March is here and hopefully winter is on it's way. The peer support community is busy helping students with all aspects of life at the University of Bath. As always, a big thank you for all your efforts.

Looking back

Undergraduate peer mentor recruitment started last month and the first training sessions are already underway. Recruitment and training will continue until early May. Thanks to all of you who are encouraging students to get involved. If you haven't done so already, it would be amazing if you could talk to your peer mentors or first year PAL attendees and encourage them to sign up to be a Peer Mentor in their deparment. They can find more information on our website here.

On 6 Februaury PAL leaders came to our refresher workshop. The senior PAL leaders ran sessions looking at skills including facilitation, planning activities and looking at feedback, as well as a reflection on personal strengths. We're looking forward to seeing how our PAL Leaders implement what they learned at this session.

Postgraduate students took a well-deserved break to attend a peer mentoring coffee and cake catch up in the Doctoral commons. It was great to see students relaxing and sharing their thoughts on postgraduate life at Bath University.

We met with Placement Peer Mentors from HSS and Science to discuss the future of the scheme. We are now using the ideas discussed at this forum to develop the scheme for next year. Thanks to everyone who contributed to these discussions.

Josh, one of our senior PAL leaders, has joined the peer support team as our peer support administrative assistant. He will be using all his knowledge and experience to help us keep all the schemes and training running smoothly over the next few months. Welcome Josh.

Email peersupport@bath.ac.uk if you have a success story you would like us to share with the peer support community.

Spotlight

Alex Eales is currently one of our senior PAL leaders and was a PAL leader for Computer Science last year. 

What made you decide to get involved with the PAL scheme?

PAL felt like a natural progression for me after my 1st year as it was an opportunity to help students to develop the core skills they will need to succeed, as well as a chance to improve on my leadership and public speaking which I had struggled with.

What has been the most positive aspect of being a Senior PAL leader?

Seeing the benefit of the PAL schemes I have mentored has been incredible but also learning from all of the PAL leaders I meet and discovering new ways to improve the scheme and run sessions. I have never had experience with subjects outside of Computer Science and so mentoring the Physics and IMML schemes last semester, and now the SASS and Civil Engineering schemes, have and will be an amazing opportunity to learn about these fields.

What has surprised you about the scheme/ something you were not anticipating?

The creativity and enthusiasm of the PAL leadership team as well as the PAL leaders. There is a cohesive belief and drive to make the scheme work and help fellow students which I think really summarises the environment that makes the university such an amazing place to work and study.

What skills have you developed /further developed as a result of being a Senior PAL leader?

Balancing all my commitments has been a time management problem unlike any I have faced before but it has helped me massively and has prepared me for the kind of problems I will face on placement. Additionally, my interpersonal and communication skills have also improved massively since I must communicate between all of my PAL schemes and the PAL leadership and Departmental Contacts frequently to ensure my schemes have the resources they need to succeed!

Why would you encourage others to get involved with the PAL scheme?

PAL is an incredible scheme that is doing a lot of good in the university and expanding year on year. It isn’t a massive time investment and the payoff is huge. The skills and experience you gain will be useful for years to come and will make you shine in the eyes of employers. And it goes without saying that helping your peers to understand and succeed in your subject is hugely rewarding!

Looking forward

If you are running a peer mentoring event or PAL session and you can take some photos or video, please send them to us. We would love to share these with the wider peer support community.

Nominations for our annual Community Awards evening are now open. There will be a number of awards presented during the evening. This year you are able to nominate or self-nominate for the awards of 'Peer Mentor of the Year', 'Lead Peer Mentor of the Year', ‘PAL Leader of the Year’, ‘PAL Scheme of the Year’. Find out more and submit your nominations here. Nominations close at midday on 15th March.

Alongside the Community Awards, we are also planning a postgraduate peer mentoring celebration event to say a huge thank you to all of you who have been involved in supporting postgraduate students this year. More information to follow next month.

Volunteers of the Month

Imran Isa-Dutse and Hester Gent, the Lead Peer Mentors in Computer Science have been named the Volunteers of the Month. They were nominated by their departmental staff contact, Fabio Nemetz, because they organised a very successful peer mentoring event at the start of this semester, including an engaging Kahoot quiz, with excellent attendance. Those attending the event also found it “was great fun and very informative!!”

Congratulations Imran and Hester and thanks for all your work on organising the event.

If you would like to nominate a volunteer or group of volunteers for our next award, you can do so by emailing peersupport@bath.ac.uk before 25 March stating your nominee(s) and why you think they deserve recognition.