Student Leadership Award Winners
Students' Unions participating in Green Impact Students' Unions (GISU) were asked this year to nominate individual students or student groups for a Sustainability Leadership Award. The nominations showed student leadership on a range of sustainability initiatives, from chairing sustainability boards, leading clean-ups and film screenings, to raising awareness on social media.
Congratulations to every single student and student group that was nominated. 6 individuals and 4 student groups were shortlisted, and it was an incredibly tough decision for SOS-UK to select winners for this award. The winners, highly commended and shortlisted nominees are displayed below.
WINNER FROM INDIVIDUAL NOMINATIONS
GRACE MCMEEKIN: QUEEN MARY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON
Grace is the SU’s elected Sustainability Officer. Amidst a particularly challenging year for students, staff and practically everyone, Grace has been a constant source of inspiration and energy in championing sustainability within the University community.
In particular, she’s been the driving force behind an appeal initiative to collect food and financial donations for the local Bow Foodbank and raising awareness on the theme of Climate Justice in the student community. Together Grace and other students raised £400 and collected 400 items for the Foodbank.
As well as this, Grace has worked to embed sustainability within Students' Union democratic structures by chairing our first ever student Sustainability Board, developing an Environmental Policy for the Students' Union and is responsible for 10 motions on sustainability passed by Student Council this year covering everything from flying to sustainable menus to student group events.
She's also got her hands dirty literally by getting involved with the planting of acampus orchard, helping to green campus through regular volunteer sessions and supporting local wildlife through supporting the working group that achieved the Bronze Hedgehog Friendly Campus accreditation.
In her spare time she has taken her sustainability passion even further by participating in the Environmental Leadership programme with the leadership charity Uprising UK and also begun a Climate Change Policy Intern role with Climate Emergency UK in which she is helping support local councils to envisage a brighter future in the upcoming May local elections.
WINNER FROM STUDENT GROUP NOMINATIONS
GREEN MOVEMENT SOCIETY: UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE
Over the past academic year, the Green Movement Society have shown real creativity and determination during a tough time. They have been at the forefront of all things ‘sustainability’ within societies and have hosted many events that help promote a more sustainable lifestyle. They have hosted an Autumnal Photo Competition where 2 winners were picked among the many that got involved. They also held a creative writing class with a focus around moving to more sustainable practices where both students and staff got involved. Their Earth Day community litter pick was just one of many clean-ups they have done. Their outings were successful, as they managed to clear 7 bags full of rubbish from the streets. Many students were involved in the project, coming together to make the local environment cleaner.
The society has also got involved in wider initiatives with support from the Students’ Union and University Sustainability team, celebrating Fairtrade Fortnight with videos to give students tips and tricks on shopping more Fairtrade. They have also marked holidays such as Valentine’s Day, with sustainable alternatives to typical presents and celebrations. Additionally, to bring students together in the height of lockdown, they held a David Attenborough documentary Netflix viewing so people could discuss important issues with those who are also interested. This helped build a real community of students with similar interests.
As well as all the achievements within their own society, they also encourage others to do the same. Because of their promotion, our Geography, Environmental and Planning society have hosted a Veganuary Bake-a-long, Earth Day End of Year Quiz and Grow your own plants workshop.
INDIVIDUAL SHORTLISTED NOMINATIONS
TOM GUILBERT-NEWELL: KEELE UNIVERSITY (HIGHLY COMMENDED)
Tom’s genuine enthusiasm and energy has been an inspiration for all this year. He is a popular and well-known member of the Keele community, largely due to the eccentric videos he posts promoting his many endeavours, including life in the Sustainability Bungalow, the Great Donate and many other sustainable opportunities across campus.
It’s a wonder there’s enough time in a day for everything Tom gets up to; he’s not only a student of sustainability, but is also President of Think:Green Society and Secretary of Amnesty International. He’s one of the coordinators of the Great Donate, a reuse and recycling scheme that he made popular though his ‘spoons’ videos on social media. Furthermore, he’s also the International Students Officer as well as a Recycling Ambassador and a local youth climate strikes leader. This year he has collaborated with both the University and the Students’ Union on a number of events and projects, and was the driving force behind our recent climate emergency declaration. His approachable and friendly demeanour make him a pleasure to work with both from a student and staff point of view; he’s one of those rare individuals who never fails to put a smile on your face! Tom’s recent successes and popularity no doubt contributed to his land slide victory in our full-time officer elections; we are pleased to say Tom will be joining us as Activities and Communities Officer next year, after running a campaign largely centring around better integrating sustainability throughout SU activity.
