New counselling base a worry for students

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Student Based Services, the resource responsible for organising student accommodation, funding and counselling, has been relocated to University house in Alexandra Square.

Whilst some departments were already situated in University House, there is concern for certain departments transferring their facility to this building, in particular, Lancaster’s Counselling Service. This facility has relocated from Furness’ C Floor, to the large, mainly glass building at the centre of the University. This has been a cause for concern for some as it may result in embarrassment and humiliation to students seeking advice and support. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the building ensure that there is little privacy for a student seeking confidential guidance from a counsellor. Whilst the counsellors within the facility maintain that they will still be offering the same valuable service, the discretion of the facility has been brought into question.

The relocation of the facility was initiated by Director of Student Based Services, Tom Finnigan who has suggested that the move will mean all the facilities co-ordinated by Student Based Services will now be under one roof, and therefore more accessible to students. Pete Macmillan, LUSU Vice President (Equality, Welfare and Diversity) said that the move is “a good idea in theory, but perhaps not in practice”.

The Counselling Service offers a valuable service to students who wish to talk to someone impartial about concerns of a personal and emotional nature. The Counsellors work in 50 minute slots, which focus on the individual and aim to “create appropriate coping mechanisms”. A letter sent into SCAN expressed dismay at the relocation of the Counselling Service saying: “What was once a private service where many counsellors were available and working each day, is now a hectic mess of a service”. The letter then went on to say that “at least a minimum level of confidentiality and dignity should be allowed”.

Student Based Services is now often referred to as The Base, a name coined in order to make it easily recognisable by students as the building comprising of many of the necessary facilities for students, such as CEEC (Centre for Enterprise, Employability and Careers) and advice for international students.

Julia Thomson, an employee at Student Based Services said: “It is useful to have a one stop shop […] however there are issues as it isn’t always an immediately available private area”. Whilst realising the negatives of the relocation of the Counselling Service Thomson said: “Overall it’ll be a really effective service”.

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