University is an amazing time of life filled with tonnes of experiences and opportunities.
There are also plenty of challenges as we all face what comes our way in life, particularly right now.
In late 2020, Southampton Student Pastors, Organisations, Charities and University Chaplains, were invited to attend a meeting to discuss how we could best support and serve students during the November lockdown. We recognised from the meeting, even before the pandemic hit, there has always been an epidemic crisis surrounding student mental health and wellbeing. We concluded the pandemic had and will continue to impact student mental health and wellbeing well beyond its life span, and therefore, it was in the best interest of students, to unite city-wide to alleviate this pressure.
After much planning and preparation, Living was launched in February 2021. Living is a project, created under Love Southampton, which aims to see every student in Southampton live well, knowing they belong and have purpose, and to help others do the same. Living is currently providing a range of things, both in partnership with existing charities and organisations, as well as through new and authentic avenues.
Living Groups, from Kintsugi Hope, is a 7 week-course covering themes such as relationships, belonging and wellbeing. Particularly, Living Groups provides a safe space to talk about issues like honesty, anxiety, depression, perfectionism, shame and anger. We’re praying for the launch day, Wednesday 21st April, for sign ups and God’s love to be lavished upon recipients. Living is also working on a Let’s Talk Service which gives students the opportunity to contact Student Church Pastors, Student Workers from local organisations, Church Pastors and Chaplains, for a chat about anything they wish to get off their chest. Let’s Talk is simply a listening service which focuses on valuing the student.
If you’re anything like us, the pandemic has dragged us down a lot, but through Potted Plant giveaways, we hope to brighten up even the darkest of days. Last month, we were able to do this by working alongside the University of Southampton, to identify and distribute 78 potted plants for free to isolated students in halls of residence. The Potted plants were well received and gave students living alone the boost they needed. Currently Living Boxes are in the pipeline which hopes to bless students who are struggling, with an encouraging letter and locally produced goods to enjoy from chocolate to roasted coffee beans to artwork.
Living is also providing spaces where students can build friendships and tap into their interests. Whether or not you’re a bookworm, an avid gamer, Lionel Messi or a Michelin Star Chef, the Cooking, Online Gaming, Book Club and Football Groups, are places where students can grow in confidence. A couple of these groups have already started and we are prayerfully looking beyond the Easter Break for an inspiring and fruitful time.
Living is also partnering with courses which cover incredibly sensitive issues, but recognises the necessity of them. Students face one of the biggest budgeting challenges out there. An irregular income of termly loans/grants, long summer holidays with no guaranteed income, house and bill sharing, negotiating student loans, overdrafts and knowing which loans are bad news. The Southampton CAP course aims to help students set up a budget that works, to stay in control of their finances and be equipped with the knowledge needed to avoid bad debt. Living is also collaborating with TasteLife to run an 8 week-session in September for sufferers of all types of eating disorder, and those who care for them. Finally, the Bereavement Course is for any student who has been through a loss experience. This might be a bereavement but also feelings of loss associated with family breakdown, loss of relationships and another loss. If you know of a student who would benefit from one of the courses listed above, we’d love to hear form you.
As we make bold steps to help students in Southampton we would first of all love your prayers. Please pray God continues to bless the passion and innovative ideas students workers have across our city. Pray for breakthrough in relations and communication at both University of Southampton and Solent University. Finally, please uphold us in prayer as we make long-term, sustainable plans which hope to go far beyond the timescale of this pandemic.
If you’d like to know more about what we’re doing check out our website:https://www.lovesouthampton.org.uk/living. Follow the love Southampton Social Media page. Please do not hesitate to also contact us firstname.lastname@example.org you have any suggestions, ideas or questions, we’d love to hear them.