The Welfare Team

The welfare team is headed by the Welfare and Campaigns Officers and made up of 11 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.

Emma Simpson-Assistant Welfare Officer

Age: 20

Course: Sociology (2nd Year)

Position: As one of your assistant welfare officers this year, I will be helping to raise awareness of all the fantastic support systems that college has to offer you. As well as helping with the running of various welfare campaigns (which are great fun, stay tuned for S.H.A.G week!). I will also be hosting weekly tea times – the perfect place to take time out from your busy Castle life to relax, chat and enjoy a cuppa! I am, of course, always happy to talk alone and/or signpost any services that may be of use to you!

Background: I’m a second year sociology student, I’m living out but will definitely be around college a lot. Home home is Kent, although I do see Castle as my second home now! I love getting involved in college – I’ve been on the June Ball committee, netball B team, become a social member of most societies and did a lot of volunteering – I’m the incoming head of the homeless division in the CCA. These are all fab ways of meeting lots of different people! Other interests of mine include: dogs, coffee, gin, undie lager, socials, formals, travelling, cooking, horse riding… so feel free to chat to me about any of the above (or anything else!!)

Picking my favourite Castle memory is so tricky! But it probably has to be at a formal . Burn’s night and Christmas formals were particularly incredible – everyone sings Auld Lang Syne and Christmassy songs and the food is dreamyy!

I was initially attracted to Castle because of the upbeat, friendly environment – I wondered how it felt like such a large family. Once I got to know people more, I realised that it’s a special place because of the wonderful support system; which acts as the backbone of college. College welfare is a really fantastic support community to have available to use – be it for talking to someone one to one or for having a laugh with friends at a tea time!

Can’t wait to meet you all, feel free to come and have a chat with me!!

Alex Wordley-Assistant Welfare Officer

Age: 22

Course: Modern Languages & Culture (Russian) 4th Year

Position: Assistant Welfare Officer – essentially my role is to be a source of support and point of contact for anyone facing any issues (big or small) and to supply you with the finest biscuits at weekly teatimes. I am also living in college this year (K64) so should be around Castle most of the time if you ever need any support, advice or simply fancy a chat.

Background: I’m a 4th year (returning from a year abroad) from Stevenage. My main interests are predominately sporting, and I represent Castle in football, pool and tennis and this year I am also captaining the cricket club. My favourite college activity, however, is without a doubt attending socials. In particular I am likely to be found on any UCAFC, UCCC, UCLRC or Vs Club gathering, although my social attendance is definitely not limited to these fine organisations. Between socials, I am an avid follower of practically every major football league and in the gloomy summer off-season I take up watching cricket instead (Spurs and Somerset if you care).

Favourite Castle memory: Any silent disco that’s ever been held in the courtyard. Alternatively, another personal highlight was Castle AFC’s 2019 tour to Warsaw – an amazing, cultural experience.

The great thing about welfare is that the team is full of friendly faces from loads of different areas of college life, and someone is always there to help or just talk no matter the situation. If you see me around college please do say hello, and I’m really looking forward to meeting you all and hope you have a terrific freshers week!

Michelle Grace-Assistant Campaigns Officer

Age: 19

Course: Combined Honours in Social Sciences-Politics, Sociology & Spanish (2nd Year)

Position: As Assistant Campaigns Officer I’ll be doing the usual welfare tea-times, but also helping to plan/create various campaigns throughout the year.

Background: I’m half Irish & half Slovak, but my home is in Luton, where I grew up. I’m part of a theatre company back home so am a fan of drama, but also a massive fan of dogs, enjoy a bit of reading and one day hope to travel as much as I can. In Durham, I’m President of the 93% club (which would love some Castle representation-hint hint) and have an (academic and personal) interest in education/educational equality both in the UK & internationally. Of course, I do also love to have a good time with some good friends and am excited to make many more memories this coming year!

