Health and Wellbeing, Winter survival guide

Estranged from your family this winter?

Einir, the dedicated contact for care leavers and estranged students shares some advice for students estranged from their families this winter.

The festive period can be challenging if you are estranged from your family. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, the never-ending advertisements featuring happy families around the Christmas tree may make you feel angry, frustrated or sad.

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.

You are not alone, there are opportunities to meet others and join in events this winter

You could risk feeling lonely and isolated if you stay in your halls of residence or on your own in your student home throughout the festive season. Keeping busy will help ease any loneliness you may encounter.

Consider some of the following:

  • Check if anyone else is staying 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 with Cardiff Chaplaincy. Cardiff Catholic Chaplaincy will be hosting a Christmas lunch on Christmas day at 13:00. 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, please email
  • Volunteer on Christmas day. It’s a good way to find likeminded people who aren’t spending Christmas with their family.
  • 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.


Are you feeling worried or anxious about the holidays?

If you are feeling worried or anxious about the winter recess, then please contact us in Student Support.

If you have been in care or have been estranged from your family and would like someone to speak to, then please do get in contact with me, Einir England via email on (I will be available until Friday 21 December).


Student Support Centres’ Opening Times

Student Support Centres are located at 50 Park Place, 51 Park Place, the Students’ Union and Cardigan House, Heath Park Campus.

The Student Support Centre on 50 Park Place and Student Support at the Students’ Union will close for the afternoon from 12:00 on Thursday 20 December 2018, and re-open on Friday 21 December 2018, 09:00-16:00. Both services will be closed from Monday 24 December 2018 – Tuesday 1 January 2019, and will re-open on Wednesday 2 January 2019 at 09:00.

The Student Support Centre at Heath campus will close at 11:30 on Thursday 21 December 2018 and re-open on Tuesday 2 January 2019 at 09:00.

Find out more about Student Support


Have you decided to spend Christmas alone?

If you do decide to 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.

Read their festive guide for more tips on being estranged at Christmas.


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, contact the Samaritans on 08457 909090 or e-mail

Get urgent advice

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.


Check out our winter survival guide

Whether you’re heading home for the holidays or remaining in Cardiff, our guide provides tips on study, staying safe, things to do and more practical advice for the holidays.

Read the winter survival guide

Staying in Cardiff over the winter break?

All are welcome at the Cardiff Chaplaincy for Christmas Lunch, which will be held on Monday 25 December at 13:00. Please email if you would like to attend.

Some Cardiff University study spaces will be open for the entire winter recess. Find out more here.


Your feedback and help please

Have you found this blog post useful?  Please help us by commenting in the bar below, and note any questions there too.

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Best wishes,

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.


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