Did you know that Veronica has been nominated for the Outstanding Individual Achievement award? (more…)
Olivier, nominee for Outstanding Individual Achievement award
1. Who are you? Name, programme, which year.
My name is Olivier Levy and I’m in my second year of history, Law School.
2. Tell us about you – favourite food, music, favourite place to hang out in Bristol
I’m a vegetarian now, I’ve stopped eating meat in the last year. Talking about music, I do have a varied range. I listen to a lot of 70s and 80s rock, which is my favourite type, and recently I’ve been listening to some Chopin. Last week I went to a very cool concert. I really enjoyed that night because I can hear music and talk to people. I appreciate that I can go out with my friends to visit concerts, exhibitions. There are many different places where we can hang out and that has been my favourite part of discovering Bristol.
3. You’ve been nominated because of your role as Chair of the Wellbeing Network – could you describe what you’ve been doing this past year?
There are three different parts of working in the network. The first is working with my amazing committee of ten people. We also work with many peer support groups. I am proud that we’ve launched a campaign named the Financial Wellbeing Project which can give students financial advice. The second part would be the panels and campaigns we launched in March. The third part would be the Buddy Scheme that I created back in November. It was an online forum, like space where students can chat and get together. I was expecting about 40 to 50 people to sign up at the most. And we had about 450 in the end.
4. Did your group have conflicts and disagreement before, and how do you handle these?
No, not at all. It is very hard to do anything wrong when it comes to improving mental health. Although there are lots of things that can go wrong. But I believe as long as we’re raising awareness and organising conferences and events, we’ll never have any disagreements.
5. What’s the best thing about being in the society in Bristol SU and how can this help students at University?
The best thing about being in the network this year has been spending time with the friends I made working in the SU. It’s so uplifting to be working and talking to people who have such positive energy and who aspire to create meaningful and substantial change for students. And I think especially this year when it’s been hard to find more gratifying things. Just being with them has been phenomenal. I could go on forever about them. I can’t recommend it enough! It is a very positive experience. All we try to do is continue to try to improve students’ lives.
6. Any words to students who want to be a part of the wellbeing network?
I would say just go for it, you don’t need any experience. It’s usually the one thing you could put as much work into as you want. It’s immensely rewarding work. The public speaking will enable you to become an effective communicator, and it’s just nice to be part of the team. I think that’s what I’ve relished the most and what I’m excited about. It is fun to work with different people and engage their perspectives and be a part of the student union.
Words by Ziqiong Li, MSc Marketing student
Isaac, nominee for Outstanding Individual Achievement award
Hi Isaac, you have been nominated for the Outstanding Achievement Award because of your role as President of Bristol Bar Society.
How did you get involved in Bar Society in the first place?
It started with wanting to explore the Bar as a career option because I have always been keen on the advocacy side of the profession. I saw the potential the Bristol Bar Society had and wanted to help the society reach its potential.
What was the project that you enjoyed the most getting involved in this year, and why?
The Bar has traditionally been a restrictive profession that often marginalises People Of Colour, Women, LGBTQIA+ individuals. When I became the President of the Bristol Bar Society, I wanted to spearhead the #NoBarToTheBar initiative. It has been the unofficial motto of the Bristol Bar Society, but my Vice President and I worked tirelessly this academic year to bring it to life. In fact, my entire committee played an active role this year to make the #NoBarToTheBar initiative successful. I enjoyed bringing all these opportunities to our student members which were previously unheard of. It was gratifying seeing our student members benefit from the various initiatives under the #NoBarToTheBar umbrella. The highlight was working alongside my committee to turn the tide with the #NoBarToTheBar initiative. I will cherish the privilege of serving and working alongside them all.
Did you know that someone was going to nominate you for the award? What was your initial reaction when you were nominated? How do you feel now?
I was not actively seeking people to nominate me because people should recognise the work you have done and seek to nominate you themselves. Hence, I was taken aback when I found out I had been nominated for this award. I am deeply humbled and honoured by this nomination. It will take a while for the feeling to sink in.
Why do you think it is important to join societies, go the extra mile and put in the additional effort?
For those of us who choose the University path, it becomes a significant part of our young adult lives. Our lives revolve around the student community, which become a part of our personal growth. Going the extra mile and putting in the additional effort benefits the student community, which gives back to us all. It makes a significant difference to the lives of our peers and successors who will reap the benefits of all the hard work and time you might have dedicated. Your effort might lay the foundation for future progress. It can be extremely rewarding to see things come to fruition.
