What happens when you mix a CLO with an SLO?!

 

Izzy Russell – your Student Living Officer – recently met up with Steve Smith – your Community Liaison Officer – to talk about their objectives for 2022-23 and find out whether they have any shared goals.

 

 

Accommodation and community living

Izzy: One of the things I am asked about most is finding accommodation in Bristol that is affordable and in good condition. We are partnering with the University’s Accommodation Services and external partners such as Shelter to help with housing issues and I wondered whether you’ve also found this to be an area of concern for students?

Steve: Yes I have, and part of my role is helping students understand what is in their tenancy agreement and helping them out with any issues they have with their agency or landlord. I also work with eight local residents’ associations and they really want to welcome students into the community – all people really want is a clean street and a quiet neighbourhood! However I had 750 complaints last year and these were mostly about noise and waste, so I am working with residents’ associations, lettings agencies, landlords and students to create good relationships on all sides.

Izzy: I know a lot of students try to manage their waste properly, but they can’t because their bins get stolen!

Steve: Yes I’ve come across that. But they can order new ones on the Council’s website. If they’ve damaged the bin they will need to pay for a new one themselves – but if it’s been taken or gone missing they can get a free replacement.

Harm Reduction

Izzy: I’m really interested in continuing work on harm reduction, and making sure students are safe, even if they engage in drug use. Is that something you get involved in as part of your role?

Steve: Yes, I am particularly concerned by students who find themselves getting into financial difficulty because of the amount of money they are spending on drugs, but are feeling too awkward to talk to anyone about the situation. I’m also aware that there are people who are putting themselves into situations that make them vulnerable, for example lone females going to pick up supplies from people they don’t know in unfamiliar places. We signpost them to people who can help such as Bristol Drugs Project and Student Services.

Sustainability

Izzy: One of the SU Officers’ shared priorities for 2022-23 is sustainability. Are there any community schemes being run which would help us with this objective?

Steve: Definitely. Most of the residents’ associations run initiatives around gardening and litter picking – the High Kingsdown Community Association is a good example, but the others are also active and have newsletters which students can sign up to if they want to get involved. There are lots of other things going on like the Chandos Road Festival and the Window Wanderland. It’s a great way to meet your neighbours, have some fun and feel good about what you’ve achieved!

If you would like to get more involved with your local community please email community-living@bristol.ac.uk.

If you have questions about housing check out the SU’s My Rent, My Rights campaign headed up by Izzy.

If you need advice about your health and safety please see the range of support on offer.

COP27

University of Bristol researchers attend the UN climate conference in Egypt

2 researchers standing in front of the COP27 sign in EgyptThe Cabot Institute for the Environment is working to ensure that University of Bristol researchers have a voice at COP27, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is taking place from 6 to 18 November 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

A team of climate researchers will share their expertise at the world leaders’ summit, which marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 1992.

With more than 300 Cabot Institute climate scientists and researchers following the COP27 proceedings and sharing their insights with the media, three of our colleagues will be there in person – taking Bristol University environmental research to the international arena.

Dr Rachel James focuses on African climate systems, using science to inform climate change policy.

“With the war in Ukraine and a cost-of-living crisis, it would be easy to lose sight of the importance of climate action. But we can’t afford to wait; the urgency of addressing climate change has never been greater. And that’s particularly true for African countries, which are projected to experience some of the most damaging impacts of climate change.” 

Faces of two researchers travelling to COP27
Alix Dietzel and Colin Nolden

Dr Alix Dietzel, senior lecturer in climate justice, will observe government negotiations and reflect on whose voices were heard and whether themes such as loss, damage and a fair transition to a net zero economy were considered in the negotiations.

“It is increasingly clear the effects of climate change are highly unequal and we have to look to those who have caused the most damage to ensure people are compensated, while also ensuring we move forward on climate change in a fair and inclusive manner at the global and local level.” 

Dr Colin Nolden works on energy and climate policy. His research ranges from looking at how governments are reducing energy poverty for communities to implementing climate change initiatives internationally.

