Promotion and Recruitment
Every college is different, so bespoke promotion remains vital for checking interest and generating interest in the training. Trained Peer Supporters are important in this process.
- Word of mouth, i.e.: recruitment events, lightening talks from trained peer supporters, welfare teas, chatting to students, cascading through common rooms.
- Email promotion.
- Website content and videos/ recorded interviews.
- The blurb below.
Below you’ll find a potential blurb that might help:
- Would you like to have the skills and confidence to offer a helping hand to other students in your college/ department/ division?
- Contribute and engage with your student community?
- Promote and create welfare and wellbeing spaces in college/ department/ division?
- Be part of student wellbeing and welfare provision in college/ department/ division?
- Invest in building a supportive and collaborative atmosphere?
- Learn transferable interpersonal skills and self-development?
Training as a Peer Supporter is a great way to develop personal and social skills that will be useful in all your relationships as well as making a positive contribution to the welfare support in your college/ department/ division. The Peer Support Programme offers an experiential training focusing on active listening, assertive communication, diversity awareness and support skills, self-awareness, and self-care. Please feel free to talk to trained peer supporters, the Designated Link Person (DLP) or email The Peer Support Programme with any questions you may have at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more information at https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/welfare/peersupport.
You can recruit in many ways. Recruitment input from multiple sources is an attempt to create community input, sense of team cohesion and creating a bridge between college and centralised services. DLPs and college/ department/ division always have final say.
- Individual interviews, group interviews, applications, a quick chat.
- Can bring in Peer Support Programme team member.
- Involve trained Peer Supporters where appropriate.
Applications can be ranked for strength of application and include as much diversity, inclusivity and equality as possible:
- Gender identity.
- Subject, course and department.
- Year of study and level of study.
- Sexuality and sexual identity.
- Cultural background.
- Friendship groups.
- Extra-curricular activities.
- Not just welfare reps – other students are represented too.
The Programme will notify the applicants through email and invite them for training when names have been given. Emails will be either a yes or a ranked reserve depending on outcome that you agree.
- Is the student able to attend all training sessions?
- Is the student able to attend supervisions (top-up training) post-training?
- Is the student able and willing to meet with the DLP and senior welfare as needed per term?
- Academic permission to participate from senior tutor, organising tutor, supervisor?
- Resilience question - The training covers challenging topics such as suicide, self-harm, families, discrimination, depression and anxiety. Does the student feel in a resilient frame of mind to carry out this training, the supervisions and become a Peer Supporter?
- What does the role of Peer Support mean to them?
- In what way would training for the role of peer supporter be beneficial to them?
- What do they think a trained peer supporter should offer to someone who comes to see them?
- What do they think are the main benefits of a Peer Support Team in the college?
- What do they have to offer the Peer Support Team?
- What else would they like to say about themselves or their personal experiences that might be of use to them in the role as a peer supporter?
Information we collect
- Primary Nationality.
- Rainbow Peers, Disability Diversity Peers, Peers of Faiths, Peers of Colour and Coffee Ambassador interest.
- University email.
- Level of study.
- Stage of study.
- Common room committee member?
- Dietary requirements.
- Any individual support adjustments or access requirements they might need for accessing the building and/ or training purposes.
The Designated Link Person (DLP) role
The DLP role is held by a member of staff in a department, college or division, often in a senior welfare role. The role helps to ensure the safe and smooth running of the Peer Support Team in the college/ department/ division and is a vital interface with the Peer Support Programme. Please take an interest in Peer Supporters and help them integrate into the welfare team where appropriate.
Please ask if you would like to know more about the content of the training including:
- The code confidentiality.
- Risk/crisis management content.
- The peer supporter suspension and removal policy.
The DLP Role
- State the training needs of the college/ department/ division, particularly the training numbers.
- Can sign off applicants for training.
- Might help with recruitment.
- Might know the students, especially with regards to welfare or academic concerns and issues or can liaise appropriately with someone who knows in senior welfare.
- Know the college/ department/ division welfare structures and roles very well (each college/ department has its differences).
- Encourage students to attend training and supervision if issues with attendance.
- Meet with the peer supporters to create a sense of college/ departmental/ division community once a term, especially for recruitment.
- Include Peer Supporters, Junior Deans and other welfare team members to create a sense of college/ department/ division welfare community and exchange information.
- Help with disciplinary matters.
- Monitor Peer Support in their college/ department/ division.
- Can speak to bursars regarding funding and payment towards the Programme.
- Can create a welfare poster that includes the active peer supporters and remove any suspended students or students on year abroad or on field work.
Times when the trainer/supervisor and DLP are likely to have email/phone/face-to-face contact are (not exclusively):
- When new peer supporters are applying to train - to clarify with the DLP how many places the College/Department desires and to ensure that the DLP is happy with the students selected to train.
- When there are significant concerns about a particular peer supporter either during the training or during the period of ongoing supervision.
- When there is a significant concern about another member of the College/ Department community where information has been passed on by the peer supporter.
The Peer Support Listener Role
The role in a nutshell:
- To Listen (openly, without judgement expressed and with curiosity).
- To Validate and acknowledge someone’s experience.
- To explore (with other’s words).
- To refer on.
- Attends training.
- Attends most supervisions where possible.
- Attends a meeting with senior welfare.
- Runs a couple of events – 1 explicitly welfare and one indirectly welfare.
A peer supporter:
- Is a student with some additional training.
- Is warm, caring and empathic.
- Is welcoming and provides a safe space for people.