Favourite Castle Memory: Probably setting up UCSI (University College Society for Inclusion) with Beth Reeves-the whole process was sooo exciting and not only did we realise what a fab team we make, but also learnt a lot about our passions and how to put them into action (once again, would love some Castle involvement here-hint hint)

I’m so excited to be on the welfare team this year & hope that we can work towards being as representative/accessible & generally friendly/helpful as possible-looking forward to meeting everyone and making some gooood cups of tea x

Aidan Turnock-Assistant Campaigns Officer

Age: 19

Course: Chemistry (2nd Year)

Position: My job is (surprisingly) to provide assistance to the main Campaigns Officer throughout the year and to help in the organisation and running of all Campaigns within college, for example ‘Unique week’, while also making sure the campaigns are both representative and sensitive to all those in college.

Background: I am from Hertfordshire which is just North of London. General main interest is I enjoy spending time with people and making friends both out at clubs and at something more chilled during the day. I am a huge blabber mouth, so I love a chat more than anything. Second to that I like to help educate people on issues they don’t understand or can’t personally relate to.

Favourite Castle Memory: The Silent disco either in the undie or in the courtyard during June ball.

I wanted to be on welfare because I think that creating a platform/ community that enables all people to feel able to voice their opinion is one of the most important problems faced in the current education system. I also feel that even if a minority group is not present at college they should still be represented within our media. If you have any suggestions for something that you would like to be highlighted by college, feel free to drop me a message.

I feel like I may sometimes look unapproachable but I’m probably just thinking about how much reading I’ve yet to do. Don’t worry about interrupting me just come and say hi.

Looking forward to meeting everyone and If at any time you feel the need to chat to someone you are welcome to message me. I may not be able to personally relate to something you are going through but the most significant thing is inclusivity and showing that your opinion is heard.

Natalya (Tally) Evans-Livers Out Representative 

Age: 20

Course: Law (3rd Year)

Position: I’m Livers Out Rep, so I’m here to help with any questions or issues with housemates or living out in general! I will be expanding on the Housing Database that was created this year, sign-posting advice on issues pertaining to living out, giving a presentation on housing early in Michaelmas term and running teatimes in New Kepier Court & outside of Castle.

Background: I’m from Winchester, in Durham I’m president of the mooting society, was social sec for UCBC and I work on bar occasionally. I love Swan Cider, DnB and Jimmy’s

Favourite Castle Memory: being carried out the Undie after the Bailey Boat Race

The Welfare Team is an approachable group and look forward to helping you out with any issues you’ve got over the coming year!

Can’t wait to meet you all! x

Lucy Cardy-Disabilities Officer

Age: 20

Course: BSc Physical Geography (2nd Year)

Position: My role as Disabilities Welfare Officer entails liaising with the ‘Students with Disabilities Association’ to discuss and look into ways of improving disability awareness college-wide, and increase accessibility for any student who would like support, e.g. exam concessions, deadline extensions, or provide you with information of external services to support your time at university. I know just how important it is to acknowledge that not all disabilities or struggles are indeed visible, and that some things whether short term or long term, such as worries, anxieties or stress can be equally debilitating, which are all things I am also here to talk to about. Within college I’m always around to discuss any concerns you might have related or unrelated to this, direct you to the right help, have a chinwag, and flaunt how great my tea making skills and choice of biscuits are in my weekly teatime drop-ins (not to blow my own trumpet) so please feel free to pop by!

Background: I absolutely love travelling and travel writing, and as a gap year student will unashamedly try to slip in something about my experiences volunteering and working alongside monkeys in Zanzibar and South Africa into any conversation. I’m still figuring out exactly what I want to do with my degree, but something along the lines of ecological conservation or natural disaster prediction and research would be pretty badass. That aside, I dabble in a bit of college hockey and squash (emphasis on dabble), enjoy colouring in maps, and a bit of wannabe insta photography. I also manage the college toastie bar and specialise in creating my own drunken formal fun (more akin to embarrassment) so you’re likely to see me a lot around college for better or for worse…!!

