Being at University can be full of high and lows, and this can be heightened if you identify as part of the LGBT+ community.
On Monday 18 February, the Student Support and Wellbeing Service launched some new support options, specifically for LGBT+ students.
LGBT+ Mental Health
Research from Stonewall – an organisation which campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people across Britain – indicates that, in the last year alone, half of LGBT+ people have experienced depression (with two thirds of trans people experiencing depression), and three in five have experienced anxiety – figures which far exceed estimates for the general population.
It is also recognised that poor mental health is higher among LGBT+ people who are young, Black, Asian or minority ethnic, disabled or from a socio-economically deprived background, with 68% of LGBT+ people aged 18-24 and 62% of Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT+ people experiencing depression in the last year (Stonewall: LGBT+ in Britain Health Report, 2018).
Being LGBT+ at University
Research from Student Minds – the UK’s Student Mental health Charity – indicates that LGBT+ students are experiencing a number of barriers to seeking help and support for mental health difficulties, with 79% of LGBT+ UK University student respondents in their 2018 Report feeling that there is a need for additional mental health support specifically for LGBT+ students (Student Minds: LGBTQ+ Student Mental Health Report, 2018).
Our work with Cardiff University students
We worked with the Co-presidents of the Society to design a Survey of LGBT+ students, which we issued online, to obtain feedback on a number of different items relating to students’ own levels of wellbeing, personal experiences of support services, barriers to accessing support and – importantly – to gauge opinion on how effective students felt the existing support services were and to ascertain if and how students wanted services to be different.
In short, we asked what was missing and how we could improve.
Feedback data gleaned from this research – along with the recommendations from the Student Minds Research report published during that summer, 2018 – led us to begin developing ideas for some new, tailored support options, specifically for LGBT+ students, whilst also being mindful that there is huge diversity within the LGBT+ community, that there are multiple elements that affect identify, that there should not be a “one size fits all” approach and with a recognition of the additional stresses and strains faced by those experiencing intersectional challenges.
LGBT+ Student Focus Group
We wanted the work to be LGBT+ student-led and student-informed and, once the new academic year began in September 2018, we advertised and recruited a group of LGBT+ volunteers in collaboration with CU Pride, to form a Focus Group to shape and inform the work!
Weekly meetings of the Focus Group began in October 2018, and the LGBT+ students involved were absolutely fantastic in bringing their own creative ideas, sharing personal experiences, for example about barriers to support, and being willing to provide feedback to us on their feelings about the existing support services.
This led to the development of the new support options for LGBT+ students, which we really hope will improve the experience of our LGBT+ students here in Cardiff.
LGBT+ Peer Support:
An LGBT+ Peer Support Programme called ‘LGBT+ Champions’
As a new addition to the University’s existing peer support programme – Wellbeing Champions – we are introducing a specific strand of Peer Support for LGBT+ students in which students who identify as LGBT+ can offer wellbeing support and advice to fellow LGBT+ students.
Student volunteers who identify as LGBT+– called LGBT+ Champions – will receive training in the essentials of self-awareness, signposting, communication skills, dealing with distress, identifying signs of violence and abuse, suicide safety and more – as well as specific training in LGBT+ awareness and comprehensive diversity training, with a focus on intersectionality.
It is hoped that LGBT+ Champions will be able to offer peer support both one-to-one and in groups, both face-to-face and online.
If you identify as LGBT+, are good at listening and enjoy helping other people, then becoming an LGBT+ Champion could be for you!
Peer Support can be a great opportunity to help a fellow LGBT+ student to enhance their student life, whilst also meeting new people and gaining valuable skills and experiences to enrich your own student life.
Register your Interest!
To register your interest in becoming an LGBT+ Champion, please complete the Become an LGBT+ Champion form, or search ‘LGBT+ Champion’ on the student intranet for more information!
Closing Date: 28.02.19.
For any enquiries, please email: WellbeingChampion@cardiff.ac.uk
Workshops for LGBT+ Students:
A new suite of Workshops, specifically for our LGBT+ Students
We are introducing a suite of new Workshops for LGBT+ students, including:
Café-style Wellbeing Workshops – peer-led workshops hosted by LGBT+ Champions, offering discussion and debate on a number of different topics relating to wellbeing, including: relationships, LGBT+ identities, gender and mental health.
