By Regan Kelly.
“Its the sort of thing you cant dwell on, you just have to put up with it i guess, until things start to get better and ease off”.Robbie- Student Living alone.
Robbie Hanratty, is a postgraduate student originally from Aberdeen but moved down to Ayr for University. Who has now been living alone since the start of term, without any hope of on campus learning this year.“I was hoping I could get home quite regularly… I thought I could get back home pretty frequently, but obviously that hasn’t happened”. Robbie tells me how “living alone during this pandemic has not been easy at all, but lucky for me it’s just been since September”.
Robbie is adamant that he is “not a big fan”. “I welcomed the idea of a blended learning approach and thought that might work quite well, the fact that it’s been basically all online, has been very disheartening”. “you feel a lot more alone and isolated, in terms of the course”. “it’s just not the same… I really hope things can get better and we will be on campus”.
It may have always been hard to live away from home, it was reported that over a quarter of UK students did not feel comfortable living away from home. Whether this is just general nerves about moving on to adult life, or not having parents around to help. Nowadays, many students are faced with quite difficult decisions, to return home and possibly put family members at risk or to stay put.
This was shown by the recent student protests in Manchester. Where students have been protesting, to demand rent freezes and reimbursements as the shift towards online learning continues. There have also been conflicting messages from universities on whether on campus learning will come back at some point. This has left a lot of students in limbo, with not much point in living in their universities area or in university accommodation. https://www.theguardian.com/world/protest+education/students
The Scottish government have announced that there will be extra funding for student associations like the National Union of Students, which will hopefully go towards beneficial services for students battling situations like these. “It will also help further provide support for students – in particular international students – who will be remaining in accommodation or who are experiencing isolation over the winter break and build the capacity of college associations”.
Now, there is a lot of students who moved a long distance for university with the hopes of some on campus learning. For those people, there has not been much of a chance to gain the much-needed social circle in that area, like would usually be the case. Without this support bubble students may have made with on campus learning, it leaves them on their own and in a lot of cases living on their own also. This brings with it an element of loneliness for the person involved, and a huge amount of worry for their family which in many cases are a huge distance away. Along with this, the Scottish Government have made it clear that students are of no exception when it comes to mixing households. https://www.gov.scot/news/student-accommodation-guidance-on-visits-home/
Occupational therapist Lorna says that if you live alone ” the main thing you need to do, is to keep yourself busy”. Although classes are online “it is best to have something to do, even a walk in the evening will be hugely beneficial to your mind and body”.
Interview with Robbie-Student living alone.
Joanne, a mother of four. Who now has her eldest son out of the family home and living in Edinburgh, she details some of the fears that she has as a mother in terms of the difficulties her family and her son faces with Coronavirus. “he has no next of kin, or close friends or family, if anything was to happen or if he did get COVID-19”.
If anyone needs supports and are in a similar situation to Robbie, do not be afraid to seek out advice or help. There are many websites that provide adequate support behind this topic. https://www.countryliving.com/uk/wellbeing/a30526876/loneliness-support/