It is led by Richard Edwards, Student Welfare Coordinator and Head of the Vulnerable Students' Support Service.
The Vulnerable Students' Support Service coordinates support for our most vulnerable students who are, for whatever reason, having difficulties functioning or continuing their studies for non-academic reasons. A coordinated, multidisciplinary response is given based on all available information. We work closely with staff in academic schools and students are supported by the most appropriate service(s) from within Student Services and/or from the NHS. Wherever possible we prefer to provide pre-emptive support but we are experienced in managing crises.
The response to each case is based on the individual circumstances of that case. However, we will gather as much information as we can from you, your colleagues and other relevant parties in order to build as complete a picture as possible. Usually one person is assigned to manage a case, with support from a team as required. We do not aim to take over as an emergency service save in exceptional crisis circumstances. We will work with you to support you and the student(s) concerned. We can liaise with colleagues in Student Services and the local statutory services though our well-established links in order to gather information and refer students for help. We are used to having difficult and unusual conversations with people in distress, and supporting staff who may never have been involved in a situation like the one they are in before. We work with the Secretary's Office and Faculty Offices to implement rules and regulations, including the Student Mental Health Policy.
There may be occasions when we decline to take a case. This will only be where we feel there are other sources of support which are more appropriate and you will always be guided about how to make that happen.
In the last two years we have worked on cases of students with undiagnosed or unsupported mental ill health including first incidents of psychosis, the consequences of addiction, those who are seemingly missing, victims of domestic violence, and many more.
In 2009/10, the service managed 68 cases. In 2010/11 and 2011/12, there were c. 160 cases per year. There was a marked change in emphasis in the second year, with the majority of cases being to provide pre-emptive support rather than crises.
The service operates during regular office hours, Monday to Friday year round except on University closure days.
Please note that the Service accepts referrals from University staff and NHS colleagues only; if you are a student concerned about someone, please talk to a member of staff first and they can contact the Service if necessary.
In the first instance call 0117 928 8281 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the event of an emergency out of hours, please call University Security 24 hours a day on 0117 331 1223. Please note that this will not result in a response from the Vulnerable Students' Support Service; we will be able to provide support during the next working day.
Training is available on request. A 55 minute session was delivered to staff in the School of Arts in the summer of 2012 which received positive feedback. This can be customised for any staff audience. The session ran again for the Careers Service in September 2012 and in January 2013 in the School of Economics, Finance and Management. Shorter briefings about the service and the rest of the Student Services Division are also available. Please contact Richard Edwards for details.
The protocol was developed to assist University of Bristol staff and senior residents in halls to make rapid and consistent decisions in the event of an emergency, and record the important information to help best manage the incident. The latest version (PDF, 119KB) was released in June 2012.
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