Peer Supporters contribute to Anti-bullying Week initiatives

The Peer Supporters scheme has been running at Lancing for the past 17 years, and it has become a fundamental part of the overall pastoral care at the College. Our Peer Supporters come from the Sixth Form and are trained to provide support and advice to their fellow students. 

During Anti-bullying Week our Peer Supporters take a lead role, chairing discussions in focus groups, organising acts of kindness, thinking about small and positive changes that can be made individually and collectively. Every House holds a range of events to strengthen a sense of community - every activity brings an opportunity to reflect on how to build care, support, respect and resilience, and how to tackle prejudice, fear, bullying and isolation.

Lower Sixth Former Will S joined the Peer Supporters group this year. Will said:

'The Peer Supporter scheme is advertised to pupils through posters across Houses. I became aware of the scheme in my first year at Lancing during Anti-bullying Week. I've always believed that the least you can do for a person is to be there for them, and hearing about the peer supporters I knew I wanted to join as soon as I was old enough.

We simply offer fellow students a person to talk to, for whatever queries or problems they have, whether small or large. Our role is to be warm and friendly and we will always keep confidential what a person wishes to say, unless it puts them at risk of harm. I think for other pupils it's easier to approach us simply because we too are fellow pupils, and so pupils are less likely to bottle up their stress or anxieties.

We have received extensive training where we learned, for example, how to become approachable or how to enhance our listening skills. We hold weekly meetings throughout the year where we discuss ideas and future plans or new ways to offer support. 

During Anti-bullying Week we wear green t-shirts to make us recognisable. This year's theme is ''Change Starts With Us'', and we are holding surveys in every House to get feedback from all pupils about what can be done to counter bullying and make a change.'

Peer Supporter Suah L, also from the Lower Sixth, added:

'Our main role within the school is to provide help and support by listening to any pupil who is willing to open up about their concerns - it could be anything affecting their school life or issues outside the school. During Anti-bullying Week we have been introducing the theme ‘'Change starts with Us'’ - we do that for example via 'sorry boxes' in the Houses where we write apologies or compliments for other members of the House. We have also been handing out cupcakes with messages of encouragement and support to other pupils. This is a great scheme as it makes us Peer Supporters easy to approach and students know that they can always talk to us in times of need.' 

Ben L from Lower Sixth also spoke about his experience as a Peer Supporter:

'I wanted to apply for the scheme as I like to help people work through their problems and I believe no one should ever have to go through a difficult situation alone. F
ellow students feel like they can talk to us more easily, instead of perhaps going to a teacher, about any issues that they may have. So far we have been trained on how to handle different situations and how to make people feel comfortable talking to us. Issues that are discussed at training vary quite a lot and many topics are covered so as to prepare us for a variety of situations such as bullying or bereavement.'

Lower Sixth Former Kristina M adds:

'I first came across the scheme when I joined Lancing in Fourth Form. I was told that if I ever needed help with personal issues or even just wanted to have a chat, I could go and talk to them. It made me feel so welcome and made me aspire to want to do the same thing when I had the opportunity.

The Peer Supporters have many roles with in school: from just having a conversation to talking about more serious issues such as mental health or family problems. We also handle matters such as bullying and raise awareness during Anti-bullying Week; for example this year we raised funds for Children in Need and Kidscape.

The training we receive in my opinion provides an opportunity for students to give back to the community and help other students in a less formal yet equally effective manner.'

Emily E, Lower Sixth, shares her experience so far:

'The role of the Peer Supporters is ultimately to be there for the students; someone you can trust and rely on. During the training at school we’ve learnt what confidentiality means and have spent many sessions improving our listening skills and learning how to be approachable and respectful.  

For me there are many benefits of the scheme, it’s very important for students in every school to feel safe and know that there’s always someone they can confidently turn to.'