Peer Supporter - Gemma Hester

A Precious Gem – Gemma brings light to students’ lives  

She studies psychology and we’re psyched to introduce you – it’s Gemma Hester! Gemma has been a volunteer for Rafiki Peer Support since September. She opened up to us about why peer support matters to her.  


In my first year I struggled settling in at Uni. I was thinking about dropping out. Then I spoke to my personal tutor and she helped me. That was why I decided to do Rafiki. I wanted to help other people who are struggling, and to make a difference.  

My Experiences  

I’ve loved it! Especially the arts and crafts sessions. It’s more of a relaxed environment. While you’re doing stuff you can relax and get to know people.  

Skills I’ve Gained  

Communication skills. Even just body language. I use my body language to show people that I’m listening to them. I feel like I’ve become aware of my own emotional intelligence.  

I also learned a lot from the training, about how the system works, the University wellbeing services that we signpost to.  

Why Should Others Volunteer?  

There’s no harm in giving it a go. Even if you only help one person it makes a difference. It’s so rewarding – there’s always someone there to help you if you need it, there’s always some support for you.  

A Reference from Josie Throup, Student Opportunities Coordinator (Volunteering)  

“Gemma doesn’t just provide excellent support to students – she also takes the time to reflect. She has been faithfully logging her hours and considering the skills she’s gaining – and it shows!  
Gemma has gained confidence, through facilitating craft sessions for students, such as Balloon Painting and making Halloween Ghosts. She’s learned about how to actively listen, using appropriate body language to help students seeking support to feel at ease. 
She’s also shown initiative – if no one comes in to use the service, Gemma spends her time wisely by refreshing her skills. She studies listening skills in the Rafiki volunteer handbook and reads up on University policies such as safeguarding. Well done Gemma - your commitment to supporting your peers deserves to be commended”  

More information about Rafiki 

Rafiki is the Students Union's drop-in peer support listening service, where trained volunteers are there to listen to any issues you've been having, and help you find support services. Rafiki volunteers run the Art Club and an instant messaging service, if you'd prefer to chat online or try out some arts and crafts.  

Monday 10th February 2020