Students work with Lancaster University to support students settle into university life

Peer mentor

The Organisation

Lancaster University Disability Service offer advice on a range of disability-related issues and services to help reduce barriers to learning for disabled students. For someone with a condition that is classified as a disability, the Disability Service can help put in place various forms of support.

www.lancaster.ac.uk/student-based-services/disability 

The Challenge

Lancaster University Disability Service needed Peer Mentors to help and support new students with autism settle into the University.

Skills Sought

  • Excellent communication skills and an ability to reflect
  • Empathetic listener
  • Reliability
  • Able to maintain confidentiality when appropriate and an awareness of boundaries
  • Knowledge of university support structures and the help available to students
  • An awareness of study strategies and the learning process and the theory behind coaching/mentoring

The Solution

A range of Psychology Students were recruited through the Psychology Employability Programme for a placement of over 20 hours with Lancaster University Disability Service. Duties of Peer Mentors varied depending on the needs of the mentee they were supporting. These included providing support and guidance with developing study skills, supporting the mentee in accessing university and leisure facilities and encouraging the mentee in making the most of opportunities and services available to them, thereby increasing their independence and confidence.

Impact

Lancaster University Disability Service was able to support more students, enabling them to settle well into university life.

Benefits

  • Provided additional support to students
  • Developed skills of volunteer

Organisation Feedback

“I have been impressed by the way that Peer Mentors have supported each other through problem solving and by their general commitment, enthusiasm and professionalism.

"The Peer Mentor Programme has been an extremely valuable resource for students on the autism spectrum. The scheme has worked well because Peer Mentors have been able to relate to issues that mentees are facing because they have experienced similar challenges themselves. Mentees have benefitted enormously from the tailored support on offer which has ranged from providing suggestions for making friends to actually accompanying mentees to club/society meetings. Peer Mentors have developed confidence and invaluable employability skills including experience of reflective practice.” Catherine Westwell, Student Transition Officer, Lancaster University Disability Service.

Student Feedback

"The best thing about the project for me was how rewarding the experience was to see how much my mentees were improving" Annabel Booth, Psychology Student, Peer Mentor.

"Through working for the disability service I was able to be trained in autism through the university, meaning that I am now equipped to work with those on the autistic spectrum in the future" Fiona Murray, Psychology Student, Peer Mentor.

"The particular role I undertake is extremely rewarding. I wanted to make the most of my time at University and this is an opportunity that I felt would enhance many of my skills for the future" Jessica Pailin, Psychology Student, Peer Mentor.

Future Plans

The Psychology Employability Programme will continue to work with the Disability Service by providing future placements.