2014 Press Releases
Fundraising the focus of R&G Week
As Raise and Give (R&G) Week approaches, a mammoth fundraising effort is on the cards at UCC.
UCC is looking forward to supporting the UCC Students’ Union (UCCSU) and student body in their worthy aim to raise much-needed funds for charity - in the true spirit of the event, last year the UCCSU raised a record €42,000. UCC and the UCCSU will again be proactively working together to reduce the potential for alcohol-related harm and anti-social activity through UCC’s Student Experience Office, the Student Health Department, Student Counselling and Development and other stakeholders, including the Gardaí, local residents’ associations and UCC General Services.
As in previous years, one of the more visible features of the week, which runs from 17th-21st February, is a student-led initiative backed by UCC and the Gardaí called Student Community Support (SCS). In operation since 2009, it has successfully worked to improve the safety of students, local residents and members of the public and reduce anti-social behaviour. Other initiatives in play with the aim of ensuring R&G Week remains a safe and productive one for all directly or indirectly involved include:
- Year-round implementation of a comprehensive action plan on alcohol as part of the UCC Health Matters initiative, which in itself won outright at the Irish Healthcare Awards 2013 for its inroads on reducing alcohol-related harm among students. The plan has 20 specific action points (APs) and five key strategy areas, including:
- Education, information and training for students and staff: Alcohol information sessions provided to all incoming 1st years at orientation; the promotion of ePUB UCC, an online alcohol educational and behavioural tool which more than 10,000 UCC students have completed; the training of peer support leaders; the provision of workshops and training to frontline staff on alcohol information and brief intervention (six APs total).
- Screening, referral and treatment services: Provision of screening and brief intervention therapy to UCC staff towards identifying students at high risk of alcohol related harm earlier (three APs total).
- Making the campus and local environment safer from alcohol related harm: Zero-tolerance policy on anti-social behaviour through Campus Watch, Student Community Support and local Gardaí; on-going promotion of the UCC Student Alcohol Policy and the UCC Student Rules (six APs total).
- Influence local, regional, national and sectoral alcohol policies and practises: Twice yearly (at least) meeting of a local discussion forum including students, residents and local Gardaí to help reduce alcohol-related harm and anti-social behaviour; extensive lobbying undertaken around the marketing and selling of alcohol; encouraging a sectoral wide approach to alcohol-related problems (three APs total).
- Research alcohol use and monitor progress and effectiveness of strategies: funded PhD level thesis on alcohol use by UCC students (in progress). (Two APs total).
(The full action plan and winning entry can be viewed here)
UCC has also attracted positive attention on other fronts. In August 2013, UCC’s announcement that it was to give students the choice of alcohol-free campus accommodation under a pilot programme sparked nationwide news coverage. To date, six students have taken up the alcohol free accommodation option at UCC Victoria Lodge and it is expected that for the Academic Year 2014/15 the intake will increase to between 10-15 students. The service is currently being reviewed and it is hoped to improve the offering with increased support from Peer Support Leaders and a dedicated social programme.
September 2013 brought the roll-out of a new CCTV system, a joint initiative between An Garda Sίochána, Cork City Council and UCC. Three CCTV cameras are now strategically positioned for broad coverage and constantly monitored by Anglesea Street Garda Station, with the aim of complimenting existing efforts in the area to better ensure the safety and wellbeing of the whole community.
A UCC alcohol and substance misuse working group also meets regularly, a spinoff of a larger Health Promoting University steering group. The UCC Clubs’ Executive also recently co-ordinated the GAA’s Off the Booze and on the Ball Challenge on campus.
UCCSU President Pádraig Haughney comments: “Raise & Give Week is all about UCC students engaging with the wider community and giving something back for the greater good. The Students' Union Executive chose three worthy charities, Breakthrough Cancer Research, the CUH Children's Ward and The COPE Foundation. We hope to make a difference to many people and their families. For the first time, we have also created an opportunity to make online donations.” (See http://www.mycharity.ie/donate_charityIndex.php?charityID=644)
Haughney also issued an invitation: “I would welcome everyone on to campus to see first hand UCC students in action fundraising throughout the week.”
Head of Student Experience at UCC, Dr Ian Pickup comments: “The spirit of R & G week at UCC is all about raising much needed funds for charities. I am delighted that this year’s SU has chosen three deserving organisations in this regard and I am sure that all concerned will be doing their best to raise as much money as possible. We do, of course, take the wellbeing of our students, and the College’s role in the local community, very seriously and I am very proud of UCCs track record in these regards. Our students are encouraged to be active citizens, to have fun, but also to be aware of their own role in todays’ society."
Head of UCC’s Student Health Department and coordinator of UCC Health Matters, Dr Michael Byrne said: “It is important that all students are mindful of the real harm that can result from drinking too much alcohol. The tragic recent events that occurred during the ‘neknomination’ craze serve only too well to remind us that what appears to be fun can have real unintended consequences for individuals and those around them. I encourage all students to focus on the fund-raising activities and to take care of each other if they are out socialising at night.”
It is hoped that the above elements and the on-going efforts of multiple stakeholders will again have a meaningful impact in reducing the adverse consequences of alcohol misuse, which is also acknowledged to be a societal problem.