September 12, LONDON – The University Students’ Council is excited to reopen the newly renovated and reinvigorated Peer Support Centre.
The Peer Support Centre is an on campus safe-space for undergraduate students to speak with peers, make connections and find help. Open noon to 6 p.m. every weekday, the Centre was created five years ago to afford students a peer-based initial point-of-contact when feeling unsafe or overwhelmed on campus. Now moved to the University Community Center’s second floor (UCC 256) for increased accessibility, the Centre has undergone not only a physical transformation but also an organizational upgrade.
“One of the largest problems with the Centre was that there was a lack of structure. It was just a room and a lot of attention was directed towards that physical space,” said Alex Benac, the USC’s vice-president internal. “Our approach this year and moving forward is focusing energy and resources into the implementation of a robust peer support program.”
This includes improved recruitment and training of Peer Support volunteers facilitated in partnership with Western’s student experience portfolio. Additionally, the Centre’s resource library has been curated to ensure only the most recent, accurate and relevant materials are being passed onto students. For the first time in the Centre’s history many of these resources will be available in languages commonly used by Western’s international students.
Finally, a full-time psychotherapist from Western’s Student Development Centre has been assigned specifically to the space offering student volunteers continued training. This staff member, in conjunction with a new computerized system for logging volunteer and student activity, is a move to make the Peer Support Program a more legitimate avenue for students to seek help.
“We’ve actually brought the program up to the Canadian Mental Health Associations national guidelines for peer support programs, which is huge. Now that we’ve reached those guidelines, next year we want to look at ways to we can start setting the standard,” Benac continued.
Many of these changes grew from the generous $50,000 donation of the Johnson family to the Peer Support Centre earlier this year. The Johnson family will be thanked during the Peer Support Centre’s reopening celebration taking place on Tuesday September 29th at 3:15 p.m.
For further inquiries please contact:
University Students’ Council
519-661-2111 ext. 82618