Dealing with Distress: Supporting Others – focused on building key skills in supporting friends, including: understanding and listening skills, exploring topics which might impact on somebody needing support, and signposting the support available for young LGBT+ people in Cardiff. These workshops will include case studies for debate and discussion about what participants would do in a given situation.
Coming Out at Uni (online workshop) – geared towards students who are wishing to come out as LGBT+ at University, or students who are out in some contexts but not in others. These workshops will include advice about different options for coming out, first-hand sharing of experiences from students who are LGBT+ Champions/Facilitators, potentially helpful information to share with family/friends when coming out or considering coming out, and signposting to all of the support options available for LGBT+ students at Cardiff University.
These workshops will be conducted online, meaning that students will enter a virtual Workshop Room with an anonymous ID.
Supporting victims of LGBT+ domestic abuse – This workshop will be delivered in collaboration with Rainbow Bridge: an LGBT+ specific domestic abuse service, and aims to highlight and acknowledge the positive steps which the LGBT+ community has reached, but also to explore the current barriers and how this can impact victims of domestic abuse in the LGBT+ community.
The workshop will include information about how Rainbow Bridge can provide confidential, specialist support, advice and information to LGBT+ students in a safe place on campus, for anybody who is experiencing domestic abuse, has experienced this in the past or is worried about a friend.
The workshop will also give information about the support available from the University’s Disclosure Response Team which can provide practical support for any student who has experienced violence or abuse, including Hate Crime, Gender-based violence, or any form of homophobia, biphobia or trans phobia.
Register your Interest!
To express your interest in attending one or more of the workshops for LGBT+ students, please complete the LGBT+ Workshops Expression of Interest form, or search ‘workshops’ on the student intranet for more information.
Closing Date: 28.02.19.
For any enquiries, please email: Studentsupportworkshops@cardiff.ac.uk
A new Support Pathway for trans students
We are offering a new Support Pathway specifically for trans students who wish to transition at University or who are in the process of transitioning, developed in collaboration with the Student Focus Group and in consultation with Gendered Intelligence, an organisation with aims to increase understandings of gender diversity. Students who are questioning their gender are also very welcome to use this pathway, to find out about support available.
Students can fill in an online form called Request for Trans Support (found on the student intranet: Search ‘Support for trans students’) and will then be buddied up with a member of staff from the Student Wellbeing Team who will offer an initial appointment to give advice and guidance on all the forms of practical support available to help with transitioning.
This could include changing details on student records, obtaining new forms of ID, communicating changes, e.g. to academic staff, any changed accommodation needs, any financial support needs, and support with extenuating circumstances if applicable.
Therapeutic support (counselling or wellbeing) can also be facilitated as a next step (if this is relevant / desired), aswell as support from one or more specialist agencies.
The member of staff can then remain the student’s point of contact for any / all further support needs, with further appointments available as needed.
Contact by Email
There is a dedicated email address that trans or questioning students can contact if they would like support but don’t want to fill in the online form. Just send an email to: TransCU@cardiff.ac.uk.
Both the online form and the email account will be managed by a small number of five dedicated staff in the Student Wellbeing Team and will be treated as strictly confidential.
Students can also choose to contact the Student Support & Wellbeing Service anonymously, by filling in this online form, if they do not wish to identify themselves but would like to share information about their situation or experiences, and/or to give any other feedback about being trans at Cardiff University. We hope to use this feedback data to facilitate a better understanding of the experiences of trans students, to identify any barriers to accessing support and to continue to shape the kind of support offered.
A space available exclusively for our trans student and staff community
We are looking to support and facilitate the creation of a space, for anyone who identifies with the many identities that can fall under the term trans.
This meet-up space will be available on the third Tuesday of every month, 17:30 – 19:00, in a central location on campus. The intention is for the space to be shaped by its members, to meet the needs of everybody and to be something that everyone enjoys.
There will also be a corresponding Closed Facebook Group.
The space will not be formally ‘facilitated’; however, we are looking for volunteers who identify as trans, who would be interested in being part of the group as points of contact.
