Samaritans, the leading suicide prevention charity, is teaming up with Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) students as part of a new partnership aimed at developing more online and digital support services
The ways we communicate are changing, and there's increasing pressure on mental health and wellbeing. So Samaritans is joining forces with ARU to pilot a new on-campus duty room – the first of its kind in the UK - where fully trained students and staff will deliver digital-only support to anyone struggling to cope.
The initiative will see volunteers from the Anglia Ruskin Samaritans Hub in Cambridge help the charity with their online chat pilot, a digital innovation Samaritans is trialling in an effort to meet new and changing demands and ensure they are offering the most effective support possible to those who need it, wherever they are in the UK.
Alongside this, the partnership is also piloting Samaritans placements for students from relevant courses, such as mental health nursing and social work, which will provide a unique experience for students undertaking professionally regulated programmes. These two-week virtual placements will enable students to gain a thorough grounding in the work of Samaritans, enhance their knowledge and skills around how to be a supportive and active listener, and build competence in having conversations with vulnerable people.
As well as benefitting the students, Samaritans and Anglia Ruskin University’s strategic partnership will help to increase the variety, skills and experience of Samaritans’ volunteer base and the range of ways the charity can offer support to anyone in need. The students’ experiences are being evaluated by researchers, thanks to funding from Health Education England, East of England, with a view to similar partnerships being rolled out elsewhere.
I started volunteering with Samaritans when I was in my mid-20s and now, as a senior Samaritans volunteer for the past five years, it’s an honour to lead our very first university hub. After training the students and faculty members to be Samaritans volunteers, we’re excited to launch and begin to offer support to anyone who might be finding things difficult. There is a growing need for people to have a variety of options if they are struggling and need to reach out, and the pandemic has only made this need more urgent. That’s why it’s vital we test and develop our online chat pilot, through initiatives such as this Anglia Ruskin University partnership, so eventually Samaritans can offer more digital, written-word choices for those who prefer communicating in that way. I hope the success of this university partnership will be the first of many.
Colin Hill, Anglia Ruskin Samaritans Hub Service Director
ARU provides its students with a comprehensive range of mental health and wellbeing support. This new initiative allows our students to give something back by offering assistance to the general public. Through our trained staff and student volunteers, Samaritans will be able to help more people across the UK – whether in Ipswich or Inverness, Cardiff or Coleraine – through this new online support facility. Additionally, ARU students undertaking health and care courses, such as Mental Health Nursing, Paramedic Science and Social Work, will benefit from rewarding placements with Samaritans. We are honoured to be supporting such an important charity and the presence of the Samaritans Hub on campus will also hopefully help to further normalise conversations around mental health amongst our own students and staff.
Professor Nigel Harrison, Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU)
Samaritans is there for everyone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and this is only possible because of more than 20,000 selfless volunteers across the UK and ROI that donate their time.
Samaritans has trained its first cohort of Anglia Ruskin University volunteers to offer support at their Cambridge campus and has run two placement programmes. The partnership aims to roll out more volunteer and placement opportunities at Anglia Ruskin campuses in both Cambridge and Chelmsford over the coming year.
For further information, please contact:
Nithiya Gnanathas, Partnership PR Manager, Samaritans
020 8394 8300 / 07485 345 486
Jon Green, Senior Press Officer, Anglia Ruskin University (ARU)
01245 68 4717 / 07766 070 693
Notes to editor
- Anyone can contact Samaritans FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email [email protected] or visit www.samaritans.org
- Every day, Samaritans volunteers respond to around 10,000 calls for help.
- Samaritans is a charity and it’s the public’s kind donations and more than 20,000 volunteers that mean we are always there for anyone struggling to cope. Find out how you can support us or volunteer with us.
About Anglia Ruskin University (ARU)
Ranked in the world’s top 350 institutions in the 2022 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, ARU is a global university transforming lives through innovative, inclusive and entrepreneurial education and research.
ARU’s research institutes and four faculties bridge scientific, technical and creative fields. We deliver impactful research which tackles pressing issues and makes a real difference to our communities. Our academic excellence has been recognised by the UK’s Higher Education funding bodies, with 12 of our research areas assessed as world-leading.
We are the largest provider of Nursing, Midwifery, Health and Social Care students in England, and we are among the UK’s leading universities for degree apprenticeship provision, working with hundreds of employers across the UK.
In 2021, we were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our world-leading music therapy work, and in particular for how our research has directly enhanced care for people living with dementia.