Welfare Officer: The Candidates

TODAY saw the second Question Time event for a full-time Officer position, which featured the candidates running for the position of Welfare Officer facing questions from the audience. Aber Student Media streamed the event live, which is available for playback, as well as live-blog coverage here.

Candidates running for Welfare Officer getting ready for Question Time.  From left to right: Jonny Richards, Charlotte Raftery, Hannah Stokes and Will Atkinson

Candidates running for Welfare Officer getting ready for Question Time.
From left to right: Jonny Richards, Charlotte Raftery, Hannah Stokes and Will Atkinson
Photo by Alex Tanton

All 4 candidates were present in the main room earlier this afternoon for the event. The following article will give you a brief run-down of all the candidates and their main policies, which they touched on at the event.

Will Atkinson is a Geography student who has spent the last three years volunteering at the Students’ Union as an academic, faculty and institute rep. He says that welfare is about working with the other Union Officers to make students’ time at University as stress-free as possible. If elected as Welfare Officer, he promises to lobby the reabsorption of Halls profits into increased accommodation bursaries, stating that ‘Halls should be run for students, not profit’, and is look at implementing a voluntary letting agent accreditation scheme, allowing agents to prove that they are student-friendly. He wants to produce a full review of the personal tutor system and work with the University to improve access to personal tutors. He says that he wants to push for the same forms and policies for granting special circumstances throughout all departments, as they currently vary, and create a University-wide extension policy. Finally, he wants to lobby for a bursary system so that students aren’t barred from societies and sports due to cost, whilst continuing the fight to free up Wednesdays for all.

Charlotte Raftery is in her final year, studying Museum and Gallery Studies, and History. She is the Treasurer for the Second Language Welsh Society a representative for both her departments. She says that she enjoys speaking and listening to people, learning new things and helping in any way possible. She says that whilst the position covers a lot of issues, she intends to give them equal attention. If elected she plans to address and resolve issues regarding regulations, health, and students rights, alongside tackling issues regarding Penglais Farm, by lobbying the University, carrying out surveys and working alongside landlords and estate agents. She plans on raising awareness of different health issues, particularly mental health issues in order to reduce discrimination. She plans to continue working and supporting local campaigns with the Union and University, such as Time to Change Wales and Mind Cymru, as well as create a network of support. Her manifesto also outlines that she wants to provide budgeting workshops, and have running chat sessions to give students the opportunity to talk about welfare related issues.

Jonny Richards is the President and founder of the Time to Change Wales society, a society dedicated to ending the stigma towards mental health. As Welfare Officer he proposes to improve communication for those taking courses away from University, work with residential tutors and signpost mentoring schemes to establish informal drop-in sessions, continue to run anti-stigma campaigns and improve knowledge of support services available to students. He also hopes to establish an instant messaging service for the Student Union advice service A.R.C. to enable students to receive advice more conveniently, as well as organising a big ‘Know your Welfare’ campaign during Freshers and Refreshers week. He wants academic staff to receive basic mental health training and establish a counselling service on Llanbadarn campus. He spoke of his aims to arrange a price freeze on University accommodation so that future price rises coincide with the rise of student loans, and also wishes to set up a student accommodation ratings website to enable them to leave feedback on both University and private residences.

Hannah Stokes is a third year Law student, and the current LGBT+ Students’ Officer. She is an active member of the Students’ Union and a member of the Student Welfare executive, as well as being involved with Time to Change Wales. She has received Nightline training, as well as NUS and external training in areas such as sexual and gender identity, ethnic monitories, mental health and campaigning techniques. She is currently in the process of founding an LGBT+ association. Hannah says that there needs to be greater awareness of the Student Support facilities available to students and that the promotion of these services will be of great service, particularly to those with seen and unseen disabilities, mental illness or distress, as well as financial and accommodation issues. She says that she wants to create a physical ‘safe space’ within the Students’ Union with volunteers trained similarly to Nightline. She spoke of wanting to introduce an additional day of Freshers and Re-Freshers Fair, focused on raising awareness of welfare groups and networks available, particularly for minority students. She also wishes to improve bus links to Llanbadarn, saying that one every hour is not good enough, and that one of her main priorities is the materialisation of certain promises which have not been fulfilled previously, including a free bus link between Llanbadarn and Penglais and a Student support building.

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On Monday, it is the turn of candidates running for both the full time position of Education Officer and UMCA President to have questions from the audience. Join Aber Student Media for the live stream and live-blog coverage at 12pm.

For the full detailed manifestos of the aforementioned candidates, click here, below is a photo gallery from today’s Question Time event.

As well as bringing you full live coverage from the full time officer events, Aber Student Media will also be bringing you a round up report from part-time officer events, all of which will be available in the ‘Elections 2014‘ category in the drop-down News tab on our website.

The round up of Question Time events for the part-time positions that occurred this afternoon are available here.

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