VP (Welfare) February Update

An update from the Vice President (Welfare), Jack McGuinness, on student safety, the community pantry and more.

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Jack McGuinness

Hi everyone, I’m Jack McGuinness, the Vice President (Welfare), I wanted to share some of the work that’s been doing to improve your experience here at Derby.

Student Safety


Your experience as a student doesn’t stop as soon as you leave the Uni sites and that’s especially prominent with student safety, going on nights out. During my time in office, I’ve been promoting our new safety app, Safezone, which was specifically designed for student safety.

The app allows users to send a variety of notifications to the University of Derby’s security team. When a notification is sent, and only when a notification is sent, the users’ location is shown to the security team, allowing for them to respond effectively to the issue.

This app isn’t just for Derby either, so if you go to other cities, such as Nottingham, on nights out, it will still work and link into their security.

Nighttime Economy Action plan

A huge part of student experience is going on nights out. And we fully understand that you can’t fully enjoy your nights out if you don’t feel safe.

Because of this, we have developed an Executive Officer Nighttime Economy Action plan, being visible on student nights out.

This action plan has had consultation from the Venues and Events Manager at the Union and from representatives from Stonegate, the organisation the Derby Union of Students are partnered with.

The plan coincides with the wider City Council Nighttime Economy Action plan, which the University and I are feeding into the development of.

Anti-spiking training

Part of the Advice service resource is allocated to working with external organisations who specialise in topics such as drugs and alcohol.

Myself, the Advice Manager at the Union of Students, Rebecca Wood, and the Head of Student Engagement at the University of Derby, Russ Lewis, recently went to one of the Outreach 1625’s events where they talked about their developments and research.

Off the back of this event, it was proposed that the Executive Officers gain anti-spiking training in from Outreach 1625 with the Advice team. I’ve been working with the Advice Manager to plan dates for when the Executive Officers are available.

Police and Crime Commission roundtable

As part of my work on student safety, I was invited to the Police and Crime Commission roundtable discussion in December, where members from prominent Derby organisations, such as the Derbion, Derby College, along with members of parliament came, together to discuss safety in Derby.

A topic that came up was the prospect of making it mandatory for Taxis to have CCTV installed. The idea has had mixed responses, with some organisations pushing back on the idea. But, to feed into the development of the project, I’ve been gaining student insight, which will be fed back to the group in the next meeting.

Mandatory DBS checks

The President and Vice President positions are required to work at different University of Derby sites, some of which provide further education to those under the age of 18 years old.

Currently, the Executive Officer team have their DBS checks, so can facilitate this aspect of the role. However, there is the potential for future students who fails their DBS checks to still hold positions if elected into post.

It is our responsibility to ensure the safeguarding of those under 18 years old and by making the DBS checks mandatory we uphold those responsibilities.

Global Gathering and Global Café

Moving away from home to study is always a pivotal part of student life. And for students moving to another country to study, it can be even more difficult.

At the Union of Students, we want all students to feel part of the student community, so we developed an event designed for international students to attend and socialise with eachother.

It’s been great to see and hear all of the feedback from students who attended the event, with 94% saying they found the events beneficial.

We’re excited to continue these events and see the benefit they have for international students.

Community Pantry

Our current Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Tracey Taylor, in collaboration with members of the nursing society committee and the 2022-2023 Gender Officer, ran a hugely successful campaign to develop and implement a Community Pantry.

It’s with great pleasure, after taking this project forward, reviewing with Interim Co-CEOs and the Advice Manager, to say that the Community Pantry is officially open and available to those in need.

We were especially concerned about the knock-on effects students can experience from being unable to purchase food and drink, so have positioned it in conjunction with InfoPoint, to provide easy access to the advice service.

The level of support we have had for the project is amazing to see, with members of the public donating to the community pantry.

Further details

Those are just some of information on the work that’s been going on behind the scenes. To find out more, be sure to have a look at the scrutiny panel reports and to check up on the ideas forum.