BARRY MCLAUGHLIN: ULSTER UNIVERSITY
Barry is a final-year Environment Science student, who’s activism throughout 2020/21 has shown an extreme dedication to combating complex global problems with passion, drive and creativity!
Barry has Co-Founded a global youth-led project called the ‘Earth Action Hub’ with 6 activists from across the world. His aim is to bridge the gap between generations, cultures and the global North and South for Climate-Action by creating annual-event dedicated to connecting people to inspire change and organised a 3-day event with keynote-speakers, workshops, panel-discussions, networking-opportunities.
Barry has been a speaker at world-youth events this year such as Mock COP26, he was elected as Ireland’s Climate Ambassador 2020 and over the course of his degree he has been a co-lead of the Inch Partridge-Reintroduction Project alongside the NPWS which has generated over 200,000Euro for the local agricultural economy and created awareness for biodiversity protection. Barry has also engaged with Ulster University Students’ Union during their ‘UUSU Sustainability Fortnight’ by submitting his story to help inspire fellow students of how they can get involved!
VANIQUE KRUGER: UWE
Vanique is the part-time Sustainability Officer for The Students’ Union at UWE. This year, Vanique has been at the forefront of encouraging 30,000 students to live more consciously. This has been through empowering them to take daily actions that positively impact their local community and the wider world. As chair of the Sustainability Committee, Vanique has led 13 passionate students to create and implement several innovative campaigns over the academic year, including:
• Let's Talk Trash (this explored how students can reduce their waste across five different areas: food, fashion, recycling, plastic, and zero-waste living);
• Inspiring the Committee to develop a student-facing Sustainable Living Guide, to be launched in autumn 2021 as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of The Students’ Union;
• Working with UWE and SU finance teams to create a divestment update explaining what we are doing on sustainable finance;
• Initiating the rollout of biodegradable bags in the SU shop;
• Working alongside other part-time officers and the Sustainability Committee to create and run a sustainable period product workshop.
Vanique has embraced being part-time officer, incorporating the role’s values into all areas of her UWE life, from being a sustainability representative to a lead department rep. She is an engaged and passionate representative and attends the UWE Sustainability Board, delivering the SU Sustainability Report and highlighting key student concerns to UWE. This includes recently passed Student Ideas that need support (green walls, plastic reduction and access to wider food options).
MARTA CATTIN: LANCASTER UNIVERSITY
Marta has made an outstanding contribution to the continuity of produce growing activity at the Green Lancaster ECOHub throughout the challenging year of the pandemic. Marta, a PhD student at Lancaster Environment Centre, started volunteering at the ECOHub from October 2019. When the pandemic hit and the UK was plunged into lockdown, our students were immediately scattered across the world, with huge impacts on engagement activity. This left a challenge for our ECOHub as it is a project that is heavily reliant upon student volunteers. The ‘grow-plan’ of crops that had been planned (and sown) for the 2020 season was at risk, along with hundreds of seedlings across the site and polytunnel at risk of wilting away and disappearing under a sea of weeds due to a lack of human resource and presence.
After the initial disruption caused by the move to working remotely had subsided, Marta approached us with proposals on how to move forward with ensuring the hard work of volunteers at the ECOHub could be saved and the grow plan could continue to be nurtured for spring and summer 2020. Working within the controls on social contact, we were delighted to support and provide operating procedures to enable Marta to take the lead on managing a Covid-safe ECOHub.
This has led to huge impact over the last year, from over £700 worth of fresh produce being sold at the Students’ Union Supermarket to socially distanced ‘volunteer action days’ with small groups during periods when the restrictions allowed. Throughout, Marta has overseen a rota of volunteers, attending individually or within their household to undertake maintenance and crop work. This has led to the ECOHub being in outstanding condition and a thriving example of how student innovation can lead us through the most difficult of times.
BETH HAMMOND: ARTS UNIVERSITY BOURNEMOUTH
Beth is the Green Officer at AUBSU and a first year Illustration student. She has thrown herself into the role and took the lead of our Green Team.
