top of page

News + Comment

Peer support: University of Birmingham's Guild of Students 'buddying' scheme for interna

Global Buddies is a University of Birmingham Guild of Students 'buddying' scheme that provides informal peer-to-peer support to international students, helping them to meet other students and settle into life in a new country. Since its launch in September 2016, the scheme has been extremely popular, pairing over 400 students with volunteers. A number of mixing events and trips are laid on for students, giving them the opportunity to meet fellow international students and Global Buddies volunteers in a comfortable and welcoming environment. Events and trips are open to all international students, not just those who are paired with a Global Buddy volunteer, to allow those who may not wish to have peer-to-peer support to still enjoy the fun!

The scheme also runs a regular bi-weekly event called Global Café. This is a very relaxed affair where international students can chat with international and domestic students over coffee and a board game. In addition to friendship, volunteers can offer advice to students and signpost support services, as appropriate. The scheme's volunteering coordinator Rachel Cutler explains of the initiative: "It has been truly global, attracting students from all around the world to be in the same room at the same time – which is a great!" The year's events have also included trips to Cadbury World, Stratford-upon-Avon, speed friending events, and craft workshops.

To get started, international students sign up for a Global Buddy online; they are then paired with a volunteer based on mutual interests and other aspects, such as language or degree course, where possible, to ensure that they get the best match. Rachel explains: "We are also making students aware of Global Buddies in advance of their arrival in September, with the aim that we can pair them pre-arrival, giving them the chance to get to know someone before they step foot on campus." The approachability and accessibility of volunteers make them an ideal point of contact.