, Education, Fitness and Health, Hobbies, Helping Others, Self-Care, Chill (any category that works for you).
3. Make a table with the days of the week across the top and on the left-hand side write the different tasks/activities/goals. Upon completion tick off what you have done.
(I personally like to summarise the success of my task with a face or a comment so that when it comes to tracking my progression, I can clearly see how I felt after.)
4. At the end of the week look back on everything you have achieved and feel proud at anything that you may have
completed, even if it’s just one task!!

And Remember: It is ok and normal to feel stressed, demotivated, anxious and worried. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. However, putting into practice techniques such as these to measure productivity gives you a sense of purpose during this time when our purpose may feel compromised. You don’t have to spend every second doing something productive, nor every day. Visually seeing your achievements at the end of the week, however big or small, will motivate you to get up every day and keep going.


Do something to calm the mind
If like me, you suffer from anxiety, you will have days where you feel overwhelmed, agitated and distressed. It is difficult managing anxiety on a daily basis let alone amidst a global crisis. Every time I feel myself falling into a pattern of anxiousness or negativity, I remind myself that what is currently happening will pass. Of course, my parents’ obsession with the news is somewhat unhealthy and I do find myself sitting in the living room being sucked in by the negative and distressing impact of this crisis, which we are all very much aware of.

Whilst it is very important to keep up to date with the news and what is going on, it is important that we use the news to inform us and not consume us. Watch and read the necessary but don’t spend hours scrolling through stats or articles because this will not be beneficial to your mental health. This is not helpful to you or those around you. We need to remain positive in our lives, not just for our mental health, but for the sake of others too.

I too have been sceptical of some of these methods in the past. Being very inflexible and not understanding the practice meant that when trying yoga in the past, I was very impatient and quick to rule it out. However, after having a knee injury for a year, I found that the only active thing I could do for a while was yoga and so I decided to give it a second chance. I found myself not forcing myself to go but actually craving the session, because of how it made me feel after. Calm, stable and relaxed. And who doesn’t want to feel like this, especially in times like these.

What I love about yoga is that you really can start from anywhere (take it from me) and once you see progression, it motivates you to continue. It has helped me to learn about and appreciate my body even more and I can definitely see improvements in my body. My knee is strengthening, my posture is improving and my mind is healing.

Yoga itself incorporates meditation into its practice. Meditation is literally about focusing your mind on the body and the present moment and what better way to engage and practice this than connecting your mind and body in yoga. So, if you find it hard to concentrate during a solo meditation practice, then this kills two birds in one stone.

TIP: Another thing I also started recently was journaling. Having so many emotions and being overwhelmed by them, this is a great way to distinguish what you are feeling and why and then being able to separate yourself from this.

It’s a great way to work out what is going on in your head and working through it. From this you can create a mood tracker to work out what your feeling and solutions that helped you overcome this feeling/made you feel better.

So, if I’ve kept your attention this far in the blog, I hope you have found some of these tips helpful. There is no one way of staying sane during this time but it’s about finding what works for you. These activities and methods are definitely a great way of reducing stress and trying to combat it by actively doing something that engages your mind and body in a positive and calm way.

Whatever you’re doing, please don’t be too hard on yourselves if you are not getting up and doing what you normally would or if you’re struggle to find motivation to do anything. This is completely normal. Just try and stay positive, healthy and calm and soon we’ll soon be out of this – appreciating and enjoying a new life – having had the time to reflect on the small things that really do mean a lot to us.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay home, stay mindful and stay smiling.
Kiki xx


Other general tips (most of which I’m sure you are well aware of but I have included my advice anyways)

Cook proper, healthy balanced meals to fight infection. It’s so tempting to eat badly and believe me, I’ve surrendered to Ben & Jerrys and Pizza. Whilst it is definitely more than acceptable to treat yourself, we need to make sure we are staying health to fight off this virus.

Make sure to cook some nice and tasty recipes as well. Lots of students are big fans of mobkitchen and tasty and I know I like to watch food videos on the daily. Unfortunately, my laziness overtakes me and I am never motivated to get 100 different ingredients out and whip up one of their so seemingly tasty inventions. Now is the time to try new recipes, but with fewer ingredients!

