Samaritans Launches First Ever University Hub For People Struggling With Mental Health
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The suicide prevention charity, Samaritans, has launched its first hub at a university, recruiting student volunteers to provide support to anyone struggling to cope in the UK.
Launching at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), the hub will be manned by students and will offer a new online chat service for those who need support. It is a first for the charity, which was founded in 1953 by vicar Chad Varah.
Students will receive training before volunteering at the hub, which first opened towards the end of 2021, they will then be able to offer support to those in crisis via a written online chat forum.
Samaritans will also offer students on mental health nursing, paramedic science and social work courses the chance to join professional placements with the charity, with plans to roll out further volunteer and placement opportunities across other ARU campuses.
Samaritans chief operating officer, Gareth Germer, says he believes the initiative will help health and social care students acquire 'very valuable' skills.
Speaking on the launch of the hub, Anglia Ruskin Samaritans Hub service director Colin Hill said: "I started volunteering with Samaritans when I was in my mid-20s and now, as a senior Samaritans volunteer for the past five years, it's an honour to lead our very first university hub.
"There is a growing need for people to have a variety of options if they are struggling and need to reach out, and the pandemic has only made this need more urgent.
"That's why it's vital we test and develop our online chat pilot so eventually Samaritans can offer more digital, written-word choices for those who prefer communicating in that way."
The suicide prevention charity has long supported schools, colleges and higher education institutions in their endeavour to help struggling students, providing talks, lesson plans and more.
It is hoped that the university hub will allow students to give back to their communities, as well as providing them with invaluable skills and experience.
Professor Nigel Harrison explained: "ARU provides its students with a comprehensive range of mental health and wellbeing support. This new initiative allows our students to give something back by offering assistance to the general public.
"Through our trained staff and student volunteers, Samaritans will be able to help more people across the UK – whether in Ipswich or Inverness, Cardiff or Coleraine – through this new online support facility."
If you're struggling with your mental health, whatever you're going through, Samaritan's will face it with you.
They're available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 116 123, or you can visit samaritans.org for more information.
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