Wednesday 26th January 2022

February is LGBTQ+ History Month, help us celebrate the great work of the membership!

SSS logo with LGBTQ+ colours

In the words of our LGBTQ+ Lead Carolina, “every month we focus on supporting the inclusion of LGBTQ+ sporting participants across Scotland”, now it is time to shine a spotlight on that work. This LGBTQ+ History Month, you can help SSS celebrate the great work of the membership alongside your student clubs, unions, and facilities.

Here are some ways you can get involved:

Student Club Spotlight

During the month, SSS is going to share at least one spotlight story each week from across the country that is doing good work within their club by creating a safe & inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ people – Do you have any clubs in mind? If so, please email your interest to Eilidh before Monday 14th February to be featured.

Rainbow Laces

SSS would like to donate our limited stock of Rainbow Laces to our members (max 100 pairs each) during this month with the only cost we ask to be covered being postage. The laces will be reserved on a first come first serve basis. If interested please email Eilidh.

Football v Homophobia Month of Action

FvH Grassroots is an initiative supported by Puma to get grassroots football clubs to take action to tackle LGBTQ+ discrimination in football throughout February, the Football v Homophobia Month of Action. We recognise this is an individual journey for each club, so the campaign pack will provide different ideas which clubs can adapt.

Find out more here.

Trans Active Glasgow & Edinburgh (NEW!)

LEAP Sports programs, Trans Active Glasgow and Edinburgh are friendly sport and physical activity groups where students and community members will have the chance to socialise with other trans people, make friends, and try out new things. Now new to the city of Edinburgh, find out more here.

LEAP Sports Corporate Cup

Would you like to enter a ten-pin bowling team, raise money for LEAP Sports and compete for the win in Glasgow? Find out more here but be quick, there are is limited number of space left.

Thank you to our partners LEAP Sport for continued assistance with our development within this area of work and to our LGBTQ+ Lead Carolina for the passion and expertise she bring to her volunteering role in SSS.

If you have any further questions, please contact our Inclusion & Culture Coordinator, Eilidh.

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Wednesday 12th January 2022

In an announcement exclusively made during the first BiteSSSize Best Practice webinar of 2022, SSS committed to pursuing and advocating for the Active Travel agenda through the Way to Work Pledge.

The BiteSSSize Best Practice series began 2022 focussing on Active Travel, as a key component of SSS’ ambitious new approach to Active Health. Active Health is an important strand in SSS new strategy and education around active travel will feature more going forward.

Patrick Harvie MSP was joined by Robyn Warburton from Paths for All, alongside Kate Lesenger and Adam Kesby from Sustrans. A wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience was expertly guided through the conversation by SSS’ Megan Richardson who leads on our Active Health work.

The panel discussed existing projects in Scotland and other European cities; examples were shared of practical examples of small changes with big impacts; and there were discussions on how to influence behaviour change and advocate for greater investment in the area.

You can watch the full webinar HERE!

It was also announced that SSS has signed the Way to Work Pledge, committing to supporting active travel in our workplace and community. SSS joins organisations such as Queen Margaret University, South Lanarkshire College and multiple NHS trusts in placing active travel at the forefront of staff wellbeing and healthier communities.

SSS pledge to embed a culture and environment that encourages our staff, members, volunteers and partners to choose active and sustainable travel as their first choice where possible, and ensure sustainability remains at the forefront of our work. Make sure to look out for our pledge on the Way to Work Pledge Wall and we hope to see yours in the future.

 

 

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Tuesday 7th December 2021

What better way to celebrate the new Active Health strand of our development work than having the first webinar of the New Year dedicated to Active Travel.

Active Travel is increasingly part of the sustainability agenda and we are delighted to bring the discussion on the subject to the SSS community. On 11th January, we’ll hear from experts in the field who will inform us of the latest developments and best practice.

The webinar panel will include Patrick Harvie MSP, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights. Patrick was elected to the Scottish Government in 2003 and has been Co-Leader or Co-Convenor of the Scottish Green Party since 2008. Patrick will share news on the governments agenda for active travel over the remainder of the current parliament.

Kate Lesenger and Adam Kesby from Sustrans will join the panel. Kate is the Project Officer for Way to Work, a Scotland-wide partnership project focusing on supporting workplaces across sectors to promote active and sustainable travel. The Way to Work website is a one-stop shop for employers and employees to find information on all things active and sustainable travel.

Adam is a Project Officer in the Workplaces team, based at Sustrans. The workplaces team engage with the full gamut of workplaces across Scotland from independent traders to large public bodies, trying to make it easier for everyone to walk, wheel and cycle. Some of the programmes Adam has worked on include the Scottish Workplace Journey Challenge, Active Travel Champions and the Cargo Bike Library.

