It’s awards season, and even in the midst of emerging from the global pandemic, we are celebrating as a sector the most impressive campaigns and campaigners;, projects and leaders,; organisations and people.

As a staff member in a sector that is about inspiring and supporting student leaders and student communities to make real, impactful change, it can seem an alien concept to receive recognition within a public setting, be that within our unions or on the broader SU sector stage. So many unions are excellent at providing that holistic reward programme for their staff – the supportive performance review, the broad range of professional development opportunities, and the chance to develop a lifelong career working with students’ unions. But often the most meaningful of rewards is the simple “thank you!

When we do think about recognition, we tend to largely conform to the notion that there must be one winner, one person or project that has excelled beyond all others. It’s not surprising, given that all awards and recognition ceremonies attempt to do the same. We are indeed taught from a young age that in life, there are winners and losers. Certainly, many of the awards that I have seen have tried to buck the trend, celebrate the purpose, people and outcomes of their work to be sidetracked by the competing needs of what an awards ceremony looks like and the desire to reach out to funders and supporters that cannot connect to the audience no matter how hard they try.

Whilst we are united within one sector, we must acknowledge that each of our contexts are different, we all do things in slightly different ways, and that’s part of the deal, part of the thing we should celebrate and have the opportunity to learn from each other. 

So, at the Association, we have been thinking about how we help people to say thank you and how we can help capture the excellent work of staff across the sector. We believe that by capturing these words, real stories, we not only celebrate our achievements, but we also do so in a way that is not about over-shadowing the work of our leaders and organisations, and we get to tell potential future staff who may want to come and work in the sector what we are about and what is important to us. 

Additionally, we have resisted the temptation to create an endless stream of categories that will celebrate roles or departments. Instead, we have looked at our values and hope you agree these are values that can be shared by all. So we have five categories: 

  • Collaboration 
  • Inclusivity 
  • Learning 
  • Pride, and 
  • Trust. 

So get involved, say thank you! Get nominating!

Nominations open Monday 17th May 2021. 

Scott Farmer, 

Founder and Director of the Association of SU Professionals 

The Association of SU Professionals is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SU Professionals Ltd. SU Professionals Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales #12539954.
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