Bishop’s launches peer sup­port cen­ter and com­munity cup­board

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL NEWS - By Reann Fournier Spe­cial to The Record

On Sept. 9, Bishop’s Univer­sity launched a new peer sup­port cen­ter. The space, of­fi­cially named the Bu­nited Peer Sup­port Cen­ter, pro­vides peer to peer sup­port from stu­dents trained in ac­tive lis­ten­ing and un­der­stand­ing.

The 2019-20 Vice Pres­i­dent of Stu­dent

Life at BU, Emil La­mon­tagne, de­vel­oped the idea of a peer sup­port cen­ter last year be­fore even be­ing of­fi­cially elected for his po­si­tion. “Cam­paign­ing was re­ally eye-open­ing be­cause I re­al­ized that many stu­dents were ac­tu­ally feel­ing lonely,” he said. “My goal was sim­ple, and that was to de­velop some­thing that would re­duce the sense of lone­li­ness at Bishop’s.”

The cen­ter is staffed by four paid

Bishop’s stu­dents and has been made pos­si­ble by alumni do­na­tions.

“The Mid-80s Re­union Group and the Donors to Giv­ing Tues­day 2019, they re­ally did all of this,” ex­plained Jordi Hepburn, a coun­sel­lor work­ing for stu­dent ser­vices at BU. “None of this would have been pos­si­ble with­out them.” Hepburn stressed that the cen­ter is not an ex­ten­sion of stu­dent ser­vices, but a space where stu­dents can be heard by other stu­dents and re­ferred to

re­sources on cam­pus and in the com­munity.

Hepburn has been in­volved in the peer sup­port cen­ter since it was just an idea. “Stu­dents sup­port­ing stu­dents is re­ally the most heart-warm­ing and beau­ti­ful thing that can hap­pen,” she said. “Our goal is to re­ally bring peo­ple to­gether.”

Al­ready, the cen­ter has hosted suc­cess­ful events, in­clud­ing ‘Well­ness Wed­nes­days’ and ‘Com­munity Thurs­days’. “We had a suc­cu­lent plant­ing event last week and ran out of plants within 30 min­utes,” said Amie God­ward, one of the stu­dents em­ployed at the cen­ter. “Stu­dents like hav­ing a space where there will be a friendly face,” she added.

“We’ve re­ceived a lot of sup­port from the Bishop’s com­munity,” said God­ward. “Some­thing like this has been needed. We look af­ter each other here, and it’s so amaz­ing to see that in phys­i­cal form with the peer sup­port cen­ter.”

The cen­ter is al­ready ex­pand­ing only two weeks af­ter its ini­tial launch. Wed­nes­day Sept. 22, the BU Peer Sup­port team launched a new com­munity cup­board where stu­dents strug­gling with food in­se­cu­rity and fi­nan­cial is­sues can gro­cery shop for free.

Jordi Hepburn com­mented that the cup­board is meant to in­clude gro­ceries that are tai­lored to stu­dents. “We went gro­cery shop­ping as a team and we didn’t re­ally pick any­thing up that the stu­dents on the team wouldn’t al­ready have in their cup­boards.” The cup­board will be stocked with non-per­ish­able food and will be avail­able to stu­dents by re­quest. “There are hy­giene prod­ucts, non-per­ish­able foods, clean­ing sup­plies, toi­let pa­per, condi­ments,” said Hepburn. “Ev­ery­thing we could in­clude re­ally. It’s mostly geared to­ward healthy eat­ing.”

This first year of op­er­a­tion for the cen­ter has yet to be fully planned with events, but those work­ing within the cen­ter are ex­cited for the pos­si­bil­i­ties. “There re­ally are so many pos­si­bil­i­ties with the space,” said God­ward. “I think stu­dents will ben­e­fit from hav­ing a space on cam­pus that is safe and wel­com­ing,” she added. “Some­where they can al­ways come and there will be some­one to chat with who re­lates to them.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF JORDIE HEPBURN

Bu­nited Peer Sup­port Team pose in the newly ren­o­vated cen­ter. From left to right: Izzy Audet, El­iz­a­beth Mcbain, Pa­tri­cia Au­bin, Amie God­ward, Colton Bennett.

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