Health and Wellbeing

Tea and Talk Peer Support Network

We’re currently looking for friendly and reliable students, who are enthusiastic about supporting their peers, to help run our Tea and Talk Peer Support Network. Keep reading to find out more.

Please note that Tea and Talk runs during term-time only. Sessions will begin again on Wednesday 13th November 2019, once we have trained our new volunteers.

You can find details of other services at

If you would like to find out more about volunteering with Tea and Talk please see the information below. 


About Tea and Talk

Tea and Talk logo

What is Tea and Talk?

Tea and Talk sessions are a work-free zone and an informal space for Sussex students to come and relax.  It’s a space where you can talk to someone, be listened to, and find out about other sources of support, as well as enjoying free tea and biscuits! There are also games and crafts to try.

Trained student volunteers run the drop-in for two hours on a Wednesday afternoon, and are on hand to talk about everything to do with student life, if you want to.

Why have a peer support network?

University life can be tough at times, and it’s important to take time out to relax and unwind. Sometimes we need an extra bit of support, or someone to talk to. Sussex has some really great wellbeing services, but sometimes it’s just nice to have peers to speak to - someone who can understand what you’re going through, listen without judgement, and might have been there themselves!

Who is it for?

Any Sussex student can come along to Tea and Talk for some time out. You might want to chat to someone about settling in to university life, maybe you’re feeling the pressure of exams, or perhaps you just fancy a cuppa and a chat with a friendly face – this is a safe, informal space.

There’s no pressure though, if you don’t want to talk about anything in particular that’s ok too! The drop-in is a space to relax, away from the pressures of university life.

Is it like counselling?

Tea and Talk is primarily a space to come and relax. Volunteers are trained to offer listening support, but are not mental health experts or counsellors. However, this is a safe space where you can have a chat and with someone who’ll listen. If volunteers think you could benefit from speaking to another service at the University they’ll let you know what’s on offer, and might support you to reach out to them.

What if I don’t like tea?!

No problem – drinking tea is not compulsory! Any Sussex students (whether they like tea or not) are welcome to come along.

Where and when does it happen?

Sessions will run every Wednesday afternoon during term-time, from 1-3pm on the ground floor of the Meeting House, starting on Wednesday 13th November 2019.

Follow us on Facebook @Sussexpeersupport for updates

Other sources of support

You can find out more about other courses of support on our Student Wellbeing web pages


Volunteering with the Tea and Talk Peer Support Network

What do volunteers do?

Volunteers work together to run weekly Tea and Talk sessions, welcoming Sussex students with free tea, biscuits and relaxed chat about student life. Volunteers won’t offer counselling, but will lend a supportive listening ear, and provide information about services that can offer further support.

What commitment is required?

The Tea and Talk sessions run from 1-3pm on Wednesday afternoons during term-time. We will work with you to manage your volunteering around your other commitments but will require a commitment from you of at least two hours a month.

We understand that life can sometimes get in the way of volunteering, as can illness and university work, so we will work with you to create a system that works for everyone - and no one should feel overwhelmed with the amount of time they have to give. However, we encourage all students to think carefully about whether now is the right time to take on this type of volunteering opportunity. Keep reading for more information on this.

You will also need to be able to commit to attending three training afternoons (1-4pm) on the 23rd October, 30th October and 6th November 2019.

Do volunteers receive any training?

Volunteers receive training in listening and communication skills, confidentiality, and signposting to other services, as well as how to respond to students in distress.

You will also benefit from ongoing staff support to help you carry out the role, and will develop communication skills, interpersonal skills and gain experience of working in a team.

What are we looking for in volunteers?

We are particularly keen to recruit first and second year volunteers as this will help the network to continue in future, however what’s most important is that you are friendly, reliable and keen to get involved.

Applications will be assessed based on the following:

  • Enthusiasm for the Tea and Talk programme and interest in mental health and wellbeing
  • Commitment to creating an inclusive, confidential, non-judgemental and welcoming environment on campus
  • Understanding and awareness of the student lifestyle, and the range of issues and difficulties that can arise
  • Experience that has developed skills in listening and verbal communication, empathy, being non-judgemental, respectful and open-minded
  • Self-awareness and ability to be mindful of your own wellbeing, manage commitments on your time, and be aware of fluctuations in your own capacity to support others

The first stage of application will be an application form; we will then invite the candidates who most demonstrate these qualities to attend an informal interview.

