Einir England from our Advice & Money shares her tips to prevent becoming lonely at Christmas time…
The Christmas period can be challenging for people who have become estranged from their families. You could risk feeling lonely and isolated if you stay in your halls of residence or on your own in your student home.
Even if your family situation is different to others, it doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate all that’s positive about your life. Do what you want to do – buy yourself the presents you want, watch films and eat your favourite food.
Are you feeling worried or anxious about the holidays?
- Contact the Student Support Centre if you are feeling worried or anxious about the holidays. The Student Support Centre is open until the 23rd December and re-opens on the 3rd January 2017. You can find further information, including opening times, for the Counselling and Wellbeing Team on the intranet. Or get in contact with me, Einir England, the dedicated contact for students who have been in care or estranged.
You are not alone, there are opportunities to meet others and join in events this Christmas
- Attend the Chat Lounge. The Student Support Centre has set up a support group for students who are studying without the support of their family in order for you to meet other students with similar life experiences. The aim is to reduce isolation and improve support, especially around the Christmas period. The first meeting is Wednesday 14th December 2-4pm in the Student Support Centre, 50 Park Place.
- Check if anyone else is staying in town for the holidays. Grouping together with others will help you to enjoyably celebrate the festive period. You can pool your resources and create your own celebrations.
- Have Christmas Lunch at the University. Cardiff University Catholic Chaplaincy will be hosting a Christmas lunch on Christmas day at 12noon. They are based in Newman Hall which is within the walls of Nazareth House on Colum Rd, CF10 3UN. They will welcome any student. If you would like to go can you please let Father Jones know by Christmas Eve.
- Volunteer on Christmas day. It’s a good way to find likeminded people who aren’t spending Christmas with their family. You could try Crisis at Christmas
- If you have a friend or partner who invites you to their home for the holidays, consider taking them up on their offer. Enjoying someone else’s family Christmas is not straightforward for those with a complicated family background and many people feel like a burden to others. However, this option does mean that someone who cares for you is present should you feel vulnerable and need support.
Have you decided to spend Christmas alone?
- If you do decide to go ahead and spend Christmas on your own, make sure you ask a friend to phone or videocall you, and be aware of the help and support available if you do start to feel lonely or down.
- Join the Stand Alone facebook community and keep connected to others who are spending the day on their own. Stand Alone is a charity that helps people of all ages that become estranged from their family or key family member.
What to do if you are feeling low or unwell
- If you are feeling a marked drop in your mood or well-being, visit your GP and tell them about your situation. If you need to talk about something urgently, ring The Samaritans on 08457 909090 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- Don’t do anything without fully thinking it through…. It can be very tempting to reach out and try to reconnect with your family over the Christmas period. However, it’s crucial that you think very carefully. Is Christmas really the best time? Is reconciliation something you would want for the other months of the year? Do you think the people in question will be in the right frame of mind to talk to you rationally about your family issues at Christmas?
Remember that not everyone is spending Christmas with their family, and many people in the UK don’t celebrate the festival at all. It may be a hard few days, but you can get through it and you aren’t alone.
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Einir, Dedicated contact for care leavers and estranged students
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.