Student Support Spotlight: Disability Advisory Service

In this month’s Student Support Spotlight, Assistant Disability Advisor Shaalinie Sivalingham outlines her own role within the Disability Advisory Service and how the team can support students with disabilities during their time at King’s. Shaalinie also fills us in on some of the special events and projects the team has been working on this year, in particular two events which aimed to ease the transition process for new students and help them make the most of their time at KCL.

I am one of three Assistant Disability Advisers (ADA) based in the Disability Advisory Service (DAS).  To find out more about DAS, please do check out our service introduction video on King’s College London YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z_WedxQRwo.

As an ADA,  my priorities as are to be as easily accessible as possible to assist with quick queries such as disability funding and applying for Personal Examination Provisions, to promoting the range of internal support available such as on line resources and group study skills workshops.  In addition, I am here to meet with students who may wish to have a chat about study-related difficulties.  Starting in the New Year, we will be offering drop-in services across the four main campuses to help answer immediate concerns.  These will mainly take place in the library Pod spaces and more information can be found at:

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/disability/howwecanhelp/appointmentsdropins.aspx

I also work on transition and engagement projects.  During August and September, our service delivered two transition events for incoming disabled students.  The first event took place at the end of August and supported students who had declared a mental health condition or autistic spectrum condition.  Seventeen students came along during the day and took part in taster sessions delivered by King’s Sport, Wellbeing, mentoring services, with around ten experiencing a night in student accommodation and enjoyed an evening social event.   This gave students the opportunity to reflect on living away from home.

DAS healthy snacking

Session on healthy snacking delivered by the Nutrition and Dietetics Society at our transition event

The later transition event invited incoming mobility or sight-impaired students to settle into their halls of residence up to a week ahead of the main enrolment period.  The two day programme included a student ambassador-led alternative campus tour, a library induction from the disability lead, interactive activities introduced by Ben Hunt, President of KCLSU and led by three societies; Dietetics and Nutrition, Magic and Hypnosis and Drama Improvisation!  Representatives from Transport for London Mentoring Service accompanied students to Blackfriars Station and shared the accessible features available and their top tips for navigating around London. The Royal London Society for Blind People gave a talk on using access technology and shared details of their London based social groups.  The option to access early enrolment was offered to both groups.

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A wet alternative campus tour led by the Student Ambassadors. We were warmed up by complementary coffee provided by Fleet Street Press!

At King’s we have approximately 2,745 students who identify as having a disability.  Just to clarify, disability for us includes students with long term medical or mental health             conditions and specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia.  If you have a diagnosed condition and are experiencing difficulties but have yet to engage with the team, please do contact us to discuss possible support options to help with your engagement with your course.  Similarly, if you are experiencing difficulties with your studies, come and discuss the barriers to your engagement to see if there may be support solutions that will help.  I like to think that we are a friendly team and we offer confidential appointments in person, by telephone and Skype!

If you have questions about anything covered in this blog or you would like to share your experience of accessing support with us, please contact me through phone 020 78488571, email, disability@kcl.ac.uk.   Alternatively, if you happen to be near to the Strand Campus, pop into our office which is located within Student Services, floor minus 1, Macadam Building or come along to a drop in.

Volunteering for Samaritans – Shannon’s Experience

samaritans profile picIn the first of two posts about the invaluable services offered by Samaritans to those both in crisis and in need of a listening ear and emotional support, King’s alumna Shannon Whyborne blogs about her experience of volunteering as a University Outreach Volunteer. In today’s post, Shannon describes what she learned about Samaritans as an organisation and the different ways in which they offer help and support.

During my third and final year at King’s, I took on the role as University Outreach Volunteer with the Central London Samaritans. Already concerned with the importance of mental wellbeing, and having heard the Samaritan name on multiple occasions, I knew the role was something that I would care for, and I wasn’t disappointed- working with Samaritans was a truly amazing experience. 

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I was asked to visit the facility before accepting the role. The place was hidden away in a sort of alcove in the street, and at first I wondered at the reason for this- surely Samaritans would want to be as obvious as possible, so as to remind people of their presence? This was because I, like most people, assumed that Samaritans was a solely telephone-based charity, where people on the edge of committing suicide would phone up to be talked down- worthy work by anyone’s standards. However when I arrived, Mark – the central London Samaritans Outreach manager – showed me around the facilities and I realised that the Samaritans was a lot more diverse than I had first thought.

