Your LSU Action Section Chair Candidates!

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Label Editor Anna Cooper, interviewed candidates Tom Calcuth and Jodie Evans on their ideas for Action! 

Tom Calcuth

What are the main points of your manifesto?

First off, I’d like to reproduce and reinvigorate the family and social aspect to the community within action but also in the wider community. We want to see more captivating project leaders and feel part of this social atmosphere within action. Through collaborating we can increase retention of volunteers as well as empowering as leaders and student volunteers.

My second point is all about developing better feedback and better appreciation to our volunteers. I think that we don’t see enough thanks from both at the top of the section and at the very bottom through our partners that we work with. People are so used to the structure of action and feel we don’t appreciate our volunteers. This needs to stem from the top and we need to encourage those who want to be part of section, but also, we want to get more people into the section. One of the biggest back ways you can get people into this section is getting someone to bring a friend along and people don’t care about that anymore – we need to reinvigorate that part of the section. It’s not just about the operational side of things, it’s not just teaching them how to do a post and teaching them how to get out and knock on doors, it’s about developing them as leaders and showing them how to target different populations of market properly. Then finally it’s about producing from the top, marketing that is designed for the different populations of the University. We have three sports projects, two of them are barely working! That seems crazy to me, we need to market properly and target people like CVA that we just we lost connection with and also AU Clubs.

At the minute is it a bunch of projects but we have this one marketing policy for everybody and it is not working. We need to be directing attention towards different populations for certain projects and producing different ways to market these to a changing demographic. There’s no point just providing projects and opportunities just for a general student, because there is no such thing as a general student. Everyone has their own beliefs everyone has their own hobbies interests and we need to be marketing to those people and producing opportunities for those groups.

What experience do you have that makes you suitable for the role?

I’ve been within action throughout my time at Loughborough. I started as a hall rep and I’ve been a project leader now for three different projects spanning two different sections as well as being the vice chair for the section this year. I’ve got a very niche perspective on the structure as a whole. I’m not just an expert in one section of action but I’ve got my finger in all the different parts and I have an appreciation from being vice chair as now that I see a lot of the background stuff that most people don’t see. I’ve also got experience as a student leader as a hall chair and a section chair in throughout my time in Loughborough. That’s taught me a lot of very key student leader skills. It’s marketing and it’s appreciating the students as just general students an understanding that they will have their different interests. I’ve spent a lot of time being the section head for FREEC which is a section that not a lot of people care about, so trying to rebirth the section into a new way that we were doing at that last year, it took a lot of appreciation for understanding what people wanted and what people didn’t want. These student leader positions have given me a good perspective on understanding that all these students are different, and they don’t want the same thing – we need to target different people differently for different things.

How will you encourage hall and department participation?

The biggest thing is not differentiating between the two. I think everybody seems to come from one side or the other side. I don’t think we need to show that difference, what we need to do is incorporate all within the same family. We just show cross communication with both of them and produce 2-way feedback between the chair and all the student leaders in these positions as well as the volunteers. It’s not about providing separate opportunities for halls and separate opportunities for department and for our project leaders, it’s about creating one big family atmosphere that we can get them to collaborate and work together. Departments have a very difficult time getting engagement so half the time they are experts at that more so than the halls. If we can share that knowledge between the sections I think that’s a massive improvement in engagement in every aspect.

In the areas to get involved in, which is your favourite and why?

I wouldn’t be able to choose a favourite just because I’ve had experience throughout all of the section and love them all!

What projects would you like to create or really push to students?