“Raising ambition to reduce carbon emissions and sharing the burden of the rapid transition of our energy, economic, and social systems that such rapid decarbonisation entails, is essential to limit global warming and its detrimental effects, especially among countries least responsible but most affected.”

Be the change

The machinations of the conference may seem far away but we can all contribute and make changes in our daily lives to reduce global warming, reduce waste and protect biodiversity. Sign up for our Be the Change campaign – and take the challenges. Can you take a 4-minute shower? Could you consider moving towards a plant-based diet? Have you got ideas for related events and talks? If you’re already involved and would like to share your story, get in touch by emailing the student comms team. Share your experience on social media #UobTheChange.

The Cabot Institute for the Environment has also commissioned a series of illustrations reflecting Bristol’s support for COP27, capturing local people’s messages in response to the climate emergency to leaders at the conference. Follow Cabot on Instagram @bristoluni_cabot_institute #COP27, and check out the blog to find out more about its work.

Read full media release about our staff at COP27.

I wanna go home – how a homesick international student deals with loneliness Part 2 of 2

Connect with Home

The most obvious advice I can give you is to connect with home through the means we’ve got. Facetime, Netflix party, Zoom calls, and overseas gifts can all be ways of feeling closer to home.

  1. Call your family. I’m serious, no one is going to think you are “lame” for calling up your family members. I literally talk to my mom every other day or ring her randomly to show her something I’m excited about. I’ll also call family when I’m cooking something from home to get their input and tips, but also catch up and feel closer to them.
  2. Reach out to friends from home. I for one get a lot of FOMOs (fear of missing out) when my friends are all hanging out in our home city but knowing I can always call and catch up makes me feel happy and less homesick.
  3. Try out a home dish with your Bristol friends. Whenever one of us in the friend group feels homesick, we will all meet to cook something from their culture. This is a simple and fun way of connecting with home while sharing it with your friends.
  4. Wash your clothes in similar scents. Using washing powder that smells of home or a certain scent that reminds you of home can be a small thing that can make you feel back in your childhood bedroom.
  5. Listen to the Top 50 songs in your home country. Whether you are a Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube user (or anything else, again, no judging here), all these platforms have playlists with the trending songs back home. Listening to these makes me feel closer to home and keep in the loop of what songs are popular when I return.

Find “Me Time”:

As an introvert, all my blogs tend to include some Me Time tips; I love spending time with myself. I am a very busy person and tend to have a full schedule, so feelings of homesickness can sometimes strike me, and I will not deal with them because I won’t even have time to assimilate them. This is why “Me Time” is so important. This is the time I take to reconnect and reflect on how I’m feeling and take care of my mental health.

  1. Take a walk. I have a podcast from home I absolutely love, so getting out of the house and going for a walk to listen to the podcast is a great way for me to get myself active again and reconnect with my home country. The walking part is to get you out of the house and moving, whatever you decide to do in your walk, is up to you!
  2. Look at old pictures. Embracing feelings of loneliness and homesickness is necessary to be able to deal with them. Looking at old pictures can help you change your mindset from “I don’t want to be here anymore” to “I’m excited for what is waiting for me at home”. Knowing that there are people, food, and activities waiting for you at home can be comforting and help you deal with loneliness at university.
  3. Watch a movie from your country or set there. I find that every time a show or movie mentions “The Dominican Republic” I feel a sense of satisfaction. Watching something that is set in your country or deals with topics from your country can help you deal with your homesickness.
  4. Engage in activities you enjoy. Me time can also be going to a comedy show, trying a pottery class, or participating in sports. Doing something you enjoy can help you take your mind off the negative feelings and enjoy your time at university

 

 

I wanna go home – how a homesick international student deals with loneliness Part 1 of 2

You don’t have to be in your first year to experience homesickness! Read how Student Champion Victoria has dealt with the ups and downs of being away from the familiarity of home throughout her time at university.

After the excitement of starting a new term, thoughts can turn to home and loved ones. The Student Housing Company reported that three-quarters of students at UK universities feel homesick. Although homesickness isn’t an isolated event that only happens to international students, as a Latina away from home, I know that it hits different when you feel homesick and don’t know when you can go home.

