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Welfare at Christ Church: Clare Hayns

Written by Clare Hayns, posted on Tuesday, May 15, 2018

14th-20th May is Mental Health Awareness Week. University can be stressful at times, but there are plenty of sources of support and advice within college and the wider University that can help to alleviate some of the stress. In this post Clare Hayns, our Chaplain and Welfare Coordinator, tells us a bit more about welfare at Christ Church, and her own involvement in welfare activities in college. 


Bakers for Brain Strain TeaZorb football, sumo suits and outdoor yoga might not be what generally comes to mind when thinking about college welfare support, but that’s exactly what the Christ Church welfare team laid on last Sunday afternoon. It seemed a good way to start to Mental Health Awareness Week (14th-20th May) as research has shown that outdoor activity, play, fitness and physical health is good for our mental health as well as our general well-being… and it was fun!

Most of the time university life is hugely rewarding and enjoyable, but there are of course times when the pressures become overwhelming, things get tough and support is needed.  Relationships break down, family problems crowd in, work pressures build up, and problems such as anxiety, depression and disordered eating and drinking become problematic. The University has excellent professional counselling and medical services, and the College has a nurse, a chaplain, welfare tutors and wardens (junior deans in Cake from Brain Strain Teaother colleges) which means there is someone available 24:7 if necessary.

Alongside this, though, a huge amount of the welfare support at Christ Church is peer led, informal and aimed at preventing pressures building up too much - and much of this involves cake! Peer Supporters and Welfare Reps are undergraduates who are given specific training to enable them to help their fellow students. Much of this is done in local cafés and with ‘late night tea (and cake) breaks’ for those who need a break from an essay crisis. The wonderful welfare reps organise events and activities to build community, encourage one another and provide information as to where to go for support on all sorts of issues, including financial difficulties, exam stress, mental health and sexual health.

Brain Strain TeaOne of the highlights of the week (for me at least!) is Brain Strain Tea and Cake, which happens every Thursday afternoon in my study. This is a space were students come to relax, enjoy good company and eat home-made cakes, baked by a group in my kitchen the day before.

Finally, one of the most important members of our welfare team here at Christ Church is the Dean’s dog, Pippa, who even has her own diary manager, and is always happy and willing to go for a lap around the meadows with a stressed out undergraduate. You can read more about the support in our online guide to welfare at Christ Church.


Clare Hayns

Welfare Coordinator and Chaplain