Peer support; the buddy system
One of the greatest forms of support reported by trainees is that provided by other trainees. Prior to starting the course each member of the new cohort is given the opportunity to be put in touch with a current first or second year who will act as a 'buddy' throughout the three years of training. The Chair of the Pastoral Development and Implementation Group coordinates the allocation of 'buddies'.
On starting the programme there is a 5 week induction period, where trainees are typically at the university each day for teaching, which offers an extended opportunity for peer support. There is normally a minimum of one day's teaching each week where the trainee year group meets. Prior to the commencement of each core placement there is an induction period of up to two weeks. This again is an opportunity for peer support during a potentially difficult period of transition. In addition, it is often the case that several trainees will be on placement simultaneously with an individual supervisor or within a particular service. There may be supervision sessions which involve groups of trainees, and these provide a good opportunity to share information about aspects of the placement experience. There is also the opportunity for daily, informal support. There is also a trainee away day for new trainees each year. Other informal events, such as the programme Christmas party, are also part-funded by the programme.