We are a sports uni, we have so many experts in sports and sports engagement and project we could learn from. There are sports projects that they do in the local community that we have no clue about – how is that possible we are the volunteering section and we don’t know about these sports volunteers! I also think it’s very difficult for somebody to appreciate our overseas section without going on the projects. I went on one in my first and second year and I was project leader for it in my third year as well. The overseas section is so fragile with the nature of it being it recruits volunteers and the percentage of dropouts is awful and the amount we have to fundraise. It’s a wonderful section but it’s very fragile in the sense that it really varies year on year. With my connections with rag and this new charity that we’ve made a connection with we know the way forward for this section, we know how to make it more self-sufficient and more stable for future years. So, I think the overseas section is something that I’m very confident that we can improve and then sports is something that I really want to try and push to grow because we’re sports uni we need to provide opportunities for these sporting students.

If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be?

I’d be a Lotus because they’re just great and there’s a spread for them as well and they’re vegan!

 

Jodie Evans

What are the main points of your manifesto?

So, I want to burst the bubble – that’s around the stigma that when you help someone it’s only beneficial for them whereas I think it’s more beneficial for volunteer as well. Whether it be in personal social struggle or not leaving the house then they can get out. By volunteering it also helps with their employability a lot more as they gain transferable skills that they can put into their CV or use in interviews. I also want to burst the Loughborough bubble and get out into the community as when you’re out it has such a refreshing vibe!

Secondly, I want to improve awareness and communication of the section. I think a lot of people just think oh they just do gardening all the time but we have 50 different projects that people can get involved in and they help like loads of different aspects. We go to the alpaca farm, we help with the elderly, we help with children, you can get involved with some different cultures and age groups. I want to focus on communication a bit more so we utilise the social media so we can share with people what we actually do and I think that will help increase awareness.

Finally, I want to increase the inclusivity of the section as students who want to get involved and they don’t know how, we can reach out to them more through our department. We have the minority students and disabled students so we can work with them through welfare societies and just basically push to get more engagement from students and make our section available to everyone.

What experience do you have that makes you suitable for the role?

I was the first chemistry SIO in my first year and then I became Towers Action Rep in February of my first year and then because the girl took after me didn’t want run straight away because she didn’t really like hustings I stayed on for an extra month and helped them out with it. In my third year I became collaborations officer on the committee and kind of made my stamp on that, however, because of how much work collaborations officer has to do we said it’s too much for one student alongside their degree. We sat down and said right what was the main focus point for collaborations and it was a department focus, so we changed my role this year to departments coordinator.

How will you encourage hall and department participation?

In halls I think we already do quite a lot and if we keep educating them on the training it will continue to go well. We’ve got so many past good Rep come in and they do talks and basically show how they managed to get the engagement up in their hall. I know Rory Pears got his hall from something like 13th to 5th in less than a year and he was amazing, so we got him coming in to do a talking on his training session. I think by contacting a lot of alumni coming in and saying this is what I did you could try it too is good as for a lot of the halls and department stuff, a lot of trial and error. We’re getting a brand-new demographic of students who are a lot more academic so we’re trying to focus the Department projects so you’re using the skills from your Department. We have the investor experience project where you going to teach or subjects to primary school children and I feel like that’s probably the best way to get more departments involved.

In the areas to get involved in, which is your favourite and why?

I work with community outreach a lot; they have their special events like a cinema for the elderly. So many people came up and thanked us for it and they’re just so grateful. Also, I love the soup kitchen, as you’re in the community with other people. We get a lot of feedback and you can just tell how appreciative they are and being like first-hand like on that project seeing everything, seeing how they will react and I think it is one of more hands on projects as well, you really feel in the moment.

What projects would you like to create or really push to students?

I think our international projects need to be pushing out a bit more as we have absolutely amazing projects. You can be involved if you’re an international student and if you’re not, the section is very inclusive to everyone, for example the languages support scheme. Usually we can get around 30 volunteers if we plan ahead and everyone who goes says how much they loved them but if we can push him a bit more out into the community, we want to reach local resident with the language support scheme. We can teach the local residents the languages by international students and in turn the residents can teach the international students teach them some new English that they don’t know yet. It’s just a really wholesome project.

If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be?

I’d be the Fox’s cream ones as I feel they’re sweet and nice like me!

 

 

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