 First of all, it was diverse in the range of people that contacted them. It wasn’t just the extreme cases but anyone who just needed someone to offload onto (which would be a large part of my role, in encouraging students to get in contact whenever the demands of university were getting them down or stressed). The link to universities was inevitable with the high educational standards imposed on students, in conjunction with the busy university counselling services (where students may find themselves on a waiting list for a while). It was clear that some students would benefit from an additional source of support for something that couldn’t afford to be neglected.

 Secondly, I was surprised to discover that Samaritans was diverse in the way in which it samaritans numberassisted- not only did they provide services over the phone, email or text, but they also encouraged people to drop into the Central London facility for a face-to-face visit (the reason for tucking the building away), which offered the same service, but on an arguably more personal level. Furthermore, the volunteers utilised the same skills with the people that dropped in as they did with those who phoned, so that everyone is provided the same, high quality service- with the added benefit of a cup of tea for those who wanted a face-to-face!

 For those that do opt for visiting the office, they are first welcomed into a spacious waiting room where they are offered a hot beverage and a chance to sit down. As soon as someone from the telephone office is available (i.e. no longer on the phone), the individual seeking help is invited into one of the small one-to-one rooms (of which there are about five). This way, the meeting is completely confidential, and so the visitor is able to share in complete confidence.

 Next to the small meeting rooms is the telephone office, where the volunteers are located behind a glass panel (so that the conversations remain completely confidential) with the staff break out room adjacent. In the break out area, volunteers are able to recompose after calls (or emails and texts) and catch up with their line manager who can talk them through their call. This is especially pertinent where volunteers have just had a particularly stressful call. Samaritans were focused on caring for the emotional needs of their own volunteers as well as those calling. This is something that I found particularly important, as mental wellbeing was relevant to everyone. If the volunteers weren’t looked after then how could they be expected to aide those calling? Therefore it was evident that Samaritans had considered everything: the wellbeing of their volunteers as well as those calling their services.

The quickest way to contact the Samaritans and get a response is by phone on 116 123, this number is FREE to call 24 hours a day. You can also contact them via email, text, the web and by letter. http://www.samaritans.org/  

Student Support Spotlight: Private Accommodation, House Hunting and Flatmate Finding

Finding private accommodation in London can feel daunting as you move from either living at home, university halls or even from renting outside of London or the UK. The Student Advice Team Housing Advisors are here to help you to understand how to find somewhere to rent, what your options are and to provide you with information about what you should look out for. We are also here to support you if things go wrong.

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This is a busy time for students looking for somewhere to live, so we have a lot going on over the next few weeks to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. Further information about what is on offer is detailed below:

Private Housing Helpdesk now open! – 24 August-6 September

Trained Student Services Ambassadors and Housing Advisors are available to speak to you about private accommodation. We can offer general information and guidance about searching plus more specialist support and advice can be requested, so please feel free to get in touch with any questions you may have.

Contract checking is available as part of the Helpdesk Service – please contact us to check availability.

You can drop-in and see us between 12.30-16.30 on Tuesdays/Wednesdays/Thursdays* at G05 Henriette Raphael House, Guy’s Campus.

You can also call us on: 020 7848 6860 or email us at housing@kcl.ac.uk


Private Accommodation Live Chats:

Offered as part of the Helpdesk service we will be available to speak to you online from 2pm-4pm on Tuesdays/Wednesdays/Thursdays*

*there is some variation of opening times throughout Welcome Week (19-24 Sep) so please check http://www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/student-advice-support/how/housing/helpdesk.aspx for full details.

Flatmate Finder events:

Join us for a chance to meet fellow King’s students looking for somewhere to live or who have spare rooms available. Chat house-hunting and get to know each other over refreshments.

Thursday 1 September – 15.00-17.00 (Strand Campus – Registration at KCLSU lobby, Level -2 Macadam Building)
This event includes a private housing talk by a University of London Housing Advisor.

Click here to book a place at this event

Thursday 8 September – 15.00-17.00 (Strand Campus – Registration at KCLSU lobby, Level -2 Macadam Building)
This event includes a private housing talk by a University of London Housing Advisor.

Click here to book a place at this event

Monday 19 September – 17.00-18.00 (Strand Campus – Registration at S-2.23)
This event will be running as part of the weeks Welcome activities. It will follow the private accommodation talk.

Click here to book a place at this event

Tuesday 20 September – 18.00-19.30 (Guy’s Campus – Registration at Henriette Raphael House, Function Room)
This event will be running as part of the weeks Welcome activities. It will follow the private accommodation talk.

Click here to book a place at this event

Unable to attend a Flatmate Finder event?

