Welfare Week, officially launched yesterday by Senator David Norris, will take on a more informal approach than previous years according to Students’ Union Welfare Officer Scott Ahearn.
He stated that “the main aim for me is to promote the message of Please Talk” so that “people will be aware, if they’re feeling low, that everyone has a hard time during college.”
A wide range of events are running this week, including what Ahearn stated he is the most hopeful and excited about – the visit from Irish theatre company Smashing Times, which took place yesterday.
Smashing Times place emphasis on raising awareness of suicide and its prevention. Their plays present a range of testimonials from people affected by suicide and their reactions toward it. Ahearn told The University Observer that the play tries to highlight “the reaction of a friend and the impact that suicide will have and the aftermath effects on the family.”
Free Breakfasts for students are also running daily from 10am to 12pm with every day having a theme. Monday’s breakfast featured the Samaritans, Wednesday focuses on Aware and the remainder will have a Please Talk theme. Coffee, tea and food will be on offer to students and there will be counsellors and representatives from the various organisations present also.
A relaxation room is in place in the Student Centre daily from 12pm to 3pm. The relaxation room has beanbags, DVDs and games that have been provided by GameSoc.
The only fundraising aspect of the week will be a table quiz taking place on Wednesday evening in the Student Bar. All funds from this will go to the Mental Health Association, which is a facet of the Health Service Executive (HSE). The theme of the quiz is ‘Are You Smarter Than a Ten Year Old?’.
Ahearn said that Welfare Week is not primarily a fundraising week as he wants the majority of events to concentrate on “giving something back to the students.”
He emphasised the importance of an informal atmosphere at Welfare Week for students. He went on to say that he has noticed that “the Students’ Union in UCD normally do Aware talks or depression talks, like the How To talks,” and that he thinks that it’s “refreshing to do it from a different standpoint.”
According to Ahearn, all of the events for Welfare Week were cleared before the Please Talk committee, who are hugely involved in the event.