Student wellbeing support wins acclaim for Plymouth College of Art Students’ Union
Plymouth College of Art Students’ Union (PCA:SU) has won Best Campaign Supporting Student Wellbeing at the 2021 Think Student Awards, beating leading international universities to be selected as the winner by the Student Pulse panel of 40,000 students.
The Think Student Awards are the only awards of their kind, judged by the students themselves and measuring real impact.
Judges from the 2021 Think Student Awards said: “The students loved how Plymouth College of Art went above and beyond to support their students during the pandemic, providing tangible help and access to essential items.”
Part of an independent university-sector art school established in 1856, PCA:SU is run by a small team focussed on student wellbeing, mental health and welfare, providing an inclusive, welcoming environment. Student Union President Harriet Moore is dedicated to going above and beyond to develop their support network.
During the first national lockdown in 2020, Harriet ran the Student Union Food Bank from her flat, hand-packing and coordinating delivery of parcels of food, period products and toiletries to students self-isolating or experiencing financial hardship. Harriet and her small team also tackled period poverty by providing free period products in toilets across all campuses.
Harriet Moore, PCA:SU President, said: “I was so nervous before they announced the runner-up and winner, but I wasn’t expecting to win at all, as we were up against some big names. I was shocked and excited when they called out PCA:SU as the winners! It was a great feeling to have been chosen against some of the other amazing work going on in the sector.”
Harriet and Paige Nolan, the Student Union Manager, are Mental Health First Aid trained, extending this training to staff throughout the college.
Steve Trotter, Plymouth College of Art Registrar, said: “Running any SU is a tough job, and this is a fantastic accolade for our Students’ Union. During her time as President, Harriet has supported student representation at every level of Plymouth College of Art, attending almost every course meeting, consulting with student representatives and consistently ensuring that the voice of students is heard at Academic Board and its committees, and by the Board of Governors. I can’t rate Harriet’s contribution to Plymouth College of Art highly enough. This, plus a strong relationship with our very active SU Executive, has been invaluable in helping us to respond to emerging student needs, particularly through the pandemic, when we have been dealing with so much change and uncertainty.”
“Working closely together, Paige and Harriet have really made a difference to students at Plymouth College of Art, including what was probably our most successful programme of Freshers activities this year. ”
PCA:SU promotes good mental health, community spirit, kindness and positivity in everything they do. They recently completed a comprehensive and inclusive programme for Freshers 2021, from social events tailored to students with anxiety issues, to outdoor activities including wild swimming and surf lessons.
Throughout the pandemic, Harriet has been a vocal advocate for students’ needs, from hosting online drop-in sessions where students met with senior leaders from across Plymouth College of Art, to joining negotiations with city leaders to petition landlords to offer fairer terms to students unable to access accommodation.
Harriet said: “Mental health and wellbeing is at the heart of everything I do in my role; I truly care about each and every one of the students at Plymouth College of Art. We never expect any recognition for what we do in the Students’ Union, it’s just our job, so to be voted for by a panel of 40,000 students to celebrate our work is amazing.”