Peer Support Centre reaches new heights with recent expansion

PSC acquires new space and increased staff in light of higher number of student visits

PSC Head Manager Megan Kingvisser in the new PSC space.
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To address a spike in visits from students over the past year, the Peer Support Centre has expanded significantly to include additional physical space and increased staff and volunteers. 

The Peer Support Centre (PSC) is a support service on campus where students can seek a confidential space to discuss any problems or struggles they may be facing. PSC staff are fellow students on campus who are trained to provide a judgement-free, private and safe environment for students to talk. 

“The PSC is unique in the sense that its peers taking the lead to actually address the problems that their peers are facing,” AMS President Jennifer Li told The Journal.

“It’s been able to adapt as the student body has changed,” Li continued. “The PSC has done a lot to change the culture at Queen’s: of seeking support, of reaching out when you need help, of navigating the resources on campus,” she continued.   

As a result of an increase in the number of students who access the service, additional shift leaders were hired this year. After initially hiring seven new shift leaders for the year,  PSC Head Manager Megan Kingvisser, ConEd ‘18, told The Journal that five more were hired in the past month to accommodate the volume of students coming to the centre. 

Additionally, the number of volunteers hired rose from 60 to almost 80 this year. In addition to this, a new paid assistant manager position was created. To meet the needs of more students, the PSC took over additional space in the JDUC that was formerly occupied by TriServices, and their hours have been extended. The centre now runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. 

Kingvisser highlighted the improvements in PSC volunteer training as a significant and positive change to the service’s operation. 

“Our training has really expanded and grown in the diversity of the training we’re offering,” Kingvisser said. According to her, volunteer training includes sessions on anti-oppression, cultural sensitivity, SafeTalk and compassion fatigue amongst others. 

Several members of the management team are also trained in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. 

Emphasis has also been placed on resource knowledge for volunteers, with Kingvisser explaining “we go more in depth into resources so volunteers feel able to send and refer students to [resources] they need.” 

PSC Shift Leader Sebastien Faudemer, ConEd ‘18, spoke with The Journal about his experiences volunteering with the service. He commented on the supportive workspace the management team has created for staff. 

“If you can’t make a shift they check in with you [...] they like to make sure you’re okay,” said Faudemer. “It’s a very supportive environment.”  

Kingvisser spoke of the positive reception the service has received from students thus far. Whether a student is struggling with something personal, is stressed for an exam or simply needs to vent about a friend, Kingvisser said the PSC is a place where peers are willing to listen. 

“12 hours a day, seven days a week there is somebody on campus willing to listen and willing to validate and reassure students,” Kingvisser said.  “I think the strength of the PSC comes from the love and the passion and the care that goes into it. Everyone involved really wants to be there and loves to be there.” 

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