A STUDENT from Taunton claims he has achieved a "world first" after a five-year campaign at Plymouth University.

Will Styles has convinced the powers-that-be to create a men's role within the Students' Union at the Devon uni, enabling him to support male wellbeing on campus.

In the lead up to being appointed the first men's welfare officer at Plymouth, Will, 25, said he met with some "fierce, bias driven resistance".

He said: "As of October 22, I am the UK’s first men’s welfare officer at any university to have been elected as part of a student-led campaign.

"Many university students have attempted to set up similar roles, but so far all campaigns have failed against a backlash asserting misogyny is at the core of these, though it is in fact compassion and empathy that drives these."

While most students supported Will's call for an officer to support male students, opponents argued the Equality Act was not applicable to men.

He said: "In students' unions, there are rules created to allow students to campaign on issues and to organise events, but those roles have traditionally excluded men.

"As the men's welfare officer, I will campaign on issues affecting male students."

Will believes his role is complementary to similar posts offering support to women, trans and binary and LGBT groups.

"When discussions came up, it felt like we were trying to belittle or work in contrast to women's issues, but it's a complementary task," he added.

"We're trying to create welfare platforms for everyone that needs it.

"Male mental health concerns have become more apparent during the pandemic. We talk about how men don't come forward to talk about things.

"At least we should be talking to males to see what we can do for them on an individual basis."

Will's campaign began when he joined Plymouth University's Feminist Society and was invited as a guest to attend a women's forum.

"I realised my energy would be much better placed where it couple do a male equivalent job.

"In general, the student population overwhelmingly supported the idea, but when it came to presenting it to the council it was met with a very different response. In the past, there was opposition - men's issues were treated as a joke.

"But men deal with things differently, and we're not yet fully aware of what that is."

Will now hopes to convince Students' Unions at other universities to appoint male welfare officers.

At the University of the West of England, Bristol, there is a men's welfare officer, although that post was created by the governance there, not the students.

The role at Plymouth is the first to be student-led in its creation and follow a student mandate to provide this service.