Trained student volunteers relishing peer support role

The Student Support Service that was teased on this website towards the end of last year is now up and running for 2023 – with a new microsite of its own launched to explain its purpose, workings and significance.

The service has been set up to give impartial peer support and is intended as a supplement rather than any kind of substitute to the rest of the school’s wide-ranging pastoral provision. Organisers say that sometimes pupils just need to talk to someone nearer their own age, who understand what it’s like to be at school and be a teenager.

A total of 13 Transitus (or Year 12) students have been trained in coaching, safeguarding and holding a helpful conversation. Sammi Shapiro, for one, is ready to sit and listen to those who want to talk. “I have friends who have gone through difficult times so I understand that sometimes the best help is just having someone there to listen,” she says. “I hope to offer a comforting, warm presence and would love to meet with anyone who wants to.”

Maya Selby echoes these sentiments: “I love listening and giving advice – helping people has always been a favourite thing of mine. This role enables me to listen to any topic discussed. We will only talk about what you want to discuss. I would associate myself with trust, positivity and clear guidance, and would love to share these qualities.”

For Anna Reedie, training for the Student Support Service was both enjoyable and beneficial, preparing her to “use newly acquired skills to help anyone who needs it”. Eleonore Hendrickx liked learning about why we have certain behaviours and how we can use this knowledge to create stronger relationships, adding: “I want to help people learn more about themselves and therefore understand and navigate their emotions better.”

One volunteer already acquainted with the value of good coaching is Eva Bielawski. “I chose to join because I have experienced first-hand the benefits of good coaching,” she explains. “It has made me more empathetic and emotionally aware, and I now have a better understanding of who I am as a person. I believe these are some of the most essential qualities to have in order to build a healthy relationship with yourself. I would like to help others learn to improve their relationship with themselves and others.”

Oskar Gershfield hopes his experience of encountering challenge and adversity will help him to help others. “I was a passionate rugby player before an injury forced me to stop playing. Faced with social and physical challenges, I had to give up more than just the sport I love, so I understand what it’s like to lose things that are important to you. But, with help, I learnt to be resilient, find the silver lining and turn adversity into an advantage.”

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