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Be the difference

Be the Difference is the University of Sunderland’s active bystander programme. The pilot project started in September 2017 as part of a University wide initiative to try and address physical and verbal abuse, hate and harassment. It has two phases, a 90 minute taster session and an 8 week course for students who want to be more involved and play a more active role in the project.

It’s an exciting time for Be the Difference. So far we have delivered the 90 minute taster session to over 300 students!  During that 90 minutes, students learn what it means to be an active bystander, how they can support their fellow students through small interventions and how they may be able to prevent incidents from occurring. The sessions aim to get students really thinking about how people are affected by gender based violence, hate crime, harassment and bullying and what they can do to be the difference.

From this project we want our students to be equipped with the confidence and skills to intervene effectively and safely – always putting their own safety first. We believe this will help further promote and maintain the positive, safe University culture we already have where all members of the University community look out for and are there for one another.

We also want the message to get out there that the University wants to know if any student is affected by incidents of violence, abuse, hate and/or harassment – whether it happens on campus or off. There are many services within the University ready to respond if students ask for help and there is an online reporting system, Report it! Get Supported!, that allow students to report anything they experience or witness anonymously if they want to.

We believe that the confidence and skills students attain from being involved with Be the Difference will be useful in whatever role they have after their graduation from Sunderland.  

So far we’ve had lots of positive feedback from the students who have been involved and lots of staff volunteers from across the university volunteering to get involved through helping to facilitate sessions or promoting it to their students.

We have also provided training to colleagues on our London Campus and they are going to provide the 90 minute taster sessions to their April intake of new students.

From September 2018 we aim to develop on this success and roll this project out on a wider scale and offer it out to even more students in their first year! For up to date progress on the project, discussions and information please visit us here.

If you would like to be involved in the project or would like to find out more about it then please do not hesitate to contact Emily Corr on 0191 515 3600 or emily.corr@sunderland.ac.uk

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