A brand new society- LUU Disabled Student Network

LUU Disabled Student Network is a brand new society this year at the University of Leeds. I was lucky enough to speak with the committee members, Emeline (President), Olivia (Vice President) and Alex (Secretary) who informed me of some of the aims and plans for this society over the next semester. 

Emeline made the conscious decision to start LUU Disabled Student Network last semester following her personal experience with brain cancer which resulted in her taking a year out of university to recover. Emeline arrived at university and realised she needed more support to come to terms with her disability but she noticed that there was no clear support network or space for students to discuss their disabilities and common struggles at university. Emeline decided to research how she could change this. She discovered that shockingly, the University of Leeds was the only Russell group university in the UK which didn’t have a Disabled Student Network and thanks to her hard work, alongside the other committee members, she has changed this!

LUU Disabled Student Network aims to provide a new space for students suffering with physical and invisible disabilities. No matter how severe or minor the disability, the society offers an opportunity for students to make friends and discuss university life with people who share similar experiences. The committee are aware that disability is still considered a taboo subject and they hope to break stigmas and create a social, fun and caring environment for disabled students to voice concerns. The society is not just a place to discuss disabilities but also a social space which provides essential help and information for disabled students. 

Olivia, vice president and third year student, explained why she wanted to help to develop the society. She explained that students were often bombarded with information from their school’s support systems for disabled students but this was often overwhelming and difficult to organise. LUU Disabled Student Network aims to provide a hub of all the disability services available at university within different schools to make life for disabled students easy and organised. They want to collate all of the necessary contacts and departments responsible for supporting disabled student’s experiences at university in one simple and easy to access area. 

The committee are hoping to grow the membership of the society over the semester. They want to make people aware that any disability is welcome, even if it is self-diagnosed. As the society has only been established and approved by the union at the start of this semester, the society doesn’t yet have regular meetings. Nevertheless, their Facebook page is the main hub of contact where you can send a message if you want to get involved or you can ask for some advice regarding your disability. The society wants to work on a drop in and casual, no pressure basis. The main aim is to make life easier for disabled students. 

In the long term the society are hoping to be more active and change things within the university. Furthermore, they are hoping to arrange for guest speakers to come and give inspiring talks about their careers, life goals and disabilities. The society would also like to become involved in collaborations with other societies to raise awareness of their amazing work and help people access their support network. 

The first big event for the society is taking place on the 25th of February. The committee members have a stall in LUU foyer as part of the ‘Wel-fair’ event which will take place between 11-3. Be sure to go down and speak to Emeline, Olivia and Alex if you would like to get involved or find out anymore information.

The society is a great way of supporting disabled students at Leeds and it is a fantastic way of ensuring that disabled students have the best possible university experience. The committee members want to emphasise that the society aims to support disabled students, remove stigmas and continue to grow within LUU. 

The main point of contact for the society is their Facebook page, where they will be posting about upcoming events and they are happy to receive messages from any students who would like to get involved or ask for support!

Photo credit: LUU Disabled Student Network