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Buddy(su)

You can view the below content in a more accessible way via this sway document HERE 

How to set up a peer support buddy scheme

 

What is peer support?

Peer support isn't too different from what you all do in your clubs and societies already. Peer support is when people use their own experiences to help each other. There are different types of peer support, but they all aim to:

  • bring people together to support each other
  • provide a space where you feel comfortable and respected
  • run events that focus on shared experiences and common interests

Peer support happens all the time at university, however creating structured relationships and support networks mean new students have a direct contact at UEA to answer their questions, be a friendly face and help them have the best transition to university. Our peer support scheme at uea(su), buddy(su), supports 400+ new students a year to settle in at UEA and connect with current students who share the same interests, hobbies, course or background. The scheme aims to support new students to get involved in student events, find the right services and feel of a community from day one.

Clubs and societies can use buddy(su) to create their own buddy schemes and gain more members ahead of the Welcome period. buddy(Su) is a great resource that enables you to run your scheme, without all the admin!

Why should you run a buddy scheme?

We believe the best way for new students to settle in is by learning from the best – you! Creating your own scheme allows you to meet new students ahead of the Welcome Period and provide a personal introduction with all your social media links to hand. We all remember what that first day in at uni feels like, the nerves and trepidation when you are adjusting to a new environment. Having a friendly face around campus can ease the pressure of figuring everything out on your own, and missing the activities and events that wished you found earlier.

This is especially important for students who face additional barriers to accessing and integrating into higher education. Students with similar life challenges and stresses can be a great source of support, offering insight and understanding that others may not have. Our matching process allows our student group to match up to current members to new students with things in common beyond shared interests.

Think your student group could benefit from having a buddy scheme? Find out how to get involved: 

How it works

Setting up a buddy scheme is easy and you can run the scheme alongside everything you have planned for next year.

Here are the steps you should take:

  • Gather interest from your current members on who would like to a buddy to new students. This can be your committee, current members or a mix of both!
  • Make sure you are trained - training on how to be a buddy and develop peer support from your SU is available via the Students' Union
  • Create a spreadsheet of trained volunteers (buddies) and start promoting your scheme
  • Set up a simple form or expression of interest that new students can complete registering for a buddy
  • Match your new students to an appropriately trained volunteer, providing them with information about your society, any events and general advice about life at UEA
  • Host a welcome event during the first semester between your new students and buddy volunteers. This could be a virtual pre-meet to your first social or ensuring your volunteers are meeting in small groups to meet with buddies.
  • Create regular events or checkpoints for volunteers to check in with their matches away from group activities, allowing them to raise any issues they are experiencing.

You also have the option to run your scheme via the main SU facilitated buddy scheme, buddy(SU);

  • Contact the buddy(su) team, via the coordinator Amy Rust - buddy.su@uea.ac.uk
  • Share the volunteer application form with your members - include your club or society under 'your hobbies and interests'
  • From September, your volunteers will be matched with new students that share the same criteria. Your volunteer should contact their matches with an introduction, information about the society and how they can get involved before the start of term.
  • Host a welcome event during the first semester between your new students and buddy volunteers. This could be a virtual pre-meet to your first social or ensuring your volunteers are meeting in small groups to meet with buddies.
  • Create regular events or checkpoints for volunteers to check in with their matches away from group activities, allowing them to raise any issues they are experiencing.

The buddy(su) team is always around to support your student group, with many of our student leaders being committee members themselves. Once you contact the buddy(su) coordinator, they will be run through the scheme again, and provide admin support if needed.

 

Training and resources

When your club or society sign up as volunteers, you will receive our online training and resources that ensure you feel fully equipped to help another student. Our training includes understanding the role, safeguarding, code of conduct and some of the common situations our volunteers help with.

We also have several resources on skills that you might need as a volunteer, such as active listening, positive communication and tools such as a template email. This can all be found under 'volunteer hub' via uea.su/ buddy.

Each volunteer will be asked to complete a short quiz to ensure they understand the role. They will only be able to volunteer if they have completed this training.

Next steps

Discuss a peer support scheme with your committee and look at how it can support your aims for the next year. Get in touch with Amy Rust - buddy.su@uea.ac.uk