After three years at university, I have noticed that homesickness hits me at the weirdest and most unexpected times. It sometimes happens when I see family pictures and wish I were there, or I eat something and am reminded of how good it is at home, or smell a certain scent and I am taken back to a memory. Navigating these feelings can sometimes be overwhelming, but remember, you are not alone. I hope that by reading this you will better understand why we feel homesick and also find some suggestions of what to do next time you find yourself feeling this way.

What is Homesickness?

Symptoms of homesickness vary from person to person and are not always associated with “home”; it can be related to people, food, experiences, or a feeling of nostalgia for a time in your life. Many times, these symptoms include feeling tearful, sad, isolated and, at times, trapped.

At other times, many people may be feeling “emotionally wobbly” and not be able to identify why, and it can be a repressed feeling of homesickness. This can translate into anxiety or depression-like feelings as well, as thinking of home makes us scared of the unknown of our new environment.

Homesickness can be exacerbated at different stages of university life. Freshers’ week is a time when first years are adapting to student life and may wish for home often. Seeing everyone find a group and fit in easily may also affect us and make us feel even more homesick and wish we could run home. Over holidays like Christmas or Easter, when the city empties out of students going to see family, staying behind can be hard for many of us. I for one hosted my first Christmas, and although it was loads of fun, I would be lying if I didn’t confess seeing the Christmas pictures on the family group chat didn’t make me tear up. As international students, we also have different holidays and traditions that we may miss from home, and when those dates roll around, we might be hit with a feeling of homesickness and a yearning to participate in these important activities.

Connect with your culture in Bristol

Bristol is not just a very diverse city; it is a cultural hub with different options to engage with different cultures. There are over 180 nationalities in Bristol and at least 90 languages spoken throughout the city. There is bound to be something for everyone!

  1. The SU: The Student Union has so many societies as we all know, but these include cultural societies that might encompass your culture or interests. I am part of the Latino Society, and can confidently say, there is nothing like knowing I can just text “The Latinos” and I will have someone be there for me. They truly are a family away from home.
  2. Visit the Global Lounge: This fun cultural hub in the heart of campus (Senate house) has so many activities throughout the year, celebrating many cultures represented among the alumni of UoB.
  3. Bristol Meetups: Download the Meetup app and start finding mingles and activities around the city with people who share your interests and cultures.
  4. Go out to eat something from home: Bristol’s cuisine is so diverse and rich, thanks to its huge cultural diversity. Go to La Ruca for authentic South American cuisine, Caribbean Croft for amazing Caribbean dishes, Bristanbul for some Turkish delights, Mayflower for homecooked Chinese or read more options here for different nationalities.

Meet David, undergraduate Advocate for the Be More Empowered (BME) for Success programme

An image of David Kwao Fianko-WilliaThis week we catch up with David, an Advocate for the Be More Empowered (BME) for Success programme for undergraduates. David is currently studying History. We caught up with him about the programme, his interests, favourite places in Bristol and more…

Highlight of being an advocate so far:

Getting to know such great people, it’s just a nice safe space to talk.

 

What leadership means to you:

Leadership means supporting a team, and being compassionate, empathetic and kind.

Goal for end of 2022-23:

To at least get one academic policy through, as it is difficult currently to get the university to actively provide changes to their rigid structures.

 

Favourite meal:

I don’t only have one favourite food I have many and it varies from time to time, Ghanaian food is always going to be my favourite. Currently, my favourite Ghanaian dish, though, is Banku with fried fish, pepper and shito.

Book/film recommendation:

I couldn’t just do one of the two – I have both a film and book recommendation. If you haven’t watched it already, I would recommend watching Judas and the Black Messiah, a powerful historical film. There is criticism, such as it  only focuses on Fred Hampton, for example, but overall, it’s a powerful watch. I’m reading this currently, but I would really recommend Walter Rodney’s book, How Europe underdeveloped Africa. It’s a really great read.

Favourite place in Bristol:

Malcolm X Community Centre – I was part of a public history project last year called Decolonising Memory Digital Bodies and the place along with the sense of community I felt there was great. It was space where we could talk about our raw feelings regarding the sensitive topic of enslavement. It’s a culturally sensitive, caring and compassionate environment. I also love the illustrations in the centre of Black inspirational people.

