A Teesside University graduate is currently developing a new welfare service for students.
Josh Chetham, 21, from Marske, hopes his charity-led service will help more students to come forward with any issues or concerns they may have.
The service will be made up of current Teesside University students who will work as counsellors and provide a valuable listening and support service.
The voluntary counsellors will be given full in-house training similar to that given to people who volunteer for Samaritans.
Josh, a recent psychology and counselling graduate, said: “Hopefully, due to the fact it’s a casual listening service with formal training, the social stigma of counselling will be reduced.
“This means that students may be more willing to attend.”
The service is very similar to the ‘students supporting students’ scheme that has been adopted by Oxford University.
This scheme is not funded by Teesside University, however meetings are in place with the university’s welfare representative about possibly setting up on campus, although concerns that it could conflict with the university’s current counselling service means that Josh may have to set up elsewhere.
Josh doesn’t see this as an issue though and is currently looking for office space that is just as easily accessible to students.
Using an off-campus location would also allow the service to branch out to welcome students from other local colleges and universities.
However, Josh believes this scheme is particularly important to Teesside University due to the long waiting times that the current counsellors have.
He said: “I think I can have an impact on student life and benefit the university. Even if it only seems like a small effect.”
Josh hopes that he can also incorporate a Skype system into the scheme in the future to target students who may find it easier to talk about personal issues through instant messaging, rather than person-to-person.
The service is still currently in its developmental stages, however once the appropriate funding is in place, it will eventually provide a full counselling service as well as the listening service that will be provided at an earlier stage.
Josh is currently perfecting the training for voluntary counsellors as well as finding appropriate trustees that will take a keen interest in and engage with the charity.