Your members and your management team are the most important part of your group; without them you don’t exist and so you need to recruit and take care of them to survive.
The My People section is designed to help you manage your people effectively and provides guidance on how to market your group, run effective meetings and handle grievance and disciplinary situations.
Mental Health Action Plan
Occasionally, we need support from our friends, family and colleagues. It's only natural. As a committee member, you might find that students will come to you, both as a friend and as a representative of the Students' Union. It's really important that you are prepared to take the right steps to support them in a positive way.
Being Prepared - Your Action Plan
- Remember your responsibilities:
You give your time as a Committee Member because you enjoy bringing people and together. We know that you're a good person! The problem is that you cannot help a person in crisis on your own. Your role is to support and guide them to the most efficient forms of help they need at the time.
- Keep calm and do not panic:
This is likely going to be an emotional conversation for you and the member, so it is really important to take a deep breath and to remain calm. This reassures the individual that you are there for them and it was a positive action to reach out for help
- Listen actively, without interrupting:
Giving the individual the time, space and respect to be listened to will help in your understanding of what is the best thing to say to them at the time. There is no specific strategy to how you talk to them. It is a matter of taking your time to getting the most information you can and assuring them that you have head them.
- Avoid making assumptions:
You may have prior knowledge/experience to what the individual is going through, but that doesn’t mean they will be feeling the same way you did regarding this issue. Also, remember that what you see on TV is unlikely to be similar to the real world!
- Offer appropriate support:
Remember this is not your sole responsibility or within your abilities to offer complete professional support for any individual going through a crisis. You can be there for them by offering to take them to the professional services that they may need and to keep in touch with them regularly to see how they are getting on.
Understanding how to give support:
Imagine a box filled with sloshing paint. Each wall of the box is supported by a person, just how somebody in crisis might be supported by people around them.
The problem comes when one person stops supporting a wall of the box; paint goes everywhere and over everybody. This is similar to real life, you cannot support a friend 24/7 through a crisis but there are many services - both National Health and Charity provided - that are designed to do just this.
Looking after yourself - Your Action Plan
- Respect and Maintain Boundaries:
Being in a vulnerable position can lead individuals to depend heavily on others, and this is not within your responsibilities to abide by on any level. Maintain social boundaries with this person whilst letting them know that you still care for them.
- Talk to someone else:
Share your worries and concerns with another person who is not as involved with the situation so that you can be listened, understood and support.
- Ask for help:
getting others involved in supporting the individual in crisis can take a lot of the pressures you may feel when you are helping them. Gaining other’s help and advice on what to do to help this person is a good way of looking after your own wellbeing.
What if the person doesn't want to accept the help I offer?
You cannot force anybody to seek help, in fact where mental health is concerned, it's essential that they are ready to accept and embrace support. Forcing people can make things much worse very quickly.
Instead, simply be consistent. Remind them gently that support is available and where to find the help they need. Make sure that they understand you are able to listen but don't insist on talking about their problems.
More information and support
Posters can be put up in Union buildings with approval from the Student engagement team. They can be put up in University buildings as well, but run the risk on
being taken down if it’s not on a notice board or haven’t been approved.
White-tac should be used to stick posters up - no material should be used that results in causing damage to property.
Posters may be re-arranged by the Students' Union to accommodate a new poster. However, no poster in-date will be removed or covered.
Doors should not be covered, and posters should not be placed on glass or woodwork, or in stairwells due to health and safety.
Publicity may only be placed on external walls with the permission of the University Estates Department - posters that violate the University policy on safety are prohibited and will be removed.
A highly recommended promotional activity is to have an advert on the TV Screens in Ember Lounge, Verve and the Union Shops.
In order to have an advert on the TV screens, you must create a graphic which is 1920x1080 px. If your graphic does not fit these dimensions, it will not fit on to the TV Screen and cannot be uploaded.
Once your graphic is created, forward it on to firstname.lastname@example.org, who will approve it and send it on to the marketing team to be upload to the TVs.
When creating your graphic, bear in mind the size of the text and the colour of the background and make sure that the text is still legible from afar.
The webpage you’re assigned on the union website can often be the first impression that a new student and/or prospective member has of you can your group, therefore it is in your best interest to put some time and effort into make the page the best it can be.
Text – inform the new user of what your group does, but keep it short, snappy and to the point.
Tell them when you meet you meet up, what you do and if they need to bring anything with them.
Pictures – if your student group has a logo, put it at the top of the page along with the title. A page full of text is off putting and difficult to read. Use pictures to break up the text and help you. This can be your opportunity to show off events and meet up footage of images that you have from the previous year.
Complaints and Grievances
Sometimes a member of your group, or even a non-member, might raise a concern or complaint with a member of your management team. You might have some problems to raise and so might even lodge a complaint yourself. This is nothing to worry about, when so many people with like interests come together it is only natural for a level of conflict to occur.
As part of your group’s management team you have a responsibility as a representative of the Students’ Union to ensure that grievances are handled effectively.
An effective way of managing complaints is to use HEART:
Hear them out, you cannot understand a complaint unless you hear it in full! Don’t interrupt and try not to be defensive (if you try to be defensive at this point, you won’t listen!)
Empathise, imagine yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself how you would feel and what support/guidance you’d want.
Apologise. You aren’t accepting that they are correct by apologising but simply acknowledging that they aren’t happy and showing them that you are sorry that this is the case.
Respond appropriately. Tell them what you plan to do next, explain the situation if you can.
Thank them for taking the time to speak to you. Feedback is invaluable (even the most ridiculous complaints can tell you something about your group) and you need to show that you appreciate the trust it takes to be willing to come forward with a complaint.
You’ll find that most complaints are easy to resolve and by giving HEART, you’ll have no major difficulties in your time as a student-group manager. However, if you have any serious concerns or wish to simply talk over a problem, feel free to contact the Student Engagement Team.
As a Students’ Union we are committed to providing high quality services to our members and to protecting our staff teams (whether voluntary or paid), members and visitors from unacceptable behaviour.
Unacceptable behaviour has the ability to destroy the reputation of your student-group and your Students’ Union, increase the number of complaints and grievances you’ll be required to manage and ultimately can result in your group closing, be it from lack of members or from an enforced closure.
The Staffordshire University Students’ Union Disciplinary Procedure defines which actions constitute unacceptable conduct and the process the Students’ Union will follow to manage them.
If you have any concerns regarding the conduct of any of your members, guests or supporters of your group, then please speak with a member of the Student Engagement Team.
Where any such behaviour immediately risks the health, safety, security or wellbeing of others, you are responsible for asking the individual to desist and seeking support from appropriate services (such as Security, Union Management or the Police).
As part of a Student-Group management team, you have absolute responsibility for ensuring that you do take action where necessary. Failure to do so is unacceptable conduct and may result in disciplinary action.