The Welfare Team

The welfare team is headed by the Welfare and Campaigns Officers: Bechan Davies (castle.welfareofficer@durham.ac.uk) and Emma Gratte (castle.campaignsofficer@durham.ac.uk) respectively.

If you have any welfare concerns, please contact College Office in the first instance. The email address for the student support team is: univcoll.studentsupport@durham.ac.uk.

It is also made up of 10 current castle students. All of them are here to be a listening ear and to help signpost issues on to useful services both within and without of the University. There are a wide range of personalities on the team, so ask whoever you feel most comfortable with if you can talk something through with them, they will be more than happy to help.

Jennifer Lafferty (she/her) – Assistant Welfare Officer

Degree: BSc Geography 2nd year

Position: My aim as Assistant Welfare Officer is to make welfare more accessible to all especially as COVID restrictions lift and life continues to be as unpredictable as ever. I also want to spread the idea that castle welfare is a system designed for everyone – not just those struggling, and it is there to support you through the day-to-day challenges that come with being a university student.

Interests: I love acting (catch me on the DST exec this year!) and music as well as all things physical geography including hiking and being in the outdoors. I’m also a big fan of meeting new people so if you see me around don’t be a stranger!

Email: hjph48@durham.ac.uk

Olivia Heckford (she/her) – Assistant Welfare Officer

Course: Politics

Position: As Assistant Welfare Officer I am really looking forward to providing support for everyone in our fantastic Castle community. As we move in to a post pandemic world, our physical and mental well-being is more important than ever. I would love to share my experiences as an international student and help everyone with the transition to life at university.

Interests: I love baking, drag race and the pancakes from flat white. I am only somewhat addicted to chocolate and can often be found in the cinema watching random films at 10pm.

Email: Olivia.heckford@durham.ac.uk 

James Munday (he/him) – Assistant Welfare Officer

Course: Physics

Position: My role as Assistant Welfare Officer is to help make Castle as supportive and accessible as possible to all students. I personally want to help develop the friendly community we have here at Castle and ensure that everyone feels welcome at all times. Getting the new freshers settled in is of particular importance to me and showing you that welfare is a great service that is available to anyone and everyone, whether you need help with something or just want to meet new people or simply have a friendly chat 🙂

Interests: I love to be active so if you’re looking to find me I’ll probably be on a hockey pitch or a squash court! Adventuring and the outdoors is another keen hobby of mine. I love climbing and discovering new places. In my downtime I’ll most likely be binging a Netflix series or watching a film. I also work in the West Courtyard Cafe so come find me there for a chat and a toastie!

Jess Hunter (she/her) – Assistant Campaigns Officer

Course: Psychology (2nd year)

Position: This year I will be working with the rest of the campaigns team to make sure everyone feels welcome in college. We will be running campaigns that draw attention to important issues and start discussions about welfare topics.

Interests: I love all things sport from rowing to rounders, I love to travel and can usually be found in either Cafédral or Leonard’s.

Contact me: jessica.hunter2@durham.ac.uk

Jacob Grummett – Assistant Campaigns Officer

Course: Psychology (2nd Year)

Position: I support the Campaigns officer in their role by helping with the organisation of informative campaigns that raise awareness for great causes and social issues. The entire welfare team ensures that everyone’s time at Castle is special, enjoyable and memorable.

Interests: I love making banging playlists, cafedrals chorizo and cream cheese bagel, and getting kicked out of Jimmy’s at 2AM when the lights come on. That’s all I’m interested in.

Email: brnx65@durham.ac.uk

Joshua Taylor – Assistant Campaigns Officer

Course: Biology (2nd year)

Position: I am so excited to be one of the Assistant Campaigns Officers where we will be running some fun and informative campaigns to ensure everyone at Castle feels supported whilst learning more about some important issues. By being apart of the welfare team I also hope to be a friendly and familiar face around college for anyone who might need a chat!

Interests: I love the environment and getting out and about exploring nature rain or shine! I’m also a keen runner and love anything artsy from acting to drunk musical performances with my pals.

Email: hfnt82@durham.ax.uk

Roberta Dedgjonaj (she/her) – Livers In Representative

Course – History (2nd year)

Position: As Livers In Rep, my role is to liaise issues or ideas that Livers In might have to College Office and other relevant channels. I aim to ensure that students get their value for money and that their issues are resolved, which can range from maintenance issues to problems with flatmates. I’ll also be in charge of creating the Livers-In Handbook where I hope to give information on the porters, accommodation and catering, and common spaces. I will be working closely with the Ripped Off Campaign and other similar groups to communicate your rights and opportunities as Livers-In!

Interests – My interests are simply playing rounders and Jimmies!

Please get in touch if you have any questions: roberta.dedgjonaj@durham.ac.uk

Emily Harriet Gray (she/her) – Livers Out Representative 

Course: Modern Languages and Cultures – Russian and Spanish

Position: My role is to make sure that livers out are as catered for as those who live in college accommodation. This includes making sure that livers out have access to welfare supplies, ensuring that they know their rights as tenants and organising livers out formals. As well as this, I also help freshers with housing. This year I want to expand on the previous livers out representative’s work and help first years find housemates if they are struggling to do so, as well as offer in person tours of popular areas to live in Durham.

