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New lifeline for students

The University of St Andrews is launching a new venture next week (Tuesday 28 November 2000) which will arm a team of students with the skills to help those in need of assistance.

Thought to be unique in Scottish higher education, the SupNet (support network) comprises of a team of 25 students of all ages and backgrounds who are trained in basic welfare and counselling skills and who can be called upon by staff to befriend students in need of help.

Although a version of the scheme has been running for nearly five years, the new and improved service is, for the first time, being coordinated by a part-time member of University staff, initially a two-year post, which is being funded by the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland.

Working with the Student Support Service, SupNet also run a number of local self-help support groups and networks providing guidance and support on everything from personal, health and relationship problems to financial and accommodation issues. SupNetters, who are recruited in their first year, trained in their second year and involved in appropriate projects in their second, third and fourth year, also provide first aid cover for special events.

Twenty-two year old Steve Yorkstone, an alumnus of the University and a member of the former SupNet during his time at St Andrews, will be responsible for the recruitment, training, monitoring and supervision of the team and, through regular meetings, will allocate tasks and casework to the volunteers.

Steve said, “Peer support offers a number of advantages as students have a unique and valuable insight into the problems faced by their peers and, by the very fact that they are students, can offer a type of support that staff members cannot. Students in need can also rest assured that their problems will be treated in the strictest confidence. The SupNetters are fully trained but are also aware of their own limits, allowing them to call on professionally trained staff and counsellors when necessary.”

Meanwhile, Master of the United College and Acting Principal Professor Colin Vincent believes the service will be invaluable – “The SupNet is a prime example of the University of St Andrews’ close-knit student community working together and helping each other. Indeed, the students are to be congratulated for investing their spare time in helping their peers.” The Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland was founded in 1986 to support local community groups. In the last year, the Foundation has carried out over 250 evaluation and monitoring visits for project applicants.

Further information about SupNet can be obtained from the Student Support Service, 1st Floor, Union Building, St Mary’s Place, St Andrews (telephone 01334 462720) or email sss@st-andrews.ac.uk).

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS – You are invited to the Student Support Service, 1st Floor, Union Building, St Mary’s Place, St Andrews at 11am on Tuesday 28 November 2000 when Assistant Hebdomadar (Welfare) Chris Lusk; Master of the United College and Acting Principal Professor Colin Vincent; SupNet Coordinator Steve Yorkstone and; Chairman of the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland George Mathieson will meet some of the SupNetters and hear about the work of the SupNet and Student Support Service.

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: supnet/standrews/chg/23nov2000

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