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Current Pendle College Vice President (Welfare and Community) and former JCR Women’s Welfare Officer Becky Cook is passionate and enthusiastic about working within the remit of Welfare and Community to help her fellow students and encourage them to help others.
“I love doing welfare, and I love helping people. I can’t imagine working in a job without supporting people or helping people,” Cook explained.
Cook’s approach is multi-faceted: she aims to promote the ethos of community within the individual colleges, across the university as a whole, and in such a way as to reach out to Lancaster locals and improve their perception of Lancaster University students.
In advocating a shared responsibility for welfare and community, Cook hope that students will experience a greater sense of belonging and feel less isolated should they experience any problems whilst away from home. She has specific ideas regarding the difficulties individuals face in asking for help, and suggests that one possible solution, about which she has already begun consulting and canvassing student opinion, would be to establish an anonymous online contact form for students wishing to seek help and advice without seeing a Students’ Union officer face-to-face:
“One thing that I really want to do is engage those students who aren’t engaged – help those who don’t want to be found, who are sitting alone dealing with their problems without anyone to talk to.
“They’re very hard to contact…they’re not the people who reply to emails asking, ‘Are you OK?’ What I really want to do is create a properly anonymous messaging service online so they can make contact and be signposted to services such as the Counselling Service, or get information about what they can do.”
Cook aspires to motivate other students to engage with the local community by volunteering and becoming more involved with local charities. Having worked for the British Heart Foundation and Barnardo’s herself, Cook believes that encountering other peoples’ adverse situations motivates an individual to become involved in helping others and promotes a higher welfare standard across a community. She believes that connecting with individual students on a personal level as a Union officer would be “difficult, yet achievable”, and well worth the effort.
Determination and tenacity are qualities that Cook believes will serve her well in tackling the University about issues that may prove difficult or controversial. She also has advocates the notion of “positive welfare,” which emphasises the benefits of looking out for yourself and your fellow students rather than simply proscribing certain inevitable behaviours.
Cook encapsulated this idea with the following: “Welfare should be the foundation of everything we do at Lancaster, and should enable students to get the most out of their life here. Welfare should be the first consideration for everything LUSU does, but it should enable amazing things to happen, not restrict creativity.”