Your Advice Service

Introduction to Safer Communities

Being part of a community can be a wonderful, life affirming thing. It is also possible for people in specific communities to feel more vulnerable when it comes to overall safety and wellbeing. For this month’s campaign theme, Safety in Communities, Your Advice Service talks to three of your community engagement leads to find out more about the communities they represent and how they can help all students feel safe and supported along their student journey.

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Five students standing and smiling for the camera in front of a green landscape on a sunny day.

“One of my favourite things about my community is the richness in diversity. The community has students from different parts of the world, Asia, Africa, Europe, et cetera as its members. This gives me an opportunity to meet different people and learn about a variety of cultures across the globe.” (Oduduabasi, International Community Engagement Lead.)

Who are we talking to?

  • Oduduabasi is the engagement lead for the International Student Community. He is an international student from Nigeria, studying International Business Management (MSc). The community aims to bring students from diverse nationalities together, to connect with other international students, and receive any support they may need to enhance their university experience. It is for all students who self-define as having an international background, whether that means they have come to the UK to study or have lived in two or more cultural environments.
  • Jack is the engagement lead for the LGBTQIA+ Community. He is a trans man, studying psychology as an undergraduate. The community is a safe space for students to express themselves with freedom in what is an otherwise cis-heteronormative society. The LGBTQIA+ community has a diverse range of sexual orientations and gender identities and enables students to find joy and celebration in being themselves without fear of judgment or harassment.  
  • Sophie is the engagement lead for the Women’s Community. They are in their third year of studying Illustration and Animation. The community works to support the needs and improve the experiences of Women students across Coventry University’s campuses. They host talks, create networks, and organise events and campaigns to help open up spaces that amplify the voices of women in educational settings.

“The Women’s community is so diverse and expansive that we are really able to explore and tackle a wide variety of issues. From safety and wellbeing initiatives that don’t only benefit women, to highlighting the experiences of queer women, or even promoting initiatives to support neuro-diverse students. The women’s community is so rich and has so much diversity that there is nothing we can’t work on.” (Sophie, Women’s Community Engagement Lead.)

What can Your SU Communities do for you?

It is important to recognise that particular communities can face unique barriers when it comes to feeling safe and having a sense of belonging. Be it the culture of a new country and distance from friends and family, the fear of hostile public spaces, or not feeling safe on a night out. These things can have a big impact on the student experience. Your communities are here for you, providing a safe and empathetic space where you can meet likeminded people and feel supported.

“Many of the things that international students would need from their home country are in Coventry,” Oduduabasi explains. “If any international student is feeling lost or overwhelmed, I would encourage you to reach out for help.”

He suggests University health and wellbeing services and Your SU communities as a good place to start. Jack and Sophie agree, citing SU community run events like inclusive arts and performance spaces and information support fairs where students can go to get specialist advice and useful safety resources such as personal alarms and anti-drink-spiking devices.

“Coventry hasn’t historically had lots of safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community but it is getting better,” Jack explains. “Try and put yourself out there and search for things going on or reach out to myself about what is taking place. There are lots of things to get involved with for LGBTQIA+ people. However, it is important to keep yourself safe and recognise that it’s okay to go at your own pace.”

Jack recommends the new LGBTQA+ Coffee Hour which is run by the SU in collaboration with the student success coaches. It happens every two weeks in The Coach House – found outside the first floor of The Hub. Out in Coventry’s wider community, groups such as the Transgender Social Club in Coventry also host coffee mornings to create more safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community. Additionally, Survivor Sanctuary+ is a community group that offers an opportunity to get involved with campaigns relating to the transgender and non-binary community or to seek support for those who have experienced any form of harassment or abuse.  

In terms of social spaces, The Yard seems popular with both the LGBTQIA+ and Women’s community leads.

“As a young queer woman in the city, it’s my personal favourite bar and have some of the best, kindest security, and staff,” Sophie says. “I would always recommend if anyone felt unsafe or overwhelmed within the city they go into The Yard; day or night, their café options allow you to sit down, recuperate and feel safer.”

Sophie explains how The Yard have both male and female staff and security and are happy for you to request certain security for safety/bag checks. They use the Ask Angela scheme in case you at any point feel uncomfortable or unsafe, and they also have portable phone chargers available so that you're never without a means of communication.

“There is something extraordinary about the joyful nature of LGBTQIA+ spaces and being embraced by a community of people. Being affirmed and loved for who you are and building friendships from that has been foundational in embracing who I am. Being connected to a community is indescribable and something I would encourage all LGBTQIA+ people to seek out.” (Jack, LGBTQIA+ Community Engagement Lead)

We hope that this article has inspired you to find out more about all our wonderful communities. The amazing advice and knowledge from our community leads helps to show that whoever you are, there is always someone there for you.



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