Contexts and Worlds

The world impact of education was emphasised at the Student Unions’s student-led Fairtrade and  International Festival. We bought a big map and the students marked where they were from, lots of great conversations ensued! Information about the Church of Scotland’s history with fair trade was available to students and was very well received.

‘The Pioneer fund was the only funding we received for the Festival and I thank you again greatly for this contribution.  It was a fantastic event which would not have been so successful without your funding.’ Elaine Shepherd, Activities & Volunteer Co-Ordinator Stirling Students Union

Bringing together different cultures is exciting and part of what makes Stirling a great place to study but for these students from Kuwait the event also gave them an opportunity to meet each other.

Sometimes, a long way from home, just sharing some time with those who come from the same culture and speak the same language can make a very positive difference to the feeling of community around a person. This enables more relationships to build, making a better community for all of us.

 

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Another context that may make community building require some extra information or consideration is that of autism. We supported an autism awareness day and hope to work more closely with the Student Union on this important area of community building again next year.

This even was shared on social media, a very important platform for many students on the autistic spectrum, who may find reading social situations harder. The Students Union provided this feedback for the church on the World Autism Day event:

‘The Autism event went really well. The atrium presence was engaging, with equipment brought in from PLUS to replicate some of the experiences autistic students may face…

The talk was well attended in the Macrobert Playhouse, with a wide range of panellists, students and externals (Careers Service and the charity PLUS). Tea and coffee afterwards went down well, with guests mingling and chatting to the panellists first-hand to share their experiences and stories. A very positive event, and we’re massively grateful for your support!’

Jamie Grant

| Vice President Communities

Liberations

The ongoing success of Patches 4 Peace has brought a small group of students together with openness to new sewers every week, and a continuity of support from myself. The richness of spiritual, political, international and fun conversation that this open atmosphere has enabled is freeing for the participants and provides an inclusive environment for community to build. The regular sewers filled out feedback sheets at the end of semester and all of them rated the group 5 out of 5 in three catagories; meeting student expectations; providing stimulating conversation; and helpful guidance for sewing from Janet.

Among the comments were:

‘Really fun! The highpoint of my week’

‘Talking to someone or as a group is the high point of the meeting.’

Always we have interesting conversations, it’s a good place to relax and enjoy sewing.’

‘I look forward to them every week. It’s like a society but you learn something as well as making friends.’

The also presented me with a basket of handmade gifts at the end of semester and a thank-you card signed by as many of the sewers as possible. This was very much appreciated.

 

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Kingdoms

The student community garden is really flourishing. It offers a place for students to find time away from their studies to relax, to grow fruit, flowers and veg, and to spend time with each other. This semester we had a very successful day putting the polythene on a poly tunnel kindly lent to us by the garden and grounds staff. We learned a great deal working with them as we put on the cover and the students who engaged with that activity left with a real feeling of achievement.

Working together with the student’s union I was able to receive the certificate for our jointly funded project, ‘Planting Change’ which was also awarded £503.92 by the Stirling Fund.

We have also begun work planting up our poly tunnel and have harvested spinach, endive and salads already. We look forward to tomatoes this summer.

Student feedback comments from the garden are recorded every session. Some highlights are:

  • relaxing
  • more fun than I thought
  • Anger therapy
  • Stress relieving
  • Calming

Conclusion

This semester has been a highly fruitful one. The Patches 4 Peace Group in particular has really developed into an environmentally friendly, people friendly and world friendly experience for everyone. I have been much encouraged by the improvements in the garden and the continued work with Stirling COSY. I am going to be a chaplain at the last NYA  I have also had the opportunity for some media training with BBC Expert Women and this continues in London on the 5th of July. This is going to help me as I work toward improving student mental well-being by building community and enabling students’ mental health.