Music is a great way to release stress. It is also a great mood lifter if you are feeling anxious/worried/sad. Evaluate what kind of music you are listening to and the vibe it gives off and if you feel like you are slipping into a place of fear and anxiety, bang on your happiest, most uplifting playlist even if it seems like the last thing you want to do as this definitely helps to keep spirits up.

Getting some fresh air is important. As much as I looooove my bed (which student doesn’t), the more days I spend under the covers the worse I feel. Even sitting on my terrace for 10 minutes when the sun comes out or dragging myself on a dog walk makes me feel better because I am breathing in fresh air that my mind and body needs.

5 books to get you through isolation

Hi I’m Jini and I’m a first year English student.

As we all know, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. I’m sure we’ve all heard it a million times by now but just as a reminder, in keeping with NHS guidelines, it is imperative that we all, young and old, practice social distancing, self isolation and quarantining where necessary in order to stop the spread of this virus and return back to our normal lives as soon as possible. But of course doing the right thing isn’t always easy and staying indoors for such a long period of time can be very hard for most of us. With most schools out for the term, we’ve got a lot of free time on our hands, a great period to reflect on the year so far, pick up a new hobby, connect with our friends and family…. At this time it’s really important that we try to come up with fun, innovative ways to keep busy, keep healthy and keep active while also getting the sufficient amounts of rest I’m sure we all need.

As an English student, social distancing has been a good period for me to catch up on all my school reading in a far less pressured, more casual setting, where I don’t have to worry about pesky deadlines and quizzes from tutors. I’ve also been able to add in a few pleasure reads which have been on my radar for a while as a relaxed form of leisure to fit into random pockets during my day. Not to sound like a pre-school teacher, but reading really is such a great way to fill up your time while stimulating your brain, expanding your vocabulary and still a wonderful form of entertainment. And so, for all my fellow booklovers out there I thought it’d be a good idea to make a short list of some great books I’ve recently gotten into, and would highly recommend you dive into during this isolation period.


1. Mo’ Meta Blues by Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson

This one’s for the music junkies and hip hop heads. An amazing autobiography written by none other than lead drummer of the legendary hip hop band, The Roots, this light-hearted read delves into the music connoisseur’s artistic journey with insightful reviews, hilarious anecdotes and more somber reflective moments. Mo’ Meta Blues is the type of book you can keep dropping and picking up again and never get bored of. An interactive read with a narrator who feels like an old friend, it really draws you in from the first page.


2. The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis

A heavier read, this page-turner by the ‘American Psycho’ author American writer chronicles the voices of the 1980s Los Angeles’ upper class teenagers and their parents. Written in form of interconnected short stories, ‘The Informers’ is a dark, nihilist’s satire of the pretentious of the elitist lifestyle. Mysterious and pensive, it is a story which stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.


3. A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Some would love to deny it but deep down everyone’s a sucker for a good romance novel. This period piece set in the aftermath of the 9/11 American terrorist attacks is focused on two high school teenagers from different cultural backgrounds navigating first love in a tumultuous period. Mafi teaches us the importance of acceptance and sacrifice, and forces us to question just how big of a part stereotypes actually play in our everyday lives. In our current times, this is a book which is as relevant as ever.


4. Warcross by Marie Lu

Another young adult read, Warcross is the dystopian thriller you won’t want to put down. In a futuristic society where a virtual game is the world’s biggest obsession, teenage hacker

Emika cracks the code and is thrust into a whirlwind adventure which sees her becoming one of the game’s top competitors and uncovering a conspiracy that could potentially turn the entire Warcross phenomenon on its head. And if a fierce female protagonist with amazing character development isn’t enough to draw you in, the refreshing minority representation in this just might.


5. On Love by Charles Bukowski

A poetry collection by the reclusive Beat Generation writer pegged as ‘The Dirty Old Man of America’ and known for the mundane intimacy of his work and cynical subject matter, this collection deals with the complications and exaltations of love, in all its forms. It is a representation of its author; erratic, random and fragmented in ites expressions of love, lust, desire and family and yet brutally honest and reflective. Bukowski is not afraid to be vulnerable and flawed. This is great read for any poetry love, by delving into his mindset it makes me confront my own ideas of love and companionship.

How to look after your wellbeing during isolation

We understand that the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is extremely worrying. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and that’s why we have put together a few self-care tips for you during this time. 