The panel will also include Robyn Warburton, Senior Development Officer at Paths for All. Robyn leads on Smarter Choices, Smarter Places, a programme that supports Scottish local authorities to encourage more journeys by foot, bike and public transport

Some of key topics covered will be:

  • What is active and sustainable travel and why is it important for Scottish colleges and universities
  • The benefits of active and sustainable travel for employers and employees
  • Practical things you can do to create change
  • Where you can find funding, resources and inspiration

Sign up to attend the webinar by clicking HERE.

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Thursday 25th November 2021

Para-Swimmer and Edinburgh Napier University student Laura Pilkington, shares reflections on coaching, education, mental health, & overcoming challenges.

 

In a brand new SSS feature, Spotlight On, we caught up with our Disability Lead Laura Pilkington.

Laura is a para-swimmer and currently studies at Edinburgh Napier University.  She tells about her story so far, touching on education, mental health and overcoming challenges!  

Hi – I’m Laura Pilkington, and I am a para–swimmer for Falkirk Integrated Regional Swim Team and I’m studying Physical Activity and Health at Edinburgh Napier University. I am currently a member of the Scottish Disability Sport (SDS) Young Person’s Sport Panel and sportscotland’s Young Person’s Sport Panel as well as the Disability Lead for Scottish Student Sport. My journey has been more of a squiggle line than a straight one, but I have learned so much along the way, and looking back it has made me who I am today.

In 2016, I was starting the third year of Computing Science at the University of Stirling and I wasn’t enjoying it. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my future, and I felt so lost and alone. I eventually got some support and made the decision to drop out of university. I felt like a failure for giving up, but I also felt a lot of pressure on my shoulders. During that time, I really struggled with my mental health and didn’t see a positive future for myself. I wanted to highlight this before I talk about my leadership journey. It was never a straight path and if I told myself 4 years ago, I would be where I am now I would have never believed it.

After taking some time out and going abroad to Mallorca, I decided to get back into my studies. I started at Robert Gordon University studying Applied Sports and Exercise Science. It was at this point I wanted to do some coaching while I was there, Alison Shaw (Scottish Disability Sport Regional Development Manager) suggested I apply for the Young Start (YS) Programme within SDS. I got paired up with Kelly as my mentor who coached at Bridge of Don. I loved it, Kelly was great and really supportive and by the end of that year, I gained my swimming teaching qualification. Unfortunately, at the end of my first year at Robert Gordon University, I decided to take a leave of absence due to still struggling with my mental health. This was hard as although I loved the course, I still wasn’t in the right place mentally to be able to complete the degree. But having the teaching qualification from the YS programme allowed me to get a job and get some experience working while I figured things out. I loved the programme and took all the opportunities to go on courses and upskill myself.

In March 2020 the pandemic hit and the YS programme was moved online, this gave me a drive and something to work towards during that time and without that I would have struggled. I felt a sense of purpose and wanted to use that time to make a difference. During that time, I graduated from the YS programme as well as starting the Disability Wellbeing and Me project with fellow Young Start members. This was important to me as I struggled to accept my disability, especially at university and I wanted to use my experience and what I had learned to positively influence others.

In November 2020, I was accepted onto the sportscotland panel and even to this day, I still can’t believe I got through the selection process. Raising awareness of the positive impact of sport and getting more people involved is so important to me. We are now in our subgroups, which I am in the PE, Education, and Schools. I am also Scottish Student Sport’s Disability Lead, so far we have run an event for individuals transitioning from school to higher education (see below). It can be such a challenging transition and having an open space to talk about it is so important. Within the SDS Panel, I have been involved with the Comms and Branch subgroup, raising the profile of opportunities available to young people with a disability.

It can be hard combining training with 3rd year at university, but I am part of Napier’s Dual Career programme which is great in supporting me and allowing flexibility within my studies. This time around I am so much happier studying something I love and enjoying training in the pool.  It is difficult to admit that something isn’t right for you but taking that brave step and making a change can be the best thing. I still have hard times, but I am getting better at asking for support. I used to never think I was capable of all the things I am doing now but I am so glad I made the first step in saying yes to an opportunity instead of no. Getting involved in leadership has made such a difference in my life.

Scottish Student Sport would like to thank Laura for sharing her personal story with us. If you have any questions for Laura or how to encourage students with disabilities to take part in student sport, please email Development Coordinator Eilidh Paterson

If you would like to be featured on “Spotlight On” or know someone inspirational with a story to tell then please get in touch.

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Friday 19th November 2021

Scottish Student Sport is delighted to welcome Kevin Harper as the new Equality Steering Group Chair.

We are delighted to announce Kevin Harper as the new Chair for the SSS Equality Steering Group.

Kevin was a professional footballer from 1992 to 2009. The former Hibernian FC striker was the first black player to play for the Hibs, before going on to have a successful career with several English clubs including Premier League sides Portsmouth, Derby and Stoke. Kevin is also the founder of the Kevin Harper Football School of Excellence and is a passionate diversity and inclusion advocate.

