£1M gift establishes Wellbeing Service at Murray Edwards College

£1M gift establishes Wellbeing Service at Murray Edwards College

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A generous gift from philanthropists Christina and Peter Dawson will fund a new Wellbeing Service at Murray Edwards College as part of a wider University and College initiative to support the mental wellbeing of its students.

As a unique institution of higher education for women, we want to be part of the solution. The Dawson's gift has inspired us to realise that the College has an important role to play.

Dorothy Byrne, President of Murray Edwards College

Increased pressures on the mental health and wellbeing of young people have led to a significant rise in the numbers of students needing support. 

As part of an overall coordinated plan for the Colleges and University, Murray Edwards College is increasing its resources to help support students with problems and to offer all students a positive programme of wellbeing activities to ensure they flourish during their time at Cambridge.

At the heart of this new initiative will be a new Head of Wellbeing, funded thanks to a generous gift of £100k a year for the next ten years from philanthropists Christina and Peter Dawson. 

Dr Susan Imrie (Churchill College, 2012), an experienced developmental psychologist, will be the first to take up this post in Easter Term 2023. Dr Imrie is familiar with the pressures of student life at Cambridge, having completed a PhD in Psychology at the Centre for Family Research, followed by several teaching positions within the University. 

As Head of Wellbeing, Dr Imrie will work with key support staff, such as the College nurse and counsellor, to ensure students can access appropriate care. Dr Imrie will also work with Tutors, tutorial staff, porters, and student representatives to ensure staff receive training to provide advice and guidance to students in need of support. 

In addition, the Head of Wellbeing will co-ordinate a positive programme of workshops on topics such as; sleep hygiene, eating well, developing resilience and managing pressure to help equip students with the tools to deal with the pressures of University life and young adulthood. Wellbeing will be placed at the heart of all aspects of college life; with wellbeing activities in the gardens, greater emphasis on the contribution of sport and physical activities towards good mental health and a relaxing new café in the heart of the building. 

President Dorothy Byrne said about the impact this new post will have on students at Murray Edwards: "The generosity and vision of Christina and Peter will transform our wellbeing service for all students. We are extremely grateful.”  

Speaking about taking up this new role, Dr Susan Imrie said: 

"I am delighted to be joining Murray Edwards as the new Head of Wellbeing.  I look forward to working with colleagues and students across the College to ensure that all students are well supported and able to thrive throughout their time at Cambridge." 

The gift has inspired the College to establish a Policy Centre for the Wellbeing of Young Women and Girls, where the best of research and thinking about the problems of young women and girls will be debated and discussed – providing a link between academia and policymakers, the media and relevant charities. 

President Dorothy Byrne said; “The Dawsons’ generosity made us think we should help others too. There is a crisis in the wellbeing of young women and girls with a nearly four-fold increase in anxiety disorders in just ten years. As a unique institution of higher education for women, we want to be part of the solution. Their gift inspired us to realise we have an important role to play.” 

Contact

To find out more about supporting Murray Edwards College, please contact:

Fiona McWilliams

Fiona McWilliams, Director of Development & Alumnae Relations
Murray Edwards College

fiona.mcwilliams@murrayedwards.cam.ac.uk