A day in the life: Welfare & Community Officer

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What does Welfare & Community even mean? Reflections and resolutions after six months in this job

It is difficult to know where to start. In an 800-year-old institution, a bureaucratic mess, where the workload is so high that most people are atomised into small bubbles and help can feel out of reach, the brief of ‘welfare & community’ is impossibly broad. 

The first thing I needed to do in this role was to accept this disorientation, which is why producing the SU’s Disorientation Guide has given me a clearer head for the work at hand. As I produced the guide I met so many of the people who do different aspects of this work, from student campaigns, to welfare staff in Student Services. I am trying to unlearn the Cambridge compulsion to do everything at once, to recognise the danger of burnout, and the joy of rest. This learning is taking time.

With new challenges every day, the disorientation guide has helped me focus my energy on a few projects, and to create a general resource for projects outside my capacity. Choosing a few projects is not because I believe these are the most pressing issues affecting students right now – although they are all, in their way, extremely urgent – but because this is where I can be most useful in my remaining time in this role. This is just a brief overview at the halfway point.



What spaces facilitate care and collaboration in the University? What spaces can we reimagine?

Things I’m doing:

  • Co-creating the ‘Futures of the Estate’ competition with The Cambridge Room and the Reshaping Our Estate Team

  • Creating participatory pop-ups and events

  • Hosting exhibition of best competition in March

  • Create a presentation on findings and recommendations 


(In the absence of an SU bar, I’m also really keen to get a pool table for the SU, so I am bringing a motion to SU Council next Monday!)


Harm reduction

What would a University which supports students experiencing problematic substance use look like? 

Things I’m doing:

  • Learning about how students experiencing problematic substance use are treated in the collegiate university

  • Researching policies and meeting leaders in UK universities promoting harm reduction

  • Taking a paper to Joint Wellbeing Committee to implement harm reduction policy in the University and encourage colleges to do the same


Demilitarisation (CN: Military violence)

How are our educational institutions complicit in military violence? How can they support students and divest from industries of harm?

Things I’m doing: 

  • Producing divestment action pack for colleges

  • Holding spaces for students affected by military violence

  • Support student information-gathering and campaigning



How can the University make finding housing easier for students (especially postgraduate students:

Things I’m doing:

  • Working with University stakeholders to map available housing, begin assessing student renting conditions and streamline communications (project launched by my colleague Ani)


Disciplinary procedures

How can disciplinary procedures foster justice? How can we prevent and repair harm across the University:

Things I’m doing:

  • Creating Disciplinary Reform Action Group (DRAG) demands

  • Working with Rosie to map College procedures and creating an accessible guide for students looking to report harm

  • Creating a student safety pledge/manifesto for colleges, encompassing college welfare procedures and policies (harm reduction, porter recruitment, fitness to study, and more)



Workers are the backbone of this University – how can we fight with them for the pay and conditions they deserve?

Things I’m doing:

  • Supporting any workers striking for better pay and conditions in the University

  • Working towards getting union recognition in the SU


Students Not Suspects

How does Prevent legislation criminalise students and how can we resist it in colleges?

  • hosting a forum to discuss student experiences of Prevent and how we resist it in the University

  • To survey students about the impacts of Prevent on their education and wellbeing, thereby gathering data about the chilling effect of the duty. 

  • To work with students to take action against Prevent, including writing a report on the operations of Prevent in Cambridge and gathering information from the University and Colleges.


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