As Chair, Kevin will provide support and future direction for the group, and be an advocate of equality and diversity within student sport to the wider network.

Speaking to Scottish Student Sport, Kevin said: “I am absolutely delighted to be the Scottish Student Sport’s new Equality Chair. I have been championing equality within Scottish sport and society for over 25 years and I will do my utmost in the role to make student sport in Scotland, open to all.”

Speaking on the appointment of Kevin, SSS Chief Operating Officer, Stew Fowlie, said: “I am delighted to welcome Kevin to a position of such vital importance to the SSS team. Kevin has a well-informed passion for equality and diversity, and as someone who has faced barriers throughout his own life and career, I know he will provide leadership and inspiration both to our Equality Steering Group and the wider network. I am excited to work alongside Kevin to achieve the cultural and systemic progress required to make sure that sport and active health are truly at the heart of the student experience for all.”

SSS Development Coordinator Eilidh Paterson added: “I am very excited to work alongside Kevin and continue to achieve the outcomes in the current Equality Action Plan and have his experience to assist SSS to look to the future as to what we should be achieving long term.”

The SSS Equality Steering Group

The Scottish Student Sport’s Equality Steering Group was created in 2018 to advise and prompt the staff, committees, and networks of SSS on all relevant aspects of equality and inclusion, with particular emphasis on ensuring adherence to a rolling Equality Action Plan for the organisation.

Kevin joins the group as Chair as they reach mid-way through their annual Equality action plan which will continue to steer the work of the current group (see below): 

  • Emmanuel Akerele – Ethnicity Lead & Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, Robert Gordon University
  • Georgia Moran – Women’s Lead & East Regional Development Officer, RYA Scotland
  • Laura Pilkington – Disability Lead, Scottish Para-Swimmer & student at Edinburgh Napier University
  • Carolina Sousa e Sá – LGBTQ+ Lead & Project Officer Communities, LEAP Sports Scotland
  • Keith Macleod – Institute of Sport & Exercise, University of Dundee
  • Fraser Reynolds – Edinburgh Napier Student Association
  • Jenny Beedie – University of Glasgow Sport Union
  • Ian Lowe – Head of Development, SSS
  • Eilidh Paterson – Development Coordinator, SSS

Scottish Student Sport would also like to take this opportunity to thank our outgoing Equality Steering Group Chair and Dr. Robin MacPherson Award winner Barabara Lawson for her expertise and dedication to this work over the last three years.

If you would like to discuss your or SSS’ equality and culture work in more detail, please contact Development Coordinator Eilidh.

 

 

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Monday 29th March 2021

CASE STUDY | How Scottish Student Cycling kept students active, motivated and engaged during the cold, dark winter!

Spring has sprung – gone are the cold,dark winter nights. Replaced with longer, brighter and more hopeful days ahead.

The changing season is very much welcomed, with the easing of restrictions of the next couple of months proving a glistening light at the end of the tunnel. Whilst the winter months were a challenging time for all, there was plenty of golden nuggets of refreshing innovation within the student sporting world to look back on. This extract focuses on our Scottish Student Cycling community and how they spun a negative situation into a positive one.

With in-person, cycling events cancelled for the foreseeable future, the Scottish Student Cycling community led by SS Cycling Chair Aaron Johnson pulled together taking it in turns to host virtual rides, jumping from institution to institution to provide a virtual competitive offering and giving students the opportunity to keep active and motivated throughout the winter.

Scottish Student Cycling Chair, Aaron Johnson writes

Between November and March, 10 different university cycling clubs across Scotland, took on the responsibility of hosting weekly virtual cycling rides (meet-ups), with the support of SS Cycling. Meet-ups took place on the virtual cycling platform, ‘Zwift’. Each week, a different club would delegate a member who would be responsible for creating the meet-up, organising the route and sending invites to fellow students.

A total of 38 participants took part across the various meeting – engaging both current students and alumni members. The highest turnout saw 18 participants tackle one of the hilliest routes on Zwift and was hosted by RGU student, Jamie Chree.

Students were able to use these meet-ups as an opportunity to socialise and engage with clubs, something that has not been possible in-person this year, due to the Covid pandemic. A lot of students also used this an opportunity to fit in a workout, whilst still being able to ride with a group.

The overwhelming response from students and competitors was very postive. Speaking to SSS, Louise Smith (University of Stirling) said:

“I really enjoyed the whole experience! It was good to have a weekly session, knowing I was going to be on Zwift on a Tuesday evening. It was great to be able to chat with students from other universities too. It also helped to fill the hole, that the lack of group rides has left in my life.”

Aaron Blackwood (University of Aberdeen), enjoyed the social aspect of the meet-ups and believes the format has long term potential. He said:

“The SSS Zwift meet-ups gave me a great opportunity to get to know fellow cyclists from across Scotland, at a time where meeting up in person was not possible. The laid-back format with different universities hosting every week really helped to personalise the meet-ups rather than just having a single host picking the routes every time. Even after the pandemic is over I could still see the benefits of running similar events!”

