Hi everyone! I hope you've all had a wonderful break over the holidays and are ready to get back into the swing of things.
You might rememver that in the lead up to the first term I delved deeply into the cost-of-living crisis, which has always been detrimental, especially for students. My first aim was to create Brandon’s Big Budget Busting Booklet, a short step guide on how to manage your finances, with tips and tricks, and signposting to relevant services. This then lead on to creating a survey asking questions on the cost-of-living and the impacts it was having on you. Essentially, the cost-of-living crisis really took a hold of me and many projects and initiatives stemmed from this. In the first term along I worked closely with the University and the Studens' Union team to bring you...
- My first ever paper I submitted to senate, a top-level University meeting, was around the cost-of-living crisis. The presentation was the starting point and kicked off many strategies that University are trying to put in place to better support our members.
- Funded by Helping Hands (Buckinghamshire Council), Monthly Monday Meals was a project that gave students free ingredients to cook a tasty meal from a recipe chosen by myself. It's a project tackling food poverty whilst teaching a lifelong skill lesson – cooking. It was a great success in the first term with over 140 bags being collected to cook from home. We're really excited to say that the project will be returning for the second term and you can find our upcoming meals on our what's on page.
- In conjunction with the University, I managed to set up the Big Bucks Meal deal and not only was I able to get the prices slashed in all our eateries to make food more affordable for students, but I was also able to set up access to free hot meals. In the first term we gave out over 3,000 hot meal through the initiative at the High Wycombe campus. This has easily been the biggest win of my sabbatical journey so far.
- Pushed the University to make a statement on the cost-of-living crisis and them creating a cost-of-living hub.
- I also wrote a letter to Steve Baker, local MP for High Wycombe, on the Autumn Budget and if students would be receiving any further help. I did get a response and the answer to be summed up was a no.
Outside of campaigning on the cost-of-living crisis, I've been in plenty of meetings, making sure the University are held to account on their promises to students. One of the meetings I reinstated was the Digital Poverty working group, alongside creating a cost-of-living crisis working group. The working groups are where Academics and heads of services/schools can come together to hear what I had to say, share ideas, and discuss where we should be heading in our next steps in tackling the crisis.
In every meeting I have been in, ranging from academic misconduct panels to Education committees, I have been vocal on the issues that students are facing and potential mitigations for future issues that may arise.
There have been so many student wins over the first term, including car parking soluntions and course adjustments. Seeing students get what they deserve is what makes my role that much better and the first term of being a Sabbatical Officer has been an amazing, eye opening experience. I’m glad to be able to work alongside a fantastic team and work alongside our members and cannot wait to get stuck in to the second term!
-Brandon, Vice President Education and Welfare (High Wycombe)