As we move closer to the start of the 2020/2021 academic year, we at the Student Union feel it is important to be as transparent as possible about the likely impact government measures to protect health will have on our activities and services. The Student Union acknowledges the many challenges that we must strive to overcome and adapt to, and what that means to the expectations of our new and returning student members.
Ultimately our aim is to ensure that students are safe and protected from undue risk, while providing as much of the full range of our extra & co-curricular opportunities as is practicable across our Education, Welfare, Activities and Services Zones. We are dedicated to representing and supporting students, and ensuring that they have the opportunity to get the absolute most out of their student experience at Winchester.
Under current government guidelines, it is very unlikely that we will be able to run large scale social events in the same way that we usually would. We are currently looking at alternative options for students during this period and can assure students that we will be providing many opportunities for interaction, both virtually and physically.
Our new ‘Not Just Bop’ Podcast from Winchester Student Union, will allow students to keep up-to-date with all the latest news from their SU, whilst providing support and promoting opportunity for the Students of Winchester. Students can keep up to date by subscribing and listening on Spotify and Apple Podcasts!
Winchester Student Union hosts an annual Freshers Fayre event to showcase everything Winchester has to offer to both new and returning students. Typically attracting over 2,500 students, the usually in-person event will be reformatted for 2020 based on Covid-19 guidance surrounding large scale events. We are adapting the event to be a virtual fayre, hosted via our website and Microsoft Teams, and supported with scheduled promotion via our website and other communication channels over the whole of the fresher's period - We are excited about these changes and the opportunities they afford all participants.
Winchester Student Union will be utilising its website, winchesterstudents.co.uk, to create Fayre 'stalls', listings that will have all the information students might need, to find out about an opportunity or join an activity group.
We've also tried to keep elements of the fayre as true to the real-life experience (minus the crowds) as is possible. The virtual fayre, will include a greeting for student attendees recorded by our sabbatical officer team, along with an interactive list featuring the different categories of fayre stalls; Union activity groups (sports, societies, networks), University, Charity and Community. This is in addition to live Q&A chats hosted via Microsoft Teams where stall holders can interact with students during the hours that the physical fayre would have taken place.
We are also hoping to offer some face-to-face opportunities for students to find out more about our activity groups. This may involve a small number of stands at a time in The Vault over a week-long period, adhering to social distancing.
The format of some activity may change but wherever possible all our activity groups will continue to run and will accept memberships from students to participate. Where an activity or group is specifically unable to undertake their usual activity due to government guidelines or safety measures, the Union will work with them to support alternatives.
Throughout July we will be speaking with the leadership teams from all activity groups to work with them to establish any guidelines or restrictions the groups will need to adhere to. We pride ourselves in being open to all students and strive to make our activity groups as inclusive as they can be – we encourage students to make contact with us if they have concerns that prevent them from participating.
We recognise that this year student representation will be more important than ever! In September we will be launching our new online student voice platform, ‘Unitu’, which will help students to raise issues and feedback on their course. We have also developed comprehensive online training for our StARs and Student Chairs for those who are shielding, in self-isolation or unable to attend physically. StARs will still be elected across programmes in September/October – students can ask their Programme Leader or the Student Union for more details at the start of the semester.
The Student Union Advice Centre has been operating a successful remote service since March 2020, offering online video appointments via Microsoft Teams, telephone appointments and support via email. We will be able to continue to offer an online service as required throughout the year. From September it is likely we will be able to offer face-to-face appointments on an individual basis with social distancing measures in place.
The Advice Centre Freebie Bin will still be available on campus, but we are currently exploring ways we can offer a local delivery service of these items for students who are shielding or self-isolating.
At this stage, we cannot say for certain what our Student Recharge Days will look like, but rest assured we will continue to run Recharge Days (be that on campus, online, or a mixture of both) to help students take a break from studying and focus on their wellbeing. We will also be increasing wellbeing content even more across our social media channels.
Due to social distancing it is very likely that we will continue to use Microsoft Teams to conduct our democratic meetings, including elected officer meetings and zone meetings and forums. In many ways meetings via this method is more effective, and convenient to participants.
The national student discount card and app will still be available from Totum.com with a range of discounts and leisure options. These cards can be delivered straight to your door.
We are looking into the suitability of our shop product range for both home delivery and click and collect.
All 3 laundry locations will be open, but will be subject to social distancing measures and additional cleaning measures will be in place.
The Terrace Bar will be open week days for Costa coffee and other refrshements, as well as at select events and other times.