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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Thursday 25th February 2021

Following the evolving Coronavirus (Covid-19) situation, follow this page for how this will affect Scottish Student Sports events and competitions in the coming weeks. This page will be regularly updated with the latest news as and when we get it.

Following the evolving Coronavirus (Covid-19) situation, follow this page for how this will affect Scottish Student Sports events and competitions in the coming weeks. This page will be regularly updated with the latest news as and when we get it.

Updated: 15th March 2021 at 16:30

Coronavirus (15/03/21) – Update

Following the latest announcements from the Scottish Government, the SSS Competitions Committee have agreed the following:

  • All in-person events scheduled for the remainder of the 2020/21 season will be cancelled.
  • All National Squad activity will be cancelled for the remainder of the 2020/21 season, except for Cricket which remains in a tentative position due to it being a summer-based sport.
  • SSS will not plan to hold events in the spring or summer in place of the cancelled 2020/21 season, however, if SSS Sports Development Groups provide a strong case for a sport-specific activity then certain events may be considered on an ad-hoc basis.

The decisions above are supported by feedback received from members in our latest Competitions Survey and are reflected by the Scottish Governments road map out of the national lockdown.

Whilst 2020/21 has not been a year we had all hoped for, it has been encouraging to see such creativity and innovation from across the network, ensuring student communities have kept engaged and physically active throughout the pandemic.

At SSS, we have adapted wherever possible to provide some sort of competitive activity for students. Through the hard work of our outstanding volunteers, we’ve seen virtual competitive activity in the following sports; Athletics, Curing, Sailing, Karate and Triathlon, with Cross Country and Cycling events scheduled for later this month. Semester one activity included virtual Curling, Cycling, Rowing, Sailing and Triathlon competition plus the only in-person SSS event held this year – the SS Golf Autumn Trophy.

The SSS team is confident and committed to delivering a more active, more competitive and more complete sporting offering in 2021/22.

SSS will continue to work closely with our members, partners, Scottish governing bodies and sportscotland throughout the coming months and provide further guidance and information in due course.

For any COVID -19 related queries please contact Chris Purdie, Head of Competitions at chris@scottishstudentsport.com.

Additional Information

The SSS office remains closed and all our staff will be working from home for the foreseeable future. Therefore the main SSS Office phones will be out of use. Should you need to contact any of our staff please reach out via email – a list of contact details for all our staff can be found here.

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Wednesday 24th February 2021

As part of LGBT History Month, we are celebrating the Saints Sports recent equality and inclusion success! Towards the end of 2020, the University of St. Andrews became the first institution in Scotland to complete the LGBT Charter, receiving the silver award! Read the full story here.

In December of 2020 LGBT Youth Scotland announced that Saint Sport, University of St Andrews became the first University or College Sports Department in Scotland to complete the LGBT Charter and achieve the Silver award. A fantastic achievement by the Saints Sport team!

LGBT Youth Scotland’s Charter is a straightforward programme that enables your organisation to proactively include LGBT people in every aspect of your work, protecting your staff and providing high-quality service to your customers. By being awarded the Charter, it enables you to send a positive message, with confidence, that your organisation is a champion of LGBT inclusion where LGBT employees or customers will be safe, supported, and included.

We spoke to Doro Weber, Fundraising Manager at LGBT Youth Scotland, who led the Saints team through the Charter. Doro was full of praise for the Saints Sport team and their dedication throughout the project. She said:

“It was a pleasure to work with the team at Saints Sport on their LGBT Charter journey. They worked hard to make their department extremely welcoming to LGBT young people and have created a benchmark  of best practice for other sports organisations to aspire to.

“I was particularly impressed by their social media campaign around LGBT sporting icons which highlighted role models who don’t always have a spotlight shone on their achievements.”

Some of the most notable actions at Saints Sport for LGBT inclusion has seen members and staff at Saints Sport undertaking training, and a review of policies, practice and resources to make sure they are as inclusive as they can be.

Coordinating this piece of work is Saint Sport’s Head of Development Claire Scott (pictured below, right). She said:

“I am delighted that Saints Sport has been awarded the LGBT Charter Silver Award. This makes a clear statement that equality and diversity are at the heart of what we do at Saints Sport. It has been a journey of discovery, understanding and strong partnership.

