British Triple Jump medallist and Equality & Wellbeing advocate, Shanara Hibbert, joins BRIT
We are delighted that Shanara has joined our BRIT Ambassador family and is championing the BRIT Challenge to support and improve young adult and student mental health and fitness throughout the UK.
Shanara is passionate about supporting people from diverse backgrounds to feel energised, motivated and achieve their goals. She is a Certified Life Coach, National two-time British Championship Triple Jump medallist and an Equality and Wellbeing advocate.
Through her coaching, Shanara specialises in supporting people from ethnic minority backgrounds, women, people working in Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and those with injuries and/or long-term health conditions. Shanara was a Safety and Health Practitioners (SHP) Awards Rising Star UK 2021 finalist for her role in workplace wellbeing at the University of Hertfordshire. She developed the University's Wellbeing programme, leads on reporting against the University's wellbeing key performance indicators (KPI) and manages the University's Wellbeing Champion Network.
“As a former student at the University of Leicester, through my own lived experience of mental health and injury as an elite athlete, and working at both the University of Hertfordshire Students’ Union and University of Hertfordshire, I understand the mental health challenges that many young adults and students face.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of our lives in some way, however it has also had a disproportionate impact on particular groups in society; those on a low income, people with an existing mental health condition; children and young adults and people from diverse backgrounds and communities. A recent study showed that over the past year, half of LGBTIQ+ people had experienced depression and three in five had experienced anxiety; one in eight LGBTIQ+ people aged 18-24 had attempted to end their life and almost half of trans people had thought about taking their life. Additionally, people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds are more likely to have mental health issues and less likely to access early interventions, so raising awareness of the support available and destigmatising mental health is extremely important.
Preventing and supporting the mental health and wellbeing needs of the population is not something the NHS can do alone and it is great to see that BRIT are forging partnerships and special relationships across the education, sport and charity sectors to have a positive UK-wide impact on young adult and student mental health and fitness. We must do more now to proactively support students in order to avoid them facing long-term mental health difficulties.
I am delighted that BRIT are delivering the annual BRIT Challenge as a feelgood February fundraiser for every university, college, specialist college and Students’ Union to enter teams and encourage student and staff participation. It’s also great that the BRIT Challenge has been designed to be an inclusive event and enables students and staff of all abilities to participate and add their miles to their team’s 2,022 mile target by hand-cycling, cycling, wheelchair pushing, swimming, walking, jogging, running, rowing or paddling (canoeing, kayaking or paddle-boarding).
I am thrilled to be part of the BRIT Ambassador family to promote the BRIT Challenge, destigmatise mental health and champion equality, diversity and inclusion. I urge my fellow elite athletes from all sports and backgrounds to join the BRIT Ambassador family and assist in encouraging students to take part in the annual BRIT Challenge. I would be delighted to support and encourage students and staff at the University of Hertfordshire as they take on their BRIT Challenge.”
British Championship Triple Jump medallist, Life Coach and Equality & Wellbeing advocate
Shanara is a Triple Jumper and first competed in Athletics in 2006. In 2014, she competed in Triple Jump for the first time and now competes Nationally in Triple Jump, winning silver medals at the British Indoor and Outdoor National Championships in 2020.
In February 2021, Shanara suffered an Achilles rupture and talus bone bruise that resulted in her having to undergo Achilles surgery in March. She is currently working on getting back to full fitness.
Shanara graduated from the University of Leicester in 2014, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. While at Leicester, she was a Student Ambassador, Student Engagement Team Leader for the Careers Service, Vice President of the Running and Athletics Club, Sports Writer for the Student Magazine, involved with Raising and Giving (RAG) and the English Society.
In addition to her studies at Leicester, Shanara worked as a Playscheme Play Leader for Bedfordshire County Council, organising and supervising activities for children aged 5 – 13. This led to a role at “Sports Zone”, assisting with multi-sports for young people with disabilities and work at an Official Olympic Live Site in 2012 setting up and running sporting activities. Shanara also worked as a Bank Admin Assistant with the Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for four years.
After graduating, Shanara spent two years working as a Social Media Executive in a Marketing agency. She then worked as Marketing and Communications Manager for Hertfordshire Students’ Union from 2016 - 2020. In this role Shanara line managed up to 30 staff members and organised large-scale events such as Freshers for over 24,000 students. She also planned and implemented marketing, communications and events for the Students' Union and its services across a variety of channels.
In 2019, Shanara decided to work part-time to focus more time on Triple Jump and changed coach and training set up, worked on her mental health and also overhauled her diet to manage her IBS.
This shift soon paid off with National medals at the British Championships in 2020 and led to working as a Student Success Officer (Equality) at the University of Hertfordshire between 2020 and 2021. She was highly commended for Professional Staff Member of the Year for her work in this role and her current workplace wellbeing role. She was also part of a team recognised with a National Advanced Higher Education (HE) Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence. Her role included the line management, training and recruitment of the University's 14 BAME Student Advocates whose work has been recognised with Students' Union Awards, departmental awards and highly commended for a Vice Chancellor's Award. She was part of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Student Success Working Group, supported the delivery of the University’s Access and Participation Plan and raised staff awareness of the experiences of students from diverse backgrounds.
Since 2020, Shanara has been employed as the Sustainability and Workplace Wellbeing Engagement Officer at the University of Hertfordshire. She has developed the communication of workplace wellbeing initiatives, is helping to shape the University’s staff wellbeing programme and supports the 'Wellbeing champions network' of volunteers who signpost and support staff members, encouraging a positive working environment across the University of Hertfordshire.
She has also recently qualified as a certified wellbeing and life coach and is passionate about supporting people from diverse backgrounds to feel energised, motivated and achieve their goals. As a coach she specialises in supporting people from ethnic minority backgrounds, women, people working in EDI and those with injuries and/or long-term health conditions.