Honourable mentions go to Aaron Blackwood (University of Aberdeen), for never missing a meet-up and even hosting one himself.

Well done to all the students and institutions who took part in meet-ups! Going forward the Scottish Student Cycling team are hoping to build on the momentum gained from the winter events and provide an even better event offering for the 2021/22 season and beyond!

 

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Tuesday 23rd February 2021

Our Equality Steering group have recruited four new volunteers onto the group. Meet our Women’s, Ethnicity, LGBTQ+ and Disability Leads here!

The Equality Steering Group was established to advise and prompt the staff, committees and networks of SSS on all relevant aspects of equality and inclusion, with particular emphasis on ensuring adherence to a rolling Equality Action Plan for the organisation. Meet our four new volunteer leads!

Emmanuel Akerele, Ethnicity Lead

Meet Your LeadMy name is Emmanuel, after serving for two years as Robert Gordon University’s President for Education and Welfare, I am now their Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Advisor working within the HR Team. I love and play football and I am very passionate about equality, diversity, and representation within sports and wider society.

What attracted you to the role? I know that still racism exists, having experienced it myself and hearing of others’ experiences. It is imperative that everyone be anti-racist, and act against racism until it is completely eradicated. During my studies, I co-founded RGU’s Black Liberation Network which is a network of students coming together to take a stand against racism. I have also led several activist campaigns in the past such as Black History Month and hope to add more value to the subject through SSS.

Fun fact about yourself? I love football and I love scoring goals. I am a big boxing fan and my favourite sportspersons are Cristiano Ronaldo and Anthony Joshua.

 

Carolina O’Neill de Sousa e Sá, LGBTQ+ Lead

Meet Your Lead: I’m a Portuguese/American who grew up in Lisbon and has been living in Scotland since 2013. I’ve been an avid sportsperson for most of my life; taking every opportunity to get involved in sports teams, competitions, and outdoor activities. I studied at the University of Edinburgh – as an undergraduate in Sports Science and a Masters in Sport Policy and International Development.

Like most people, it was during my time at uni that I really came into my shell. One thing which definitely helped me was joining the Women’s Football Club. It was a place where I felt understood and like I could be entirely myself. It was during my Masters that I developed my passion for promoting equality and diversity through sport, particularly LGBTIQ inclusion. I now work as a Senior Project Officer for LEAP Sports (Scotland’s LGBTIQ sports charity) and Football v Homophobia Scotland.

What attracted you to the role? Student sport is a dynamic, fast-paced industry so I have always considered SSS to be an exciting organisation to be involved in. As for the role, this is a completely new role within SSS so it feels like a clean slate and something I can get creative with. LGBTIQ inclusion in sport is what I’m passionate about, and I’m really looking forward to working with students and sports clubs all over Scotland to make student sport a more welcoming space for all LGBTIQ people.

Fun fact about yourself? Not a fun fact, but my claim to fame is that I went to school – in Portugal – with Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier. He was in the year above me, and I used to play football with him during our lunch breaks.

 

Laura Pilkington, Disability Lead

Meet Your Lead: My name is Laura Pilkington and I was born with a disability called Brittle Bones disease. I am a current student studying Physical Activity & Health at Edinburgh Napier University. I am a competitive para-swimmer and have been involved in swimming for the last 10 years. I am part of the Scottish Para-Swimming team and have Scottish para-swimming records in my classification. I am currently part of both Scottish Disability Sport and sportscotland’s Young People’s Sport Panel. I am also a swimming teacher covering shifts when I have some free time!

What attracted you to the role? I am passionate about inclusion within sport and know how much being involved within sport can have such a positive impact on your life; mentally, socially, and physically. However, I know that there are barriers that prevent those with disabilities taking part. I think raising awareness of these barriers within SSS is really important as well as finding out how best we can promote inclusion within disability sport. Sport is such a big part of student life and having a disability shouldn’t stop you from participating in this! I am really excited to work with the team and SDS to increase participation.

Fun fact about yourself? I can lick my elbow!

 

Georgia Moran, Women’s Lead

Meet Your Lead: Hello, I’m Georgia, SSS’ Women’s Lead. I studied Popular Music at Edinburgh Napier University, where I got quickly involved in the Students Association for four years before being elected as VP Sports & Societies for two years after I graduated. I am now the East Regional Development Officer at The RYA Scotland.

Being VP Sports & Socs lead me to so many amazing volunteering opportunities within SSS such as Elected Students Forum Chair, Competitions, Equality and Executive Committee Member and Chair/Founder of the Women in Sport Working Group. I have a passion for Equality and Inclusion in sport and I can’t wait to continue making a positive impact on the Student Sport Sector with SSS and the rest of the Equality Steering Group.

