Wednesday, 5 May 2021

U Calm

Matthew Bate, Cohort 2018

There has arguably never been a time where such a light has shone on the challenges students face in managing and striving to meet their academic targets but also, in striving to stay happy, stay well and stay rested. Students around the country are looking for ways to support their wellbeing which is exactly why SELA Cohort 2018 graduate Matthew Bate is currently developing a first of its kind, entirely student-focused health and wellbeing service, U Calm.

The app focuses on building a framework for understanding, providing students the space to learn and monitor their own wellbeing. Further to this, it also provides universities insight into their students’ wellbeing, to allow proactive support from the universities and motivate planning for wellbeing.

Matt recognises that it was SELA which first sparked the idea of U Calm: through taking part in one of SELA’s projects in his second year, he was given a brief to create an assistive technology. Here he worked with a small team of SELA members, and was mentored by Aejaz Zahid, Director of the NHS South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System. The team shared an interest in wellbeing and so with a shared experience of the challenges faced in higher education, the concept was formed.

Once Matt had graduated, he enrolled in the Sheffield Start Up Programme before joining The Cooper Project at Sheffield Technology Parks where he was able to get help in developing the service and integrated fully within the team, despite the limitations that the pandemic presented (such as not being able to meet with them in real life). At the moment, Matt is transitioning into engaging with the university itself, trying to gauge what it is they need from the service. By the end of the year, Matt hopes they will have moved into a full development of the service itself.

Speaking of his SELA experience and its impact on launching the app, Matt said ‘I think most of all, SELA gave me experience in working with real people, in the real world, at a much earlier stage than would’ve been possible had I not looked outside of my core studies.’

Matt also explained how SELA allowed him to explore and cultivate his interests in design: ‘Joining SELA allowed me to explore this at a much higher level and much earlier than would’ve been possible had I never applied. Not only this, but it allowed me work with some of the most inspiring people that I have ever met and it has since allowed me to build the relationships that have got me to where I am today! Thank you to Dr Gary Wood and Dr Ceri Batchelder for being two of those individuals.’

In launching your own ideas and growing as an engineer Matt says it is important to listen, adapt and make changes, all of which is only possible with a clear understanding of yourself - which would not have been possible for him without SELA.

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