If you’re feeling lonely, a bit gloomy or you just really need someone to talk to, Not Alone is there to help you. These trained volunteers support their fellow students in one-on-one sessions and in groups. And its expanding rapidly.
Right after the beginning of the pandemic, five international students realized their peers needed help. Students from abroad often face difficulties when moving to a new country. But wiith the pandemic, interactions and integration problems only worsened, and the need became impelling.
So, as most of them were doing a bachelor’s in psychology, they felt they could help. Now, they run a platform where students support fellow students: Not Alone. However, the platform also offers its volunteers to develop fundamental skills through intensive training.
‘Our goal is to provide support while connecting students and building a strong community,’ says co-founder Samiah Sultana.
A student who feels in need of support can contact Not Alone directly and request for a vis-a-vis talk with a member of the team. But Not Alone also regularly organizes themed group meetings: for ‘low mood’ or ‘loneliness’. In the coming year, more themes will be added.
It’s no professional psychological support, stresses co-founder Michaela Pawley. ‘We are a community support platform; all our volunteers go through intensive training, but they are not therapists.’
The volunteers – who can come from any academic background get a training which can go up to fifteen hours. They learn to communicate empathically, listen attentively, and to lead a group conversation. ‘The bottom line is to learn to deal with everything compassionately,’ she adds.
Not Alone is expanding rapidly. It has established collaborations with UG and is also exploring similar collaborations with Hanze university for applied sciences.‘So many students reach us daily’, says Michaela. ‘They just want to be helpful to other students and that’s amazing and inspiring.’