This could involve: being a contact for any enquiries about the space or about joining the group; taking (shared) responsibility for the Ground Rules and a Confidentiality agreement for the space; helping with the running of the Facebook Group; and feeding in to one of two designated staff contacts external to the group, in the event of any areas of concern or difficulty.
Register your Interest!
If you identify as trans and are interested in being involved in this group as a Contact, please get in touch by email at: TransSpace@cardiff.ac.uk by 28 February 2019.
This email account will be accessed by two designated staff contacts and will be treated as confidential.
Designated Staff Contacts:
- For Students: Jo Pinder – Student Support and Wellbeing
- For Staff: Karen Cooke – Chair of Enfys: the Staff LGBT+ Network
Living Learning Communities in Residences:
New living options for LGBT+ First Year students
In collaboration with the University’s Residence Life Team, which provides pastoral care to enhance the student experience in residences, we are introducing the option for first year students to elect to live in ‘LGBT+ students & Allies’ accommodation, for those students who would prefer to live with or would feel most supported living with other LGBT+ students and/or allies.
This is part of ongoing work to create Living Learning Communities for LGBT+ students, in which there is a safe climate that allows all students to engage in exploration. LGBT+ and Allies flats will be allocated on an opt-in basis, and will be various flats within bigger blocks of mixed accommodation, to minimise segregation. Additional pastoral support will be available from Residence Life Assistance living in these blocks.
LGBT+ focused Education Workshops will also be introduced into the Residence Life Events Programme as part of ongoing work towards creating Living Learning Communities for LGBT+ students, in which there is a safe climate that allows all students to engage in exploration.
Specialist Support from LGBT+ Organisation:
One-to-one support for LGBT+ Students from Rainbow Bridge
Specialist support from an LGBT+ organisation is available for student on campus from Rainbow Bridge, offering advice, support and information to LGBT+ people who are experiencing domestic abuse, or have experienced this in the past or who are worried about a friend.
Appointments are available at the Student Support Centre on the last Tuesday evening of every month during term-time at 50 Park Place, between 17:30 and 19:30 and provide confidential, specialised support, advice and information in a safe place.
Appointments are bookable on the student intranet (search ‘other sources of support’).
LGBT+ Chaplaincy Support & The Gathering:
Chaplaincy Support for LGBT+ Students and an inclusive Church
One-to-one support from the University’s LGBT+ Chaplain is available to LGBT+ students wishing to explore spirituality. To access support from the Chaplain, just get in touch by email.
The Gathering is an inclusive LGBT+ Christian Church for all and a safe place for the LGBT+ Community to explore the Christian Faith.
The group meets every Sunday at 18:30 at the City United Reformed Church, Windsor Place.
A number of Cardiff University’s LGBT+ students have been involved in assemblies at St. Teilo’s Church in Wales High School as part of the school’s LGBT+ PRIDE work, to explore what it is like to be and LGBT+ Christian.
A common theme has been the sense of community and family found within both the LGBT+ community and the Church, and about the love and support that is offered from both communities, especially when they come together to create an inclusive, supportive LGBT+ church.
Rev. Delyth Liddell, Coordinating Chaplain, said, “It is wonderful to be involved with such a great bunch of students who are willing to tell school pupils their stories of coming out and finding love, faith and community.”
Specialist training for Student Support and Wellbeing Staff
Additional, specialist training is also being provided for Student Support & Wellbeing staff to enable LGBT+ students to feel as supported as possible when accessing support services, and so that students can feel confident that the professionals who they are speaking with are well informed and that conversations will have a good chance of ‘hitting the ground running’.
Some of this training includes: gender identity and sexual orientation, supporting LGBT+ students experiencing abuse, and training for therapists around working with trans clients.
We really hope that these new support options will enhance the experiences of our LGBT+ students here at Cardiff University, and – if you identify as LGBT+ – please don’t hesitate to access one or more of the new support options if any of them feel relevant to you, or to register your interest in being involved as a volunteer, as an LGBT+ Champion or Trans Space Contact.
Or, if you’d like to get in touch to let us know what you think of the new support options, please drop the Wellbeing Team an email as we would love to hear from you!
