Starting conversations: Running welfare-focused events
Where to start
As with any event, the key to success is to start planning early! When you’re discussing ideas for the year, pencil in some welfare-themed events to keep them in mind. It’s also a good idea to look into national or international events which you may want to participate in
Top tip: University Mental Health Day takes place each year on 4 March, Mental Health Awareness Week runs annually between 10-16 May.
1. Decide what kind of event you want to run
Are you looking to raise awareness?
Do you want to start conversations with group members?
Is your goal to raise some money for charity?
Check out our ideas generator below for some inspiration.
2. Do your research
If you’re going to be covering topics such as mental health or disability which could be sensitive, it’s important to know you have accurate information and that you try to look for resources written by people with lived experience of those topics.
For guest speaker or panel events, consider how you can get a broad range of experiences which represent what you want to talk about.
3. Submit your necessary documents to the SU
Make sure to submit your event proposal and risk assessment in good time for your event to be approved.
Remember to be clear about the content of any talks or discussions you’re running.
Utilise different social media platforms, also tagging @RHSUSocSport and @SURHUL, to spread the word.
- Coffee morning social - Lots of mental health charities have resources for variations on a coffee morning where you get together with friends or colleagues to chat about mental health, or life in general! Check out the resources section below for some links to these
- Fundraiser - There are many ways that you can fundraise for a wellbeing-focused charity, for example participating in a national challenge, holding a bake sale or a charity performance. We have some suggestions for fantastic charities you could support in the resources section below.
- Discussion - If you want to provide a space for learning and talking about topics related to wellbeing in a more structured way, a discussion event is a good way to do this. Remember to do your research on any topics discussed before the event!
- Panel event or guest speaker - These are a good idea for awareness days or weeks, where you can showcase some interesting speakers who have specialist knowledge. Try reaching out to charities, alumni, or academics to find some interesting speakers!
- Workshop - workshops are more practical than discussions, and can be used to teach practical skills, or perhaps engage in some fun activities. For example, take a look at “craftivism”- a way you can use crafts to spread awareness of current issues
Safeguarding - before, during and after your event
We’ve mentioned previously about the importance of considering your members’ wellbeing at every stage of group activity, and this is especially the case for wellbeing-focused events. Make sure to fully consider any risks, and think about how you can manage them.
Some risks may include:
- Discussion of sensitive topics
- It is not just about communicating this before the event, but also knowing how to handle it during the event itself
- Having an open room/Zoom policy, where attendees are free to leave at any point without consequence or penalty
- The more you remind members of this, the more comfortable they will feel with the policy
- Dealing with disagreements or differing opinions in an appropriate manner
- How you will handle any instances of hate speech or abusive language/behaviour from attendees, including following up with the SU and also with those involved
It is also very easy to forget that you, as event organisers, need safeguarding too. Remember that you are also able to follow any open-room policy for an event!
If any incidents do occur which need dealing with, it can be very stressful for you as the event organiser. You should ask other committee members, friends, or staff for support if you are negatively affected by anything that’s going on, and it can be a good idea to schedule in meetings just for committee members to check in on their wellbeing too.
Useful resources and further reading
An explanation of the social model of disability from ShapeArts
The Blurt Foundation blog has loads of useful articles about how to support people with their Mental Health
Some great charities to check out:
The Black African and Asian Therapy Network
Coffee morning resources:
Time to Talk have a number of resource packs on their website, including card games/bingo you can download and play
The Mental Health Foundation have a similar resource pack for their “Tea & Talk” campaign
Other event resources:
Mental health calendar from Time to Talk
More information about University Mental Health Day
More information about craftivism from the Craftivist Collective