Use Your Voice
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Sexual health is very important, but we know it can be a slightly embarrassing subject. Fear not we have listed below the places for you to go so that you can get a little help!
If you want to go get tested at a location close to you visit the NHS website Services Locater and it will list all your options. If you are a Harrow student there is a GUM (sexual health clinic) at the Northwick Park Hospital that offers a walk-in service. For those in Central London 56 Dean Street offers a wide range of sexual health services including access to regular screenings and 72-hour risk HIV tests. They specialise in running services for the Trans+/Non-Binary community.
If you are in need of emergency conception then we recommend ringing 111 as they will be able to book you an appointment with a local provider. If you need some guidance around contraception but it’s not an emergency, then please refer to the NHS website and use the service provider to look for a location near you that you can arrange an appointment to speak with a health care provider. There are lots of places both in Central London and Harrow that can offer appointments.
Everyone falls sick every now and then - there's no getting around it - so it’s important that you register with your local GP. If you are living in Halls of University residence, check with the main reception desk as they will be able to provide you with services local to you. If you’re in private accommodation you can use the 'Find a GP' tool on the NHS website to locate your closest practice.
NHS is the UK's health care provider and is free for all UK residents, this includes some international students. If you are from the EU or International and studying for over 6 months you are entitled to access the NHS services. The University's International webpage explains this in more detail and how you can apply.
If you don’t want to register with a GP (we recommend that you do) you can always visit a minor care unit. One of them is located at Northwick Park Hospital which on the same site as Harrow campus. You can walk in and request for an appointment, however you might have to wait longer times, sometimes up to 3 hours. Babylon Health has introduced a new app where you can facetime/video call a doctor for minor concerns; you would do this instead of registering with a local doctor and can be great for those with little time to visit a GP.
If you are in an emergency and need immediate access to health care, call 999 from any landline or mobile phone. If it’s a non-emergency but you want some advice on whether you need to see a heath care provider then call 111 from any phone and speak with an advisor on what your options are. If you are onsite at any University campuses you can seek medical support from first aiders by calling 5555 on any of the university’s phones.
London can be a big daunting city for those not use to the bright lights, this can be worse when it comes to the evening and your trying to get home safely. We are lucky that London has some of the best transport links in the world, however understanding how you get from Baker Street to Harrow at 11pm can get a little confusing. Transport for London runs a campaign called Safer Travel, which promotes options for ensuring customers can be sure they are travel from one destination to another in a safe environment. Tubes run till late most evenings depending on the line. There are many taxi’s in London but be sure you are traveling in a registered taxi if not they could charge you more than normal and if something was to happen it would be hard to track and report. Apps like “Uber” and “Gett” are great as they will let you know the driver license plate. If your hailing a cab on the street make sure they have their badge on show or don’t get in!
From Friday to Saturday the Victoria, Jubilee and most of the Central, Northern and Piccadilly line offers a 24-hour night tube. There are some buses that run all night and we recommend using apps like “Citymapper” to find what buses are located near you.
When you’re living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, it’s important that you have access to the right platforms. The University offers a counselling service through which students can self-refer themselves for support. These appointments will take place on campus in a private space and are completely confidential. Appointments can be booked through the University website, or you can speak with a member of the Library desk staff at any campus.
If you are registered with a local GP you can speak with them about seeking additional support from a counselor or mental health service near you. They would need to refer you so it’s important that you first arrange an appointment with your GP. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your GP, then MIND offers some helpful online resources and suggestions for local groups; you can refer yourself to either group meetings or a particular service. If you are referred through your GP then the services offered will be free, if you find a service yourself you might have to pay to access it.
In case of any emergency, we recommend that you ring 999.
But most importantly, if you’re unsure of what your next step should be please get in contact with us either online or come into one of our reception locations and we can guide you through what options are available close to you. Remember, you are not alone.
It is important that you enjoy your time at University, however if you are consuming alcohol it’s important to be safe and know the facts. The NHS website states the recommended weekly allowance is 14 units - to break that down a typical pint of beer is 2 units and a glass of wine is 2.1 units; if you had a gin and tonic you would be 1 unit down. NHS recommends spreading your 14 units over at least 3 days and having a few non drinking days per week.
If you think you or your friend has a problem and is drinking more than the 14 units per week then we suggest you speak with your GP. In our venues we make sure we are a responsible retailer and do not serve students that are already under the influence. If you try to enter our venues when you are clearly intoxicated then you will be refused entry.
Most drugs, aside from alcohol, are illegal to possess in the UK. If you are caught with drugs by the police you could face charges and even prison.
If you are caught with drugs on the Univerisity or Students' Union premises then you could face being suspended from University and even reported to the police.
If you are living in Halls it’s important to remember they do random room searches and again, if you are caught you could face seriously complications.
