Peer Support on the Easter Bush Campus
A new peer support group at the Easter Bush Campus aims to offer an informal way for staff to support one another.
The 19th May marks the start of start of Mental Health Awareness Week. We talked to Dr Laura Glendinning, who is part of a new initialitive for the Easter Bush Campus, a Peer Support Group.
We caught up with Laura to find out more about this new group and what it hopped to acheive.
What was the inspiration behind setting up this new Peer Support Group?
We felt that while the University offered several formal services for staff who were experiencing personal issues, an Easter Bush peer support group would help provide a more informal, perhaps less intimidating way of providing support for our colleagues on campus. The establishment of such a scheme was also highlighted as one of the issues raised by multiple discussion groups as part of the staff and student surveys.
What will this group offer which other services in the University aren’t able to?
The University does provide formal services for individuals experiencing specific personal issues, such as problems with their mental health or with bullying/harassment. However, seeking these types of formal support may be intimidating for some members of staff. Therefore, staff may not attempt to access these services until they have already reached a crisis point.
The counselling service, which provides support to staff/students who may feel intimidated by other services, is also struggling to keep up with demand. Providing informal support could help bridge this gap, providing help to staff at an earlier time-point, or by just providing a friendly ear.
How important is having a group of volunteers from all staff levels and a diverse range of backgrounds?
This is highly important. We would love to recruit volunteers from across all buildings, and at all staff levels. A pool of volunteers from diverse backgrounds and with different life experiences (people at different positions on the gender spectrum, LGBT+, BAME etc.) is also critical.
The reason for this is very simple. The purpose of the peer support volunteers is not to act as mentors or counsellors, but as equal partners. Through discussing shared experiences, the volunteer and staff-member who is seeking aid can collaboratively come up with ways of viewing and potentially solving problems. By ensuing that we have a diverse pool of volunteers that represent the large amount of diversity we have on campus, we are ensuring that these equal conversations can happen.
Are you currently seeking volunteers and how can people be involved if they would like to help?
We are currently recruiting volunteers from all staff levels (sign-up online at https://edin.ac/p2p-signup). Volunteers would receive training in confidentiality, active listening, empathy and sensitivity. If people would like more info about the scheme they can email me at Laura.firstname.lastname@example.org.
How will the peer support group work for someone looking to get help?
Volunteers would be listed online alongside a short biography. Anyone seeking support would be able to contact volunteers via their supplied contact info. Once we are back on campus, we will also be holding regular coffee mornings where staff can come together to chat over a cup of tea about welfare/campus issues.
Will you have links to the wider University support systems?
Volunteers will be made aware of the other University support systems which are available, so that when individuals may need more formal help, they can direct them to the these services.
What do you see as the ultimate goal for this group?
We hope that this scheme will help to promote a supportive and friendly campus environment, where individuals feel heard, and where we as staff can attempt to solve problems together.
The University has a number of free resources for staff and students to get help.
About the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies
The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than eight hundred staff and almost fourteen hundred students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos.
The School comprises:
- The Roslin Institute
- The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security
- The Roslin Innovation Centre
- The Hospital for Small Animals
- Equine Veterinary Services
- Farm Animal Services
- Easter Bush Pathology
- The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education
We represent the largest concentration of animal science related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.