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Workshop Sessions: New training ,models for University staff: What worked for us.
Anne Chappell @annechappell7
Charlotte Jones @charlotte_sheff
New training models for university
staff. What worked for us in the Brunel
University London training in the UK.
The programmes intend to support members of staff with:
Defining sexual violence and understanding the complexity of it;
Recognising different types of disclosure and the contexts for these;
Relating sexual violence to cultural norms and gender inequality;
Understanding why some students may be particularly vulnerable;
Responding to a disclosure to ensure that the student feels supported at the
point of disclosure;
Making the student aware of the support available to them in the short, medium
and longer term, and supporting students deciding on their next steps;
Initiating an appropriate care pathway to ensure that support is available;
Being able to maintain boundaries and look after own emotional well-being.
Three large campus universities situated in different parts of England: Sussex
-14,000 students, York - 17,000 students, Brunel - 13,000 students
Differing student demographics, campus cultures and varied stages of
development in addressing sexual violence
Universities Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence
(USVreact) in the UK
Prior to programme development and delivery:
York conducted interviews with eight members of staff, who were managers of the
services/departments they planned to deliver their programme to, aiming to
understand current levels of experience and discover knowledge gaps that should be
addressed in their programme.
Brunel also spoke to student support staff about their experiences and awareness of
student disclosures and sexual violence.
Sussex conducted a needs analysis through a survey completed by over 300 Sussex
students, and a focus group with students and key staff.
Brunel and Sussex convened internal steering groups with members of staff.
The programme consisted of two sessions at York and Brunel: each lasting three hours
at York, and four hours at Brunel. First sessions focused on ways of understanding
sexual violence, and second sessions focused on practical skills.
Sussex developed two training models taking account of different staff roles:
i. A 90-minute session covering basic listening and referral skills, targeted at student-
facing but non-frontline staff.
ii. A four-hour session covering support and trauma in depth, which was targeted at
Designing the USVreact Programmes
York separated groups of staff attending the sessions by their job roles,
whereas Brunel’s sessions included staff from a range of different sectors.
Managers at York were responsible for deciding whether it would be voluntary
or compulsory for their staff to attend and how to recruit staff. At Brunel and
Sussex, attendance was voluntary and open to all staff.
One of the guiding principles at Sussex was that the more creative and
memorable the training was, the more effective and impactful it would be.
In order to protect participants and create a safer space for the sessions, all
three programmes developed ground rules, content warnings, time-outs,
breaks and scheduled times for individual, pair and whole group reflection.
Lead facilitators at all three universities were experienced counsellors. At
Brunel and Sussex the facilitators were based at local sexual violence
support services. Supporting facilitators were university counsellors, student
welfare staff, PhD students with relevant expertise, and support service
Facilitating the USVreact Programmes
Pre/post-training questionnaires indicate significant changes in participants’
understanding/knowledge of sexual violence. Sussex noted that participants
generally had very high expectations of the training, which were largely
Small group sizes and breakout group activities were commended at Brunel. One
participant appreciated the ‘[f]reedom for discussion’ and ‘openness’ of the
conversations, with many participants also mentioning the ‘non-judgemental
environment’ and others feeling it was a ‘safe space to air feelings, and anxieties’.
Ongoing requests for further sessions to be delivered at all universities, and plans
currently being made to ensure the sustainability of the programmes. York hoping
to embed elements of their programme into compulsory provision for all staff, and
offer optional Part Two training.
Recommendations for changes to policy, procedure and communication have been
put forward at all universities, as well as updated care pathways and websites.
Sussex have developed ‘legacy’ materials in the form of a webinar (including a
filmed version of their training), a website, and a flyer with basic referral information
to be circulated to all staff in the university.
Responses to the USVreact Programmes and their
Chardine asks a member of staff about anonymity online
and how to ensure that your accounts are secure. When
the staff member asks further questions about what
Chardine is concerned about, she tells them that she is
being persistently harassed on Twitter, Facebook and
Instagram by a man she doesn’t know, who took a dislike
to some of the political views she expressed on her
personal Twitter account a few weeks ago. He sends her
new messages every day, often with threatening and
sexually graphic content, and he has managed to find all
of her social media accounts and email addresses
(including her university account). She seems very
flustered, upset and panicky, and eager to ensure the
situation doesn’t get any worse.
Q1 – Could the USVreact programme work in your
Q2 – How could the programme be tailored to suit the
context, needs and demographics of your university?
Q3 – How can we ensure our progress in this area is
visible to our students? And how can guidance on
support be easily accessed by students?
Q4 – What other systems and procedures need to be
improved in order to best support victims/survivors and
improve our response?
Final Questions to Consider