- Can keep a confidence where appropriate.
- Helps those approaching them to clarify a concern.
- Allows the person approaching them to lead the discussion.
- Is aware of different types of questions and uses the skills of summarising and reflecting to show understanding.
- Understands the importance of creating boundaries and setting limits, especially around time, issues of severity or risk and personal limits.
- Knows when to refer someone who seeks help on to others including senior welfare by appropriately extending confidentiality.
- Understands that not all people want to change, and that not all problems can be solved.
- Attends termly supervision regularly and keeps in contact with their supervisor.
- Is an active member of a peer support team in college by meeting regularly as a team with senior college welfare including the DLP and Junior Deans.
- Looks after their own health and well-being, and regularly and mindfully practices self-care.
- Realises that Peer Support is more than individual support, that it is about community engagement, promotion and creation of welfare/ wellbeing spaces in college.
A peer supporter:
- Is not a mental health professional.
- Tries not to talk mostly about self.
- Tries not to encourage dependency.
- Does not gossip about a session.
- Tries not to give careless, inappropriate, or unthoughtful advice.
- Tries not to jump to conclusions.
- Tries not to assume they know what is best for the person.
- Does not keep things to themselves when they should be passed on appropriately.
- Does not make promises that might endanger a fellow student.
- Does not just want one to one sessions but also runs events and fosters a welfare/wellbeing community in college.
Getting Used, In a Good Way
‘How many people have you seen?’ Is the wrong question for Peer Support because it is not a Counselling Service. A better question is ‘how have you used your skills and connected with the community?’
People do peer support training for a range of personal reasons and hope to provide one to one support to others. The Peer Support Training is about enhancing the College/Departmental/Divisional welfare and wellbeing community as well helping individual students. As students pick routes for support, from the very informal (friends) to the more formal (Counselling Service), Peer Support falls somewhere in between and is an important addition to College/Departmental welfare structures. It provides a complimentary level of support to holistic welfare support at Oxford. The Peer Support Programme fits in with the Universities United Kingdom (UUK) and Student Minds ‘whole institution approach to mental health’.
Between 6% and 7% of all counselling referrals per year come from Peer Supporters.
It’s In Your Hands – network and collaborate.
The Peer Support Programme can provide the training and supervision space, how Peer Support is used and embedded in Colleges/ Departments/ Divisions is up to you and your communities, including welfare teams. Institutional members are independent structures with their own internal processes and governance, and the Peer Support Programme can only do so much. It requires a vital effort to invest in the community, and together with your Peer Support Team, Peer Support Supervisor/ Trainer and Designated Link Person (DLP) you can make an incredible impact within your community.
Promote and Explain.
Remember that you are not a therapist and people won’t simply visit you for an individual chat if they don’t know who you are or what you do. Visibility and promotion are important to keep Peer Support in people’s minds throughout the term. Are you explaining to your community what Peer Support is and the benefits and limits of confidentiality?
Redefine ‘being used’.
You are being ‘used’, but perhaps not in the ways that you think, especially when Peer Support in Colleges/ Departments will mostly be informal in nature. We must think about our assumptions with the word ‘used’, because courageous conversations can happen at any time and might not be easily demarcated within a drop-in session. You don’t always know the impact you have on others with the simplest word or recognition, so don’t underestimate the impact you are having on others. Being used will mean different things to different people.
Good practice examples:
- Focus groups?
- Measure of success isn’t always attendance but running it in the first place.
- People might want to know the events are there, even if they don’t come.
- Peer Supporters can join with common room events and common room welfare officers.
- Interests and shared values – impactful.
|Welfare walks (maybe with a dog or very well-trained cat).
|Welfare teas. Food is always good.
|Cookie fairy – things in pidges with little notes.
|Welfare arts and crafts.
|Anonymous notice board events in common rooms with post-it notes including replies on topics such as being an imposter at Oxford.
|Text a toastie.
|Welfare/ Mental health (week) talks themed talks –
|Adopt a finalist.
|Creative/ fun events that are not specifically welfare themed.
|Whine and cheese.
|Knit and natter.
|Study groups (virtual or in-person – sounds of the Bod optional).
Peer Supporter Checklist
Promotion and Visibility
- Have you or your welfare team created an up-to-date welfare poster that explains what Peer Support is? Does it have pictures? Does it have little biographies? Does it describe the various roles in welfare?
- Have you distributed the poster in electronic form and hard copy across College/Departmental locations including annexes? Is it up to date?
- Has your welfare team created a welfare leaflet that includes Peer Support?
- Is Peer Support promoted on the College/Departmental/Divisional website? Is Peer Support promoted on the JCR/MCR/HCR website?
- Is Peer Support mentioned in welfare email shots to students on a regular basis?
- Have you spoken at inductions for Freshers and through-out the academic term at other events about Peer Support?
- Are you visible? Welfare officers are more used because of visibility, through running events.
- How are you seen in College/ Department by others? Are you around College/ Department? Do you spend time there? Do you chat to people in the common rooms?
- Have you run welfare events?
- Do you wear hoodies/t-shirts and lanyards promoting Peer Support? Available from the Peer Support shop. Buy now to avoid disappointment.
Team and Connection
- Do you meet termly with your College/Departmental/Divisional welfare team, especially the DLP and junior deans?
- Do you meet with your other Peer Supporters between supervisions? You are a team. How is your collaborative teamwork identity? Do you welcome new Peer Supporters?
- Connect with welfare reps and ents reps?