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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Tuesday 30th June 2020

The SSS AGM took place virtually on Thursday 11th June 2020. Did you miss it? Catch up on everything you need to know here!

The 2020 SSS AGM took place on Thursday 11th June via Zoom webinar in what was the first (but perhaps not the last…?) of its kind for the SSS Tribe. Over 50 members from 16 institutions were able to tune in and whilst something was lost in the two-way face-to-face interaction, we also gained in some respects and the Chair is to be congratulated for bringing it all to a close within 62 minutes. Please click here for the official AGM minutes.

The meeting allowed for a bittersweet look back at the unusual year, which until mid-March had been going like a train, with a bumper year in terms of club activity at an institutional level, and event entries nationally. This appetite will surely stand us all in good stead as the subsequent lockdown begins to lift.

The AGM endorsed a sober but pragmatic approach to the 20-21 Academic Year in terms of SSS’ planned activities and finances, and approved a one-year plan that can get the organisation safely to next summer whilst still being well placed to deliver across every part of the business.

Some notable features of the revised plan include:

  • Carrying as little risk as possible, with modest aims around event entries
  • Shelving of all non-essential costs
  • Budgeting for a significant deficit on the year, equal to the current level of our non-fixed reserves
  • Offering up to a 25% discount on membership fees for those who need it

This will mean less room for manoeuvre and the cessation of some aspects, including our Special Projects Fund, but gives us a solid footing for what is a most unpredictable year. It also allows for the full staff team to remain in place throughout, so as to be best placed to provide a strong service to the members.

For more information about our plans for 20-21, please don’t hesitate to contact stew@scottishstudentsport.com

With the finances dealt with the AGM was then able to confirm the line-up of volunteer officers and appointments that will help to shape SSS’ work over the next twelve months. Across all of our committees we are blessed to have the most capable and enthused individuals in place and each of them comes into office with the thanks and optimistic expectations of the wider membership. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the new SSS Executive, Development, and Competitions Committees for season 2020/21.

The departing volunteers – and particularly the sabbatical students leaving office – exit with a huge vote of thanks from all at SSS. We all appreciate that the year has ended in strange circumstances for you all, but we know that you have all the traits and tools you need to make a really positive transition, and we hope you’ll retain a long and positive engagement with the Tribe.

 

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Friday 29th May 2020

SSS are pleased to announce that we have been awarded the Intermediate Level of the Equality Standard in Sport. Read the full story about what the award is and how we achieved it!

SSS recently received the very positive news that we have been awarded the Intermediate Level of the Equality Standard in Sport.

This achievement represents three years of excellent work within the organisation and significant leaps across student sport in terms of participation, projects, and partnerships.

The Equality Standard is supported by sportscotland – via Plan4Sport – as part of its expert resource help to governing bodies and other partners. By working through the standard, funded organisations are encouraged to own and deliver an Equality Action Plan that can demonstrably improve their impact on people in protected groups.

For SSS this has produced a number of highlights including:

  • Our well-developed work with partners at Scottish Disability Sport
  • An active contribution to the SAMH Charter for Physical Activity & Sport
  • A lead delivery role within the rejuvenated Healthy Body, Healthy Mind programme
  • The collection, collation and analysis of better equality data
  • A series of impactful campaigns and projects including Rainbow Laces, CHANGES, and She Can She Will
  • Embedding value-based decision making across SSS – adopting an INCLUSIVE approach in all we do

Reaching the Intermediate award milestone represents another 2021 strategy target achieved, and so it is fitting to pause and celebrate the network-wide commitment that this represents.

SSS would like to thank all who have contributed to the work thus far, both across our membership and within the many partner organisations who have supported us along the way. A special thanks to Barbara Lawson and all of our Equality Steering Group members for giving additional volunteer time to help guide the work. We couldn’t have managed it without you.

Having reached this level SSS is now amongst the most developed sports bodies in the country. This important work will now continue towards the top-level (Advanced) over the coming years, in our bid to make student sport a place where everyone is able and welcome to play.

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Tuesday 3rd December 2019

Edinburgh University Volleyball Club recently delivered a Low Intensity Inclusion Taster (LIIT), an event aimed at encouraging individuals from the university and local community to come along and try a range of fully inclusive activities.

Members of Edinburgh University Volleyball Club were the key drivers at the recently delivered Low Intensity Inclusion Taster (LIIT), an event aiming to encourage individuals from the university and local community to come along and try a range of fully inclusive activities. The session, which was supported by several partners, also raised awareness of sport and the accessibility within the university.

The successful event was delivered at The Pleasance Sports Complex, Edinburgh University on Sunday 24th November providing the opportunity for 15 students and members of the local community to try sports & activities such as boccia, sitting volleyball and sitting netball. The event organisers, Adel Novotna and Elise Christensen, were keen to ensure the day was not only targeting existing athletes but also members of the university and community who were not currently engaging with sport or physical activity opportunities, including individuals with a disability.

