Hello I’m Sean. I’ll be the Community Action Officer for the next year.
Since being elected one of the most common questions I’ve had to answer is ‘what exactly is the Community Action Officer then?’. I’m hoping that by the end of the year I will be able to point to a number of succesful groups, projects and events which will do a much better job of explaining the worth of having an Union Officer dedicated to ‘community action’.
Anyhow the general thrust of my manifesto and the reasoning behind it is that, as I said in my very short election speech – it would be great if the Guild could become a Union next year.
Currently the Guild provides a number of exemplrary services but there is little tying the strands together. I believe that if we want the Guild to be an organisation that can really stand up for its members when necessary and has tangible bargaining power its members need to be fully invested in it. I’d hope that over the next year, rather than just going to the Guild for rock climbing or Fab or what have you, more people will come to see the Guild as their organisation that they can use to help them achieve big goals that they couldn’t achieve by themselves. Whether this is because their society takes part in a big event In the local area or because they become more involved in the policitcal running of the guild it doesn’t matter.
The end goal is for the Guild to become less of a student experience department, less of well branded shop providing fun activities and good nights out. The end goal is for the Guild to become a Union that fully reflects the collective worth, power and interests of it varied membership.
Anyhow enough philosophical rambling.
I spent the time after getting trained in June and July working on a few on my manifesto points, I helped organise the Cooperative Corner at the stupendous Vale Festival. The corner had a fair few brilliant organisations invovled that I’m sure you’ll hear a lot more about over the next year. One of those budding organisations is the Green Bike Project – Something I’ve been trying to get off the ground all year. The idea is that there would be a place on campus where people could bring their broken bikes and learn to fixes them back up. We would also take in donations of broken and abandoned bicycles, recycle them and sell or rent them back to the local community. The Green Bike Project would be set up as a cooperative, a democratic business owned by all of its volunteer members with any profits it made from selling parts or bicycles being plowed back into making the organisation bigger and better. We hope to organise cultural events, maintenance workshops and cycling tours of the local area, and become a central part of the cycling community in the Univeristy of Birmingham and Selly Oak.
After a year of networking and talking to people myself and Tom Wragg and other members had a number of successful meetings with the University, the Guild and the Cooperative Development Hub in June and July. These took us from the point of despondency to one where we have a room, a lovely professional toolkit provided by our very own Guild of Students (after the uninamous support of the outgoing sabbatical team – something pretty uncommon) and will, touch wood, be opening up shop in September at the start of the academic year. The business of setting up a business is no small feat and quite a few of us were working almost full time to try and getting various funding applications in place and the work is still going on in earnest. I’ll definitely be talking about the GBP properly in a later blog.
I’ve also begun talks with the Guild financial team and the VPDR to see how we move the Guilds long term investments away from HSBC and into ethical banks. The companies that members money are invested in, however indirectly, should be inline with the Guilds beliefs and commintments and furthermore the Guild also has policy for ethical banking so this is hopefully something that can be achieved over the next year.
In my next blog I will talk about how I thought officer training went and where I benefited and the agreements, sentriments and friendships that came out of it. Amongst them was the general agreement between non sabbs and (sabbs?) that GOG (guild officer group meeting) should be held fortnightly and that public meetings such as GOG and SOG (similar to GOG but with only sabbatical officers holding voting rights) should be publicised and transparent so that people can attend.
Incendentally if there is ever an award for the most exotic bloging location for the officer blogs, I think I’m in with a fighting chance – this was tapped out on the Cauvery Express, an overnight sleeper train from Myesore To Chennai in India.
Until next time.