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University community comes together to support vulnerable students

University community comes together to support vulnerable students

The University has been working with its closest partners – including Leeds University Union and its global alumni community – to support those most in need during the coronavirus crisis.

And today, thanks to the generous support of a Leeds alumnus who will match donations for a limited period - and in response to an overwhelming number of offers to help from others in the alumni community - the University launches the 2020 Student Support Fund.

It is no surprise that our phenomenal global network of Leeds alumni has stepped up to help vulnerable students during this time of unprecedented difficulty.

Professor Tom Ward, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Student Education

Professor Tom Ward, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Student Education said:

“It is no surprise that our phenomenal global network of Leeds alumni – one of the biggest for any UK university – has stepped up to help vulnerable students during this time of unprecedented difficulty. As ever, I am humbled by their generosity.

“Over many years they have shown their willingness to support students through initiatives such as the Footsteps Fund, which helps people from non-traditional backgrounds to access university.

“We are working hard to meet the needs of students at this time, offering access to financial support and adapting our services – including those focused on wellbeing – to reach our students dispersed all over the world.

“My sincere thanks to our alumni community and to everyone working alongside us at this time. Once again, Leeds demonstrates true partnership in action.”

Times Higher Education

Helping students now and in the future

Open to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, the 2020 Student Support Fund aims to:

· Cover urgent and immediate financial needs which have arisen through the crisis;

· Enable students to study from home while isolated from peer groups, support networks and University facilities; and

· Support the most vulnerable among the student body, such as care leavers, single parents, those estranged from their families and those facing homelessness.

A streamlined application and assessment process will enable speedy allocation of funds to those whose need is greatest.

As always, our students continue to inspire with their passion, resilience and generosity."

Lauren Huxley, Union Affairs Officer, Leeds University Union

It will also help the University to identify students who would benefit further from the practical support of counselling, chaplaincy and accommodation services.

It is anticipated that other specific needs may arise in the longer term, such as assistance to those unable to gain short-term employment while studying, particularly those with no family support or home to fall back on.

Plus Programme

Extra financial support has already been made available to vulnerable students through the Leeds Hardship Fund, and there is specific support for students who are estranged from their families and who are care leavers to cover living and wellbeing costs. 

This includes food vouchers and help with technology for study and is offered through the Plus Programme.

The programme - which provides extra support to students who have entered the University via specific access routes, and largely through the University’s contextual admission scheme, Access to Leeds – is in regular communication with vulnerable students.

Louise Banahene, Head of Educational Engagement said:

“Students who are estranged from their families or who are care leavers may need extra support at this time. We are regularly updating them with what we can offer, providing reassurance and guidance, and signposting them to key services and information.

“Through ‘in touch’ phonecalls we’re identifying any issues and acting on them as quickly as we can.”

LUU

Leeds University Union

The University is working alongside Leeds University Union (LUU) who are offering an emergency fund to cover immediate and urgent costs.

An extensive student advice service is being provided digitally via video appointments, and by email and telephone helplines.

Lauren Huxley, Union Affairs Officer at LUU said:

"We are reaching out to students to remind them of all the support available through LUU and the University in this challenging time.

“We also think it is important to continue to retain a sense of community through recognising and celebrating the achievements of our students this academic year, and so have continued virtually with aspects of our annual Celebrate Week.

“As always, our students continue to inspire with their passion, resilience and generosity."

We all understand how unsettling and difficult this time is and it’s important that students and PGRs are aware, through their School, of the resources and support available to maintain their wellbeing.”

Chris Warrington, Head of Student Support

Student mental health and wellbeing

Since the start of the pandemic, support and wellbeing services at Leeds have been augmented and adapted to meet the needs of Leeds students.

· There are a range of new online resources supporting wellbeing and these are included on the dedicated page of the University Coronavirus website.

· School-based student support teams continue to respond to student enquiries and provide support, working in partnership with Personal Tutors.

· The LUU Help and Support team continue to work with individual students and respond to a range of students’ needs.

· All student counselling and wellbeing support is now being offered remotely, through online appointments and drop-ins.

· Big White Wall has created additional resources, adding to the 24-hour support offered.

· Chaplaincy phone appointments, or in some cases video appointments, are available on request. Online drop-in sessions (open to any staff/student) are running in lieu of the usual campus physical drop-in. 

· University Disability Services continue to be available to respond to student enquiries. Drop in and guidance appointments are available remotely via email, voice and video contact.

Chris Warrington, Head of Student Support, said:

“Working in partnership with LUU, professional services and across Schools we have adapted our student support framework to address the new and changing needs of students in light of the current situation. 

“We all understand how unsettling and difficult this time is and it’s important that students and PGRs are aware, through their School, of the resources and support available to maintain their wellbeing.”

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