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Dealing with change

Out of uncertainty, stress and demotivation emerged a painting by a young Leeds artist that won The Arts Society’s national Isolation Artwork Competition. 

Fine art student Abigail McGourlay’s self-portrait, Brewing, sees her drinking a cup of tea in the bath: two things she found comforting during the first national lockdown. 

The pandemic changed not only the ways the University teaches students like Abigail, but also our approach to the safety and wellbeing of more than 32,000 students and postgraduate researchers. Academic personal tutors and other staff have stayed in touch with students, both digitally and in person. Information points across campus have offered students in-person help with general issues, while online professional counselling and wellbeing appointments have been available for greater needs. Careers fairs also moved online.

University accommodation staff have proven critical at this time of loneliness. Self-isolating students have received emergency food and cleaning supplies – and even bedding for arriving international students – while a contactless laundry service has been available to all. 

For spiritual needs, faith leaders have held online services and drop-ins, as well as providing some in-person support. Private prayer locations have remained open. 

The University has also launched a Student Ideas Fund, which encourages students to be collaborators in improving the student experience and learning at Leeds.

Meanwhile, LUU has provided practical and financial support. Its support groups, clubs and societies have helped students cope and connect. Fruity nightclub went online to remind students that, even when meeting face to face is more difficult, there are stills ways to have fun and socialise.