Published: 14 May 2014

Vet Peer Support Service lauded at national conference


A peer support service run by the University’s School of Veterinary Science was lauded by delegates attending 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 event, entitled Supporting Vets and students at University and beyond, was held at the University’s Leahurst campus and attended by 50 delegates, including heads of schools and senior staff from Liverpool, the Royal Veterinary College, Glasgow, Surrey, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Bristol and Dublin.

Representatives from the British Veterinary Association (BVA), Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), Veterinary Benevolent Fund (VBF) and the Association of Veterinary Students (AVS) were also present.

The day included talks from Tina Usherwood, University of Liverpool Peer Support Programme Co-ordinator; Anne Ford, University of Oxford Peer Support Programme Co-coordinator as well as the VBF’s Rory O’Connor and Rosie Allister. A graduate Vet Peer Supporter also spoke about the benefits of using her skills in practice.

The themes of talks ranged from setting up a Peer Support Service; to the importance of Peer Support in vet school, and in practice; and an informative talk about the Veterinary Surgeons Health Support Programme, as well as up to date research on the health and wellbeing 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.

Attending, Peter Jones, BVA Past President said: “I found your conference amongst 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.”

Pictured above: Charlotte Whincup, Tina Usherwood, Andy Rich, Rory O’Connor, Rosie Allister, Michaela Wegg, Kathyrn Marr, Frankie Tomlinson and Katie Wright at the event.

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