Find out how to choose your emergency/trusted contact, and the types of situations where we may have to get in touch with them.

Choosing your emergency/trusted contact

This is someone (over 18 years in age) who can be contacted in the event of an emergency and/or if the University has serious concerns regarding your physical or mental wellbeing.

You may want to choose parents, carers, or family members for this role as they will be most able to provide the support you need. Think carefully about nominating someone else, such as a friend or partner – you may feel you want to protect your parents from difficult situations, but they may be best placed to provide you with support.

You will need to choose someone who is sufficiently emotionally resilient to support you in an emergency situation or crisis which could involve your physical or mental health. Whoever you choose, we strongly advise you seek this person’s agreement in advance.

If possible, you should choose someone who is in the same/near time zone as the UK and English speaking as they may be expected to respond quickly in a crisis situation.

You can update your emergency/trusted contact on Sussex Direct at any time, so dont worry if you arent sure youve made the right choice. It's better to have someone listed from the start.

Consent for contacting your emergency/trusted contact

It would be very rare for us to contact your emergency/trusted contact without first informing you or asking your consent.

We will always try to contact you first and ask your consent, but in an urgent or emergency situation where this is not possible, or we are unable to contact you, we may share information with your emergency/trusted contact on the legal basis of “vital interests”.

This information would be very limited, and specific only to that particular circumstance. We would not tell your emergency/trusted contact any information about your personal life which is not relevant to keeping you safe.

When we might contact your emergency/trusted contact without consent

We may need to get in touch with your emergency/trusted contact without seeking your consent, if the University becomes aware that a student has:

  • been involved in a serious accident and they or others are at risk of significant harm
  • attended or been admitted to hospital following a serious episode of self-harm such as an overdose, and the University is keen to ensure that this student receives support from someone they trust
  • not been seen for an extended period, they cannot be contacted, and we have sufficient reason to be concerned for their welfare
  • an ongoing illness and appears to be significantly deteriorating and is at risk of serious harm
  • experienced or is experiencing a mental health crisis and contacting your emergency/trusted contact is necessary to keep you safe.

Who can get in touch with your emergency/trusted contact

It is most likely that one of our Student Wellbeing team will contact your emergency/trusted contact.

There may be circumstances in which you may want another member of staff to talk to your emergency/trusted contact, for example, you may want a Disability Advisor to discuss your support options and reasonable adjustments with them.

Why its important to nominate a emergency/trusted contact

It may be in your vital interests for the University to contact and share information with your emergency/trusted contact to protect you from serious harm.

Your emergency/trusted contact may know how best to support and protect you at times when you most need it.

In a time of crisis, you may feel too anxious or ashamed to let your parents know about how you are feeling, but in our experience, students have been relieved when parents are made aware and can provide support.

Evidence from the triangle of care used in the NHS suggests that care is most effective when trusted contacts, people needing support, and professional/practitioners work together to ensure the best outcomes. Working in this way improves safety, communication, and wellbeing.

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