USHA is no more: long live USHA!

Pic Gary Wood Chair

You’ll probably surmise the phrase from which this article’s heading has been adapted. A certain online resource suggests the original phrase’s historical significance now makes it a regular headline for occasions of momentous succession.

The two AGMs at the Belfast conference saw us finally say goodbye to the ‘old’ USHA and for the ‘new’ USHA – as a company limited guarantee – to be firmly established. All the aspects that have made USHA so strong over the past 40 years will still be there; these can never be lost. The ‘new’ USHA simply means the many opportunities to move forward will now be with an association on much more secure foundations.

As chairperson, because I was so embroiled in the conference, I sometimes found it difficult to stand back and actually take in the proceedings as they unfolded. It was therefore great, as ever, to receive much positivity both during the three days and in emails since. I thought our speakers captured perfectly and brought together the overall theme from many different perspectives.

I congratulate both Cathy Day (Southampton) and Joe Brannigan (Edinburgh) on being elected onto the new board of directors. I’m sure they will be extremely active and bring ‘much to the table’ of the ‘new’ USHA.

Congratulatory words must also go to Vincent King (Brunel London) on his succession to Resources Officer/Treasurer. He has been exemplary since taking over the role from Scott Trim on a temporary basis and he’ll be at the heart of laying new and adding to the aforementioned secure foundations.

I must convey special thanks to Scott Trim (Coventry) as he formally stepped down at this year’s AGM. Some final words of advice Scott: never try and take on a mentalist!

What’s on the horizon? Two particular work streams I purposely focussed on at the AGM I wish to reinforce here as they will have significant influence on how USHA best moves forward in the short and longer terms, reflecting the ‘long live USHA!’ These are being at the heart of the new sector health and safety plan for 2016 to 2020, and our own forthcoming strategy and planning day.

In a new approach we’re currently surveying other associations and organisations for their views on health and safety within a successful higher education sector and USHA’s role in this. Your contributions to the planning and strategy day are still also welcome. These can be made through the representatives of the various groups and the networking and regional coordinators.  

Elsewhere, the fire group’s annual seminar is almost upon us. I wish John Crust, Andrew MacKay and all those attending every success with this. USHA’s October seminar themed around supporting staff who support the mental wellbeing of students is progressing extremely well. It’s a topic that’s resonating across the sector, reflected by the very positive dialogue we’re having with fellow associations looking to contribute and provide overall support, especially as it would seem the seminar will be one of the first specifically focussing the particular theme.

I’m now in my final year as the association’s chairperson. You’ll undoubtedly recognise I’m extremely proud to hold the position. I’m sure that when Cathy takes over the reins at the AGM in Leeds next year the ‘new’ USHA will certainly be living long.

With best wishes, Gary

Gary Wood MSc CMIOSH
University of Huddersfield