Counselling student Beth knows that anonymous phone lines can get you through hard times. An online peer supporter since September, she’s been calling students who are stuck at home, to remind them they’re not alone. We spoke to her about her experiences.
I was going through my inbox, and the email about Rafiki caught my eye. I wanted to make the step, it felt like it was meant to be.
I’ve always wanted to volunteer with something like that but never had confidence to believe in myself to help others.
At Uni I’ve gained so much from my degree in counselling. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, I’m passionate about helping people.
At first it was daunting. You’re speaking to someone and you wonder – am I helping?
But then you get into it, and when they say thank you, it’s such a good feeling.
I know how important it is having someone to talk to who’s not a friend or family member – unloading onto a stranger. I’ve done that myself in the past, called phone lines. Even if I help just one person on this whole experience, I’ll have that feeling of knowing I’ve helped one person today.
There was one student I was talking to, who was studying here without anyone they knew. They spoke about struggling to keep on top of work, keep in touch with family, and I could just tell they were really struggling.
They didn’t know about the counselling scheme at the Uni and were thankful when I passed on the info. I passed on Samaritans number, all the signposting places, and I said they could come to us in the meanwhile.
During my shift times, I get notifications from the chat app on my phone. I then join chats with students.
We also call around students who are self-isolating. Alice will text and ask if I can take a call when I’m on shift. We all communicate and help each other out. if someone is busy, someone else will cover their calls. It’s a nice community.
I’m in my second year studying counselling and psychotherapy. I wanted to use the skills I already have under my belt. The Rafiki training helped me on my course too.
Empathy. They say in counselling skills that I’m good at that, but it’s really made a difference being able to apply it with real people. When people are acknowledging it, it confirms to me – I’m not bad at this!
The Rafiki training wasn’t like counselling, because, we’re not counsellors, we listen and signpost to other services. We did some training with Samaritans, and it was good to see what they get trained to do. I found it interesting the way you speak to people, and how to go about keeping them speaking.
If you’ve got a passion for helping people and are that friend people come to for advice, you can put that into practise in real life.
It helps with any job; in any job you can have people coming to you with their problems.
As well as helping other people, it helps you build skills, it’s a win win!
The best part is knowing that you’ve helped someone. Every time someone says thank you, I’m glad I’ve made their day a little bit better, even if just that half an hour. It might ease their stress or anxiety.
Rafiki is the SU’s peer support listening service. Volunteers offer support to students through an online live chat service, video call appointments, and socially distanced events on campus. You can talk to our volunteers about any issues you are facing, and they’re available if you’d just like a friendly face to chat to.
Wednesday 25th March 2020