If you think you or someone you know are struggling with Drug misuse then FRANK is a great resource to give you more information and support about what options you have. If you are really concerned, we suggest you speaking with your GP.
UWSU takes misuse of drugs very seriously. We have a zero tolerance drugs policy.
Being at university is one of the most impactful experiences of your life and whilst this is true, sometimes it can be stressful and managing that stress can be hard. Meditation is a proven way to manage stress and gives you a chance to balance and prioritise your life. Meditation is more than just incense sticks and ‘hmm-ing’ - there are some great apps and videos that can guide you through mindfulness. We understand that it might not be for everyone, and perhaps you prefer other ways such as yelling at your team mates in COD, but it is definitely worth a try. So we have detailed some top tips for great mindfulness.
Although you are encouraged to put your phone down when trying to destress, some downloadable apps can actually help you find inner balance! Headspace is a great app that will guide you through how to manage stress levels with mindfulness and breathing techniques. They have different timed sessions that you can do either at home or at a quiet space on campus. Each site has a quiet room where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city and University life for a few moments.
5 Tips for people who have never meditated in their lives:
○ You don’t need to meditate for hours to find your inner chi. We are all busy, but even 5 minutes can have a positive effect.
○ Practice focusing on different areas of your body: This may sound bizarre if you’ve never done it before, but once you've tried Headspace you will totally get our vibe here.
○ Do it while you drink your morning coffee: Meditating first thing in the morning is proven to be the most effective time to positively impact your day.
○ Find the perfect spot: If you do it onsite then check our quiet rooms on each campus.
○ Don’t force it: Like everything, meditation comes with practice - so breath and maybe come back to it.
Due to the busy nature of being at University, it can be easy to slip into a routine of unhealthy eating and poor preparation when it comes to food and drink. Food is the fuel that keeps our bodies going, and a poor diet can affect many aspects of your life, particularly your studies and mental health. It is important that you don’t discard healthy eating for the ease of ordering a takeaway.
There are some easy practices to ensure that you don’t slide into a routine where your diet is an afterthought, and it might also save you a few £££'s as well! The first thing, I would say, that is really important to making sure that you have a healthy diet is planning. If you don’t start thinking about your meals until the day you plan to eat them then you often will feel like something “quick and easy” is the way to go. However, if you have planned your meals for the week and have bought the food accordingly this will motivate you to have those meals you’ve been looking forward to cooking. This obviously relies on you having meals to cook, if you are not used to cooking or struggling to come up with ideas then the internet is the obvious place to go, I would recommend the BBC Good Food Website for everything from Avocado toast to Full Roast dinners.
The Sports Development Coordinator at the University of Westminster Students’ Union it is my job to facilitate as many of you playing sport and exercising as possible. You may be asking yourself why the Students’ Union is investing in this path and what possible benefits it has to you? I hope that you find this blog useful in explaining the great things sport and exercise can give you, and I hope that it may inspire and motivate you to get involved in whatever exercise may pique your interest!
The first, and perhaps most important, reason for donning your trainers or boots for some exercise is purely that it makes you feel good! Have you ever heard of endorphins? Endorphins are a chemical in your body which get released when you exercise. Endorphins provide your body with a euphoric feeling. Every time you exercise you get this release which has many powerful benefits. It is widely recognised that when you exercise regularly you are less stressed, happier and more positive about life. The New York Times released an article in 2018 which stated how as little as 10 minutes exercise a day will make you happier and more cheerful. So you don’t have to be the next David Beckham to benefit from sport, whether it’s a short walk in the park of a friendly game of football, sport will make you happier!
The Second reason why sport is one of the best things you can do is because of the sense of community that you get from it. I understand that team sports aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but even individual sports bring a sense of belonging that is not replicated anywhere else. The benefits of team sports are obvious once you join them, if you play football or rugby then as soon as you set foot in a training session or game you have made 11 or 15 friends! The bond that team sports create is so powerful that so often sports people make friends for life from their teams. If you aren’t the kind of person who naturally gravitates to team sports but would rather go for a run or walk you will be surrounded by like-minded people all who are likely to wish you “good morning” or give you a friendly head nod. Sport is one big community and no matter how much or little you do, there is always someone who is doing the same and wants to share those experiences with you.
The final reason I want to encourage you to exercise is to keep your body healthy, we only get one body in life so it is imperative that we look after it as much as possible so that we can continue to live happy, pain free and problem free lives. Exercise is one key part in keeping our bodies healthy and we should all be motivated by a desire to maintain a level of fitness with which we can live or lives to the full!
Whether it be a walk in regents park or turning out in Black and Yellow for the Dragons, I can’t wait to see you all getting out, exercising and making your lives just that little bit better!