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Escape to the Country by Martin Dodd

Croeso I Aberystwyth (Welcome to Aberystwyth),

No unfortunately on this occasion I won’t be taking a leaf out of the daytime television show to tell you about a wonderful cottage with scenic views and the elusive work life balance we all yearn of; however, I do hope by reading this blog you will go some way to achieving it!

Just over a year ago I was like many reading this, working at the time for a much larger organisation (another Students’ Union) in the North West with an amazing team which I’d luckily been supported to develop over a number years to much success. I enjoyed living in the city with both Manchester and Liverpool only a 40 minute or so journey on the train.

So why you may ask did I decide to give all this up and move 150 miles for my current role in rural Wales? Well ultimately it was in part personal as it often is but I also saw a Union with much potential, one which at the time was only beginning to deliver to this after a period of its fair to say immense change.

It wasn’t just the vigour for a new challenge that completely sold me, not even the amazing views (although they did help) with Cardigan Bay and its wonderful beaches in one direction and the waterfalls and woodlands of the Rheidol Valley in the other.

It was ultimately the people both in the organisation and local area that I came to know in my visits before I started and since joining. We often talk about partnership between students and staff, but it was the partnership between students, the community and university that sold me.

You only have to look at our staff team to see this in action outside of work with many involved in a range of community activities whether its supporting park run, participating in theatre and dance groups, coaching football and supporting local community events such as The Big Tribute (yes, that’s a music festival of tribute acts!).

There is a constant willingness to learn from each other, to celebrate success and yes crucially when we need to help one another. I’m not immune to think such a culture is unique to Aber but do believe it is one that is shaped by location, history and values.

While we still have much to do, it comes with the opportunity to both enjoy this wonderful community but also shape our work. This year we’ve launched a new Union Plan to take us into 2020, with the mission that Aber students should love student life and be ready for anything, and the belief that Aber students should have an epic student journey. They should be happy, healthy and empowered, with lasting friendships and promising futures.

But don’t just take my word for it, in our recent Staff Survey 75% of staff said that they would wholeheartedly recommend working at AberSU and that the organisation had a good benefits package. 92% also said that their work fits with their personal values, that the organisation values diversity contributes to the organisations performance and that their manager emphasises the positives when reviewing performance.

In the survey a staff member said: “I love how welcoming and supportive the working environment is – everybody champions others to be the best version of themselves; whether that’s going to the gym and running marathons or running a successful event. Aber SU accepts everybody for who they are in all of their craziness and actively encourages individuals to express themselves however they like!”

I couldn’t recommend more making a step change to such a Union, while I may not be here forever I will always treasure the people, memories and opportunity to shape something exciting here. So, if you’re thinking about that all important next step then why not why not go for it?!

Pwb lwc,

Martin Dodd

Support and Representation Manager, Aberystwyth University Students’ Union

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