Supporting a friend or colleague
If you know someone who has been affected by harassment, bullying, discrimination, or misconduct, it may be difficult to navigate what to do or how to feel. That’s okay. There are many ways in which you can help support those affected.
The person’s reactions to what’s happened to them may vary, and they may act in ways that seem unusual to you. No matter their reaction, or how they tell you about their experience (perhaps even jokingly or casually), there are a few key things you can do to support them:
- Listen. Let them tell you what happened in their own words and don’t try to investigate or question their account.
- Believe. Ensure you are non-judgemental, reassuring and supportive if you ever respond throughout listening. Phrases such as “I’m sorry this happened. This shouldn’t have happened to you” are clear ways to affirm the person’s experience and their decision to disclose to you.
- Ask them what they want to do and don’t pressure them to make a decision. Sometimes they might not be ready to come forward and ask for support.
- Let them know that support is available through the University or via external sources (as listed in the 'Support for Staff' section on this webpage)
Remember, if someone discloses an experience of harassment, bullying, discrimination, or misconduct to you, you are not expected to be a professional therapist or counsellor. However, it is vital that you listen, believe and support them. Never pressure someone into making choices.
Supporting a student
Just as when supporting a friend or colleague, there are many ways in which you can help support a student who's been affected by harassment, bullying, discrimination, or misconduct.
For more detailed information on how to support a student who discloses to you, visit one of the following pages:
Supporting someone who has experienced bullying and/or harassment can be incredibly difficult. All the support available to those directly affected by bullying and harassment is also available to supporters. Remember, it is impossible to support others without supporting yourself. Do not hesitate to reach out to our confidential Employee Assistance Programme or one of our Mental Health First Aiders to get the support you need.
Reporting an incident to the Police
Deciding whether or not to report an incident to the police can be a difficult decision for the person affected. If you wish to report a crime, there are a number of ways to do so, either by calling 101, online or in person at a local police station. To report online or find your local police station visit the Met Police Report a Crime page.
You do not have to decide whether or not to report the incident to the police immediately. It is quite normal for people to not want to make a report initially, but to decide after a while that they want to. For those who have been affected by sexual violence who do not want to make a police report yet, but would like to retain this option for future, you can go to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) such as the Havens. The Havens is a specialist centre in London for victims of serious sexual assault, they offer emotional support as well as medical help. They are also able to provide a forensic medical examination which may help with any investigation. Evidence collected by the Havens can stored while you decide what to do next.
Where there are criminal proceedings against another staff member or a student, the University may defer any disciplinary proceedings, and may also impose temporary measures such as suspension, until any police investigation has been concluded. In matters involving a criminal investigation, the University will liaise with the Police throughout the investigation.
Support for staff
It can be a difficult decision to come forward and talk about, but if you or a friend or colleague has been affected by assault, harassment, or hate incidents, you do not have to cope alone.
The University’s free and confidential Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) can signpost staff members to relevant local support services. The Human Resources team are also available to provide support to staff.
EAP Helpline Numbers:
- UK: 0800 358 48 58 (free from a landline) or 0330 332 9980 (uses mobile contract minutes)
- International: +44 141 271 7179
Staff can also contact a trained Mental Health First Aider who can give you initial support and signpost you to appropriate help if required.
There are also a number of external organisations both locally and nationally that provide specialist support and information. Our Community Support page provides a wealth of external resources for specific communities and issue-specific expertise.
Is it an emergency?
- Is someone in immediate danger?
- Is a crime taking place or has one just happened?
- If so, call 999 now and ask for the police.
For incidences on campus you can also call Security on 0208 240 4060 (emergency) or 0208 240 4335 (non-emergency). St Mary’s Security Team provides 24 hour security to ensure the safety and security of students, staff and the campus environment.
Remember you do not have to support this person alone - please reach out to the police or Campus Security for additional crisis support.