What attracted you to the role? I am excited about this role as it will provide more positive impacts to happen within the SSS membership. I have chaired the Women in Sport Group from 2019, now and I am so excited to keep pushing forward with the rest of the team. I have loved volunteering with SSS the past couple of years and I believe this group will have some amazing outcomes.

Fun fact about yourself? When my mum and I were visiting Nashville, Tennesse we were invited on stage to sing a couple of country songs in one of the most famous bars.

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Thursday 26th November 2020

In what has been a difficult year for everyone, we are focussing on the good work that has been done across the country amongst these uncertain, challenging times. We asked our members to share some of their “COVID Highlights” and moments they have been proud of this year. Here is what they came up with 💙

Online classes, revamped facilities, virtual welcome fayres, free gym memberships, mental health and wellbeing resources, virtual socials and hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of fundraising – it is safe to say that not even a global pandemic could stop our members, partners and sports clubs from making a difference. Here are a few “COVID Highlights”  from our student sport community.

University of Strathclyde | Community Spirit & Fundraising 

Strathclyde Sports Union has not allowed the current pandemic to affect our community spirit and fundraising efforts. This semester we have witnessed sport member’s most creative thinking and determination to continue to play sport. After restrictions stopped them from training, our rowing club swapped their boats for bikes and completed a ‘Time-lapse Challenge’ in aid of Scottish Association for Mental Health charity. This consisted of a 25-hour cycling endurance event in teams of four, with an extra power hour being added due to the clocks changing. The challenge was completed online via Strava, so it was the perfect event to do as a club while adhering to covid regulations.

The club completed laps within Glasgow Green working in various shift patterns throughout the night. The club’s community spirit ensured that participating members were supported throughout – people chipped in to act as mechanics (attending to seven different punctures throughout the event) and chefs, baking plenty of sausage rolls to keep everyone fuelled. On completion of the event, the club raised an impressive £1195 with the teams cycling over 300 kilometres throughout the 25 hours.

Whilst indoor sports club training was halted, our Netball club showed incredible innovation and looked for an outdoor fitness solution. The club took their nets and set up at Strathclyde’s outdoor sports facilities, Stepps Playing Fields, utilising an old blaze pitch (pictured above). They set up their posts and lines, on a largely derelict space, to allow members old and new to step foot on a court. These training sessions saw even the most senior club members make their first-ever trip to the University facility, brave the cold and get to enjoy throwing a ball around again.

As part of the StrathActive programme, the club is currently running online zoom fitness sessions, allowing those that are bound by travel restrictions an opportunity to participate. The club runs two sessions at Stepps per week, ditching their shorts and t-shirts for baselayers and joggers. The sessions may look a little different but the club have really demonstrated resilience and a determination to play. #PlayTheModifiedGame

University of Glasgow | Wellbeing Resource & Makeshift Facilities

As lockdown began in March and our facilities as we know them closed UofG Sport immediately jumped to action to create a wellbeing offering for all of our students, staff and community. In a matter of days, we created a webpage and filled it with a range of content for everyone to access for free. Initially, we started filming classes with our amazing active lifestyle team and uploaded them for people to continue exercising no matter where they were based. The page went from strength to strength and now includes a whole range of information resources including nutritional advice, bodyweight circuits, home-workouts and couch to 3K training plans, meditation tips and links to support resources.

✔️Since March our wellbeing resource recorded over 10,000 clicks.

Another highlight at GUSA has been the new intramural programme to invite students to get involved in sport for free without restrictions of memberships. This has massively improved the student experience at a time when most other social activities have been restricted. To support these activities we have adapted our facilities where ever we can – turning our outdoor rugby pitches into volleyball courts and using an outdoor marquee to host the boat club.

✔️In the last month, over 550 students attended our brand new drop-in Badminton and Table Tennis sessions to replace cancelled sports.

 

 

RGU | Digital Content & Free Gym Memberships

To support our community to remain active and take time to look after their physical and mental wellbeing during lockdown, RGU SPORT created Stay Safe Stay Home Stay Well. An initiative that saw us work with departments across the university to give the RGU community free access to the breadth of our services. Over the course of 23 weeks, we offered daily digital content ranging from live classes and stretching sessions to mindfulness visualisations, showing our commitment to keeping our community well during the challenging times being faced.

On campus we continued to place our student wellbeing at the top of our priorities. We believe the benefits of physical activity and using the facilities at RGU SPORT extend through all aspects of University life, whether that’s improving physical and mental wellbeing, meeting new people, increasing motivation or potentially enhancing academic performance.

Due to the challenging time students are facing, we believed the opportunity of free membership for the remainder of semester one for all students, regardless of individual physical activity background, would be a great way for students to get active at RGU and maintain an active lifestyle in order to support a healthy body and mind, without having to worry about the cost.