Scottish Disability Sport (SDS), Scottish Volleyball, Scottish Student Sport (SSS) and the Edinburgh University Sports Union (EUSU) were able to support with promotion and delivery on the day, providing a great opportunity to build relationships with the university clubs who are enthusiastic about creating a more inclusive environment within university sports clubs. Adel and Elise, who are Inclusion Officers within the University Volleyball Club are keen to build on this great piece of work through the delivery of a larger event next year which will aim to engage with other universities across Edinburgh.

This opportunity captured the amount of work being undertaken by EUSU Clubs, many of whom are actively trying to create a more inclusive environment for students and encourage them to become involved with university sport. This development work was highlighted at the recent UK Disability Inclusion Training (UKDIT) with 9 sports clubs represented at the 6-hour course which provides the tools to support and include individuals with a disability in a sport / physical activity setting.

For more information on this event or inclusive opportunities across the university / local community, please contact SDS Regional Manager (East) Neal Herbert on 07709393514 or neal.herbert@scottishdisabilitysport.com.

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Thursday 28th November 2019

The British Active Student Survey (BASS) 2019-20 is now live. Complete the survey before the 20th of December for your chance to win £50 ASOS vouchers!

What is the British Active Student Survey?

This is a joint initiative between BUCS, AoC Sport and UK Active – with for the first time the work being carried out in Further Education and Higher Education simultaneously. It aims to gain understanding into the levels of physical activity and the relationship between wider health and wellbeing, academic attainment, and employability skills.

The survey builds on the findings of Scottish Universities in 2017, British Universities in 2018 and British Colleges in 2019 – which all highlighted that active students have higher mental wellbeing, social inclusion, plus greater positive perceptions of academic attainment and employability compared to inactive students.

The survey is open from now until Friday 20th of Decembertake part now! 

Why should I take part?

By filling out the survey you will be contributing to important research and analysis to help gauge a greater understanding of the relationship between active students mental wellbeing, social inclusion,  academic attainment and employability compared to inactive students.

Any university that achieves a 5% completion rate in relation to their FTE of students will be provided with their own data set from the students that completed the survey from their institution.

Students who complete the survey will enter a prize draw to win up to three £50 ASOS vouchers.

For more information and to complete the survey follow the link!

 

 

 

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Wednesday 27th November 2019

We are excited to launch our brand new Scottish Student Sport Podcast! Episode 1 is now LIVE and available on Spotify! Find out more here.

We are excited to announce the launch of the brand new Scottish Student Sport Podcast!

In its debut series hosts Gavin Rittoo and Stew Fowlie will be joined by a variety of guests from across the Scottish Sporting world and beyond to discuss their journey and how student sport has shaped it along the way.

Aired monthly, the podcast will feature a chat with one of the sports sabbatical officers from our member institutions – getting to know them a little bit better and the exciting work they are doing this year. There will also be a ‘competitions corner’ segment which will round up all the latest results and reaction from our competitions and events across the country. Alongside this the show will round up all the latest news, updates and discuss all the hot topics in the exciting world that is Scottish Student Sport.

Episode 1

00:00 – 08:00 – Intro and Welcome with Stew & Gav

08:00 – 24:30 – Interview with Georgia Moran, Edinburgh Napier University

24:30 – 28:00 – Live musical performance from Georgia Moran

28:00 – 31:00 – Competitions update and reaction

31:00 – 50:30 – Interview with Malcolm King from the Big Sleep Out, previewing the event in December which SSS will be participating in

50:30 – 53:00 – Round up and upcoming events with Stew and Gav

How to listen:

You can find us on spotify, stitcher, spreaker and all other good podcasting sites.

Listen to “Episode 1 | Georgia Moran & The Big Sleep Out” on Spreaker.

Get in touch

If you have listened to the podcast then we want to hear from you!

Tweet us your thoughts on the podcast using the hashtag: #SSSPOD. Whether its praise, criticism , support or if you have a great idea then let us know! We will read out the best tweets on the next episode…

If you would like to appear on the podcast then drop as an email: info@scottishstudentsport.com 

If you are interested in joining our SSS Sleep Out team on Saturday 7th of December to help raise money and fight homelessness in Scotland then all the sign up information can be found here.

 

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Thursday 14th November 2019

2018/19 was another belter of a year across the Scottish Student Sport membership – recap on all our highlights and successes from the past 12 months.

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Tuesday 19th December 2017

Learn how to use our new online entry system

In 2017 we introduced a new event entry system which we refer to as Azolve but is also know as GoMembership!

We appreciate that the system may not be clear to those who have not used it before and have therefore created a User Guide for Institution Administrators which should hopefully answer any questions you may have.

You can access this User guide by clicking HERE.

If you notice that this User Guide is now out of date as we have made updates since this User Guide was published, please do not hesitate to contact Jess Barrows on jess@scottishstudentsport.com. We welcome all feedback regarding this system.

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