Look after yourself 

Whilst staying at home, it is important that you take care of yourself and try to remain as healthy as possible: 

  • Try to maintain a routine and avoid sleeping too much. 
  • Exercise daily if you are feeling well enough – there are many home workouts available online, including these from Les Mills which are free for University Sports Centre members. 
  • Try and get some fresh air outside if you are able to. 
  • Stay hydrated and eat well. BBC Good Food have many recipe ideas. 
  • Avoid ‘fake news’ about the current situation. Instead keep up to date via our webpage, Public Health England and the NHS. 
  • If social media is making you feel anxious, take a break from it. 
  • Keep your room and home clean and tidy. A clutter free environment can help towards a healthy mind. 


Supporting those around you 

We can make a big difference by supporting the people around us and showing solidarity with our community: 

  • Check your phone list and see if there’s someone you have been meaning to catch up with for a while. Now could be the time to reach out to them. 
  • Treat everyone with empathy and compassion and come together to look out for others. 


Social distancing doesn’t mean you cannot be social  

Whether you are currently in Bristol or at home, it is really important that you keep in contact with family and friends to stay positive. Here are a few ideas for you: 

  • Video call friends and/or family (e.g. during meal times so you can eat together). 
  • Netflix party is a new way for you to watch series and films with loved ones. 
  • Create a joint playlist which you can listen to with friends at the same time. 
  • Join Facebook community groups for your local area and the SU’s online Living Room.
  • Follow Government guidance about social distancing – when this is all over, there will be time to get together. 


Wellbeing support 

If you need some support, here are a few resources: 

  • If you are worried about your studies or you feel you need help managing these changes, please contact our Wellbeing teams or email coronavirus-student@bristol.ac.uk. 
  • Talk Campus is an app which enables you to speak with fellow students from around the world for instant support day and night. 
  • Big White Wall is a digital support service you can access 24/7 and talk to others anonymously. 
  • Shout (crisis messenger) offers free mental health support. Text Bristol to 85258 to be connected to a trained volunteer. 
  • Mind have lots of useful tips if you are feeling anxious. 
  • Nilaari is a culturally appropriate counselling service providing help and support for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people.

Keep up to date 

Would you like to share your tips for self-isolation? Have you got a stay at home goal? Know any tips for exercising in small spaces? Got great recipes for tinned food? We would love to hear from you! Get in contact at student-comms@bristol.ac.uk and you could feature in our next blog. 

 

Bored during lockdown? Try baking Elaura’s homemade ginger biscuits

Hi I’m Elaura and I am a second year History student.

As the pandemic of COVID-19 has trapped us indoors for the next few weeks, we should use this time to be creative, try new things and stay productive and positive. Ginger is supposed to be good at boosting your immune system, so I’ve had a go at making some simple ginger biscuits. They’re not perfect but taste pretty good and were fun to make, so if you like you can give them a go yourself by following this recipe.

Remember to take pictures of your creation and put them on your stories with the tag #UOBBakes !


What you’ll need:

  • 100g of butter
  • 75g of light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 100g golden syrup
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 ½ tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 small egg yolk

Method:

  1. First, pre-heat your oven to 190C and line two baking trays with parchment to stop the biscuit dough from sticking.
  2. Add the butter to a saucepan and melt it over a low heat, stirring it slowly. Then add the sugar, fresh grated ginger and golden syrup to the mix and stir. Once stirred, leave to cool.
  3. In a bowl, sift the flour before added the ground ginger and bicarbonate of soda. Stir altogether.
  4. Add the mix from the saucepan into the bowl and stir. Add the egg yolk and then stir until it becomes a dough mix. TIP- If the mixture feels too runny or sticky, then add flour until it forms more of a dough texture.
  5. Place flour on a countertop and roll the dough into small balls, of equal size in the flour. Press down on the balls to make a more disk shape but not completely flat.
  6. Place the prepared balls onto the baking tray and put them in the oven for 8-10 mins. Check after 6 mins to see if they are turning golden brown.
  7. TIP- to test if the biscuits are cooked, pierce the dough with a wooden skewer and if it comes out clean they are done.
  8. Place on cooling rack after they have cooked.

 

 

University Mental Health Day 2020

On Thursday 5 March 2020, Universities from across the UK will be coming together to raise awareness of student and staff mental health for #UniMentalHealthDay.

