The University of Wolverhampton has won the Outstanding Support for Students award at the Times Higher Education Awards 2016, held in association with Santander Universities. The awards, now in their twelfth year, are widely recognised as the Oscars of the higher education sector, shining a spotlight on the outstanding achievements of institutions, teams and individuals working in UK higher education.
The University of Wolverhampton’s “Three Minutes to Save a Life” programme was described by judges as a “clear winner” in the Outstanding Support for Students category.
Designed to provide support for students with suicidal thoughts, almost 200 staff – including security, caretaking and cleaning staff who have regular out-of-hours contact with students – and students’ union officers have so far been trained in workshops dedicated to tackling the issues of suicide, self-harming and emotional resilience.
These have taught staff to recognise early warning signs in at-risk students and explained how they can escalate concerns proportionately and compassionately.
In an effort to reduce the stigma related to suicidal thoughts, all staff at the University of Wolverhampton will eventually undertake training to give them an awareness and ability to respond with compassion to those students who require help.
The level of commitment to training its staff was praised highly by our judges. “It’s an easy thing to say that all staff should be equipped to support their students in this way, but it’s not an easy thing to implement,” the judges said.
The “train the trainer” model of delivery and Wolverhampton’s co-operation with Public Health England and mental health organisation Open Minds Alliance was also seen by the judges as an effective way to roll out training across the university.
“They’ve ensured that hundreds of staff have a shared level of awareness regarding suicidal thoughts and self-harming behaviours, and, crucially, know how to act on concerns they might have, and support their students effectively,” the judges said. “It’s hard to think of a more valuable support service a university can offer than providing real, effective support for students affected by suicidal thoughts,” they added.
Clare Dickens, Mental Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “The University considers our response to suicide and self-harm as a matter of safeguarding and every one of us has a part to play in safeguarding our students, our staff and ourselves.
“To date we’ve trained nearly 450 members of staff and Students’ Union officers in the initial modules of Suicide and Self-Harm Awareness, as well as Emotional Resilience - which focuses more on the delegates themselves, and how they look after their own wellbeing - and it’s a rolling programme of training for all staff.
“We have also begun to implement these modules into our student nurse programme and so far over 200 student nurses are now equipped with the same tools, same knowledge and same confidence to save a life.”
The black-tie event took place at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in London, and was hosted by actor Richard E. Grant. Over 12,000 guests – including the great and good of the higher education sector as well as shortlisted teams from institutions across the UK – gathered to celebrate the extraordinary talent, creativity and resourcefulness of our universities.
Winners were chosen by a panel of judges including Alison Johns, chief executive of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, Joanna Newman, vice-principal (international), King’s College London, and Malia Bouattia, president of the National Union of Students.
John Gill, editor of THE said: “The spirit of relentless improvement, of competing but also working together for the greater public good, will be vital for our universities and the country in the months and years ahead. Universities face major challenges as a result of Brexit, but as can be seen from the extraordinary group of winners this year, the THE Awards serve as a timely reminder of just how strong they are as a group: “world class” is a cliché, but an apt one in this case”.
For more coverage of the awards, profiles of the winners, and photos from the evening, please visit www.the-awards.co.uk, pick up a copy of THE at newsagents from 1 November, or go to www.timeshighereducation.com.
Picture caption from left to right: Jon Elsmore, Dean of Students, Clare Dickens, Mental Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator, Jackie Dunne, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Access and Lifelong Learning) all from the University of Wolverhampton with Richard E. Grant.
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Date Issued: 25th November 2016