Who would you say is your biggest inspiration and why?

My biggest inspiration would be my family, this because of their fight against adversity, their willpower and confidence, which has always been something I have admired and lived by.

Huge thanks to David for sharing these insights into his experience of the programme, and some of his preferences. Please contact student-comms@bristol.ac.uk if you have a story you would like to share on this blog for Black History Month, and beyond…!

Meet Jordan, undergraduate Advocate for the Be More Empowered (BME) for Success programme

This week we catch up with Jordan, an Advocate for the Be More Empowered (BME) for Success programme for undergraduates. Jordan is currently studying Engineering Mathematics, but has many more interests besides his degree. Read on to hear more…

 

 

 

Highlight of being an advocate so far:

The best part of being an advocate has to be seeing the impact we make on students, especially with the return of in-person events last year! Seeing so many people turn up to and take value from our ADHD workshop and the open Iftar, for example, were great reminders that the work we do is valued and necessary to help make students feel like they belong on campus. I’m hoping to really double down on that this year and provide more chances for students to get involved with in-person activities!

Goal for end of 2022-23:

By the end of this academic year, I would love for the BME Success Programme to have a well-defined set of digital material, from high-quality social media posts to (hopefully?) a video which highlights the work we’ve done over the years as advocates! Personally, I’d also like to have learned a few songs on my guitar. I’ve owned a guitar for a good 5 years now but have always shied away from picking it up and actually learning how to play anything, so here’s to adding “amateur guitarist” to my repertoire of “somewhat” useful skills.

 

What leadership means to you:

Leadership to me is more of an action than a status or title. I’m a huge football fan, so seeing my favourite players influencing the game, both on and off the pitch, taught me a lot about how I can be a leader in my own community and about what skills and qualities would help me achieve that! Firstly, it helped me acknowledge the differences between a leader (e.g. the captain) and a manager. A leader cares about their team and how they can extract the best out of everyone, vs a manager whose job is to make sure everyone fulfils their role and works towards a goal. Secondly, being true to your values in everything you do is important when maintaining integrity. Someone who demonstrates good leadership skills should act with integrity as that gives others the chance to understand their motives and intentions, thus enabling them to get behind or not.

 

Person who has most inspired you:
I look up to many people in the entrepreneurship and tech spaces, but Marques Brownlee, the mastermind behind MKBHD, is someone whose path I particularly admire. For someone to make videos for fun while graduating from university and becoming a pro athlete, before effectively becoming the face of tech on YouTube, is quite exceptional – especially as a black man living in America!

Favourite meal:

Nothing beats a good curry goat with rice and peas!

 

Book/film recommendation:

I really enjoyed the movie Rocks, but I can’t recommend the book How to Win Friends and Influence people by Dale Carnegie enough!

 

Favourite place in Bristol:

Pitch 17 on the downs has a special place in my heart (UTFB), but I’m a big fan of Ashton Court Estate, especially in the summer, where you can catch some deer, great views and a local car boot sale on Sundays!

Huge thanks to Justin for sharing these insights into his experience of the programme, and some of his preferences. Please contact student-comms@bristol.ac.uk if you have a story you would like to share on this blog for Black History Month, and beyond…!

Black History Month – Black Mothers Matter

Read time 3 mins

For the first of our Black History Month blogs we had the privilege to talk to Bristol alumna Sonah Paton, co-founder of Black Mothers Matter.  Here, Sonah shares some insights into her own time at university, and the ground-breaking work she is undertaking to address the disproportionately difficult experience of expectant and early Black mothers in the UK.

Sonah, what made you decide to study at Bristol?

My dad had been a doctor at the BRI so I already had a connection with the city. My parents also had high academic standards for me and my two siblings, and Bristol met with their expectations.

What was your experience like at university?

I had a great time at university! I met Yomi and Aisha (the other co-founders of Black Mothers Matter) at an ACS (African & Caribbean Society) event at Freshers Week. There weren’t many Black British women in our cohort so I suppose that drew us together. It was a very white space, and there wasn’t much recognition that my experience would be different from that, but there was a good sense of community within my wider friendship group.

