Crisis management

Death of a student

In the event of a student death there is a procedure to be followed. If you are advised directly of a student death or you have any questions please contact us. If you need to contact someone outside of the Student Services Hub opening hours you can also contact the Patrol Staff.

Student Support will advise the student’s department and the departments of other flat members who may be affected by the incident, and will ensure that the students are offered appropriate support. The Director (or Deputy Directors) of Student Support are the link between the family and the University and will keep the student’s department fully informed. They will ensure staff and students are notified of funeral arrangements, and organise flowers or a donation subject to the family’s wishes. Student Support will try to ensure that support is offered to all students and staff as appropriate. If a department is advised directly of a student death they should inform the Director or Deputy Directors of Student Support as soon as possible.

Crisis volunteers

The University has established a strategic Crisis Management Group to ensure that we are prepared to respond effectively in the event of a crisis situation affecting the University. Crisis scenarios which have affected other Universities include an outbreak of meningitis affecting students or a serious fire. During crisis situations there may be a large volume of enquiries from within and outside the University, for example from family members worried about students or staff.

Crisis information and helpline volunteers

We would seek a team of staff to be available to run helpline or information points on a rota basis in the event of a crisis situation. It is anticipated that helpline staff would be used to deal mainly with telephone enquiries (using agreed statements and protocols) although it is possible that other enquiries (eg email or personal callers) would also be directed to the helpline, or that staff could be asked to assist with providing support to individual staff and students. Volunteers would be responsible to Director of Student Support or a named deputy. A role description is below. Staff would be released from their normal duties in order to undertake the role, however, please note that a helpline may need to operate out of office hours.

  • Skills required

    We recognise that many university staff have skills and experience obtained from previous work, voluntary and life experience, not all of which will be used in your present role. We are therefore contacting all staff to ask you to consider whether you feel you would have skills to offer in a crisis situation. We are particularly keen to hear from people who have previously been trained for similar roles- eg telephone helpline volunteers or staff with advanced listening skills.

  • Training and support

    Training will be arranged by Student Support with input from relevant internal and external sources. Volunteers may not all be offered helpline work following the training, but alternative roles may be possible. Additional follow up and refresher training will be arranged as necessary to ensure that enough staff are available and prepared if and when needed.

    Debriefing and support for helpline staff will be available throughout any crisis situation, and ongoing support would be available if required.

  • Payment

    Staff will be asked to volunteer, and their department will be expected to release them from duties during a crisis situation, and will receive their normal pay.

  • Role description

    The crisis information and helpline volunteer would:

    • staff incoming telephone lines to deal with enquiries relating to the crisis situation
    • respond to enquiries using agreed statements and protocols
    • assist with response to email or personal enquiries
    • be available if required to talk to individuals affected by a crisis or critical incident
    • log and record all enquiries and to pass them on as appropriate
    • attend training, briefing and debriefing meetings as required

    Personal requirements would be:

    • the ability to respond empathetically to distressed or angry callers
    • good active listening skills and an ability to distinguish the role from “counselling”
    • an ability to remain calm and confident under pressure
    • a good telephone manner in clear-spoken English
    • a willingness to be called in an emergency and if necessary to work long and/or unsocial hours
    • other languages would be useful for dealing with international enquiries
    • a good knowledge of the University and its student support and management structures

Expressions of interest

If you are interested in the role please email sso@essex.ac.uk.