Peer Listening focus week
This week is World Mental Health Awareness week, and what better time to shed some light on our own in-School initiative – The Peer Listeners. This system ensures that all pupils know who they can talk to – if they ever feel that they need someone to share a problem with.
Each House has it’s own designated Upper Sixth pupil from the Peer Listening team, who have received specialised training in that most important of skills – how to listen. Pupils know who they are, how to find them, and that they are available at any time to talk about problems or issues – small or large with complete confidentiality in all cases except those that pose a safeguarding risk. Peer Listeners Bea Nicholls and Athena Bonnefoy explain more about how it works, why it’s important and what activities had been going on this week – Peer Listening Focus week.
Athena says that when she was in Fourth Form, her House Peer Listener made a big impression on her. She said she always had her eye out, and could spot if someone was acting differently, or looked like they might be down. It was and other experiences since that made her want to get involved and she also believes strongly that mental health is something that should be discussed openly, and not treated as taboo.
For Bea helping other people has always been important to her, and she says personal experiences in her life have helped her develop strategies to get through tough times, which she wants to be able to help others with. For her the real value in the initiative is that it’s pupil-to-pupil, and that being listened to by someone ‘on the same wavelength’ can be a real comfort to those that need someone to talk to. It’s also works as a sort of grid of acquaintance across School. You may know a Peer Listener well from playing sport with them, or you may study a subject together, and it might be that person you decide to talk to, not always the Peer Listener in your House.
Peer Listeners have had a Halloween baking competition with the Shells in their House this week, in order to get to know the younger pupils better, and break the ice between years. There have been posters up around School, lollipops handed out and ‘thankyou cards’ available to give out to someone you want to recognise for their kindness.
In all, it’s about making sure mental health keeps on floating to the top of our consciousness in School life, and that our pupils have a leading role in that.