Your VP for Welfare and Community candidates: Thomas Freeston
Tom Nice 10 March 2021
Image by: Thomas Freeston
Thomas Freeston is a fourth year student who is running to be Vice President for Welfare and Community.
Besides his part-time Psychology degree he has been involved with the UKC Psychology Society and volunteered at Canterbury Homeless Outreach.
Speaking on his role as President of the Psychology Society, he said: “Last year lacked our core values, things like networking for students, and raising awareness for the stigmas of mental health issues.”
“We’ve run a lot of events this year, first years particularly haven’t had a lot of chances to interact with other students so we ran these events when we could.”
Tom said his experience with previous societies has given him to confidence to go for the full-time role.
“I feel now that I’m in my final year and it’s the best chance I’ve got.”
The string of assaults across the Eliot footpath route on the Canterbury campus has been one of the largest issues discussed in this year’s election, and Tom believes that more could be done.
“I’ve been here for four years and I remember that being an issue back then and it still is – putting up fences is a good move but quite frankly, that doesn’t necessarily stop someone.”
He added: “Some people don’t even know the fences were put up, and other people are wondering what’s going on.”
While his views on the situation don’t translate into any policy promises, as this year the elections are not ran with manifestoes, Tom also highlighted that other parts of the campus could be looked at as well.
In reference to possible future attacks on campus, Tom said: “We need to make sure we are ready for when this happens.”
“I’m not saying it will, I’m saying it could – A big problem we learn about in psychology is the bystander effect, where several people witness and incident but they are less likely to get involved because you diffuse responsibility among yourselves.”
He added: “I think the University could do much more on bystander intervention training so that people that witness sexual harassment can step in and they know how to [do that] safely.”
To Tom, mental health will also be one of the defining welfare issues of the next year.
“So many students are suffering a decline in mental health – I think the biggest problem with every candidate has been with how they ran the manifestoes last year.”
“People didn’t know what they could and couldn’t achieve, and it was very unrealistic – I take a very realistic achievable goals approach.”
He added: “There isn’t endless amount of money and I would like to help the university get out of this deficit; it’s the responsibility of officers to help contribute to spending lass and being more cost effective, but also making them spend on things that do matter.”
“A lot of people are going to suffer from post-lockdown anxiety and so we need to make sure we are focusing on things around not people as such but their interests, so that they have common things to speak about.”
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media
As the current president of the psychology society and the previous vice-president the year before, Thomas comes across as a considerate and caring individual with a drive for student wellbeing. Already, his time at the university has been spent serving student wellbeing thanks to his responsibilities as president of the psychology society with some of his achievements including the following: “Collaboration with Millennials Breaking Barriers to battle negative mental health stigmas, working on a project with Rise and Recover to raise awareness to minority groups and eating disorders for Eating Disorder Awareness Week and representing psychology students during the School of Psychology undergraduate voice meetings with senior staff to ensure students concerns are not only heard but acted upon too!” All things considered, Thomas is a thoughtful, experienced and passionate candidate that could breathe life into an important role at an important time.