This year, universities are working hard to make mental health a university-wide priority. To support this aim, we have organised a range of events, workshops and resources. By taking part, you are helping raise awareness of the importance of positive mental health and encouraging others to do the same.

Let’s inspire conversations, take action and create change!


Get involved

  • Bristol Wellbeing Conference (5 March 2020, 9 am-4 pm, Anson Rooms). This all day student-led event will host mindfulness activities, panel discussions, talks, workshops, and exhibitions. This conference is open to all staff, students and members of the public.
  • Share your experiences with others in a blog. Please email student-comms@bristol.ac.uk if you would like to write a blog for us.
  • Share your story and words of encouragement on social media using the hashtag #UniMentalHealthDay.


Free mental health training

  • Mentally Healthy Universities – free mental health workshops to first year and final year UG students. The University and Bristol Mind is hosting a series of free workshops designed to support you to look after your mental health while at University. Book your place here.
  • Suicide Prevention Online Training – Would you know how to approach someone who is struggling? Please take just 20 minutes to learn the skills that will enable you to approach and help those who may be having suicidal thoughts. Save a life, take the training.


Be active

  • Healthy Minds programme – Healthy Minds is a 12 week programme which aims to help students experiencing mental health difficulties through a varied and socially engaging programme of physical activity options.
  • Read about Charlotte and Ashley’s experience and how the Healthy Minds programme has supported their wellbeing through university and beyond.
  • Great Bristol 10K – The Great Bristol 10K is for everyone, from complete beginners to elite athletes. Taking part is a great way to get active and support your physical and mental health. We are offering discounted entry for students, staff and alumni when you sign up via this page.


Mental Health in Young People – students at the heart of research

‘Mental Health in Young People’ is a new research initiative, led by the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute. The initiative will look at ways to improve mental health and wellbeing for young people, with a particular focus on University students.

If you would like more information, or would like to join the Mental Health in Young People research initiative network, please contact ebi-mentalhealthyp-research@bristol.ac.uk


Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey Results

In 2018/19, many of you shared your views about mental health and wellbeing support by taking our Mental Health and Wellbeing Surveys. Your views are changing how we support your wellbeing at Bristol. Find out more.

The 2020 Wellbeing Survey will be live from 1 – 17 May. We encourage you all to share your views and help us make positive changes to student wellbeing and mental health.


Where to get help

Here at Bristol, you’re not on your own; there is always someone to talk to. We have a range of free support and services available to all students.

If you’re uncertain where to go for help,  call: +44 (0)117 45 69860, email: wellbeing-access@bristol.ac.uk, and a member of staff will be able to advise you or visit our Wellbeing webpages.

Mentally Healthy Universities: Shifting culture through community and conversation

What does it mean to be mentally healthy? What are the early triggers and warning signs of stress and anxiety? How can we support ourselves and each other as we navigate some of life’s toughest challenges?

These are some of the questions that students and staff at the University of Bristol are being encouraged to explore with the expert guidance of trained mental health specialists from the leading UK charity, Mind.

Bristol is one of six universities taking part in a two-year pilot programme of workshops and courses that take a proactive approach to transforming the way in which mental health is understood, talked about and responded to in student communities and staff spaces.

The programme – Mentally Healthy Universities – has been developed in response to growing evidence about the mental health challenges faced by the UK’s higher education sector. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the number of students who disclosed a mental health condition almost doubled between 2012 and 2015 to nearly 45,000.

The Mind programme of courses, designed with the input of students from Leeds and Oxford University where the initiative began, seek to open up the conversation around mental health in such a way that encourages both students and staff to empower themselves and each other to seek support.

Claire Slater, Deputy Director of Student Services at the University of Bristol, said: “We are really pleased to be taking the lead in tackling this issue in a proactive way. The conversation around mental health is already underway but more does need to be done as unfortunately, stigmatisation and misunderstanding remains a barrier.

“To work with renowned specialists like Mind is a significant step towards eroding those barriers and enhancing the package of support that Bristol offers to students and staff.”

 

Help yourself, help others

Mental health trainers from Mind have already started to deliver three courses under the programme, which will initially run until April 2020. The courses are aimed at students in their first and final years, two of the primary crunch points when the transition into university and away from home, and then out of university and into the workplace, is known to impact mental health.