You can join our KCL Flatmate Finder Facebook group which is open to current and prospective King’s students. The Flatmate Finder group is in place to provide a forum for students to find other students looking for accommodation and flatmates.

(Note that we do not endorse any property or room so you need to exercise the same caution as you would if you found an ad on another website/group).

To join the group please complete this form and then send a request through Facebook by clicking the link at the bottom of the form.

ULHS House Hunting Days

The University of London Housing Services are also hosting two house-hunting days in September which are open to University of London Students. Full details here: http://housing.london.ac.uk/events

Term time support:

We are still available to support you during term time when the helpdesk closes.

Private accommodation information is available on our website: www.kcl.ac.uk/housing

We also have weekly drop-ins across campus where you can come and speak to an advisor without an appointment. Times and locations are listed here – the updated timetable will be available shortly:
http://www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/student-advice-support/StudentAdvicedrop-ins.aspx

Alternatively, you can complete an Online Enquiry Form: www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/student-advice-support/contact.aspx

A member of the Advice team will then assist you with your enquiry based on your preferences. We offer appointments face to face, over the phone and even via Skype!

If you have a housing-related enquiry you can email housing@kcl.ac.uk and we will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

 

Student Support Spotlight: Making the Most of your Money!

Making the Most of your Money!

In our first post in the ‘Student Support Spotlight’ series, Student Money Advisor Rachel Glover outlines the Student Advice service in general, how she can help with money-related queries, and gives some thrifty tips for making your funds go further at uni!

You can also check out these videos on ‘Money Saving Tips’ and ‘London on a Budget’ for more helpful hints.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m28_MmpjZm0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKf0m44P3P4

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Student Money Advisor Rachel Glover, along with some of our wonderful Money Mentors

Who are Student Advice and how can they help me?

The Student Advice Service provides information, advice and guidance to both prospective and current students at King’s College London. The team is made up of Specialist Advisors who can advise you on a range of issues including money, housing, immigration and welfare.

I am a Student Money Advisor and I can help with your questions regarding money matters such as funding, budgeting and how to best manage your money whilst at university.

How can I access this advice and support?

You can come along to one of our drop-ins and speak to an Advisor, no appointment needed! These are weekly & across all campuses. Take a look at our drop-in schedule:

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/student-advice-support/StudentAdvicedrop-ins.aspx

Alternatively, you can complete an Online Enquiry Form:

www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/student-advice-support/contact.aspx

A member of the Advice team will then assist you with your enquiry based on your preferences. We offer appointments face to face, over the phone and even via Skype!

If you have a money-related enquiry you can email money@kcl.ac.uk and I will be happy to answer any money questions you might have.

What advice resources are available?

We have information on our web pages: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/student-advice-support/how/index.aspx and a number of advice guides that can be downloaded. These vary from advice on banking, Council Tax and even how to do your laundry!

We also share relevant articles, information and money saving tips on our /kingsmoneyadvice Facebook page and @kingsadvice twitter account. Like and follow us now!

Our dedicated Money Mentors are a team of students that have been trained to help give you support with any money worries you might have whilst you are here. They will be out and about on our money campaigns throughout the year.

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What is the most important piece of advice you can give? 

I always say that budgeting is essential! A budget allows you to have some control over what you spend, plan for the future, keep a check on your income and outgoings and save a few pennies every month. Does maths make your head hurt? No fear, we have a number of resources that are here to help you with your budgeting. Start by watching the short video ‘How to make a budget’:

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/student-advice-support/how/money/budget/managing.aspx

King’s have partnered up with blackbullion.com to give students access to essential online budgeting tools and financial tutorials. Use your King’s email address to register for free now!

Take a look at The Money Charity’s ‘Student Moneymanual’ which is an excellent resource packed full of money facts and information – definitely worth a read over a cup of tea:

http://themoneycharity.org.uk/media/SMM-PDF-2015-16.pdf

And finally, I am a big fan of car boot sales. They are brilliant for finding bargains such as ornaments for your room, but also great for useful things like kitchen equipment and stationary:

http://www.timeout.com/london/shopping/londons-best-car-boot-sales

 

Introducing the Student Support Spotlight

Introducing the Student Support Spotlight

Although uni is an exciting time, full of challenges, we can sometimes need a little help along the way.  Sometimes we don’t always realise the array of professional support available to help with our wellbeing. Whatever the query, from housing to health, finances to faith, you can be sure at KCL that there will be a caring professional to point you in the right direction.

Each month, in this spotlight series, we outline one of the different professional services available to students; how they can help, how to get in touch and some of their work and campaigns.