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Phil Blundell is running for VP Welfare and Community as mature student and post-graduate. “I believe,” he told SCAN, “that being disabled both physically, cognitively and mentally – my experiences can help others.
His experiences are broad: “Over the last 5 years I have been working as an advice and guidance officer at a local charity,” where his roles include “helping people with a whole range of problems – from mental illness through to benefits and advocacy at tribunals – when they’ve been sanctioned or when they’ve lost benefits for disabilities for instances.” How will this experience help him? “I feel that that has given me a good ground in being able to look after and support other people going through difficulties.”
Blundell knows that there are a huge variety of issues that face students today. That’s why he promises to be a “blank sheet” – “I’ll deal with whatever it is that comes through the door.” Acknowledging that he is not a welfare expert, he says he sees the role as one of a supporter: “I believe that you – the individual – are the expert of your own life. My job is to support you, find the best way for you to live your life while at University.”
International students often face additional difficulties at University and are less likely to be involved with Liberation groups or access LUSU’s services. Blundell believes he has the solution: “By going to them and asking them. I think that’s the problem today: we’re too caught up in waiting for someone to knock on our door and ask for help. Go to them. Ask them what it is that they need, what support they need. They’re the experts, not me.”
“I don’t see Brexit as a great problem,” he explains, “I think that it’s been put in the press so much that it now becomes a problem. Whether we’re in Europe or out of Europe it’s about what support they get here.”
On the issue of mental health, Blundell says: “Mental Health is not just for students it’s for everybody. We live in a society that is immediate. Everything used to take some time, which gave you some time to think about what is happening. We don’t get that any more. We get it immediately. That frightens people, so they need space and the idea is to give them that space so they can work out what’s best for them.”
Blundell wants to be there to listen to students going through whatever they’re going through: “The hardest part of people these days is that everybody’s too busy doing whatever they’re doing – and it’s just having somebody or somewhere that you can have just a conversation where you can have the maddest ideas that come through to your head and not be judged for it”
Blundell closes: “I haven’t got an agenda, I haven’t got a pet likes or pet hates. I’m just here to support. By voting for me, gives you that extra support.”
Trivia: Blundell could not name any liberation groups or PTOs – but says his short term memory “isn’t as good as it should be” and that’s why he struggles to name them.