PGR consultative forum newsletters

A key element of the PGR Well Bee-ing Project is co-production, for PGRs at the University of Manchester to participate in activities and to inform practice, so that we can create change together. These PGRs form a consultative forum for the project.

Please find newletters for the PGR consultative forum below.

Newsletter #1 | January 2019

Dear Postgraduate Researchers,

Welcome to the PGR Well Bee-ing Project’s new quarterly newsletter. The newsletters are a way for the project team to keep in touch with the PGR consultative forum and keep you updated on project news.

We want this newsletter to be valuable for you so please share your feedback and suggestions. If you would like to unsubcribe from the newsletter just let us know by emailing the team at: pgrwellbeingproject@manchester.ac.uk.

Newsletter # 1 | January

1. PGR wellbeing survey is open! >>> CLICK HERE TO TAKE PART <<<

You should all have received an email this week, inviting you to participate in an online questionnaire for the PGR Well Bee-ing Project. The survey is open to all Postgraduate Research students at the University of Manchester, including those on interruption, distance learners, and those with submission pending.

The research team would greatly appreciate any support with promoting the survey. We have some recruitment posters printed out and if anyone can think of a good place to put them (PGR populated areas) then please let us know, or contact Rebecca (Research Assistant) at: Rebecca.Crook@manchester.ac.uk if you would like to collect some posters and Blu-Tack from her to put them up where you see fit!

2. Project information session – Wednesday 13th February

We are running an information session for PGRs on Wednesday 13th February between 12:00-14:00 in the Atrium, 1st Floor, University Place. The information session is an opportunity for members of the PGR Well Bee-ing Project team to update you on how the project is progressing, and to share information on parts of the project that weren’t covered at the launch event.
For more information and to sign up, click here.

3. PGR activities – thank you! 

Thanks to all those who attended workshops and focus groups at the end of last semester. We received lots of really valuable feedback and information which has and will continue to feed into the project, and help us shape how our work progresses. To keep up to date with upcoming activities you can check the ‘PGR activities’ page on the project website here.

4. Podcasts!

Chloe and Rebecca are looking for PGRs who are engaged with the PGR Well Bee-ing Project to take part in a podcast series. The recordings will take place in the Students’ Union and we are open to suggestions for content! Once recorded and edited, the podcasts will be hosted on Sound Cloud and linked to via the project website.

If this is something you would be interested in getting involved in, or to find out more, please email us at: pgrwellbeingproject@manchester.ac.uk.

Thanks for taking the time to read the first newsletter. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

The PGR Well Bee-ing Project team

Newsletter #2 | April 2019

Newsletter # 2 | April, 2019

Dear Postgraduate Researchers,

It’s been a busy few months for the PGR Well Bee-ing Project! Below is some information to update you on what we have been up to and links to upcoming events and activities.

Thanks,

The PGR Well Bee-ing Project team 

Podcast update

We’ve been working hard with PGRs to record episodes of our brand new student-led podcast, ‘All Bee-ing Well’.

We will be releasing one episode every month for the next six months. Each episode is based on one of the six ways to wellbeing, the universities’ evidenced-based recommendations for improving peoples’ mental health and wellbeing.

The ‘connect’ episode has now been released on SoundCloud here:  https://soundcloud.com/allbeeingwellpodcast, we can’t wait to hear what you think!

In this episode PGRs Siobhan Crilly and Claire White talk about how their involvement in the Doctoral Academy Graduate Society and in public engagement through their research has helped them to connect with others.

Peer support workshop: part two

Coming up on the 10th May 2-4pm we are holding a second peer support workshop in room 2.5 on the second floor of the Students’ Union. At the first workshop PGRs and staff who facilitate or take part in peer support groups shared their experience and reflected on the function of peer support groups in the PGR community. The aim of the second workshop is to recommend ways that PGR peer support networks could be developed at the university, helping to inform the work of the PGR Well Bee-ing Project.

If you would like to participate in the workshop please email pgrwellbeingproject@manchester.ac.uk

PGR wellbeing survey update

Thank you to everyone who has completed the survey so far, we have had a really positive response rate – over 600 PGRs have now completed the survey and we couldn’t have reached that without your help. It would be fantastic to have even more completions to make sure the survey is as representative as possible. To complete the survey click here.

1st International Conference on the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Postgraduate Researchers

On 17th May the PGR Well Bee-ing Project team are presenting at the 1st International Conference on the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Postgraduate Researchers, hosted by UKCGE. The presentation will be focused on student engagement with the PGR Well Bee-ing Project and we will be sharing information on the work that we have been doing over the last six months.