As well as equipping students with greater knowledge about what constitutes mental health and how to manage their state of mind, the courses are an opportunity for students to share their thoughts, concerns and experiences with each other, and with trained specialists.

Charlotte Randomly, Mentally Healthy Universities Project Coordinator for Bristol Mind, said: “The programme is part of a puzzle that universities like Bristol are trying to figure out by adopting a practical approach to developing mental health awareness as part of a wider cultural shift.”

“We know that mental health is a personal issue, in that it’s felt at the individual level. But we also know that it’s a social concern – the challenges that we face shape and are shaped by the contributions that society makes to our mental health. That’s why with these courses, our focus has been to shift the conversation towards a more community-centred approach.

Student involvement has been key to the whole process of designing and delivering the programme. Those who participate will also be involved in evaluating the pilot later this year. Their feedback will shape how Mind, Bristol and other partners evolve the course.

Champions of collective wellbeing

Running in tandem with the Mind programme is Bristol’s internal drive to empower staff role models within their workspaces. Staff with lived experiences of mental health are being encouraged to apply their insights as Mental Health Champions, facilitating conversations and events aimed at supporting their colleagues.

“We all have a role to play in this conversation,” adds Claire. “This is an opportunity for all of us, staff and students, to make a valuable contribution to the ongoing effort to shift perceptions of mental health and to develop a really strong and supportive community culture.”

Investing in the future

The Mind programme of workshops, coupled with the Mental Health Champions initiative, are part of the University’s ongoing commitment to supporting the mental health of its entire community. Plans are also in development to create more online resources for students, while for staff, the Careers Service is hosting a series of Workplace Wellbeing courses similar to those offered to students.

The overarching student Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy further helps to capture and expand the work already underway, ensuring that mental health awareness and support remains a priority.

Student Volunteering Week 2020 and the 5 Ways to Wellbeing

Student Volunteering Week is a national event, with Higher and Further Education Institutions across the country using the week to celebrate existing student volunteers, and to encourage more students to start volunteering. Student Volunteering Week 2020 takes place from Monday 10 to Friday 14 February.

This year Bristol SU, Bristol Hub and the Engagement Opportunities team are working together to theme the week around the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, a concept developed and promoted by Mind. We’ve chosen this theme as volunteering is proven to improve mental health (Time well spent survey, 2019).

But you don’t have to take our word for it. We’ve asked Bristol SU Volunteering President Jude d’Alesio about how volunteering has helped enhance his wellbeing, education and employability.

He’s chosen three of the Ways to Wellbeing to focus upon:

Connect

In my final two years of secondary school I volunteered weekly at my local care home, listening to the experiences of residents completely different to mine. In Clifton there are four care homes, all in need of volunteers, and I would encourage anyone with an hour to spare to visit these places as the communication, leadership and empathy skills you develop will be useful in whichever field you decide to work in. From my volunteering experiences there is truly no feeling comparable to the satisfaction gained from helping others.

Give

Giving can take many forms, but in a volunteering sense, I see giving as participating in social and community life. Since arriving at Bristol, I have served on the governing body of a local school, advising the headteacher on ways to improve teaching standards, the curriculum and child safeguarding. This is a highly rewarding volunteering project and given that only 1% of school governors are under 25, many schools are eager for a fresh and youthful contribution.

Be active

I cannot stress the importance of keeping physically fit; it really is true that a healthy body helps make a healthy mind. Exercise stimulates the brain to release endorphins which create a sense of enjoyment and improve mental wellbeing. There is a plethora of physical activities available through the university, simply look at the sporting societies on the SU website for inspiration.

In addition, a considerable proportion of volunteering in the community involves getting outdoors and using your body, especially as spring approaches. These opportunities are an excellent chance to discover the city’s beautiful open spaces, meet people who help to maintain them and take a healthy break from your studies. For something more regular, Roots Community Gardening are a student-led project that meet weekly in locations around Bristol to preserve these precious and often overlooked areas.

To find out more about Student Volunteering Week and the events and opportunities available, visit the Student Volunteering Week webpage. You can also find lots of great volunteering opportunities to get involved with through the Bristol SU, Bristol Hub and by searching for opportunities on myopportunities.