“This award would not have been achieved without a team of great people around us including HR and Student Services. We have worked tirelessly to ensure Saints Sport became the first Sports Department in Scotland to complete the LGBT Charter.”

Carolina O’Neill de Sousa e Sá, is the newly appointed LGBTQ+ Lead within the Equality Steering Group. She added:

“This is a significant achievement for Saints Sport and one which should not go unnoticed. This award is evidence of Saints’ commitment to and passion for LGBTQ+ inclusion, and ultimately means LGBTQ+ staff and students will feel more supported, visible and represented. Our hope at Scottish Student Sport is that more members will follow in the footsteps of Saints Sport, and we would be thrilled to collaborate on any initiatives.”

Congratulations to the Saints Sport team and the University of St Andrews for continuing to embed the importance of inclusion throughout their work.

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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, I studied Corporate Communications and Public Affairs (MSc) and currently serving as the President for Education and Welfare at Robert Gordon University Student’s Union. 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, actively 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 – 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 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 second-year student at Robert Gordon University and I study sports and exercise science.  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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Wednesday 20th January 2021

In the first BiteSSSize Best Practice webinar of 2021 a panel of experts shared their insight and experience of different ways to ‘Engage the Inactive’. Read our highlights and rewatch the webinar here!

Many people see the turn of the year as a good time to form new resolutions, habits and change behaviors. With this in mind, SSS jumped straight into action hosting the first webinar of 2021 focussing on how to encourage more people to get active this year.

Experts in the field, Sarah Robertson (Oriam, Heriot-Watt) and Fraser Johnston (Scottish Cycling) were joined by Ian Lowe (SSS) to look at previous examples of best practice in this area, sharing some of their key learnings throughout on how to engage the inactive population.

Sarah presented on the Heriot-Watt Park Run which, although in its infancy, is showing positive signs of reaching new audiences. Community engagement has been excellent, but they recognise there is still work to be done to increase student participation. Fraser gave some great insight on his time working at the University of Glasgow where they encouraged students and staff to take part in ‘The Daily Mile’. He also talked about a number of Scottish Cycling’s initiatives which help to make equipment more easily accessible.

Some of the key takeaways included communication, collaboration and changing the campus culture!

Both Sarah and Fraser spoke of the surprisingly positive reaction they have witnessed to more traditional forms of communication such as posters and flyers.

Working across different departments is key to greater buy-in from an institutional, strategic perspective. This collaboration helps to make tackling inactivity a shared responsibility and further demonstrates the important part this can play in improving the student experience.

Changing the culture is the longer-term aim but one that could be supported by activity trends that have been witnessed during the pandemic. We are more acutely aware now of the benefits of regular exercise and the importance of getting daily physical activity. How can we capture this culture change to influence future culture within our student communities?

The final word was left to Ian Lowe who brought a wealth of experience from his various roles across student sport and student services. “This is a long game” he advised, and we should celebrate the small victories we get along the way. Small steps can make a huge difference in the bigger picture and it is important to remain open-minded, learn from new people/projects and remain adaptable to the ever-changing environment we find ourselves in.

Huge thanks to our panelists and to all our attendees for joining the call and contributing to the discussion.

🎥Miss the webinar? Rewatch the action here!⬇️

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Wednesday 6th January 2021

SSS have been busy in the January transfer market… We are delighted to announce our latest new signing – Ian Lowe! Ian joins the team as the new Head of Development. Find out more about our latest recruit here.

Ian Lowe joins the SSS Squad for the remainder of the 2020/21 season. We caught up with Ian on his first day to get to know him a little better…

Ian is well established within the Scottish Student Sport network and the Scottish sporting landscape on the whole. Following a brief career as a professional footballer (Dundee United & Forfar), Ian went onto study Sports Coaching and Development at Abertay University.

From there Ian worked at Abertay University in a number of different roles spanning nearly 14 years in two different stints. These experiences include part-time lecturing, Sports Development Manager, Project Manager for the Dundee Academy of Sport and most recently, Student Services Manager. In between his two spells at Abertay, Ian held the position of East Region Development Manager at the SFA for 5 years. A passionate football fan, Ian also sits on the Board at the Dundee United Community Trust.

