Hey everyone, I’m the ‘welfare and community’ sabbatical officer and I’ll be taking you through a day in my life working at the SU. Each day is different but here’s a broad summary of what a day could look like.
9-10AM: I like to work as much of a 9-5 as possible, but it’ll change depending on the day. I cycle into the office and make myself coffee when I arrive - this first hour is often very quiet and I treasure that! I spend 30 minutes each morning checking my emails and Facebook messages. This is where I make my ‘to do list’ of unplanned things that have come up that need to be dealt with that day (e.g. reply to a student who wants welfare support, find answers to questions or discuss any university-related news stories that relate to my work).
10-12PM: This is where I’ll probably have some internal meetings with other sabbs or staff at the SU. I regularly catch up with members of the Student Advice Service to talk about welfare training or resources, and they let me know if they’re seeing a trend in welfare issues that I could tackle from a policy perspective. Recently I’ve been catching up with Eseosa to prepare for the UCU strikes. I also sit next to Elia in the office which is ideal because we always have work to update each other on (as Welfare and Disability sabbs, our work overlaps a lot).
12-1PM: This is when I start tackling that to-do list! A big part of working in a sabb team is supporting each other on our projects so a lot of my time is spent proof-reading work for other people, giving feedback or working collaboratively on things that aren’t necessarily in my ‘welfare and community’ remit. While this takes up time, it’s absolutely crucial if you want your team to all be on the same page!
1-2PM: Lunch time! Things can get really hectic as a sabb, so it’s really important to be strict about taking your breaks. I always bring a packed lunch and often sit in the SU lounge reading, or go for a walk around the fens to get some fresh air.
2-4PM: About once a week I have a big University committee which usually happens in the Student Services Centre (because mine are all welfare related, and this is where the Student Support Department is based). This was scary at first, but these days they’re mostly fine (if not a bit boring sometimes) as I’ve built relationships with some useful allies on the committees.
4-5PM: I’ll try to finish off my to-do list for the day and think about my campaign goals or other work I’m doing proactively. This could include planning out my ‘welfare forums’ or strategising about how we’re getting the University to agree to our ‘intermission’ campaign demands. As you can tell, a lot of sabb life involves having to be reactive to changing circumstances, responding to student requests, or moving at the University’s schedule. If you want to progress on your own initiatives you really need to schedule in time to do it!
Evenings: Although timings are broadly flexible, you have to work quite a few evenings as a sabb to fit around a student schedule. Every Monday during term time I work until 8 or 9pm due to SU Council or Exec. I tend to work 2-3 evenings each week (with forums, events, or community campaign meetings). I counteract this by coming in late in the morning, and have enforced a firm rule on myself: NO WORK ON WEEKENDS WHATSOEVER!
Of course, some days are much more relaxed and others are much busier, and term time is significantly more fast-paced than out-of-term. If you have any questions about the role feel free to let me know!