A peer support service run by the University of Liverpool School of Veterinary Science was lauded by delegates from across the UK at a special conference organised to promote the facility.

The vet school peer support service is a confidential support system set up in 2009 by Tina Usherwood, consisting of 40 peer supporters aiming to help students as they complete their qualifications.

All peer supporters have undergone 30 hours professional counselling training, as well as being available to provide supervision to students to ensure safe and supported practice.

The day included talks from Tina Usherwood and University of Oxford peer support programme coordinator Anne Ford, as well as the Veterinary Benevolent Fund’s Rory O’Connor and Rosie Allister. A graduate vet peer supporter also spoke about the benefits of using her skills in practice.

Topics covered ranged from setting up a peer support service to the importance of peer support in vet schools and in practice.

There was also an informative talk about the veterinary surgeons health support programme, as well as up to date research on the health and well-being of vet students and graduates.

To give an insight into the service, the Liverpool vet school peer supporters also demonstrated how a reflective practice session works.

BVA past-president Peter Jones, who attended the conference, said: “I found your conference among the most rewarding meetings I’ve been to since being a member of the officer team at BVA.

“I will certainly be following up on the commitments I made to encourage peer support at all the vet schools and to seriously explore how we might take this forward as a scheme for young new graduates working with our young vet network.”

For more information about Liverpool Vet School Peer Support, or advice on how to set up a service, contact Tina Usherwood at peersupportservice@liverpool.ac.uk

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