Ian will now head up the Development team at Scottish Student Sport in a challenging time for everyone given the current pandemic. Speaking on his first day in the role Ian emphasised his desire to make a difference and rebuild the student experience. He said:

“A lot of my previous roles have been working regionally so I am excited to step up and work on a national scale. Like everyone, students have had a tough time recently.

“Their way of life has been severely disrupted, with much of the usual university and college experience disappearing overnight. I am determined to help, support and restore the positive student experience that all our students deserve with sport, physical activity and extra-circular activities at the heart of that.”

Tell us about one of your student sport highlights?

“Back in my student playing days, we played in a European football tournament in Paris. I can’t quite remember if we qualified for it or if we just paid an entry fee to enter. We played against teams from all across the continent on the old school red-ash pitches. It was great fun playing with your mates and exploring the city too.”

The best sporting moment you have witnessed live?

“This is a tough one. Dundee United beating Ross Country at Hampden in front of 30,000 United fans to win the Scottish Cup was pretty special. But in terms of the best experience it has got to be going to Wimbledon. We applied for tickets through our local Tennis club and lucky got some through the ballot. I remember looking at the date and thinking that is quite late on in the tournament… it turns out we got tickets to the Wimbledon Final – Djokovic v Federer – we couldn’t believe our luck!”

Lockdown Learning… What new skills or hobbies did you learn from the first lockdown?

“What I learned from the first lockdown is that we are all tougher and more resilient than we think. In the first lockdown the ‘I don’t have the time’ excuse disappeared. My mindset changed and like most people, I began to appreciate and enjoy the simple things in life – getting outdoors, chatting to the neighbours over a garden fence, cycling, running and keeping fit!”

Quickfire Questions

We asked Ian a couple of testing quickfire questions to get to know him a little better. No judging!

Heroes or Celebrations? Heroes 

Tea or Coffee? Coffee  (one sweetener)

Cats or Dogs? Dogs

Hibs or Hearts? Dundee United

Favourite Sport? Football

Favourite Cereal: Coco Pops

Favourite biscuit: Chocolate Digestive 

Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi

If you could go on holiday next week where would you go? Skiing in Courchevel

Wake up time: 7am

 

 

 

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Wednesday 16th December 2020

Inspiration, innovation and collaboration at every corner. These were some of the key themes that emerged from the SSS 2020 Festive Gathering. Over 70 members tuned into the virtual gathering and were treated to thought-provoking discussion, high-quality guest speakers and plenty of Festive Fun! Read all about it here!

In a change to tradition and a fitting tribute to 2020, the SSS Festive Gathering was delivered virtually this year with over 70  members across the tribe tuning in to hear from a panel of world-class athletes and leaders in sport.

Whilst the virtual gathering was a first of its kind, the longstanding tradition of participants wearing festive jumpers remained true – with some fantastic outfits on show throughout the afternoon. None more so than panelist Robyn Love (pictured below) in what is undoubtedly a candidate for the most festive photo of the year.

After an energising welcome from SSS Chair Pete Burgon, a brief review of the year gone by and finances approved – our attendees were met by two equally inspiring and thought-provoking discussions from our special guests.

First up, the Road to Tokyo panel, where SSS Head of Competitions Chris Purdie, was joined by three athletes whose experiences through student sport had helped shape their career path and their journey to next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Neah Evans (Cycling), Megan Gaffney (Rugby) and Robyn Love (Wheelchair Basketball) discussed how their positive student sport experiences helped them reach where they are today. From balancing the workload of their studies with the pressure of performing in their sport and also trying to keep up a social life in the process, the panelists spoke honestly and fondly of their student days.

All three touched upon the huge sacrifices required to make it at the top level and acknowledged the vital support they received from their institutions and staff during their time at University. This support has been vital to them and many other young athletes looking to achieve their potential while also studying and preparing for their future.

The panel discussed the importance of resilience and “bounce-back ability” that the challenges of Coronavirus and lockdown caused before previewing what promises to be a jam-packed and exciting year of sport in 2021.

