Staff from the Learning Support departments began to notice on student support plans (feedback from students) that an increased number of learners were requesting the need for a quiet place to go to, and staff were keen to react to the needs of these individuals.
The pods are officially available for all learners to access, but are mainly for students with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESDs). There are a combination of 2 and 4-seater pods (green and grey in colour), and they were funded by a Covid well-being grant from the Welsh government.
Their purpose is to provide quiet and low stimulus spaces for learners. Students are encouraged to just sit and relax - some may have learnt calming techniques by their mentors. The pods can also act as more private areas for one-to-one sessions with learners. They are generally located within learning support areas, but at some campuses they are located in libraries and learner service departments.
One of the college’s autism mentors, Elin Jones, said: “These pods are such a simple idea, and will benefit the students greatly. Having safe spaces to go to when feeling overwhelmed, at a heightened state of stress, or just in need of five minutes time out, is immensely reassuring for our learners. They can go sit in the pods, which close off triggers, without needing to talk or look at anyone.
“Some students tend to go and hide when they don’t want to face certain things. These areas will be safe havens for them, and will give us a better chance of locating them so that we can discuss with them calmly about what’s causing the stress or anxiety.”