 

For more information about volunteering please visit: www.bristol.ac.uk/student-volunteering

 

 

The Bristol PLUS Award is 10 years old! Could you be rewarded?

The University’s Employability Award for students and researchers, Bristol PLUS, exists to recognise students who develop skills through extracurricular experiences alongside their degree. This includes activities such as part time work, volunteering, student representative roles and (many!) more.

We are celebrating the Awards’ 10 year anniversary by sharing stories from some of the 5000 + students who have achieved it. One of which was current UG Education Officer, Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, who used work experience as a Telethon Fundraiser, and a society committee position to gain the Award alongside her Social Policy degree. This is what she says about her experience.

“Taking part in the Bristol PLUS Award made me a stronger candidate for my career. I honed my skills in organisation, communication and most importantly for myself – leadership. It enabled me to feel confident in realising my potential in the future career I hope to have.

Attending the workshops and career events helped me to identify the qualities that came naturally to me, which assured me that a career in the public or third sector is where I would thrive and really enjoy my work. The various skills I learnt, for example bringing my CV up to a professional standard, allowed me to secure an interview with a top organisation in the third sector. Being able to show off my skills and personality in an interview setting was something I had always struggled with, but the Careers Service events gave me the tools to improve this. The interview skills workshop enabled me to pinpoint what parts of my personality and character I should highlight at an interview and what aspects I should build on. The reflective report allowed me to identify the key parts of the PLUS Award that I felt were most beneficial to me, and in turn evaluate how much I felt I had gained from undertaking such a valuable scheme.

Being able to take initiative and be confident in myself, my work and my ideas are very important to me and I feel that I have really thrived in achieving this goal through Bristol PLUS. The Award allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and work on myself on all fronts; academically, personally and mentally. It was an invaluable experience which I would highly recommend!”

You can read more student stories on the Careers Service blog.

So what does the PLUS Award look like in it’s 10th anniversary year?

· More than 1300 students have registered so far. 252 are PGTs, 52 are PGRs. The largest group of students on the Award are 2nd year UGs with 494 registrations.

· Upon registering, 91 students told us they had no idea what they want to do in future. 297 told us they had a good idea of what they want to do. The vast majority fell somewhere in between. Wherever you are with your personal development and career planning, the PLUS Award can help.

· The PLUS Award is not meant to be onerous – almost half of students registered (562) had most of the evidence they needed to achieve the Award upon registering. They used the process to reflect and maximise their value.

· 218 students achieved the Award between October and Christmas.

 

The registration deadline for this year is Friday 14 February so it is not too late to take part – visit our webpage to book an introductory talk and find out more.

Building strong communities

Our work to improve the sense of community for our students here at Bristol has started, and initiatives like the Bristol SU Living Room are helping students connect with one another. However, our students have told us that there is still more to be done.  

Over the next two years, we plan to build on our strong platform of student-centred services by aligning many of the routes to support together under one roof. Given the centrality of Senate House, and the ongoing refurbishments that have already seen the building transformed into an easily accessible and all-inclusive hub for student activity, the plan is to bring even more services into the building. 

Already the home of the Study Centre, the largest Bristol SU Living Room, the PGR hub (for postgraduate research students) and a student café, Senate House is steadily undergoing further changes as it becomes the centre of Campus Heart.    

As well as revamping the ground floor to include a one-stop information point for all students, we hope this will become a fully integrated space that offers students access to all they need; from help and advice about fees and funding to a suite of wellbeing services. There will also be additional SU space for students to use for work or relaxation. 

Our Student Wellbeing Service and Residential Life teams are already expanding, with positive results that have seen a reduction in waiting times for counselling support and a more seamless approach to early interventions, in addition to professional support available round the clock, every day of the year.  We’re building on this success to ensure that our students can continue to access the high quality support they need. This includes working in partnership with Bristol Students’ Union, Sports Exercise and Health and academic colleagues to provide a range of activities to help build strong communities across our university.  

Find out more as we chat to Ros Elliott, Head of Student Residential Life.

Further information about what we’re doing to transform our campus including all the latest developments at Senate House, can be seen on our latest film (January 2020).  

This case study is part of a series of stories sharing findings and student views from our Mental Health and Wellbeing Surveys 2018 and 2019. It’s a chance for us to share what we have done in response to what students have told us and to share what we’re planning to do. See our webpage for further information

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