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Samaritans trial first university hub at Anglia Ruskin University



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The Samaritans has teamed up with Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) to offer more online and digital support services amid the pandemic.

The launch of the Anglia Ruskin Samaritans Hub in Cambridge, from left Gareth Germer, COO of Samaritans nationally, student Ellie Drinkwater with Roderick Watkins, vice chancellor of ARU, and student Maria Garcia. Picture: Keith Heppell
The launch of the Anglia Ruskin Samaritans Hub in Cambridge, from left Gareth Germer, COO of Samaritans nationally, student Ellie Drinkwater with Roderick Watkins, vice chancellor of ARU, and student Maria Garcia. Picture: Keith Heppell

An on-campus duty room, staffed by trained students and staff, is being piloted in Cambridge. The suicide prevention charity hopes it will help with the increasing pressure on mental health and wellbeing.

They are delivering digital-only support to anyone struggling to cope, and the partnership is also piloting Samaritans placements for students from relevant courses, such as mental health nursing and social work. This will provide a unique experience for students undertaking professionally regulated programmes.

The students’ experiences are being evaluated by researchers, thanks to funding from Health Education England, East of England, with a view to similar partnerships being rolled out elsewhere.

Colin Hill, Anglia Ruskin Samaritans hub service director, 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.

Student Maria Garcia at the Anglia Ruskin Samaritans Hub in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Student Maria Garcia at the Anglia Ruskin Samaritans Hub in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

“After training the students and faculty members to be Samaritans volunteers, we’re excited to launch and begin to offer support to anyone who might be finding things difficult. 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, through initiatives such as this Anglia Ruskin University partnership, so eventually Samaritans can offer more digital, written-word choices for those who prefer communicating in that way. I hope the success of this university partnership will be the first of many.”

The launch of the Anglia Ruskin Samaritans Hub in Cambridge, from left Gareth Germer, COO of Samaritans nationally, student Ellie Drinkwater with Roderick Watkins, vice chancellor of ARU, and student Maria Garcia. Picture: Keith Heppell
The launch of the Anglia Ruskin Samaritans Hub in Cambridge, from left Gareth Germer, COO of Samaritans nationally, student Ellie Drinkwater with Roderick Watkins, vice chancellor of ARU, and student Maria Garcia. Picture: Keith Heppell

Samaritans, which is there for everyone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has trained its first cohort of ARU volunteers to offer support at their Cambridge campus and has run two placement programmes. The partnership aims to roll out more volunteer and placement opportunities at Anglia Ruskin campuses in both Cambridge and Chelmsford over the coming year.

Anyone can contact Samaritans free on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, or visit samaritans.org.

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