As with most things, it all begins with a passion. A want to give back to the School, to help others and pass on experiences. People who feel this strongly are desperate for an opportunity not only to exercise their skills in this area but to make a real difference while doing so. UNITED encompasses all of that and more.
UNITED is a support system run by S6 pupils, which provides guidance for every other year group. It is a safe and relaxed environment for people to come to talk about anything that’s bothering them and to receive support and advice from our trained team. No problem is too small or too big; we are ready and able to help with anything. There are 24 members. Every applicant is selected and interviewed by the previous year’s team before receiving training in active listening and child protection from specialists. Every issue received is taken seriously and dealt with using the due amount of respect and correct procedure. There is no limit to the number of times someone can visit.
The primary role for the UNITED team is the lunchtime sessions. Two members are on duty, every day of the week, with an open door. Anyone can come along for however long they like and discuss any problems they may have. The second role, new this session, is the Form Leaders. Each S1 form class has two dedicated UNITED representatives that assist the teacher in general tasks and talk with the S1 pupils to help ease them into life in the Senior School. Not only does this help to smooth the transition period for them, but it gives them a known face in S6 who they can go to for advice and assistance if they need it.
UNITED is important for those who use it. It is a vital framework providing valuable assistance for those in need. It is the only pupil-run support system, meaning someone with a problem they feel uncomfortable sharing with staff has a safe space to share concerns and receive help. Being the cohead of UNITED has given me a great insight into how essential it is. I hope that it continues to provide the same service, and more, for many years.
Thomas Lothian (S6)