Editor's column

Working together to get the job done

I really believe each issue gets better and better. Again we have an eclectic mix of articles – from looming staff strikes (page 4) to international adventure (page 20). As a former Comment Editor I’ve always had a soft spot for the section. With an election set for next month, the current Comment Editor Matt Branston has laid out his opinion: “The Tories are killing our country” (page 16). Have a read of his article and tell us what you think. You can always tweet us @ConcreteUEA or even submit a response!

One story I believe puts a lot into perspective is Global Editor Will Warnes’ piece on the ongoing protests in Chile. In the past week I’ve been speaking to students and recent graduates in Santiago, the country’s capital, and contributed what they had to say to Will’s article. “We had to jump in the river so the shots didn’t reach us… [The police and military] were shooting to kill”, one graduate told me. It’s a shocking read, and with so much of our time spent focused on Brexit, it’s easy to miss what’s going on in the rest of the world. Have a look at the article on page 8.

For me Concrete isn’t just a student newspaper. We’re a community of like-minded people, all striving towards the search for truth, and writing about that truth in a captivating and engaging way. We’re not a bunch of individuals – we’re a team, and we always have been. Last week Deputy Editor Jess Barrett and I headed down to the BBC’s Broadcasting House in London to meet up with some of last year’s editorial team at the BBC Radio 4 Today Student Journalism Awards. 

I’m delighted to say we won ‘Best Student Programme’ and came runner up for ‘Best Student Publication’. It’s a real testament to the work that’s been done by everyone who’s been involved in Concrete.

If you’re reading this I imagine you’ve had at least a glance at our front page. If not – quickly flick back and have a peek.

Words are extremely important. The language we all use defines us as people. Amelia Trew, one of five full-time, paid SU officers at UEA, doesn’t support Concrete’s use of the word ‘crisis’ in the phrase ‘mental health crisis’. That’s her opinion. The problem is she’s used the same word ‘crisis’ when she wrote about the nationwide student mental health crisis. Some UEA students have said this makes her “hypocritical”.

Beyond the fact SU officers have a salary of around £19,000, this story matters because Ms Trew is supposed to reflect the student voice and she is accountable to students at UEA.

This university is facing a mental health crisis, but as Ms Trew rightly pointed out, this crisis isn’t only at UEA. It’s a national problem.

Last year we saw students rally together after four student deaths in just 10 months at UEA. Some were angry. Some were stricken with grief. Many felt a mixture of the two.

Students have come together as a community to face this mental health crisis. Now I hope organisations such as uea(su) and the university will come together alongside students and accept that this is a crisis.

From an early age we’re taught to work together. You may’ve noticed my headline is a reference to Bob the Builder. But one key difference between Bob’s onscreen problems and this university mental health crisis is that mental health issues do not have one solution. In fact, mental health has always been and I’m sure always will remain a problem. The words “Working together to get the job done” have a finality to them. But dealing with mental health is not a “job” that can be simply “done”. Instead we need to take actions to alleviate issues surrounding mental health. And as we know, and as Bob the Builder told us throughout many of our childhoods, we have to take such actions together as a community.

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About Author

Chris Matthews

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May 2022
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

If you would like to get in touch, email the Editor on L.Hargreaves@uea.ac.uk. Follow us at @ConcreteUEA.