You Are Not Alone: Asking For Help Over the Holidays

Sad girl in crowd

The winter holidays are ideally a time for rest and recuperation before a busy second term. However, despite high expectations, it can often come with extra pressures, as well as stress and loneliness. This is especially true in a year with a new variant of COVID-19, rising cases and restricted travel. 

The Student Support and Wellbeing team here at SOAS have provided a guide to support you over the festive break during the university closure days (23 December – 3 January). You can read the full guide here or find a list of tips and resources below. 

If you’re staying on campus 

Life at university over the holidays can feel strangely empty, in contrast to the bustle of term time. Whether you are staying on campus by choice or circumstance, here are some tips to help you cope

  • Set up a daily schedule: By proactively planning the structure of your day, you can feel in control of your time.
  • Volunteer: Connect with others and help those in need.  
  • Take a break: It can be tempting to hide away in your room but try to get outside for at least a walk a day or chat with a friend.
  • Put the joy back in every day: Make sure to give yourself small moments of joy every day, such as watching a film, cooking something you like, or trying out a new hobby.

Keeping connected on campus and in London

  • Student accommodation: Speak to the hall managers or reception to see if there are any online or in-person social events.
  • Students’ Union: Check out the SU’s list of events.
  • The International  Students House (ISH): SOAS is a member so you get to go to virtual activities hosted by ISH. 
  • Chaplaincy: Many faith communities will be opening their doors and hosting online private prayer over the holiday season. They will welcome students, both with and without faith. 
  • RecommendMe: Check out online and free social events happening around the city. 

If you’re going home but you don’t want to be there

There is a myriad of reasons for not wanting to be where you are for the holidays. There may be difficult people or situations you want to avoid. You may feel out of place or struggle to be understood or seen at this time. For direct support, there is a list of charities and resources below to help. 

  • Student Space has strategies to help you, from tips to feel more in control and ways to alleviate stress.
  • Mind offers a list of coping strategies for dealing with difficult relationships at home. 
  • If there is a conflict that needs to be addressed, here is a step-by-step process to help you process and address it.

If you are struggling or in danger, seek help 

For emergencies, call 999 for immediate help. If you need medical help and advice, call 111. There are helplines and services that can help you with specific issues: 

Mental Health Support 

  • Shout: Confidential 24/7 text service offering support if you are in crisis and need immediate help. Text SHOUT to 85258.
  • Samaritans: Open 24/7 for anyone who needs to talk. Call 116 123.
  • Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): Confidential helpline and webchat, open 5 pm to midnight every day. Call 0800 58 58 58.
  • Relate: Provides help and support with relationships, including counselling via phone or webchat. Call 0300 003 0396.

Abuse and Trauma

  • Refuge: Supporting women and children escaping domestic and other forms of violence. 24/7 support on 0808 2000 247.
  • Mankind: supporting men escaping domestic violence. Call (10 am to 4 pm) on 01823 334244.
  • Rapecrisis: supporting women who have experienced sexual violence. Call 0808 8029999.
  • SurvivorsUK: supporting men and non-binary people who have experienced any unwanted sexual activity. Call 020 3322 1860 or talk via webchat and texting.
  • Galop: supporting LGBT+ people who are victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence, hate crime, so-called conversion therapies, honour-based abuse, forced marriage, and other forms of abuse. Call LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline 0800 999 5428 | Conversion Therapy Helpline 0800 130 3335 | LGBT+ Hate Crime Helpline 020 7704 2040.

Help for LGBTQIA+ communities 

  • Switchboard: Listening services, information and support for LGBTQ+ communities. Call 0300 330 0630. 
  • LGBT Foundation: Advice, support and information for people identifying as LGBTQ+. Call 0345 330 3030.
  • Galop: See above.
  • The Outside Project: LGBTIQ Community Shelter in London. 
  • London LGBTQ+ Community Centre: A safe, sober, intergenerational community centre and cafe for the LGBTQ+ community of  London.

If you need support throughout the year

The Student Advice and Wellbeing team is committed to making sure your time here is a success. They can support you with a range of issues:

  • Financial advice
  • Accommodation and immigration advice
  • Housing advice
  • Disability and neurodiversity support
  • Emotional wellbeing and mental health support
  • Multi-faith support
  • Professional mentoring
  • Specialist services for students who have experienced gender-based and sexual violence
  • One-to-one counselling

Get in touch: studentadviceandwellbeing@soas.ac.uk 

Remember that you are not alone. There are many people who can help and support you through the festive holiday and beyond. 

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