With just a few days now until term starts, I’m sure there are a mixture of feelings and emotions running through your head right now! For those with a disability or long-term health condition, coming to university can be especially daunting since all the support that you may have had in place during your time at school suddenly disappears. The process of setting up things again, especially things that you don't think about, can also be challenging. But this is where Student Support at university come in, especially Disability Services.
Disability Services are here to help students make the transition between home and university life. The sooner you get in contact with them the better, as a lot of support mechanisms can be put in place before you arrive or start studying. This can include making your department aware of your needs and helping them to make reasonable adjustments, liaising with accommodation to arrange a suitable room for your needs (if appropriate) and helping you to apply for the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) to help you get the right course-related equipment and/or funding for support if applicable. They can also put you in touch with other support services that you may need in your time at university, while Disability Services can help you during your course should you encounter any problems or concerns: www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/tutors/disability/howwecanhelp
Some of these things might have been arranged for you before your arrival but, if not, don’t panic as there is still time! Try to make an appointment to see one of the team as soon as possible in order to make your transition to university life as smooth as possible. You can meet the Disability Services team and ask questions over Arrivals Weekend in the marquee in front of Senate House. There are also Disability Services drop-in sessions in University House every week this term, starting in Week 2. These are for new registrations and other enquiries, and take place on Mondays & Wednesdays between 2pm-4pm and Tuesdays & Thursdays between 10am-12pm. Waiting times for the drop-in sessions will vary based on demand - don’t worry though if you can’t make these times, as you can still book an appointment by contacting Disability Services on 02476150641 or via email@example.com.
Another important place for support with your study is the University Library. There are some fantastic resources available here, from assistive technology and equipment to quiet study rooms or adjustable furniture located around the facility. As a student with a disability or learning difference, you can even arrange to have an individual induction to help you get the most out of the Library during your time here - check out www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/using/disability and navigate through the different sections. If you need any assistance whilst using the Library, then just ask at the helpdesk.
Within the Students’ Union (SU) there are also plenty of opportunities to get involved or to get support. The Advice Centre is based within the SU and is independent from the university - they offer a free, confidential, impartial and non-judgemental service for all students at the University of Warwick. You can look for answers to common support areas on their website (www.warwicksu.com/advice) but they are also contactable in various ways and, from experience, are a great team of people. The Sabbatical Officers and Part-Time Officers (of which I am one!) are also here to help - meet the team here: www.warwicksu.com/democracy/officers. Also, be sure to check out the democracy pages (www.warwicksu.com/democracy) to find out about more ways to get involved at Warwick and have your say on issues that matter to you. The Autumn Elections are a great way to start!
Another fantastic way to get involved is through some of the many societies and sports clubs here at Warwick. With such a wide range of activities on offer there is bound to be something for you – if not, then feel free to create a society! There are many fairs happening in the first week to see what there is to get involved in. SU Freshers Helpers will be on hand to help you at these events, so find one in a green T-shirt and don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice on where to find the societies for you. If these events don’t appeal or you can’t make it, don’t worry as you can find all you need to know about societies (www.warwicksu.com/societies) and sports (www.warwicksu.com/sports) on the SU website. There will be quiet periods designated between 10-10:30am this year for those who would prefer to come along then.
If you have a specific access requirement that you would like societies or sports clubs to accommodate or if you have any concerns about joining them, don’t worry - that’s normal. You can either contact the Student Activities team by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or find them in the Resources Room on the second floor in SUHQ. They can discuss with you the best way of approaching the society or sports club to help you to get the most out of your time at Warwick. We are currently adding more local venues and accessibility criteria to our Local Guide to Accessible Venues which will be given to all clubs and societies. This is an extremely valuable tool for their execs to use to hold socials and events in locations that meet the accessibility needs of their members. Feel free to use this guide to see which local venues meet your needs and, if there are any other venues or criteria that you would like to see on here or if you think you can help, just let me know. To download the guide in its current form, go to www.warwicksu.com/accessibility/venuesguide. We are working on a new version of this guide to make it bigger and better, and are looking for volunteers to test the guide or survey venues - if you want to get involved or find out more, please get in touch.
Warwick Enable is a society for those who care about disability and was set up for disabled students, their friends, allies, enablers and carers at the University of Warwick. It is free to join and they also have a buddy scheme. Their society page can be found at www.facebook.com/warwickenable and www.warwicksu.com/societies/18989 but come and meet them at the Societies Fair on Thursday 6th October or at their first social of the year in The Terrace Bar on Wednesday 12th October 5-7pm. Warwick Mind Aware is a society for those passionate about mental health who won Best Community Society of the Year 2015, Campaign of the Year 2015 and Warwick Wildcard 2016 at the Socs Awards - find out how to get involved here www.warwicksu.com/societies/mindaware or meet them at the Societies Fair.
This year I am running Disability Awareness events throughout the year instead of a specific week. This will be a chance to meet other disabled students across campus and to raise awareness at various events throughout the year. More details will follow soon, but I can reveal that Doggy De-stress Day will be making a comeback! For those of you who don’t know, RAG and I have teamed up with the Guide Dogs Centre in Leamington to bring guide dogs to campus for you to come and meet and de-stress whilst raising money for a fantastic cause and we have already named our very own guide dog puppy called Warwick who is in training now. Here’s to more puppies!
Finally, a bit about me. I am Jenny, the Disabled Students’ Officer and this is my third year in the role. I am a part-time officer of the SU which means that I hold this position whilst studying full time towards my final year of my Medicinal Chemistry degree. I do not work for Disability Services and my role is entirely voluntary in my spare time. Last year I was very busy improving the accessibility of campus and its many outlets, helping to coordinate events like Doggy Destress Day and consulting with the University about current issues such as DSA cuts. This year, I want to keep up the hard work by continuing to push for the recording of all lectures, working with Warwick Enable society to open up more communication between disabled students, and running bigger and better events. As it is my final year of my degree I will be taking on less casework, but I can still signpost you to the right people.
I hope you enjoy your time here at Warwick. Please feel free to get in contact over this year - I look forward to meeting you. Good luck!
Disabled Students’ Officer 2014-17