Welcoming our first Head of Student Wellbeing & Welfare...Karen Tate
Nick Lomax, Bursars’ Assistant, grabbed a cuppa with Karen and found out a little more about her...
[Nick] We’re really looking forward to welcoming you to Robinson College as the new, and first Head of Student Wellbeing & Welfare. What is this role all about, and what are some of the areas that you are looking forward to getting started on?
Thank you. I am really looking forward to getting started at Robinson College. My role is to strengthen and support the welfare and wellbeing of students at Robinson. As a new role, I aim to bring together, coordinate and enhance the valuable work of those currently contributing to the college’s welfare response as part of a Wellbeing and Welfare team and hub for Robinson. This will enhance our ability to support students to address their health and wellbeing needs in a way that enables them to achieve their academic potential during their time here at Cambridge. It will be great to get to know other members of staff here and to meet students. I am really looking forward to being part of the Robinson College family and seeing all the College has to offer, including the lovely gardens and particularly Thorneycreek House, where I will be based.
Strategically, working with my colleagues in similar new wellbeing posts across the colleges will mean we can have a coordinated approach and benefit from each other’s experience and learning. It is very exciting to be part of such a positive change for students, which is the result of a university wide Strategic Review of Mental Health Provision and Services in 2021. We know there are many things we can do better and more proactively, working together.
[Nick] Where are you coming to Robinson College from, and what were you doing there?
For the last ten years or so, I have been a mentor working with students under the Disability Resource Centre’s (DRC) Mentor Scheme for Disabled students across different colleges and all levels of study. I have really enjoyed getting to know, working with and supporting students. Before this, I worked in the NHS in Public Health and Health Education in Ealing, and in Luton, promoting health and tackling health inequalities. Having previously travelled around the world, I also worked for Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) in Namibia for three years for the Ministry of Health. This was an incredible experience, both professionally and personally and I learned so much from it.
[Nick] What small things can we all do from time to time to ‘check in’ and take some time for our own wellbeing and mental health?
Checking in daily is important. For example, asking yourself “How am I feeling physically” and “How am I feeling mentally”? Then you can reflect on what you might need to do to address that. I think there is often nothing better than getting outside in the fresh air and being amongst the natural environment to help re-calibrate and think clearly. I have done a lot of walking mentoring sessions with students over the years, which I sometimes combine with mindfulness and other techniques. These walks are something students tend to remember years after leaving Cambridge. I am really looking forward to seeing the lovely grounds which I have heard Robinson has to offer and hope to utilise them in my role.