On Thursday 5 October, UEA SU’s Buddy scheme ran their first session in the LCR from 5-7pm

Buddy|SU is UEA’s ‘peer-to-peer support scheme’, which aims to help new students settle into life at UEA and in Norwich. The system matches current UEA students (in second and third year), with incoming students according to their needs, circumstances and interests.

The Buddy mentors, who all volunteer their position and time, will meet up with their matched buddies for at least one hour a week to socialise and help with any issues relating to settling in at Norwich.

On Thursday’s introductory session, about 100 of the 500 total students involved with the programme attended the LCR – mentors and freshers alike wearing matching shirts – to meet one another and plan out their year.

The pairs got involved with a few icebreaker activities, snacked on a free buffet, and spent time getting to know each other. Jumara Begum, the project coordinator of buddy|su, told Concrete: “the event is good for students to see that you’re not alone.”

Those involved with the scheme are encouraged to socialise with each other by incentives such as discounted entry to the LCR, and regular participation in ‘do something different’ society activities. Present at Thursday’s event were UEA’s Board Game society and Belly Dancing society, who were showcasing how students can have fun and get involved at UEA without having to go out and drink.

Jordan Hunnisett, a second year English Literature with Creative Writing student and mentor for the buddy system, explained his motivation for joining the scheme: “When I came to Norwich it was hard to settle in. I wish I had known about this scheme and I want to help people who also might need help settling in.”

Buddy|su volunteers receive a wide variety of training to help them support those they are matched with and also support their own development. The SU say this includes active listening skills, confidentiality, cultural awareness, and signposting to uea|su and UEA support services.

The project coordinator, Jumara Begum, added: “The volunteers also get a lot out of this, including CV and interpersonal skills. We actually encourage the volunteers to do the UEA award, which empowers the volunteers themselves.”

Those wishing to get involved either in need of a buddy or as a mentor can do so by visiting uea.su/advice