Many successful safety and support initiatives exist now, yet there are few centred on peer-to-peer safety and crisis intervention. In response to residence students’ need for after-hours, peer-to-peer mental health crisis support, a pioneering initiative – the Residence Safety Team – was launched thanks to a $100,000 grant from .
Collaborating for success
Communications is the cornerstone of how the 30-member team engages with fellow students. Interventions aim to build rapport and to provide peer-to-peer support through dialogue. The Residence Safety Team are not security guards: their work complements the existing services offered by Protection Services, Residence Life and Client Services.
Whether diffusing conflicts, guiding students safely after hours, or providing aid during mental health struggles, the team, together with Protection Services, is a vital link in a chain that ensures the safety of students in living residence. An important aspect of the job is simply guiding and directing students to the right resources for help, as is the case of homelessness, a challenge that occasionally occurs in student residences.
The Residence Safety Team has already demonstrated its value. For example, during the last Panda game, the team played a key role by overseeing the comings and goings of residence students and their guests, ensuring that guests had ID bracelets. When needed, they helped students return to their rooms safely.
Joining the Residence Safety Team
Even though they may not necessarily reside on campus themselves, Residence Safety Team members function as a frontline response for students whenever they are needed, 365 days a year. The funding grant for the two-year pilot project helps pay for the extensive training the team members require to manage a wide variety of issues and provides them with some compensation.
As the pilot project moves forward in its second and final year, the team’s leaders will continue to collect and analyze data on the services delivered, incorporate valuable student feedback in their assessments, and provide the information to the Bell Let’s Talk funding organization. In their first year, the team successfully conducted 22 student care interventions, 67 conduct interventions and 385 door unlockings.
Bell Let’s Talk funding supports organizations large and small in communities nationwide. Since 2010, Bell has partnered with more than 1500 organizations, providing mental health supports and services throughout Canada. New positions and training opportunities become available primarily at the start of the academic year.