Beth has had many successes in her role, including:
· Organising and running our campaign ‘Tech For Trees’. Tech for Trees is on track to plant 4500 trees globally.
· She also presented Tech For Trees to AUB’s Environmental Committee and represented the student voice to university management.
· Running a ‘Grow Your Own’ initiative to encourage students in lockdown in halls to get green and grow their own herbs.
· Overseeing Edition 3 of the Green Zine, which had 17 contributors (up 6 from last year!).
· She has also worked wonders with the Green Instagram account, posting 29 new posts and almost daily stories. Check it out (@aubsu_green) – this is absolutely vital to engaging and communicating with students.
· Running a session for our 2-day online conference ‘Ethos For Change’, where she designed the content along with our incoming Green Officer Beatriz. In her session ‘Sustainability in the Arts’, Beth spoke about different creatives and the ways they consider the environment in their practice. Not only was her talk engaging and informative, it demonstrated Beth’s growth over the year and her new-found confidence in her role (and in herself!).
STUDENT GROUP SHORTLISTED NOMINATIONS
THE HUNGRY DRAGONS: UNDEB BANGOR (HIGHLY COMMENDED)
The Hungry Dragons are a fantastic project which has been tackling food waste within Bangor. They are partnered with the Bangor Fair-Price Café, which is a fairly priced, zero waste and locally sourced café in the city centre and is run as a community collaboration between the Bangor City Cathedral Food Bank, Gwynedd Council and the university. This year they launched their own calendar, which includes 12 amazing recipes for people to use up their surplus food and ensure none gets thrown away. 100% of the proceeds from this calendar goes to charity. Their main focus has been to take surplus foods and, with simple and easy to follow recipes, turn them into tasty meals and long-lasting preserves. This year they have fully adapted to running online activities, and have hosted numerous cook along events for students to attend which have been a huge success. They have a very active social media presence, and are continuously posting recipes and tips on reducing food waste, including how to turn your vegetable scraps into vegetable stock, and even how to regrow plants from scrap.
SUSTAINABILITY NETWORK: WORCESTER STUDENTS' UNION
During their first year of running, the Network Committee has shown immense dedication in creating a platform to raise student awareness around sustainability and increase student engagement in sustainability. They have achieved this through gaining 24 members since their launch, creating an Instagram page, which has now reached 150 followers, as well as holding open meetings for their members to attend. Through the sustainability network’s open meetings, they have been able to pass policies such as the GTRSB pledge policy as well as the Nightbus policy, aligning themselves with SDGs 5 and 10. Alongside the SU president, the network also delivered SDG week for the SU’s clubs, societies and networks. They have also hosted a number of online events, including running an online campaign during hedgehog awareness week, as well as participating in Go Green Week. Lucy Robson, the chair of the network has also given a talk with the University of Worcester’s director of sustainability at a sustainability event in collaboration with PermNational Research Polytechnic University. Through their consistent efforts of both engaging with the University, as well as their student members, the Network has been able to amplify the student voice around sustainability and increase student engagement in sustainability overall.
LUMOS SOCIETY: UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL
The LUMOS Society (marine biology and oceanography) has:
• Created a sustainability series to promote the ways of living in a more eco-friendly manner.
• Collaborated with the Careers and Employability service to organise a Mapathon – this was an event for anyone in the School of Environmental Sciences and looks to engage students with Open Street Map, and how to edit these for humanitarian and sustainability goals. It included an introduction to mapping session, followed by the actual mapping event where students will be actively contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals by joining a Global community of Mappers.
• For Light Night (a key night in the Liverpool city calendar, with events going on all around the city, although virtually this year) they are basing their event around 'Playing your part' for the marine ecosystem. As the theme this year is ‘PLAY’ they aim to show how you can be ‘Playing Your Part’ when it comes to the marine ecosystem. Their members will be in a video showing them taking three for the sea to promote and inform people’s everyday activities. Their aim is to create a collage of people playing their part for the ocean, so picking up rubbish that would blow into the sea, using sustainable products (e.g. no micro beads, reef safe suncream etc.), raising awareness for the marine environment and those kinds of things.
• They are organising a paddle boarding pick joint with surfers against sewage and are involved with Friends of Crosby for World Oceans Days, as well as a beach clean with New Brightoneers once restrictions allow.