The role of Welfare and Community officer is incredibly varied, so while this may be a day in my life, none of our work days seem to ever be the same! There’s always something new to be working on, new challenges coming up and exciting projects beginning which makes it really interesting, but often quite hard to get into a routine around. Obviously with the pandemic, working from home has meant our days are more structured around when we’re on our laptops, and while this has been difficult, the sabb team have all continued working really closely together despite everything. So here’s a day in the life of the Welfare and Community Sabb at the moment - working from home version!
Unfortunately, I am not a morning person! If I haven’t had a cup of tea and some toast before work I struggle functioning, so it’s always a bonus when I get up in time to have a pre-work mug of tea and a catch up with Esme (AEP Sabb!) or start work a little later in the morning. If I’m feeling adventurous and the weather is nice, I’ll make it out of the house for a quick walk around the block or up castle mound to get outdoors before work.
By now I’m usually settled at our kitchen table going through emails, replying to any facebook messages and checking any deadlines I have for the day or the rest of the week. My to-do lists aren’t usually very well organised (Es used to complain when I would scribble notes and lists on the back of all her post), so this year I’ve promised myself to stick to one to-do list each day all in the same book to try and keep all my thoughts in the same place.
I will often have a meeting to get to in the morning. I really enjoy morning meetings because I feel they kick-start the day with engaging conversations about things I’m working on, or things we need to respond to as a sabbatical team. I always find they are a good way to structure the work we may be doing for the rest of the day or week. Even just a 20-minute catch up with someone will always lead to exciting plans and ideas!
By this point in the morning, I will be half way through my huge pot of tea and getting through my to-do list for the day. Recently, I have been writing lots of resources with some of the other sabbs on topics such as private renting during covid-19, supporting students through lockdown or isolation, or the Winter Holiday Activity Guide! Once a week we have meetings with UCU at this time where we catch up on campaigning plans, issues we’re all working on, or going through agendas for meetings we’re attending together.
I’ll often have papers to read for a committee in the afternoon or later in the week, so I’ll put some music on and power through those committee papers. At the moment, I’m sitting on various Wellbeing and Mental Health committees, where I’ve been pushing for the Collegiate University to take preventative measures to improve the mental health of students. With covid-19, a lot of the work I’ve been doing has also been lobbying colleges to take a more proactive approach when supporting students with isolation, loneliness, discipline and academic or financial issues so this usually feeds in here too.
1.00PM - Lunch time!
At lunch time we’ll close our laptops, switch the radio on full blast and have a boogie round the kitchen while we make our lunch. We go through phases of different lunches - in summer it’s usually sandwiches or in winter eggs or homemade soups seem to be our go-tos. Our household usually gets together to eat lunch which means we all get a break to chit chat and switch off from work for a while which is always fun. Sometimes if we have a spare 20 minutes we’ll go for a quick walk around the block or run to the shops to collect bits we’ll need later in the week. I’m really looking forward to the warmer weather and longer daylight hours of spring and summer, which will make it much easier to get outside after a work day.
In the afternoon I may have a committee or meeting to get to. On Mondays I attend the University’s Covid-19 response committee which responds to any issues which have come up across the University. A lot of the work the SU has done on our #DemandSafeCambridge campaign has been brought to this committee.
Often the meetings in the afternoon will last an hour or two, which means by 4pm I’m always ready for a cup of tea and a biscuit before tackling my last tasks before the end of the day. At the end of the day I try to tie up any loose ends or action points that I have been assigned during the day and tidy my email inbox. Another unexpected side-effect of the pandemic has been my role temporarily taking over the sexual health supply distribution. If I have a spare hour where I might not be very productive on my laptop, I’ll use it to check if any Welfare officer has requested a package of supplies, jump on my bike and deliver them to their college. Obviously this is not usually in the remit of the Welfare & Community officer, but I have enjoyed being able to get a quick bike ride into the work day.
In the evenings, there is often plenty happening for the SU. If I’ve started work a little later, it’s usually because I’ve got something to do in the evenings. This could be attending or running a training session, running a self-isolation drop-in session, or going to a campaign meeting to see how the SU can support and help out with any campaigning work going on. If I finish at 5pm, I’ll spend the evening relaxing at home, and try and turn my laptop off after a long day of staring at a screen. All of our household are keen cooks so one of us will be cooking something tasty for us all to enjoy after a long day!