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.
Here Einir Evans from Advice & Money shares her tips to prevent becoming lonely at Christmas time:
1. Group together
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 canpool your resources and create your own celebrations.
Volunteer on Christmas day. It’s a good way to find like-minded people who aren’t spending Christmas with their family. You could try Crisis at Christmas
3. Consider any invites
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.
4. Contact us
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 5th January 2015. You can find further information, including opening times, for the Counselling and Wellbeing Team on their website. Or get in contact with me, Einir Evans, the dedicated contact for students who have been in care or estranged.
5. Contact friends
If you do decide to go ahead and spend Christmas on your own, make sure you ask a friend to phone or video call you, and be aware of the help and support available if you do start to feel lonely or down.
6. Seek help
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
7. Use Facebook
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.
8. Celebrate being you
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.
9. 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.
Einir Evans, Key Contact for Care Leavers & Estranged Students
Your Student Life, Supported
Advice & Money Team