You are a Law student, at the same time actively engaged in student life and Student’s Union. Where do you get your motivation or inspiration from?
My mother and grandmother were the hardest working people I knew. I draw my inspiration and work ethic from them.
What would you advise students coming to Bristol in the autumn?
Make your mistakes whilst you are here! Do not be afraid of making mistakes! They will be your best teachers!
Words by Katarzyna Gorska, Law and German student
Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow Q&A
“The opportunity to have a professional writer review my work was incredibly helpful. The advice helped me achieve the highest cluster of marks I’ve received during my time at university; I wished I’d known about it sooner!”
1. What is a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow? Tell me a little about your role.
A Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow is a professional writer who, through individual coaching, works with Higher Education students to improve their writing. Occasionally we work with staff too, and we can cover many different types of writing, not just academic essays – but essentially my role is to help students on a one-to-one basis with their written submissions. As well as making practical suggestions, I try to share some general tips or approaches that the students themselves can adopt in the future. It’s not proofreading but an attempt to work through the particular writing issues faced by an individual student.
There are four Fellows at Bristol and I started in October, working two days a week (the rest of the time I’m writing!). I’m really enjoying it and though my time as a Fellow concludes in May, I will be back at the start of the next academic year – by which point, I’m hoping the world might look a little more normal…
You can see an RLF Writing Fellow by going to bristol.ac.uk/bristol-futures/royal-literary-fellows/ and sending one of us an email. We’ll then reply with a link that allows you to book your first session at a time when it’s convenient for you.
2. Why were these roles created?
I think there was a feeling that students might sometimes value additional help with their written work, and that the one thing professional writers know a bit about is writing! The idea was that authors could be placed on campuses throughout the UK to provide some additional one-on-one tuition. They’re independent of the host university, and not all Writing Fellows are academics – I happen to have a Masters and have lectured at another university, but I very rarely have specialised insight into my students’ subject areas. However, I’ve been writing professionally for almost thirty years, so I hope I know a little about planning, structure and, most importantly, the nitty-gritty of clear written English.
3. How do you work with students? What sort of issues can they seek help on?
Sometimes a student will come to me who’s been seeing the same criticism repeated in their essay feedback and we’ll talk about how they might be able to improve in that area. Sometimes they’re already doing well but they want to see if they can find a way of nudging their marks up a little. Or perhaps they feel they’re struggling quite badly – what is an essay anyway, and what is academic writing?!? I hope I’m sympathetic on that point: I was never formally taught to write essays at school or polytechnic (perhaps I should explain: a long time ago, there were things called polytechnics that functioned alongside universities…).
The Study Skills department is the first port of call if a student’s major issue revolves around dyslexia or English as a Second Language. But generally, if someone has a concern with their writing while at university, or thinks they’re capable of better marks and that somehow their written work is letting them down, then hopefully that’s where myself or one of the other Fellows can help. It’s free, it’s confidential and, as Bob Hoskins used to say in adverts for BT, it’s good to talk.
4. Do you have to be an English Literature student/undergraduate etc? Who can access the service?
We’re here for everyone! I’ve actually spoken to very few English Literature students so far, but I have seen people studying Criminology, Anthropology, Public Health, Psychology, Economics, History, you name it. I’ve even seen someone studying Medicine which, because my wife is a GP, was great fun. I’ve spoken to almost as many people who are working towards their Masters or PhDs as I have undergraduates, so I think the scheme casts the net pretty wide. In fact, the only work we’re not allowed to take a look at is Creative Writing, which I completely understand, but does feel a bit odd, as that’s what I used to lecture in.
5. Can students still access this support virtually?
Absolutely. In pre-pandemic times, students would see us in person, but for obvious reasons, everything is done online at the moment. It’s a shame I’m not on campus – I was due to be based at Beacon House – and I’m sure I’m as tired of video technology as anyone, but the students I’ve met have been very understanding.
We use a platform called Whereby, which is a bit like Zoom, but it’s more secure and (I think) easier to use. And I’ve had very few technical issues so far. It can never fully replace meeting students in person, but I suppose it can have its advantages, especially as we get more and more used to doing these things from the comfort of our homes. I don’t live in Bristol, so at least it means my commute to work is short…
6. What’s your top writing tip for students?
Writing is editing. It really is as simple as that. Of course, research is vital, and of course you have to get the first draft done. But that’s the start of the process, not the end. I’ve tried to take this view when I’ve written novels or soap opera scripts, and it’s advice I followed when I worked on my Masters. I’m not saying all writing problems disappear if you give yourself enough time to revise and polish your work, but it’ll certainly help.
7. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
Finishing! Partly because I know how important editing is, as I just said, and partly because I do find writing that first draft quite difficult. That’s not to say I dislike writing – it’s the only ‘job’ I’ve ever wanted – and of course there are occasional moments of sublime bliss when the words just seem to fall out of you. But I like having written. It’s as if you’ve been carving a block of marble and finally you see the shape you used only to have in your mind. It’s not finished, but at least you have something that looks a bit like a person, or a horse, or a hedgehog. It’s where the real fun starts, I think.
8. Tell us something your students might be surprised to learn about you (e.g. a fun/unusual fact if you have one 🙂 )
It might not be a big surprise, as it’s part of my full RLF bio, but I have a black belt in kickboxing. I’ve been attending classes twice a week for over a decade. Outside of the ring, and possibly even in it, I’m about as threatening as a rice pudding, but I like messing around with the archetype of the middle-aged glasses-wearing nerd who hates sport! Also, you meet a bunch of fascinating people who generally don’t waste time worrying about split infinitives and possessive apostrophes…
Help with homesickness
We asked our Instagram followers whether they had found themselves feeling homesick or lonely over the past few months; unfortunately a large number of you said you had felt this way.
When asked what you missed the most answers ranged from the expected i.e. parents, friends, significant others, pets, travelling etc. Some of you missed more specific home comforts such as visiting theatres in Budapest, Scottish water and Melomakarona (Greek Christmas honey cookies).
A Mental Marathon
This post was written by the Founder and Director of PROJECT:TALK CIC, George Cole. George is also a fourth year medical student at University of Bristol.
Right, stop what you’re doing. Now, get up and run. No, don’t complain, just do it! You haven’t got a choice. Keep running until you’re told to stop.
Oh, and whilst you’re running, make sure you don’t let anything slip, ok? What do you mean you can’t carry on doing your day job as effectively as usual! Find a way! Pathetic.
If this seems a bit of an obscure and unpleasant situation to you, then you’re not alone. You could think of the COVID-19 pandemic a little like this – being plunged into uncertainty, no choice in the matter, completely unprepared and unfamiliar. A mental marathon.
Dealing with grief, life-threatening illnesses, and everything and anything in-between… (now more important than ever)
This post was written for the University community by one of our students
Dear staff members and students,
These past months have been a challenge for us all – everything grounding to a halt during ‘lockdown’, disruptions to university teach, working and studying from home, and new difficulties such as quarantine. A lot of staff members and students will have had to deal with isolation from loved ones, illness in the family, and bereavement.
Facing grief and illness, or the anxiety of the possibility, has perhaps never been more widespread. Covid-19 has brought home hard truths and moved to centre stage the possibility of losing someone or getting ill. Dealing with illness and grief can be life-changing and the current restrictions add additional difficulties.
Get ahead of worries this World Mental Health Day
Written by Dr Dominique Thompson
Starting university is always a big moment in life, but in 2020 it’s going to be a historic moment too. Living in a new institution, perhaps a new city, in a global pandemic certainly adds an edge to the whole process.
So if you are feeling a little stressed (which would be entirely normal) help is at hand and you may find the new, free, online course that I helped to create, ‘Being Well Living Well’, very useful indeed.
How our community are being kind during lockdown
Every May we in the United Kingdom celebrate and observe Mental Health Awareness Week. It is a chance to raise awareness of mental health problems and the importance of taking care of ourselves. It is an opportunity to inspire action, share experiences, and end the stigma that still surrounds mental health.
This year’s theme is kindness. Being kind to ourselves, being kind to others and being kind to our communities and planet.
Mental health in lockdown
The world feels very strange at the moment, and undoubtedly the uncertainty about the length of the lockdown, our health and that of our loved ones, access to pasta and toilet paper etc., is cause for anxiety.
Here are some tips and tricks that may ease or help you manage your worries during this time.
Mediation may bring forth images of incense sticks, swaths of tie-dye and people chanting. This is sometimes the case. But meditation, in essence, is simply a practise where through mindfulness or focusing on a particular thought, to achieve a calm and stable mindset.