Bishop’s launches peer support center and community cupboard
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.”
Bunited Peer Support Team pose in the newly renovated center. From left to right: Izzy Audet, Elizabeth Mcbain, Patricia Aubin, Amie Godward, Colton Bennett.