This opportunity has been made available to all students, whether or not they have used, or even visited the gym before. RGU SPORT is a safe space for students with a team who are always on hand to support students in their physical activity journey.

University of Dundee | Active Living Programme & MND Fundraising 

In response to COVID-19, the ISE Active Living Programme delivery immediately moved online in March, with nine classes delivered weekly, supported by online member resources and guidance. Regular member circulars with updates, guidance and reassurance ensured that online class attendance was very positive, with over 40 participants for some classes.  The feedback from programme members, who are in the highest risk COVID category, has been overwhelmingly positive:

“The classes have been the best thing about lockdown. Apart from maintaining some degree of fitness, the classes have added some much-needed structure to our days.”

The success of the programme delivery resulted in its manager, Hazel Ednie, being shortlisted for the Evening Telegraph’s Dundee Champion Awards 2020

On the sports clubs front, over the summer, the Dundee University Men’s Rugby Club worked together with club alumni to complete 1,000000 reps of different exercises in support of Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA).

After 30 days of hard effort, the club successfully completed 1,027,746 reps and smashed their fundraising target of £2k, with a total of £3894 raised. The individual efforts of one member – who completed 6012 reps on the final day – highlighted the individual and collective efforts of the club and its commendable focus on those in greatest need.

University of Aberdeen | Performance Swimming  & Space Management Volunteers

After three months of lockdown, the possibility of elite swimming returning emerged in June 2020.  Working in collaboration with Scottish Swimming, colleagues from the University and Aberdeen Sports Village seized the opportunity to host one of three regional ‘Performance’ locations (Aberdeen, Edinburgh & Stirling).  Plans were initiated to mobilise quickly, with colleagues returned from furlough, documentation produced, COVID training undertaken, and building compliance ensured.

By 20 July all the necessary checks were complete and ASV was able to facilitate the successful return of elite swimming and diving to ASV’s world-class aquatic facilities.  This ensured that performance sport was able to resume six weeks before other aquatic activity in ASV.

Although initially open to only a handful of elite athletes, the high-performance programme helped enable the wider return to sport.  Alongside ASV and University staff, club volunteers, Scottish Swimming officials, and the swimmers tested our health-related and building-specific processes and procedures, with all seen to be robust. This bred confidence ahead of the return of both public and club swimming which took place in September. This highly collaborative exercise was undertaken with exceptional dedication and attention from all partners.

The pandemic related contribution of the sports staff at Scottish universities hasn’t just been about facilitating the resumption of student sport and maintaining facilities.  In Aberdeen, the specialist Sport & Exercise Team mucked in to help their Estates colleagues complete a vital institutional assessment of teaching spaces.

With Aberdeen Sports Village closed and most of its staff furloughed, the University’s small team of specialist sports staff were also furloughed through May & June.  However, when an opportunity came up that required adaptable, resourceful, and physically active staff to volunteer to support the wider University effort to reopen the campus … the sport and exercise team jumped at the chance to come off furlough two weeks early.

Armed with hand-sanitiser, masks, tape-measures, common-sense, and a giant bunch of keys, the team set out on the exercise.  They visited, measured and analysed every seminar and lecture room on the University’s Old Aberdeen campus.  Each room was assessed for various social distancing scenarios; furniture was counted, logged and moved to lay the rooms out in the optimal format; and a data sheet for every room was compiled.  Ten days and 100 rooms later an exercise vital to the timetabling of face-to-face classes in the autumn was complete.

University of Edinburgh | Wellbeing Offering 

Given the unique challenges of this year, student wellbeing has been at the forefront of all of our activity so far. Sophie Weeden, our Wellbeing Officer, has worked on creating a dedicated wellbeing pack for all club welfare officers. A huge amount of planning went into various EUSU campaigns across Mental Health and Wellbeing Week(s) across November. Our #LetsTalk video highlighting men’s mental health had over 28,000 views across all platforms; we are running Mind Athletics and Growth mindset workshops; and have created a brand new social media campaign.

Alongside this, many of our sports clubs have supported Movember and a number of other mental health-related campaigns during this time, highlighting the importance of student wellbeing across our membership. Staying with sports clubs, during lockdown a number of our sports clubs took the opportunity to fundraise for different charities, including;

  • The Boat Club raised £2500 for Alzheimer’s Society by rowing for 24 hours straight on an erg – breaking the Lightweight Tandem world record in the process!
  • Ladies Rugby raised over £2000 for SAMH, My Name’5 Doddie, and Coppafeel – by virtually cycling/running/swimming from BT Murrayfield to each of the 6 Nation Stadiums – a total of 1,900 miles in just 7 days!
  • Our cricket club raised over £3000 for Age Scotland – running/cycling/swimming the length of their planned summer tour – from Edinburgh to Barbados, in total a whopping 7,800 kilometres in 12 days!

