Human Resources

The Role of the D@W&S Contact pdf format

Our D@W&S Contacts play a key role in helping the College to deliver its commitment to provide a safe and enjoyable work and learning environment which is free from bullying and harassment and where all people are treated with dignity and respect.  D@W&S Contacts act as a first point of contact, as well as an ongoing source of information and support, for any individual member of the College community who has either experienced, witnessed, or been accused of bullying or harassment.

What a D@W&S Contact can do to help and support you

If you wish to speak to someone who is impartial and objective regarding a harassment or bullying issue that you have either experienced yourself, have witnessed, or have been accused of, you can contact a trained D@W&S Contact, who will arrange to meet with you.  Please see for the listing of D@W&S Contacts and their contact details.

Usually, following initial contact by telephone or email, a meeting will be set up in a confidential and neutral environment.  D@W&S Contacts are volunteers who carry out the role in addition to their normal work.  Therefore, most meetings will take place within the College’s standard working hours (individual D@W&S Contacts will agree suitable times and dates) and should usually last between 30 to 60 minutes maximum.

  • At the meeting (and during any subsequent follow up contact), the D@W&S Contact will:
  • Listen carefully and allow you the space and time to explore your issues in a safe environment;
  • Through questioning techniques, help you to identify the key points and explore what action you might wish to take;
  • Give guidance on the range of support and options available to you and information about how these might work, what the ‘next steps’ might be and their implications including:
    • informal actions and strategies available to you to try to address the problems (e.g. in the case of a complainant, approaching the respondent to explain how their behaviour has been experienced, assisting with the drafting of correspondence etc.).
    • formal actions that might be taken at the appropriate time (usually only after informal steps have not been successful, or in more serious cases), such as the Student Complaints Policy and Procedure, or the relevant Grievance Procedure for staff.
    • provide information regarding other sources of help, such as the counselling services available, Human Resources, the Students’ Union etc.
  • Show empathy and sensitivity, and act in a professional and objective manner.

The D@W&S Contact will record the key points of the meeting which will be passed on to the D@W&S Co-ordinator.  This record of the meeting will not contain your personal details or those of any other person involved in the case.  This record is for monitoring purposes and to identify possible trends, as well as providing a confidential record of any meetings. 

D@W&S Contacts are able to accompany you to meetings, whether formal or informal, should you want this support. 

Boundaries to the role of the D@W&S Contact

Whilst a D@W&S Contact will provide as much guidance and support as possible, he or she will reserve the right to refuse to be involved in any activity deemed inappropriate, such as a conflict of interest, or if they feel that unreasonable demands are being placed upon them.  In these cases, the D@W&S Contact may either make a referral to another D@W&S Contact, or report the situation to the D@W&S Co-ordinator as appropriate.

D@W&S Contacts will not:

  • make judgments on whether a case is bullying or harassment or the ‘guilt’ of the respondent - what they can do is to help to explain the definitions, and through discussion help you to reach your own conclusions and clarify your feelings;
  • make decisions for you; you will need to determine how you wish to take matters forward - the D@W&S Contact can though, help facilitate this decision;
  • undertake any kind of investigation or related activity on your behalf – any such action will be carried out by the nominated person in accordance with the relevant College process (e.g. Student Complaint Procedure or Staff Grievance Procedure);
  • provide formal ‘counselling’; whilst D@W&S Contacts are fully trained in the College’s scheme, they are not trained counsellors, they can however provide information about where to get further help;
  • act as an advocate; although they may accompany you to meetings or in exceptional circumstances make initial approaches on your behalf, it will be done in a facilitative capacity as a neutral external party.

It is important to remember that even though you may feel strong emotions regarding your issues, the D@W&S Contact also has the right to be treated with dignity and respect; therefore, no abusive behaviour towards a D@W&S Contact will be tolerated.

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The HR team is based on the first floor of Egmont House
Postal address: Human Resources, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX