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Following last term’s campaign by Students’ Union Vice President (Equality, Welfare and Diversity) Rosalia O’Reilly, the Counseling Service is to gain an extra member of staff to augment its current team of counselors. A further member of staff is also due to return from a period of official leave.
This additional provision is to function as an interim solution to the concerns voiced by students via O’Reilly’s campaign last term, which focused on the inadequacy of the building facilities as well as the deficient numbers of staff members and appointments available to both students and staff. The need for an intervention, pending further investigation and improvement, was explicated during a meeting between O’Reilly and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for colleges and the student experience, Amanda Chetwynd, following the closure of the Service’s online referral system. Chetwynd apologised for this closure and made assurances to ‘give the whole service a review’, according to O’Reilly.
As part of this interim solution, 25 more counselling sessions per week are to be made available to students and staff this term.
Meanwhile, a new Student Wellbeing Services Manager is to conduct a review, due in February this year, of the service with a view to future improvement and expansion. Fay Sherrington began her work in this newly-established role in November last year, and is responsible for overseeing student-oriented support services, including finance and funding, wellbeing, counselling, mental health, and disability support.
Looking ahead to the outcome of the review, O’Reilly anticipated a positive response from the University and its commitment to student welfare provision:
‘I think we’re going to be happy with the results: the University seems really keen to improve the service, and seems serious about wanting to get more staff and volunteers on board.’
On the success of her proactive stance on student- and staff-welfare issues, O’Reilly added:
‘I think that we can definitely take some pride in this achievement. The Counselling Service is an incredible asset to our students and I’m happy that the University has managed to create more sessions, and that they are having an in-depth look into how the service can be developed and improved.’
In addition to the hard work of the University’s student welfare provision, Nightline also offers invaluable resources to students with welfare needs, and is run entirely by student volunteers. An issue currently being championed by O’Reilly is the difficulty the Nightline service is having in moving into its new office space, which was supposed to be made available by the University as of the Wednesday before the commencement of the Lent term. Unable to move and be ready for the new term, Nightline has been forced to temporarily suspend its services. O’Reilly, aided by LUSU President Ste Smith, is working to see the problem rectified: ‘Ste and I are writing to Tom Finnigan and Mark Swindelhurst to request that they get the people managing the move to hurry up.’
More information on the Nightline service can be found online at nightline.lusu.co.uk.