Saturday, May 25Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

A Chat with Lacrosse about their new Social and Wellbeing Position

Owen Williams and Claudia Hall

Lacrosse recently introduced a new committee position this year, a position that is very new or non-existent to most sports or societies clubs. So, Owen sat down with them to talk about the importance and reasoning behind this new role.  

What is the role of social and wellbeing secretary?

The social side of it is once a week online socials, that keeps the club morale up and interconnected in a physical way as we have so many teams. Then the wellbeing side is new, it is making sure that there is someone that people can talk to if they’re not doing so great, feel unwelcome or not enjoying the experience as much as they should. 

What was the reasoning behind this new role?

There were no serious wellbeing issues that brought forward this role, but it was about making the club a more open space to talk about the many issues that we individually find ourselves in or within ourselves.

It being a very difficult year for most and sports being greatly different this year, what has that been like for you in the role?

It’s about making people aware that there is a dedicated person for them to talk to within the club. Charlotte (Lacrosse President) and I went through mental health training at the beginning of the term and our captains will also be doing so later in November. 

Now that you have made this role, do you think people are more likely to come and talk about the issues they have?

All of us on committee deal with different things but we’re all there to give time to people. People have always tended to talk to their captains or other members if they have concerns or issues, but this year there is added support. Especially as there has been many concerns over Covid and creating safe training sessions.

I think having the option of the wellbeing sec has made it more accessible, which makes the club a more open environment. We say that we’re always open to feedback, we’re here for our members and here to make their experience within the club better. There’s always something we can be doing, and if you’re not happy come talk to us we’ve made that very clear to everyone.

Will you keep it combined or will you branch out and make the wellbeing role into its own position?

It’s difficult to say yet and especially as this year we haven’t had the added pressure on the social side of the role so there isn’t the extra stress. It is something we will have to think more about later in the year.

Is there any mandated SU training for a wellbeing role?

The SU are very good at supplying training to clubs, they ran a session in September for mental health and they run various other sessions throughout the year. Our aim as a club is to get all our committee members trained in mental health, so there isn’t just one person, especially our captains who are in a more direct responsibility role for their teams.

With the restrictions on the social side and subsequent member bonding that Covid has presented, people can’t make those interpersonal connections and don’t necessarily recognise the Social and Wellbeing Sec. Therefore, it is important to get as many people trained as possible.

In the constitution, it is stated that you must undergo training for the role. No one is walking into that role unprepared.

Do you have a wellbeing campaign?

Every week we have a “wellbeing Wednesday”. We take a different topic every week and do a social media post about it. They have included settling into Uni, anxiety around Covid and personal wellbeing. We have had very positive feedback from it and it’s nice that you can let people know that they’re not alone in these issues. There’s no pressure regarding these, it is a safe space for everyone. Also, the idea of it being once a week, makes it a constant conversation as opposed to one campaign or one week. 

One of our alumni was on the BUCS webinar about how sport helped her mental health at Uni. She talked about how doing exercise and keeping fit really helped her through her time at Holloway to relax and destress.

What is your opinion on this idea that there can be toxicity in sport?

I think that’s a massive generalisation, I think for most sports clubs there is a real sense of community and togetherness that far outweighs any negativity. Sport does help people’s mental health and particularly within our club there is a very diverse range of teams that help cater for everyone.

We’re a very integrated club in terms of our teams and we really drive our mixed teams as much as any other team. It does create more of a family culture and we offer alternatives to drinking at socials and there’s no pressure to do such. 

Doing a sport at Uni is beneficial, it’s like a ‘home from home’ sort of vibe. It’s not only helpful for your mental health but also aids in better sleep, concentration on work and boosts self-esteem.