How did Black Mothers Matter start?

It basically started from a chat on WhatsApp!  We had all become pregnant during 2019 and had given birth just before or during the first lockdown, so our babies were introduced to each other on Zoom. As well as talking about motherhood in general, we also discussed how lucky we felt that nothing seriously bad had gone wrong for us during our pregnancies and births, especially in the light of the 2019 MBRRACE report which highlighted that Black mothers are four times more likely to die during pregnancy. Between the three of us we have a combination of skills in marketing and medical expertise so we said to ourselves why don’t we take action and do something about these grim statistics.

That is a shocking statistic – why do you think that is the case?

The system was built for white people, for example when babies are assessed to see how much oxygen they are getting the measure is how red/pink they are. This just isn’t a relevant test for a black or brown baby. There’s also NHS advice on nutrition for pregnant women which might not include ingredients that are used in a traditional West African diet such as yam or plantain. Things like that may seem small but they can have huge consequences.

How do you help make a difference to Black mothers?

We have two work streams, one of which directly engages members of the community by pairing women with doulas, providing antenatal support hampers and that kind of thing. The other project addresses systemic issues and includes an anti-racist education and training programme for midwives and maternity assistants. One of our overall goals is to achieve zero disparity based on race by the time our own children are ready to be parents.

What is your opinion of Black History Month?

Black History Month has the potential to be a powerful campaign, but it really depends on the approach people take. For example, at my son’s school they ran a great project about Roy Hackett who was a local man and one of the organisers of the Bristol bus boycott.  The content was really relevant and the children learned a lot. We do get lots of enquiries around this time and I sometimes find myself asking, where were you for the other eleven months of the year?!  But it can be a positive reminder to celebrate black culture, even if it’s through a small gesture – if you are buying a book, why not choose one by a black author?

That’s a nice idea – do you have a book you could recommend?

I love I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite, a very relevant read.

 

Thanks so much to Sonah for giving her time to us and sharing the excellent work being undertaken by Black Mothers Matter. If you would like to know more about the organisation, or have other stories you would like to share with us, please contact student-comms@bristol.ac.uk.

A quick guide to student health services

Many of our international students may not be familiar with how the UK health system works and so here is a very simple guide to help.  A list of some local services for Bristol and Bath is included at the end of this post. 

A lot of our health services are provided by the National Health Service (NHS). 

Details of services available to Bristol and Bath students can be found at the end of this post.  

Accidents and Emergencies – available 24 hours a day. Call 999 

If you have a serious accident or need urgent medical care for a life-threatening condition, you should call 999 from your phone and ask for an ambulance. Or it is safe to do so, you can go to your nearest hospital Accident and Emergency room (often referred to as A&E). You will be seen by a receptionist when you arrive and then you will be assessed by medical staff before you are seen for further treatment/investigation. 

You should expect to wait to be seen – average times vary but can be up to 4 hours, depending on the seriousness of your situation.  

Not sure if you should visit A&E or would like some advice? Call 111 or visit https://111.nhs.uk/ 

The NHS 111 service is available 24 hours a day. When you call, you will be asked several questions about yourself and your condition and you will be told what to do next, which could be to see a doctor, go to A&E or they may make you an appointment at an urgent treatment centre/minor injury unit. They may also advise you to see a pharmacist to get some medication. 

Urgent treatment centre/minor injury unit 

These are separate from A&E and you can go to an urgent treatment centre if you need urgent medical attention, but it’s not a life-threatening situation. These services are open at least 12 hours a day, every day – details below.  

Doctors – by appointment only 

In the UK, medical doctors working in the community are referred to as General Practitioners or GPs. They are often the first point of contact when we feel unwell and work out of GP Surgeries or GP Practices. 

You cannot go to a GP surgery/practice without first registering and then making an appointment. 

How you make an appointment will depend on the surgery. Some will offer an online system, others will need you to call them directly – you may be kept on hold, while you wait to speak to someone.  