Involvement in the project – getting your feedback

We would like to invite you to take part in a very short survey to gather your thoughts on how the experience of being involved with the project has been for you so far. If you would like to complete the survey, please click here.

Wellbeing apps

At the end of last year we worked with a group of PGRs to evaluate a number of wellbeing apps, to see which of the apps they thought would be most helpful for other PGRs.

The apps are; Catch It, Muse, and Pin It or Bin It. We will be promoting these apps and inviting PGRs to use them, all are free to download and to get the full muse headbands experience and you can book a drop in session here

PGR Reps Masterclass: Resilience skills for researchers

14 May 10.30-12.00 AGLC training room (-104)

In this workshop you will work with others to generate a meaningful concept of what it means to be resilient in your approach to research. We will explore effective ways of dealing with the challenges you may encounter, highlight the wealth of support on offer and share advice on how to cultivate strong support networks. You will work with fellow researchers to develop strategies for maintaining a healthy working practice which will not only enable you to ‘survive’ but also to ‘thrive’ as a researcher.

This event will be of interest to PGR Reps, but is open to any PGRs interested in developing their resilience skills

Spaces can be reserved here.  

Mindfulness for Postgraduate Research

29 May 1.30-3.00 AGLC training room (-104)

This workshop will provide a practical introduction to Mindfulness. You will work with others to learn more about what mindfulness is and how it might be able to help you approach the PhD journey differently. Mindfulness can help to improve concentration, help you get less stuck at times of difficulty, and positively enhance your wellbeing. You will practise applying mindfulness to the day to day challenges of your PhD in order to support your wellbeing and equip you to keep moving forwards.

Spaces can be reserved here.

Thanks,

The PGR Wellbeing Project team

Newsletter #3 | September 2019

Newsletter # 3 | September, 2019

Dear Postgraduate Researchers,

We hope you’ve had a great summer and that you’ve been able to take some time out from your research to switch off. We are sharing our third newsletter to update you on the work of the PGR Well Bee-ing Project, including activities and contributions from PGRs. 

Thanks,

The PGR Well Bee-ing Project team 

Wellbeing Survey

Thank you to everyone who has completed the survey so far, we have had a really positive response rate – over 700 PGRs have completed the survey overall and we couldn’t have reached that without your help.

Peer Support workshop- initial findings

In May we held a workshop with facilitators and participants of peer support at the University of Manchester, with the aim of identifying recommendations to develop peer support for PGRs.

A key emerging theme from the workshop was the importance of providing support and training to those in a supportive role. Attendees also identified the positive role that peer supporters can play in bringing individuals together to share experiences and provide reassurance. In addition, participants felt that peer support could be beneficial in creating a sense of community, especially during orientation.

The workshop was extremely valuable, we really appreciate PGRs taking the time to contribute and share their experience and opinions. A complete set of recommendations will be produced from the findings of the workshops and will be presented to the university.

PGR Wellbeing Champions Pilot

We are running a pilot study of PGR Wellbeing Champions as part of the PGR Well Bee-ing Project. Wellbeing Champions help to promote Manchester’s ‘Six Ways to Wellbeing’, which are evidence based recommendations for improving people’s wellbeing. Wellbeing Champions inspire students to try new positive activities or ideas that fit with their lifestyle.

Lucy from Biology Medicine and Health, Alisha from Humanities, and Jon from Science and Engineering will be hosting events and activities in September and October. Aiming to connect PGRs and test the Wellbeing Champions scheme for the PGR Community. For more information and keep up to date, follow the PGR Well Bee-ing Project Twitter feed.

Managing the PGR Journey

Over the summer with have been working with members of the consultative forum to develop resources, to help others navigate through the PGR journey. Resources include recommended articles, workshops and online links to advice and support on issues which may affect wellbeing as a PGR.

We have also worked to create a series of ‘talking head’ style videos created by PGRs for PGRs, sharing experiences and thoughts about what can help enhance the journey. Themes include; managing your relationships, developing your academic identity, and making connections. Resources and videos will be launched on the PGR Life Website from mid-September!

Podcast update

We’ve been continuing to work with PGRs to record episodes for our student-led podcast, ‘All Bee-ing Well’. Each episode is based on one of the six ways to wellbeing, the universities’ evidenced-based recommendations for improving peoples’ mental health and wellbeing.

