Michael Segalov, University of Sussex Students’ Union

As 2015 begins, so does my second six months of being an elected full-time officer at the University of Sussex Students’ Union.

Every year, the 13,000+ students who study at Sussex elect six students to lead the work that we do, and this year I’m one of them. One thing I’ve learnt is that students often get a bad name but actually do an incredible amount of good in the community.

Within weeks of taking office in June, we held an Outreach Day, where we set up shop in Jubilee Square to show residents what we do, and ask how we could improve. One thing that was clear to me was that for many, finding out about the good we do in the community was a real surprise, so I wanted to take this opportunity to shout about some of the work that we do, alongside our work on campus.

We do politics. Since the start of the summer, as elected officers, we’ve met with local MPs and councillors to talk about housing, education, and a whole host of issues that affect the lives of students and residents.

We’ve fed into the new Brighton and Hove Housing Strategy, including leading a workshop at the council’s Housing Conference. We sit on the Alcohol Awareness Board and form part of the Transport Partnership.

We also have a social conscience. In October, when two women students were kicked out of Sainsbury's behind London Road, we organised the Big Kiss In, that saw over 1,000 people from the local community come out and say no to homophobia in a place where it had occurred.

We went to London as part of a national demonstration to tell the coalition government we wanted a free and fair education system for all, and we’ve raised thousands of pounds for charities. Last month, students voted to make us a living wage employer, meaning the hundreds of people we employ will be paid the nationally set living wage.

We run or support a host of political and cultural events, including Green Week, Mental Health Awareness Day, LGBTQ and Black History Months, Diwali and Eid.

We work and volunteer in the community. Our Community Rep scheme sees students attend Local Action Teams, and represent student views at community meetings, as well as attending events such as the Hollingdean Lucky Dip event.

We have set up a programme that will see young people in Brighton and our students working together to produce media that matters to them, and our Brighton and Hove Wellbeing Innovation Fund funded Role Models scheme has launched, that sees Year 8 school pupils mentored by our students.

Our students aren’t all angels, but we also care about our community, and work hard to make Brighton a better place to live.