Interests: In my spare time I enjoy kayaking, tennis and horse riding and I hope to give polo a go in second year. I am also vice president of the Hispanic Society, events manager for DUSEF, Spanish language representative and one of the editors for The Definite Article

Please get in touch if you have any questions: emily.h.gray@durham.ac.uk

Cameron Mitchell (he/him) – Working Class Officer 

Course: Computer Science

Position: In my position as working class officer I hope to enable the expansion of support for working class students in two key areas: increased awareness and participation in career/social mobility programs through closer ties with the 93% club as well as external organisations and speakers; and introduction of subsidies for college events throughout the year, working with CCA in order to achieve this. I also aim to be a friendly face around college for freshers and other years alike, signposting students and promoting a more inclusive and welcome environment for all members of our college!

Interests: There’s a lot! I am an active member of the castle pride society and the treasurer for Sexpression, whose goal is to teach RSHE topics to secondary school children via student volunteering – if you’re interested contact me and I’ll help you get involved. I’m a member of 93% Club, Durham Finance Society (DUES), and Durham Business Society (DUBS) who all host informative events and talks on career and professional development, the 93% club being especially for state-school students! I love the annual DurHack hackathon that CompSoc put on, it’s great fun and I really suggest getting involved if you want to develop some technical knowledge. As for sports I play for one of the CSGO teams in the Durham eSports Society (DUES) and love the occasional game of castle volleyball when the amazing Abi puts them on. I am free to discuss any of these things, or just chat in general, over Facebook messenger, email or one of the welfare teatimes – I can make a great cuppa/coffee! 😀

Contact me: cameron.g.mitchell@durham.ac.uk

Garance Zinzin (she/her) – Disabilities Officer 

Position: My role focuses on advocating for and supporting students with disabilities. I am particularly interested in raising awareness of invisible disabilities, such as chronic illnesses and neurodiversity, and working to ensure that everyone who may need support – whether they identify as disabled or not – is able to access it.

Interests: Swing dance, bulk buying Tesco’s dark chocolate digestives (it’s honestly a problem), the Old Durham Garden animals, and Eurovision!

Email: garance.zinzen@durham.ac.uk

Banna Faidulla – People of Colour Officer

Course: Geography

Position: My aim as People of Colour Officer is to make Castle a welcoming environment for all people of colour. Being Kurdish gives me an insight into issues people from minority backgrounds face at uni and I would like to use my experiences from first and second year to help others in Castle.

Interests: When I’m not struggling with essays, I love to paint and eat and paint and eat some more.

Contact me: banna.faidulla@durham.ac.uk

Ellie Cox (she/her) – LGBTQ+ Representative 

Course: English Literature

Position: As LGBTQ+ Rep I’m responsible for being a relatable, friendly, and welcoming figure within college for all students, regardless of your identity. By using my own experiences of being part of the LGBTQ+ community, I hope to be the person you feel comfortable coming to talk to, whether you’re seeking support, welfare products or just a general chat! I know how it feels to struggle with your identity, so no matter who you are please feel free to reach out. I’m here to create a safe space for you all to be able to be unapologetically yourselves.

Interests: My interests mainly revolve around the cat cafe, getting tattoos, spending all my weekend (and all my money!) at Revs, being known as the wine drinker of my friends and unashamedly playing Taylor Swift in all possible situations!

Feel free to contact me about anything: ellie.m.cox@durham.ac.uk

Matthias Mühlenbrock (he/him) – International Welfare Officer 

Course: Sociology

Position: The last one and a half years have been an incredible challenge for everyone at Durham, especially for our international community. As International Officer I aspire to assist all international students with all kinds of issues they might face, regarding travel restrictions, moving in, healthcare, bank accounts or anything else. My aim is to make you feel at home in Durham and, most importantly, in Castle´s uniquely diverse community. During the year it will be my responsibility to organise International Fresher´s Week and to host regular events throughout your time at Durham, especially in conjunction with Castle´s International Society.

Interests: Most of my hobbies are all about history, especially of the Medieval time period (but you might find me in the Lowe Library reading anything from Alexander´s conquests all the way up to the Cold War). I also am a practitioner of HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) and member of one of Britain´s biggest historical re-enactment groups, ‘Regia Anglorum’ (and more specifically its County Durham based branch, ‘Saint Cuthbert´s Land’). You could certainly guess that this made me fall in love with the majestic castle we may call our home even more and I am always happy to give overly detailed answers to any questions you might have about anything historical in and around Durham!

Please feel free to contact me in case you have any questions I may assist you with: matthis.w.muhlenbrock@durham.ac.uk

Contact Welfare

You can contact any member of the welfare team individually, or attend a drop in, and we will be more than happy to help. Here are some other ways to get in touch:

Anonymous messaging system: ucwelfare.castlejcr.com

You can use this form to communicate anonymously with the Welfare leads. You could ask a question which you would prefer not to talk about directly, request Welfare supplies for you to anonymously collect, report an incident or use it to just send your thoughts. When you submit the form, your message will be assigned a random ‘Ticket ID’. This is the only thing which connects you to the message so it cannot be ‘de-anonymised’ or linked back to you. It is entirely confidential. Remember to keep your Ticket ID as it is the only way to access your response later. If you would like us to know who you are, feel free to include your name in the message. Come back in a few days and click ‘View Response’, then enter your Ticket ID. You can enter some additional information or reply as many times as you like using the same Ticket ID.