The latest episode ‘Be Healthy’ is now available on SoundCloud now:

https://soundcloud.com/allbeeingwellpodcast/be-healthy

In this episode we spoke to Donna Littlewood, a Postdoctoral Researcher who recently achieved her PhD from the University of Manchester, and Amish Sarpotdar a current PGR in the School of Environment, Education and Development, about how being healthy is important for supporting wellbeing for PGRs.

Donna and Amish spoke with Rebecca about maintaining habits for feeling healthy, such as: good sleep hygiene, eating healthily, and getting out in the fresh air. They touched on other ways to wellbeing, and how being healthy can help us make better connections as well if we’re feeling well rested and better company!

 

 

Newsletter #4 | February 2020

Newsletter #4 | February 2020

Dear Postgraduate Researchers

We hope you have had a good start to the New Year and decade so far! This is our penultimate newsletter to update you on the latest project news, and what we will be working on in the final few months before the project ends.

Best wishes,

The PGR Well-Beeing Project Team

New Team Member

Our project coordinator Chloe has sadly now left the team, but in December we welcomed our project assistant Lindsay. Lindsay will be working with the rest of the project team until final reporting at the end of April.

Wellbeing Survey

Our PGR Wellbeing Survey is now closed! In total 741 PGRs responded to the survey which is a significant proportion of our PGR population here at the University. We’d like to thank you all for your efforts in not only completing the survey, but helping to spread the word and share it with your colleagues. The results will be published in due course and we will share these with you when they are available.

PG Tips

We’d like to say another big thank you to those who gave their time to help out at the Students’ Union event ‘PG Tips’ in September; a welcome event for new postgraduate taught and research students to chat to current students about PGR life.

Managing the PGR Journey

The resources and videos created for the PGR Life website are now live! You can access them here.

The resources include links to support, advice and useful workshops for PGRs struggling with wellbeing, with a series of ‘talking head’ style videos covering themes from ‘developing your academic identity’, to ‘managing your relationship with your supervisor’.

Thank you to all those who contributed to these resources, and particularly those who participated in the videos. We hope that these resources provide useful information for you throughout your PGR programme, and that curating resources in this way helps PGRs identify what support is available.

Managing the Transition into the PGR Journey

In December we held a workshop to help us develop a resource for new PGRs modelled on one for undergraduates to help them with the transition into student life. 18 PGRs from the consultative forum took part to share with us their thoughts on what they wish they had known before starting, and what they had struggled with. The resource will help new PGRs to adjust to life as a PGR at the University of Manchester in particular, as well as everything else that being a PGR entails more generally.

The resource is currently in production and will be ready to be shared with new PGRs from September 2020, ahead of their registration and arrival at the University. These will be a valuable resource for PGRs at the beginning of their journey.

PGR Wellbeing Champions

In September and October, as part of our PGR Wellbeing Champions pilot, our trial champions Lucy from BMH, Alisha from Humanities and Jon from FSE hosted events for PGRs inspired by the theme of ‘Connect’. The idea was to trial whether the scheme that is currently in place for undergraduates and staff could be transferrable to PGRs.

The pilot demonstrated clear value of the scheme for PGRs at the University, and recommendations have been produced for how the current scheme could potentially be better tailored for PGRs as a result of the participant evaluations. Full results will be available soon.

Thanks again to Lucy, Alisha and Jon for their hard work in organising the events.

‘All Bee-ing Well’ Podcast

Our podcast series ‘All Bee-ing Well’ is now complete. You can still listen to the six episodes on each of the Six Ways to Wellbeing themes here.

Thank you to everyone who made a contribution to this over the last year. If you would like to get involved to continue the podcast please do get in touch with your ideas!

Self-Reflection Wellbeing Check

For the last 8 weeks we have trialled the university’s self-reflection tool (available to all staff and students) with six Schools within the three Faculties. The idea is to gain an understanding of whether the tool is helpful to PGRs in monitoring and improving their wellbeing, and whether regular prompts to complete the tool are useful. Two focus groups with PGRs who took part in the trial will take place this month, to ask these questions on suitability and usefulness. The outcomes will inform what kind of self-check for mental wellbeing should be made available to PGRs.

Event for Dissemination of the Project Findings

Finally, as part of our dissemination of the project’s final outcomes, we are hosting an event on Wednesday 1st April with the project leads and VP of Research, Professor Colette Fagan, to outline key findings and give you an opportunity to ask questions of the panel. The event is open to all PGRs and details will be released soon to allow you to register to attend.