Favourite Castle Memory: Either surviving a mosh pit in the Courtyard to Robbie Williams’ Angels on Freshers Toga night, or getting told off by College Security after drunkenly singing carols too loudly during Christmas formal (still in denial about it being to do with my voice rather than the volume)

My favourite thing about Welfare is knowing that no matter how you’re feeling, there will always be a group of familiar people or someone to privately talk to and air your worries/ thoughts with which is so integral to the sense of family a college community brings. I know just how daunting starting University can be (this is why I took a very last-minute gap year and am now only just going into second year), so whether you would like specific help with something, or just a friendly face to talk to, we’re always gonna be around! Some of the very best events in college are undeniably the themed weeks and formals organised by our Welfare team too, e.g. Shag (sexual health awareness & guidance) or Unique formal (where you can wear whatever you want under a gown, from onesies to nothing at all!) so get yourself down and enjoying the very best of Castle throughout the year, because Welfare really is about celebrating and supporting our college community.

Feel free to message or chat to me around college/ in my weekly teatimes during the year, I really can’t wait to meet you all and show you the works of the best college in Durham! x

Sunita (feel free to call me Sunny!) Ramani-People of Colour Officer

Age: 20

Course: English Literature (3rd Year)

Position: People of Colour Officer – alongside the duties of a Welfare Officer, I also represent People of Colour at Castle and am here for any PoC students who might want support or just a friendly chat! Since I’m from London, I found it quite daunting to come to Durham and suddenly feel like a minority, so if you feel this way too then please know you’re not alone. I’m really keen on using this role to share and celebrate all our wonderful diversity, and promote an even more inclusive Castle community.

Background: I’m London born and bred, but my whole family are from India, so I’ve probably been there at least 10 times during my life! I love anything artsy, and I’ve been on Castle’s Ents and June Ball Committees for the past two years, making decorations for the balls while getting to meet lots of other lovely people in college. I’m a little bit mad about Harry Potter (basically a typical Durham student), and I’ve tried Quidditch and even taken the famous Harry Potter module. I’ve also been vegan for two years, which hasn’t stopped me being the BIGGEST foodie. I actually have a bit of an obsession with baking, so expect some strong snack game at my Welfare Teatimes…

Favourite Castle Memory: In our Freshers’ Week, we had a big ‘sleepover’ in the Great Hall with toasties and hot chocolate, watching the first Harry Potter movie. I was lucky enough to do that with a lovely group of people whom I’m still friends with, but even if I hadn’t made friends at that point, it felt so relaxed and magical, and is one of my favourite events at Castle to this day.

During my two years at Durham so far, I’ve seen the previous Welfare teams do some fantastic work supporting our Castle community, and I feel honoured to be a part of it this year. The PoC Officer role is still very new, and if you have any suggestions for things you’d like me to do, or events I could hold, then please let me know – I’m open to your suggestions!

I can’t wait to meet you all, and please do come over and have a chat if you ever see me around Castle or Durham!

Skeena Williamson-LGBT+ Representative 

Age: 21

Course: Anthropology & Sociology (3rd Year)

Position: As LGBT+ representative, I’m not only a member of the welfare team but my role also entails fostering the LGBT+ community in college through organising events in Castle and promoting any wider university initiatives. I’ll be your first point of contact for all things LGBT+ related.

Background: I love books so much I’m now running an LGBT+ book club in the university (please join!). I’m also from France and I love to dye my hair bright colours. In my spare time, I volunteer for Just Like Us and I watch questionable tv with my housemates.

Favourite Castle memory: Coming out as bisexual to a friend for the first time at Freshtival! And probably any castle meal time in first year, chatting with friends for ages.

I’m excited to be on the Welfare team this year, it’s very important that all students have as much support as possible and I hope that we can continue the great work that’s been done in previous years.

I’m looking forward to meeting everyone soon and you’re welcome to come chat to me throughout the next year!

Ania Forget-International Welfare Officer

Age: 19

Course: Biological Sciences

Position: As International Officer I will hold weekly drop-in sessions open to everyone, help student with any problems that may affect their well-being, in particular those that international students may face, and provide support throughout both Fresher’s Week & the entire academic year. I will also work closely with the international committee to organise a variety of events, around two per term, aimed both at International and home students.

Interests: Ents & June Ball, Tennis, Durham French Society, Travelling, Languages, Surfing, The Swan & Fabs

Favourite Castle Memory: All the different socials from different clubs & societies. They’re always a good opportunity to meet new people & have a good time

Having some friendly faces I knew I could go to throughout the year to seek advice or to lift  my mood was really comforting.

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 Campaigns Officer, Hanna. 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.