Student Projects: Improving student engagement with the Chaplaincy Team
23rd February 2021
We are really happy to welcome Simon Witcombe and Jimmy Fletcher to the YFP blog to share their experiences of their Unlimited Student Project. Simon is the FCH Chaplain, and Jimmy is a first year Photography Ed and Ad student. Let’s find out how the project went, shall we?
Hello to you both! So tell us, why did you want to be involved in this project?
Simon: I came across the invitation to get involved with Unlimited Student Projects last summer. We were very aware that as a Chaplaincy team we were really lacking in experience and skill when it came to using social media. We are always keen to make the activities that we offer accessible to a wider group of students. Setting up a USP was a great opportunity to involve a student with the experience and skills we were looking for – a student who would understand best the ways that students are likely to engage.
Jimmy: I wanted to start my first year at University off with a bang, so I was looking at ways that I could gain experience as a photographer and after a quick search on the YFP page I found the Unlimited Student Project working with the University Chaplaincy. They were looking for someone who could help them to improve their social media presence and document the work and events that they hold. I had heard a lot about the lovely things the Chaplaincy does for students and really felt that I could be the person to help promote the Chaplaincy’s work. This seemed like the perfect combination, I could promote the Chaplaincy’s wonderful work, meet new people, build on my photography skills and get some work experience in the field I would like to work in.
What has been your experience so far?
Simon: We were delighted when Jimmy Fletcher applied to be part of the project. As a Photography student, Jimmy has the skills needed to help us with our visual publicity, and he also has plenty of experience with Instagram. Jimmy was interested in the work of the Chaplaincy and keen to get involved in as many ways as possible.
Jimmy has indeed got fully involved, taking part in activities ranging from students sharing pizzas in the Edible Garden at FCH, to international students cooking marshmallows over a firepit at Oxstalls, to our dogwalking in Pittville Park, to documenting the recording of our Remembrance and Christmas videos.
We have now set up a Chaplaincy Publicity WhatsApp group so that we can share info about events and activities with Jimmy and our Journalism placement student Alicja. Jimmy has used Instagram very effectively to publicise these events, resulting in several new students coming along. This has been particularly important as during this challenging term we haven’t had the usual footfall in our spaces.
It’s fair to say that with Jimmy’s encouragement our team is beginning to lose our nervousness about using social media. We are now intending to set up a training session with Jimmy so that he can pass on some of his skills and understanding to us.
Jimmy: The experience has been amazing, Simon and the Chaplaincy team have all made me feel so welcome and like I am part of the family. Although there have been many restrictions and lockdowns, I have had so many opportunities to meet some amazing people from all over the world whilst photographing the international Café and attend so many wonderful events. I have attended almost every physical event that the Chaplaincy has put on this year, I have had the privilege to photograph everything from the dog walking at Pittville Park to toasting marshmallows at Oxstalls, I even had the opportunity to get involved with the film students to film the Christmas video!
Participating in this project has really helped to build my confidence and communication skills. My photography has also improved a lot from the first event, I was so nervous the first time around, but now I am able to get fully involved without a worry in the world, it really has been the best experience… honestly, I would love to do this forever!
Simon – would you recommend that other teams offer Unlimited Student projects to our students?
Simon: Yes, absolutely! The process was straightforward, with simple online forms for us and for the students. The whole project has been very well supported by Ben Miles from YFP. Ben has guided us through each step, and kept in touch to check up on how things are going. We have enjoyed having someone new working with our team, especially as Jimmy has been a joy to work with – extremely reliable and very good at just fitting in. As ever with these projects, the benefits are more than just the immediate outcomes. It’s been great to see jimmy quietly getting alongside some more reticent students through the medium of photography. And we as a team now realise that working in partnership with students and learning from them is an approach which we really want to follow in the future.
Jimmy, what advice would you give to other students who could do with getting work experience?
Jimmy: Get on the YFP page, get yourself out there and do something positive! This is a great way to meet new people, gain experience and will look great on your CV. Getting involved is super easy and took me like a minute to fill out the application form. I was a little worried about having the time to take on this project when I first applied, but I have found that the hours are flexible, and the Chaplaincy team have been really understanding of deadlines and personal commitments.
Thank you both! For all Uni of Glos students seeking a bit of extra work experience, please check out the Student Projects currently available on the YFP portal! Keep checking back, we update as soon as any new projects come through. Any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org