A comprehensive guide to Durham’s welfare system

welfare Mariam Hayat

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The safety and protection of all students is a priority for Durham University. Its comprehensive welfare system offers a variety of services which aim at supporting students throughout their academic life in Durham.

College Welfare

All colleges (in both Durham City and Queen’s Campus) assist students with a wide support network in order to provide a safe, supporting study environment that allows them to fully focus on their university experience.

This network includes: student support offices; the Equality and Diversity Mission – which promotes equality of opportunity for everyone and wants to eliminate any form of discrimination; Faith support – which provides facilities for all religious communities; and counselling services – college mentors are a valuable source of security and confidentiality for all students. More generally, students can rely on a wide range of sources of advice (student funding, financial problems, academic, personal and employment issues, amongst others).

In addition, healthcare is a central focus for college welfare activities; there are healthcare and GP services (the University oversees registration of all students with the local GP practice), disability support services (which aim at integrating students with disabilities in the student community and facilitate their daily life with college facilities), nursery facilities, and support for care leavers.

Disability Support

If you experience a disability and would like to discuss how it affects your studies, the resources available and how you access the service please contact Disability Support. They are a specialised service providing information, advice and guidance to prospective and current disabled students, as well as to staff working with disabled students.

Find them in the Palatine Centre, and contact them by phone on +44 (0)191 334 8115 and 0789 504 2483 (text message only), or by email: (disability.support@durham.ac.uk).

Nightline

Nightline is a listening service run by students for students that is open every single night of term from 9pm till 7am. What this means is that any Durham student can contact them between these hours for a listening ear, information or to pick up sexual health supplies.

You can contact Nightline by phone (the number is on the back of your campus card, on DUO and on their key fobs); Instant Messaging (this can be accessed through their website and DUO); or dropping in. Their office is behind the Dun Cow pub on Old Elvet.

If you speak to one of their volunteers your conversation will be completely confidential and can be about absolutely anything – big or small.

All night. All term. All ears.

LGBTA

Durham’s LGBTA welfare system is available for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, any sexuality or gender identity, or are uncertain of their sexuality or gender identity. Their Welfare Officer Molly can be contacted via email at welfare@durhamlgbta.org.uk anytime if you have concerns or questions that relate to sex, gender or general welfare as an LGBTQ+ individual, or if you just need someone to talk an issue through with. No problem is too small if you are in need of someone to listen, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.

LGBA also have a weekly drop-in where a welfare-trained member of the association exec will be free to talk face-to-face if you’d prefer. All of their welfare services are confidential and they will never push you to take action on your issues if you don’t wish to. Here, and at their weekly Monday night socials you can pick up safe sex supplies from Molly, which can also be requested via email.

The association can additionally provide information on safe sex (including direction to STI/GUM clinics), access to safe-space socials, more specific LGBTQ+ organisation details, and news on upcoming events. There are also pages on mental heath, sex and coming out on their new website at http://www.durhamlgbta.org.uk/welfare/. LGBTA welfare was highly rated last year, and continue to offer support and a sense of community to new Durham students who wish to join the association.

It Happens Here

It Happens Here is a student-led campaign group fighting sexual violence at Durham University. They’re here to do three things: to educate, to support, and to demand action. Education is very often the key to social change, and nowhere is this more apparent than with sexual violence. Their campaign, coupled with the university’s feminist societies and the new group Yes All Men, aims to show people how prominent sexual violence is on campus, and to help you make a stand against it with them. They have a blog, www.ithappensheredurham.wordpress.com, where their writers share their experiences and debate how to go about demanding change. We also share interesting articles and resources on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Although they can’t provide support online themselves, they can direct people who have suffered sexual violence to other resources and helpful sites. These include places such as counselling centres, The Meadows, Durham Women’s Refuge, GUM and sexual health clinics, Survivors UK and Rape Crisis. Visit their website or their Facebook page for details on how to contact these resources.

Demanding change is the final step to fighting sexual violence, and they actively work to alter university policies on sexual violence. They also run training sessions for college reps, and their members undertake training from Nightline and Rape Crisis, as well as internal training. By spreading the word through education and support, we can and will work together to make Durham University a safer place to be.

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