A Huge Thank You
We would also like to express our sincere thanks to the members of the LGBT+ Student Focus Group – Jason, Natalie, Ray, Josh, Roma and Liam – who have been absolutely instrumental in shaping this work, and who have given up their time week after week to inform this project, without which it would not have been possible.
Let’s all work together
Working together there is potential to support better mental health and wellbeing and improve the lives of all LGBT+ people of all ages.
Other places to get help?
The University’s Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service
If you are experiencing any kind of emotional distress, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We can offer support to anybody experiencing any sort of difficulty, however big or small, be it related to being LGBT+, or something else entirely.
The team offers bookable appointments via an online self-referral form, as well as a daily Drop-In Service called ‘Wellbeing Drop-In’, between 15:00-15:45, Monday–Friday and on Wednesday mornings between 09:30-10:15 at the Student Support Centre, 50 Park Place. All staff will listen, without judgement, and offer support in a safe, confidential space.
Representing LGBT+ issues as well as campaigning for change on campus and running various events, the LGBT+ association is available for whatever you might need them for. Find them on Facebook, Twitter or Email: LGBTAssociation@cardiff.ac.uk
If talking to a member of staff is something you are not sure about, why not chat to one of our Student Wellbeing Champions. They are trained student volunteers who can signpost you to support, offer you a ‘peer ear’ and give you basic health and wellbeing advice.
Based on the 3rd floor of the Students’ Union, the Student Advice team can guide you on a variety of different issues, ranging from mental health to housing and money worries. They run drop-ins 12:00-14:00 every weekday, or 12:00-14:00 Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Heath Park Campus, and you are also able to book longer appointments.
They run a peer-support service for students with eating difficulties every Thursday in room 4H on the 4th floor of the Students’ Union from 18:15-19:00.
Stonewall is the UK’s largest LGBT+ charity and offers advice on anything related to LGBT+.
Rainbow Bridge is a Victim Support run service that specifically supports victims of domestic abuse who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. The team provides emotional support, practical advice and advocacy tailored to each individual accessing their service. Their goal is to support and empower victims of domestic abuse within the LGBT+ community.
Appointments from the Rainbow Bridge Team are available monthly, at the Student Support Centre, on the last Tuesday evening of every month. Their appointments can be accessed either face-to-face or via telephone.
Tel: 0300 3031 982 Email: RainbowBridge@victimsupport.org.uk
Out and Proud
Out and Proud is a chance to meet other young LGBT+ people aged 13-21. It offers peer support for anyone who is LGBT+.
The LGBT Foundation
The LGBT Foundation work to support LGBT+ people including help with healthcare. Tel: 03453303030.
National Hate Crime Support
Victim Support run the National Hate Crime Report and Support Centre which provides free and confidential emotional and practical support to victims of Hate Crime. This covers anyone who feels like they have been targeted because of their race, faith, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. They are a third-party reporting centre, so you can report hate crimes to them and have the right to remain anonymous. You do not have to report the incident to the police to receive support from the team and the team can report these incidents to the police on your behalf if needed. Appointments with the National Hate Crime Support Team are available on the last Tuesday evening of every month, at the Student Support Centre.
Search ‘Hate Crime’ on the student intranet.
Tel: 0300 3031 982 Email: CrimeWales@victimsupport.org.uk
Disclosure Response Team
You can access a range of support options from the university’s Disclosure Response Team if you are affected by any form of violence and abuse, including sexual assault, rape, harassment, hate crime, relationship abuse, stalking and any other form of unacceptable behaviour.
Search ‘violence and abuse’ on the student intranet.
Tel: 029 2087 4844 Out of hours:0808 8010 800 (Live Fear Free Helpline)
The LGBT+ network for all staff and postgraduates at Cardiff University. Enfys aims to raise awareness of LGBT+ issues, to represent the views of LGBT+ staff and postgraduate students, to provide a gateway of confidential support and assistance to LGBT+ staff, to work with the LGBT+ student officers, association and society to ensure a positive environment for the LGBT+ community to work and study at Cardiff University and to provide support to enable the University community to report homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and harassment.
Jo, Wellbeing Practitioner
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.