When it’s your turn, you will speak with the receptionist first and you should be prepared to explain why you need to see a doctor – this helps them decide which service you require. Sometimes you may be offered a telephone appointment, where the doctor will call you or you may be offered an in-person appointment at the surgery with a doctor or nurse.  

Depending on how serious your condition is, you may have to wait to see a doctor, it could be up to two weeks. 

Student Health Service 

If you live in the practice area you will be able to register with the Student Health Service, which offers a full GP surgery to university students and their families.  

If your condition changes or gets worse, whilst you are waiting to see the doctor, you can call 111 for advice or 999 if life-threatening. 

If you no longer need to see the doctor, please cancel your appointment. 

Pharmacists 

If your doctor decides you need medication, you’ll need to collect it at a pharmacy. Your doctor will write a prescription which they can give to you or can send directly to your nominated pharmacy (you may have nominated one when you first registered at the surgery)  

If you are feeling unwell or have a simple problem – a cough, common cold, flu-like symptoms, mild eye or ear infection. –  you can go directly to the pharmacy and ask for their advice as they can offer a variety of medicines without a prescription.  

In the UK most people have to pay for their medicine/prescriptions, however, you can check to see if you are entitled to free prescriptions here.  

If you think you have a more serious condition, you can call 111, arrange to see your doctor, or if severe, go to A&E. You should not put off seeking help if you are unwell. 

For further information on health services for international students, please visit: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/students-health/international-students/ 

For further info on general student health services, please visit: –  http://www.bristol.ac.uk/students-health/international-students/health-services-in-the-uk/ 

Services 

Bristol 

Student Health Service 

Hampton House, St Michael’s Hill, Bristol BS6 6AU. 

Accident and Emergency 

  • Bristol Royal Infirmary – Marlborough Street, Bristol BS2 8HW 
  • Southmead Hospital – Southmead Road, Westbury-on-Trym , Bristol, Avon, BS10 5NB 

Urgent medical care centres 

  • Bristol Urgent Treatment Centre, Hengrove Promenade BS14 0DE 
  • Yate Minor Injury Unit, 21 West Walk Yate BS374AX 
  • Clevedon Minor Injury Unit, Old Street Clevedon BS21 6BS 

Bath  

Accident and Emergency  

Royal United Hospitals, Bath, Combe Park, Bath, Avon, BA1 3NG 

The minor injury unit is also next to the A&E Department.  

To find a GP – if you cannot register with the Student Health Service 

https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-gp 

To find a dentist 

https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-dentist 

A new peer mentoring programme for trans and non-binary students

Student holding a they-them pronoun badge

Today we’re talking about a new trans and non-binary student mentoring programme, run in partnership by the University of Bristol and The Peer Partnership, which will launch in October 2022. Aaron Grice from the University of Bristol and Sean Hourigan from The Peer Partnership, give us the low down.

Tell us about the programme – what is it and why is it needed?

Sean
Being a trans or non-binary student can be tough. Not everyone is accepting, and society is not always prepared for changes needed to integrate and recognise people in this community. This programme will support these students by matching them to trans and non-binary community volunteer mentors living locally who will help them navigate life as someone identifying as trans or non-binary.

Aaron
Here at the University of Bristol, there’s a large community of trans and non-binary students, and we want to make sure they can access the support and services they need. There’s a lot to learn from the trans and non-binary community in Bristol and the programme will help our students form support networks locally, while also highlighting support available at the University and in the city.

How did you get involved?

Aaron
I have been involved in peer support for many years – first as a student at here at Bristol and now in the work I do for the Student Inclusion team. I’ve seen first-hand how peer support empowers people.

Sean
The Peer Partnership follows the same model as a successful peer mentoring programme for people with HIV run by the Bristol-based charity Brigstowe.  We wanted to bring this model to the benefit of trans/non-binary students, recognising that the stigma they experience leads to high university drop-out rates.

How will the programme support trans and non-binary students?

Sean
Students will be able to apply for peer support at any point during their University experience. They will be matched to a mentor, who will also be trans or non-binary. The mentor will provide the student with an hour a week of their time to discuss and work through any challenges they may face.