Heriot-Watt University | The Watt Welcome Fair

The Watt Welcome Fair was a celebration of all that is good about a University environment. A Sports Fair is not new as a concept but in the midst of a pandemic, Heriot-Watt held its largest-ever fair (based on the number of stakeholders) at Oriam, Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre, with attendees from across the Heriot-Watt Community. These included the Sports Union, Students Union and Chaplaincy to name but a few. With so much activity around induction and welcome being online, the fair gave new students a much needed physical event to attend.

The planning for the event ended up being military level with every single detail scrutinised to ensure everyone’s health and safety was looked after. All key partner groups were part of the planning and delivery with over 100 volunteers from both the Sports Union Ambassador and Student Union helpers teams supporting the event.

Such was the success of the event, discussions have already started on how the 2021 event, with or without covid, will be bigger and better next year.

Once our new students signed up – our sports clubs activity took off! Our main highlight of this season so far has been our Movember campaign.Our Sports Clubs are doing a phenomenal job raising money for Movember this year – taking part in fitness challenges, growing moustaches and hosting socials, raising over £20,000 so far! We never would have thought that within a week we would’ve surpassed last years target of £14, so we decided to revalue our target to £25k.

Our HW Movember Ambassador Stewart Morgan is leading the campaign. Movember is a campaign close to his heart and he has been instrumental in raising money and awareness for the cause. He spoke with Mark Beaumont SSS Honorary President Mark Beaumont earlier this month about the campaign, chatting all things student life, motivation and the importance of speaking up about mental health. Alongside Mark, Stewart also interviewed Tongan Rugby Player Nasi Manu to discuss their experiences with Testicular Cancer in the hopes to encourage others to regularly self-check and take action if they feel something is not quite right! Stewart also managed to link in with external companies such as First Bus to advertise our campaign and John Pye to host a Movember Auction which has turned out to be very successful and raise awareness for such a worthwhile cause.

As well as fundraising through growing a moustache or doing exercise our Clubs have held socials too – both our Volleyball Club and Basketball Club hosted a virtual Bingo and Movember Quiz Nights to add to our ever-increasing total.

Everyone at Heriot-Watt is hugely proud of all our sports clubs who have built such a great community spirit together during the pandemic.

QMU | Food Pantry & Inclusive Movember 

Despite the disruption to the regular season, QMU’s Sports & Societies have joined forces to raise awareness and funds for Movember 2020. But it hasn’t just been moustaches! Students from a diverse range of sports & societies such as Men’s Rugby, Netball, Hockey and Musical Theatre have all shared a common goal in challenging themselves to get active, completing ‘5K per day’ challenges throughout the month – raising the profile and awareness of men’s physical and mental health. In just twelve days they raced past last year’s fundraising total of £3,500, an immense achievement in the current circumstances. 

 

Also on campus, recognising the additional pressures that the pandemic has put on students finances in particular a group of QMU students worked with local partners Cyrenians and QMUSU to develop QMU’s first-ever food pantry! This student-led project aims to provide healthy, quality food and ingredients to students, in an affordable and accessible way. The first of its kind in Scotland, and possibly the UK, the Food Pantry has been a huge success in its opening months and has become a must-visit for students living on campus!

University of St. Andrews | Charity Work

In line with COVID restrictions, the St Andrews Hockey club has been able to provide regular hockey activity throughout the first semester of 2020/21  in a safe and competitive environment. We have had a record number of students join the club, consequently expanding our squads to 8 women’s teams and 3 men’s teams. We were also able to host pitch sessions for freshers in line with national and university guidelines, giving them the opportunity to meet new people in a safe environment. We are thrilled with the positive attitude everyone has brought to training this semester.

Since May the club has been actively raising money and supporting charities that are close to the club. In May, members ran over 4,500km and raised £4131.76 for SAMH as part of our ‘Run 4 SAMH’ challenge – a challenge which will be completed again next year and hopefully become a new tradition for years to come. Students participated in ‘Green Week’ by hosting a virtual veggie cooking competition, using reusable bottles and more sustainable transport decisions. The club is currently participating in Movember, encouraging the ‘run and chat challenge’ as well as some moustache growing. As of today, the club has have raised £4,138 and ‘moved’ 2345.15km.

We have loved hearing all your positive news stories over the last few weeks. All of this work only scratches the surface of the hard work and countless hours the student sport community have put in throughout this unusual year. We are so proud to be able to showcase this fantastic work from our members. If you have a good news story you would like to share with us please contact Communications Coordinator Gavin Rittoo on gavin@scottishstudentsport.com.

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Wednesday 30th September 2020

SSS are delighted to confirm that the Healthy Body Health Mind programme has secured funding from the Scottish Government for an additional three years! Read the full story here.

Scottish Student Sport and the Scottish Government have agreed a three-year commitment to Healthy Body Healthy Mind, ensuring the project work will continue into 2024.  Alongside ASH Scotland and NUS Scotland, SSS will be working to support Scottish institutions to deliver a campus with physical activity, mental health provision and smoking prevention at its core.

