Being at university is no doubt an exciting and challenging time. However, it can often be confusing, complex and even lonely. Securing your place to study and arranging finance is only just the beginning! If you need help with the practicalities such as housing, budgeting or referencing an essay, help is usually plentiful and easy to find. But what if you're having a hard time getting to know fellow students? Struggling with anxiety, homesickness and missing family? Getting lost in a sea of hundreds of faces but not knowing one of those well enough to meet for coffee? This is where Connect Peer Support comes in.
The Connect Peer Support project is part of the Wolves Students’ Union Well@Wolves strategy. It was developed partly as a response to the 2016 Students’ Union survey which revealed that nearly half of all students surveyed were concerned about their mental wellbeing whilst at university. However, the same survey also showed that over half of the respondents felt that the University of Wolverhampton was a community to which they felt they belonged. The Connect Peer Support project aims to tap into that sense of community to support students in fostering social networks which enhance wellbeing as they study.
Connect Peer Mentors will be student volunteers who support their fellow students negotiating their way through university life. You've been through it all so you're the person best placed to relate, share your experiences and local knowledge and be that friendly face in the crowd that makes such a difference. Many students face significant barriers to making and maintaining friendships during their time at university including anxiety, long term health conditions, disability, low confidence and speaking English as a second language. This can lead to a poor student experience and greater risk of students dropping out; things that the Connect project hopes to reduce.
Peer Mentors are not counsellors and do not take the place of personal assistants – they will be a friendly, non-judgemental supportive “friend”, encouraging mentored students to get out and about, even if it's just for a coffee, chatting informally about their concerns and pointing them in the right direction of professional advice and support services within the university and the wider community. Whether it’s arranging a meeting between mentored students to widen their social circle, helping to reduce isolation in our international students by being a buddy for practicing English or signposting students to local wellbeing services, our Connect peer mentors will help to empower students to make their own university experience a great one.
Wolves’ Students’ Union are now accepting expressions of interest from both students who are interested in becoming a Connect peer mentor and from students who would be interested in being mentored. Peer Mentor volunteers will benefit from a comprehensive package of training and support as well as gaining hours towards their volunteering certificate.
For further details, including how to apply, contact Bee at Volunteer Central – B.Johnson5@wlv.ac.uk
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