Alan Holmes is running for Welfare Officer in this year’s leadership race; Her Campus Leeds spoke to him to find out more about his ideas for a better Union. Voting opens Monday 4th March.
Why have you chosen to run for Welfare Officer in this year’s leadership race?
Last year I put an idea forward to have a ‘Welfare’ category of societies and it successfully passed. Since then I’ve been the Welfare Rep for these societies and I’ve had such a great job doing it. Having spoken to the committees they’ve raised issues which they’ve had to face over the year and a lot have mentioned that they’ve spoke to students who were intending to self harm, harm others or commit suicide. Unfortunately LUU doesn’t currently have a strong policy which advices students what to do in these situations which means we’re not currently supporting those using our welfare services to the best of our ability. Our volunteers are doing a fantastic job but there’s not enough support for them as it can be really painful listening to someone who clearly needs support but without any clear policy as to how to help them. I want to make sure that our students and our volunteers are supported. I’ve enjoyed supporting students and committees as Welfare Rep and I really hope I can continue this as Welfare Officer.
What experience do you feel that you’d bring to the role?
I believe that campaigning is really important in the role of Welfare Officer. Last year I was part of the team which produced the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign which now has over 18,500 views on your tube and received media coverage from the Huffington Post.
As I mentioned I’m currently the Welfare Rep so I’ve got a lot of experience representing students views and opinions and it’s great to have already been part of changes to the structure of welfare support here at LUU.
What do you hope to go on to do eventually?
I always thought I wanted to be a physicist (as I’m currently a physics student) but having not really enjoyed my degree that much I don’t have a clue. I’m definitely a people person though, so something with people.
Can you talk us through some of the key points of your manifesto, and how you would hope to implement them?
My manifesto is split in to 3 key areas which are financial security, safer Leeds and healthier you. 51% of students told LUU that their main barrier to enjoying their time at Leeds is they finances. The financial advice that we currently provide is monthly which seems a bit pointless since most students are paid termly, but this is something which is very easy to change. I also want to introduce an official ‘Leeds University Savings’ page on Facebook where the Union will advertise deals and promotions in Leeds which students can use to save money.
For a safer Leeds I want to introduce a taxi pick up point on campus so that you can always get home after big nights like Fruity. A lot of candidates will mention extending the Nightbus services but at the moment we can’t do this without considering the financial implications as the Nightbus costs a lot to run. One idea I’ve had is to look into getting the Nightbus sponsored. Having been attacked in Leeds, I also want to introduce free self defence classes for all students. I’ve spoken to the martial arts societies and they’re keen to get involved.
I also want it to be easier for you to make healthier choices which at Leeds University so I want to introduce ‘Add vegetables to you meal’ as currently the main option is to just ass chips. I also want to make information about your food available on menus so you know what you’re eating. 72% of women and 45% men admitted to be unhappy with the body at some point in the life. I want to run a ‘Real Bodies, Real People’ campaign to tackle stigma surrounding body image and promote a healthier view of body image in LUU.
I also want to bring STI testing on campus, introduce free condoms in halls, reintroduce a ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy, make exam time a stress free period, introduce a wider variety of meal deals in Essentials, support studens when looking for work, reduce the cost of Edge memberships and improve students relationships with their person tutors.
How’s the campaign going and what can we expect from you over the next couple of weeks?
I’m really enjoying it actually. It’s great to meet and speak to so many people across campus. I’m currently baking 2,000 gingerbread people to hand out to students across campus so look out for that. I think the only negative point is that sleep and campaigning don’t seem to go hand in hand.
How are you managing to balance all of this alongside completing the third year of your degree?
Well luckily for me my dissertation was due in a couple of weeks ago and at the moment I only have lectures to go to. I’m not going to lie, I’ve missed a few lectures but they looked boring anyway.
If you don’t manage to get elected, what are your plans after graduating?
I currently have a full time job working for the DWP at the Jobcentre so I can go back to that over summer while I try and work out what I want to do, but I definitely want to do something people focused.
Finally, why should we vote for you?
I’ve already been working to make changes to the welfare structure here at LUU and this is definitely something that I will carry on doing. With your help I’ll make sure Leeds University Union to be the shining beacon of how welfare support should be provided.
All Alan’s own.