Sandra Hibbert, alumna, Criminology with Psychology
I hope I’ll empower people to reach their potential by sharing my personal story. In fact, since deciding to do this, doors have already opened for me as I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing people and speak at inspiring events. I’m proud to be an LSBU alumna and I advocate for LSBU everywhere I go. If it wasn’t for the university I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Before I studied at LSBU, I worked at the London Probation Office as an Education Training Advisor, where I supported ex-offenders on probation who were trying to find new opportunities. Due to my previous personal experience as a domestic violence victim, which had affected my mental health, I ended up working with perpetrators, which was a healing experience and left me wanting to understand more about why people would commit such crimes. This is what made me decide to study Criminology with Psychology at LSBU.
A huge support
I have to credit some of my lectures who supported me through my degree - Gary Potter, Helen Johnson and Dr Christine Magill. In my second year my daughter became pregnant. I wasn’t sure if the support my daughter needed would allow me to continue with my studies. It was a challenging time. With the support of my lecturers I took a year out and became a full-time grandma tending to the needs of my grandson while my daughter went to university and to complete her studies. It was important to me that she had the start I didn’t have.
I’ve struggled with my mental health for many years and Student Mental Health Services at LSBU were fantastic. They ensured that I completed my course and didn’t fail.
Still I Rise
My organisation, Still I Rise was born in my last year of study when I visited Granada to understand how they dealt with domestic violence victims. I was able to visit the only woman’s refuge in the country and the conditions were shocking. I couldn’t not do something to affect these women’s lives, so I came back to the UK and started a campaign called ‘Still I Rise’. I asked people to donate all they could - not money, but physical necessities for the women. As a result, we sent 10 large barrels of bedding, soap, rice etc.
LSBU Social Enterprise
After I sent the barrels I entered the ‘Make It Happen’, LSBU Social Enterprise competition in April 2017. I had to do a 10 minute pitch on my social enterprise idea, and I was so nervous to do my pitch I actually turned up a day early. In the end, I won £1000, desk space and membership to the Institute of Directors.
I want to create a non-clinical, judgement-free environment where abuse victims can get advice and help. I want to create workshops that raise awareness of mental health issues. We can talk about a problem but action is vital, we need to create significant change in people’s lives and change attitudes towards mental health. I now maintain my mental health by doing positive affirmations, I am very mindful of what I say to myself - mindfulness and relaxation exercises are vital for my wellbeing.
My advice to current LSBU students when it comes to your mental health is don’t struggle on your own, people are here to help you so use all the services available. When it comes to business, if you see a need or a cause, be the solution. It’s not about money and needing finance to do things, just be authentic with your decisions.