The landscape of education is now very different, with student mental health and well-being playing a more critical role than ever to the student experience and wider society. The Healthy Body Healthy Mind programme aims to bring about a positive change to the institutions working towards an award. Working alongside physical activity and smoking prevention we can all improve Scotland’s recovery.

To gain a Healthy Body Healthy Mind Award students’ associations, sports unions, colleges and universities must work together on a project that brings about practical changes across the whole institution. These changes include activities that make progress towards smoke-free campuses, improve uptake in sport and recreational programmes, and better signpost student and staff communities to practical support and resources around positive mental wellbeing.

The three-year commitment gives institutions the opportunity to work towards their achievements at a pace that works for them. This new flexible and supportive approach has been welcomed by the current cohort of institutions. The aim is to ensure that institutions achieve their level with the support and help of the project team who comprise of SSS, ASH Scotland and NUS Scotland.

At the moment, 15 institutions are currently engaged with HBHM, equating to 40% of institutions in Scotland! The door is always open and SSS will always welcome any new sign-ups. More information on HBHM and how to sign up on how to sign can be found here.

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Monday 29th June 2020

The CHANGES: Train the Trainer programme is designed to up-skill staff in the network to deliver awareness workshops to clubs in an attempt to tackle the challenge of initiation and hazing activity within student sport. Read more about the partnership, and the work done so far.

As of August 2019, the SSS and CHANGES partnership, led by Professor Moira Lafferty (University of Chester) and her colleague Dr. Caroline Wakefield (Liverpool Hope University), continue to work towards a joint aim of making student sport safe and inclusive for all. Together we are continuing to work towards the commitments set out in the partnership agreement alongside the CHANGES trainers, Development Committee, and Equality Steering Group.

So far the partnership has hosted two Train the Trainer programmes which has led to the upskilling of 17 student sports staff across five regions of Scotland. In February this year, SSS invited the trainers to a CHANGES networking and planning workshop to discuss the journey so far and future steps. Amongst other things, the trainers made it clear a third train the trainer programme was required to reach the target of training all student sports clubs in Scotland.

Train the Trainer Course

The third Train the Trainer will take place on Friday 23rd October in Edinburgh. The deadline for signing up is Monday 19th October at 12:00. Professor Lafferty’s research highlights the advantages of having external staff deliver the CHANGES workshops to student clubs. The overall aim is to be in a position where we have developed a large enough workforce so that institutions are able to support one another to train up all our 614 clubs in the network.

Please note that we are mindful of the challenges Covid-19 may bring with delivering this course. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep up to date with public health guidelines so that we can take all the necessary steps to ensure the safety of those involved.

📲Sign up here for the next CHANGES: Train the Trainer course.

Michael Webster from the University of Edinburgh, participated in the training last year and from that, co-delivered a workshop to over thirty sports club members.

He said: “The Train the Trainer course was engaging, informative and eye-opening. The effects of hazing and negative group events can be catastrophic, so to have the ability to deliver workshops with the aim of positively influencing the culture of student sports clubs, feels incredibly impactful, and fulfilling on a personal level.”

“The tools and techniques from the course have allowed me to frame conversations around looking to the future, creating new traditions, and utilising team-building techniques to create inclusive, positive, and safe welcome activities.”

The current list of available trainers can found below and will be updated after the October Training.

Tayside, Fife, and Grampian Regional Trainers;

Eamonn Laird, University of Dundee – e.y.laird@dundee.ac.uk

Ellen Morrissey, Robert Gordon University – e.morrissey@rgu.ac.uk

Claire Scott, University of St. Andrews – cls25@st-andrews.ac.uk

South East Regional Trainers;

Fraser Reynolds, Edinburgh Napier University – f.reynolds@napier.ac.uk

Craig Bodel, University of Stirling – craig.bodel@stir.ac.uk

Amy Beattie, University of Stirling – amy.beattie1@stir.ac.uk

Michael Webster, University of Edinburgh – michael.webster@ed.ac.uk 

Bethany Lawrie, University of Edinburgh – Bethany.Lawrie@ed.ac.uk

Catherine Wilson, Heriot-Watt University – catherine.wilson@hw.ac.uk

West Regional Trainers;

Iain Christie, the University of the West of Scotland – iain.christie@uws.ac.uk

Seona McKenzie, University of Strathclyde – seona.mckenzie@strath.ac.uk

Jamie Taylor, University of Glasgow – Jamie.Taylor@glasgow.ac.uk

Scottish Student Sport Staff;

Gavin Rittoo, Scottish Student Sport – gavin@scottishstudentsport.com

Nicola Scott, Scottish Student Sport – nicola@scottishstudentsport.com

Megan Richardson, Scottish Student Sport – megan@scottishstudentsport.com

Neil Rankin, Scottish Student Sport – neil@scottishstudentsport.com

 

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