All three have very real and promising hopes of competing at the Tokyo Olympic Games and everyone at SSS wishes Megan, Robyn and Neah every success for 2021 and beyond.

Following this inspirational panel, the next section was packed full of ambition, innovation and collaboration at every corner: An Audience with Jan Paterson.

Jan is currently Managing Director Sport for Neom, delivering a bold new vision of future living. Neom is being designed as a global city for global citizens and Jan’s role is to engrain sport and physical activity in the lives of residents. In the future city, citizens will never be more than 8 minutes from a sports facility and physical activity will be an integral part of the curriculum.

Jan herself is a pioneer and her experiences in leadership roles were a great learning opportunity for our audience. She spoke of the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people, and the significance of bottom-up team building. We also heard some great stories of her times at the World University Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.

To round off the day and in true 2020 style, the SSS Tribe were treated to a Zoom Quiz of the Year courtesy of Pete Burgon. This gave everyone a chance to show off their best Christmas jumpers, share some “funny” Christmas jokes and engage in some much needed festive cheer.

We would like to wish everyone a restful festive break and we look forward to seeing you all in 2021.

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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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Friday 30th October 2020

The SSS Leadership Programme restarted in style with record numbers of aspiring student leaders signing up and taking their first steps in the new, re-vamped programme! Read the full story here.

Now into its fourth consecutive year, the SSS Leadership Programme is an offering open to all SSS member institutions. This year, the programme provides a virtual platform for students to enhance their personal development, with a particular emphasis on enhancing leadership and employability skills. The full series is delivered by our West Regional Development Coordinator – Megan Richardson – who delivers the content via two blocks of webinars.

This year, 34 students from 11 Universities and Colleges across Scotland have signed up to the programme. The launch event took place on Thursday 22nd October where we were joined by the effervescent Guy Richardson – CEO and founder of Eiger Performance – who led yet another engaging session on ‘Leadership with Impact’.

The programme will be delivered virtually over Zoom between now and March through 10 weeks of Mastermind calls focussing on various aspect of leadership, employability and tailored conversation to encourage the leaders to network and learn from one another.

It’s an extremely exciting time for yet another thriving cohort of aspiring young leaders as they begin their journey to grow and develop on their own personal journey throughout the 20-21 academic year. Watch this space and stay tuned for this year’s group to take the Sports Development world by storm!

Below is a list of SSS member institutions represented on this years Leadership Programme;

  • Fife College
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • Moray College
  • University of Aberdeen
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of St Andrew
  • University of Stirling
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of the Highlands and Islands

For more details contact Megan Richardson: megan@scottishstudentsport.com.

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Thursday 8th October 2020

Check out the second BiteSSSize Best Practice Webinar of the 20/21 season! In line with #WorldMentalHealthDay, this months webinar focussed directly on Mental Health Awareness, Prevention & First Aid. Read all about it and catch-up here!

In the second BiteSSSize Best Practice webinar of 2020/21, SSS joined the conversation in the lead up to World Mental Health Day on October 10th.

The latest webinar engaged staff and students from across the Tribe to provide insight and support. Mental Health is an extremely important area of work for SSS – even in a normal year. So it was vital that SSS led the conversation at the start of a new academic year.

Former GUSA President Paddy Everingham was welcomed back to SSS and expertly Chaired the webinar which raised awareness of what we mean by mental health, and gave first-hand guidance on how to recognise symptoms and support others. Paddy was joined by Alban Dickson, from the University of Stirling, Scott Newby, MD at NewbyCore, and Sarah Gandon, SSS’ Healthy Body Healthy Mind Project Lead and Coach at the University of Glasgow Netball.

This webinar was the latest step taken by SSS to align student sport with the mental health conversation. A revamped Healthy Body Healthy Mind programme has continued to grow since the relaunch in January, and it was recently announced that the funding will continue for the next three years. Additionally in June SSS signed the SAMH charter for physical activity and sport.

Mental Health is an extremely important area of work for SSS and we are proud to have contributed to the discussion.

🎥Watch the full webinar here👇

On 12 October,  BUCS are delivering a webinar on mental health and student sport in partnership with Student Minds, which you can sign up for here.

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