Is this the right opportunity for me?

We think it’s really important that our team is diverse, so we welcome applications from everyone, including those who are often under-represented in the area of wellbeing volunteering. This includes but is not limited to trans and non-binary people, men, postgraduate students, people with an ethnic minority background, people with a disability, people with dependants or caring responsibilities, and people who identify as LGBTQ+.

The wellbeing of students is our top priority; this means the wellbeing of both students seeking support and students who are volunteering. Therefore we encourage all students to think carefully about whether now is the right time for them to take on this type of volunteering opportunity. We do not encourage students who are currently experiencing mental health difficulties to take on the responsibilities of becoming a Tea and Talk volunteer. If you’re unsure about whether this role is right for you at the moment, feel free to email us to arrange an informal chat:

To ensure the wellbeing of volunteers and students, if we have any reason to believe that a volunteer is unable to continue to carry out their role, for example due to illness, then we will have to consider bringing your time with us to a close, or asking you to take some time away from volunteering.

If you are currently experiencing mental health difficulties we suggest that you do not apply to volunteer this year, but apply when you are feeling better. We have a duty of care for both your wellbeing and the wellbeing of students you may support.

You may also be interested in applying to become a Wellbeing Volunteer.

How to apply

The application process to become a Tea and Talk volunteer has two stages:

  • Online application form
  • Informal interview (if invited)

To apply to become a Tea and Talk peer support volunteer please complete our online application form.

The deadline for applications is 9am on Thursday 10th October, and we will contact you on Friday 11th October to let you know whether you have been invited for an informal interview.

Interviews will be held on the 16th and 17th October.

If you are invited for an interview we will let you know on Friday 18th October whether we would like to ask you to become a Tea and Talk volunteer.

You must be able to attend all three training afternoons (1-4pm) on the 23rd October, 30th October and 6th November 2019.

If you have any questions about the role or the application then feel free to email Beth (Student Wellbeing Coordinator) at

We remind any person considering becoming a volunteer to check whether they are allowed to volunteer under the terms of their visa or entry clearance conditions. If your visa does not permit you to volunteer, this may have implications for your future ability to work/study/remain in the UK. If you require further advice or information, contact UK Visas and Immigration or visit


Useful Information

Visit our mental and emotional health pages for information about other sources of support for mental and emotional health and wellbeing.

Tea and Talk Student Volunteers are supported by staff from the Directorate for Student Experience. Volunteers will ask for your consent before disclosing personal data to staff in the Directorate for Student Experience unless it is necessary to protect your or another person’s vital interests. You can read the privacy notice for the Directorate for Student Experience in full below:

Privacy Notice - Directorate for Student Experience 

In the Directorate for Student Experience, we collect and process personal information for two main purposes:

  1. The provision of educational services, and
  2. The provision of student support and welfare services.

This privacy notice relates to why and how we use your personal data in the provision of student services relating to support and welfare, i.e. the administration and provision of pastoral care, wellbeing and support services provided by the Directorate for Student Experience.

The University processes students’ personal data largely on the basis that it is necessary to carry out our public task which is “to advance learning and knowledge by teaching and research”. As part of that, and our contract with students, we provide associated support to students through the various services in the Directorate of Student Experience. This may include, for example, support with your academic studies, disabilities, personal development or careers advice.

We may also process your personal data where it is necessary to protect your or another person’s vital interests, or in circumstances where we have your specific consent to do so.

Disclosure of your personal data

To enable us to provide support and welfare services to our students, we will share personal data across the different teams in the Directorate for Student Experience and may sometimes share relevant information with others at the University, for example, your School. This helps us to provide the best support possible to students, in a coordinated way.

In some cases, we may need to ask for your consent before disclosing personal data to other colleagues or teams, although this will not always be necessary. Where your consent is needed, you will be asked to sign a consent form to confirm who we can share relevant information with.

Where we do not have your consent, we will usually only disclose your personal data to third parties where it is necessary to protect your or another person’s vital interests.

If you have any concerns about your personal data being shared with others at the University, please discuss this with the relevant Student Experience team. You can also seek advice from the University’s Data Protection Officer, by email at

Further information

You can find out further information about how we process personal data in our University privacy notice and in the guidance on our data protection pages here: can also contact the University’s Data Protection Officer for further advice at