Aaron
The programme will provide information about services available to trans and non-binary students. We hope this will improve their wellbeing and increasing their resilience. We also hope to increase their use and awareness of internal and external support services that can help them.

When will it start and how can students get involved? 

Sean
The project will go live in September (2022) – we’re currently recruiting and training mentors.

Aaron
Students will be able to request a mentor by completing a short form, and will be matched with a someone who is best placed to provide support. The Student Inclusion team is also working alongside the Wellbeing Team, who will refer any students they feel would benefit from a mentoring relationship.

More information will be available this autumn (2022) – in the meantime, if anyone is interested in getting involved, they can email student-peer-support@bristol.ac.uk.

*Update – the project is now live and you can find out more here.*

Any other comments?

Aaron
From my own experience being a student at the University with many trans and non-binary friends, I think it would have been so beneficial to have the opportunity to make connections with people from the wider community. I’m excited to be helping provide this opportunity for our students now and to develop this programme alongside our trans and non-binary community members in Bristol.

  • Sean Hourigan – Sean Hourigan is the Development and Training Coordinator for The Peer Partnership.
  • Aaron Grice (they/them) is the Student Inclusion Officer (Peer Support) in the University’s Student Inclusion Team.
  • The Peer Partnership is an extension of the successful work of Brigstowe, an HIV charity that has been supporting people for over 25 years in Bristol.

The importance of the LGBTQ+ Society

Bug Lewins Ktori is the incoming president of the University’s LGBTQ+ society. Having been involved with the society since their first year at the University, they are committed to making sure that all LGBTQ+ students benefit from a sense of community and peer support during their time at Bristol.

We spoke to Bug about intersectionality, peer-support, representation, and their following of the ‘DofE’ approach.

Why is the Q so important in LGBTQ+?

The Q is very important. To me, queer means not fitting in, having parts of yourself that aren’t societally acceptable, not fit

ting into a box that has been assigned to you. It can act as an umbrella for different gender identities and sexual orientations and how they intertwine

with other identities. Having the ability to say I’m queer, I’m one of you without specifically narrowing down to specific letters is important for me.

Also reclaiming the word queer is so empowering, we’re able to take back which was used as a slur and are now able to say this is my identity and I love and am proud of that.

How important is intersectionality to the LGBTQ+ Society?

Our top priority really is intersectionality, because there’s no point making those of us who are more privileged within an underprivileged community feel wonderful, while still excluding an entire underrepresented part of our community, that is already struggling more so you know, as a group that’s supposed to be providing support and community that is one of our biggest focuses.

We have a very diverse committee with a zero-tolerance policy on any sort of discrimination, we also do our best to cater to intersections such as disability and race.

What are your peer support sessions like?

These sessions run in collaboration with Project:Talk, so any concerns are fed back to them. But we’re very chilled out, we try to make these sessions as unintimidating as possible. We bring a bunch of biscuits, a bunch of colouring books and we chat, we do have some structured questions i.e. names, pronouns etc. but mostly we talk about our days/weeks and natural conversation is sparked from that. And then the rest of it is just kind of almost kind of like hanging out as friends. 

If a student had an issue how would/could the society help?

If a student has an incident or a negative experience, we will escalate this to the SU and the University and discuss formal measures. We help students navigate any formal complaint processes and make that person feel less alone in that whole process as nobody should go through those things alone.

I like to think that we exist as sort of like an advice group. Almost like if you had a problem in the workplace, you could talk to the Citizens Advice Bureau and you’d have someone to help represent you.

What is the best way for a student to get in touch if they have an issue?

We’re trying our best to make as many of our communication channels as discreet/anonymous as possible, which will hopefully encourage those who aren’t ‘out’ yet or allies to join. I work with the DofE (Duke of Edinburgh) rules in mind, moving at the slowest person’s speed by catering to the most marginalised/cautious people and then moving forward from there.

We have a big discord server which is open to anyone – there is no need for membership. We also have our Instagram and Facebook Group which are managed by us. People can also reach us on our personal accounts and email addresses e.g., someone may feel more confident speaking to the Accessibility Officer or BAME representative about certain things.

Find out more about the LGBTQ+ Society on Bristol SU’s website!