A message from Bristol City and South Gloucestershire Council

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by Sara, South Gloucestershire Council and Christina, Bristol City Council

We’d like to offer you a very warm welcome to South Gloucestershire, home to UWE Bristol and our wonderful city of Bristol where many of you will choose to live and spend your free time. We hope that the start of this academic year at UWE Bristol goes well for you.

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a global challenge and we will only beat it if we work together. We need to behave differently and we need to be flexible, adapting to the safety measures as we move around the campus and across our city area. There is still so much to enjoy as a student here, as long as you do this responsibly and in line with national and local safety guidelines.

Making the most of Bristol

You’ve chosen a fantastic city to study in and will play a hugely important role here. You can still enjoy a social life as long as you keep COVID-19 compliant. Our pubs, cafés and restaurants want you to experience what Bristol has to offer, but they need your help to do this safely. Make sure that you follow the measures put in place to keep everyone safe.

This includes maintaining a safe distance outside our venues if you need to queue, wearing face coverings in shops at all times, and in restaurants, pubs and cafes when not seated at a table, and following social distancing guidelines. It’s also mandatory that you do not to gather in groups of more than six people unless you all live together (or are in the same bubble).

Protecting yourself and others

Make sure you continue to:

  • Wash your HANDS – frequently for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your FACE – in all mandatory settings, including shops and on public transport.
  • Keep SPACE – between you and others not in your household.

If you are feeling unwell and develop any coronavirus related symptoms you should tell the University by calling the COVID Support Team on 0117 32 87000, book a test online and self-isolate until you get your results.

Symptoms to look out for:

  • A high temperature.
  • A new, continuous cough.
  • A loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste.

If you test positive for COVID-19, or need to self-isolate, please let the University know so that they can support you. Find out what you need to do and how to stay well.

Please ensure you register with your local GP here. This not only means you have quick access to healthcare and advice when needed, but also ensures the NHS Test & Trace service have the correct location for your whereabouts if you do test positive for COVID-19.

Visiting home

We know it’s common for students to travel back home in term time, however we urge you to please wait until the end of term to do so, if you can. This reduces the opportunity for the virus to hop from one area to another. If you do need to go home, please think carefully about how you can reduce the risk by limiting who you see and how you travel.

When travelling, try to avoid car sharing with those outside your household and avoid public transport at peak times. Walking or cycling, when it’s possible and safe to do so, is a great way to really get to know Bristol, if you can cope with our hilly terrain! You can find out more about cycling in and around Bristol here.

Asking for help

The University has put a wider range of measures in place to keep students, staff and the wider community safe and well on campus. If you’re worried about your health and wellbeing, please get in touch with the University Wellbeing service and they will provide the support you need.

Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils also have a variety of mental health resources for young people.

Staying up to date

It’s a good idea to keep up to date with the latest health and safety guidance and we recommend you bookmark the following links:

You can also follow Bristol and South Gloucestershire council on social media for the very latest information and guidance on how to stay safe in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

Once again, welcome to Bristol, and we wish you every success at the start of this very different new academic year.

Keep safe, stay well.

Staying well in self-isolation

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If you, or someone you have spent time with, shows symptoms of COVID-19 or has a positive test, you may need to self-isolate for up to 14 days. You may find that you feel more stressed or anxious at first, particularly if you haven’t experienced anything like this before.

While self-isolation may be a challenging time, there is a lot you can do to stay healthy and positive while you’re staying at home, so that you’ll feel ready to get back out there safely afterwards.

Be kind to yourself

If you are self-isolating, you are likely to be away from family and friends and will likely have had a significant change to your normal routine.

Remind yourself that it is normal for your mood to have been affected by the current situation. It’s normal to feel a sense of grief for the loss of ‘normal life’. When we are grieving any loss it is normal to experience a range of emotions including sadness, bargaining, denial and anger.

So notice how you are feeling but try not to judge your feelings as good or bad. Try to avoid shaming yourself for experiencing these normal feelings. It might also be helpful to share your feelings with other people.

Remind yourself that anxiety is a completely normal response to this abnormal situation. As humans we are biologically programmed to experience anxiety when we feel we’re under threat but it can be helpful to acknowledge our anxiety when it shows up and normalise this.

If you are self-isolating with other people you may want to discuss each having your own space to retreat where you can go if you feel overwhelmed, want to practice some self-care or need some time to be alone.

And remind yourself that this is temporary. Remember that although the current situation is difficult, this will pass.

If you have previously had difficulties with your mental health, then this may be a more challenging time than normal, and your usual support networks may be less available. Make sure that you keep taking care of your mental health as much as possible, and if you need to seek extra support then don’t put it off – services are able to offer remote support and find ways of helping through these unusual times.

Keep to your usual routine

Having a structure to the day can really help to make things feel more normal. Try and get up at your usual time and keep as much of your usual routine as possible, including meal times and self-care activities. Don’t forget to build in rests and breaks. Eat regular meals, and eat well.

Stay active

While staying indoors you probably won’t move around as much as you normally would, so it’s a good idea to build some exercise into your day. A huge variety of guided exercise videos are available online for free, from gentle stretching all the way up to intense workouts. Even setting an alarm to get up, stretch and walk around a couple of times each hour will help.

If you have safe access to a private garden, getting some fresh air and walking around can boost your mood. If that’s not possible, try opening a window and watching sunrise, sunset, or the trees and birds outside.

Keep in touch

Make use of phone calls and the internet to keep in touch with friends and family. Having some contact with someone else every day, even if just for a few minutes, can help keep loneliness at bay.

Give yourself permission to limit or end conversations with people who are causing you to feel anxious. It can be useful to have phrases in mind to end conversations that are making you feel worse. This might be a statement such as ‘I’m finding that talking about this isn’t helpful for me at the moment, can we talk about something else?’

Avoid drugs including alcohol

Limiting use of substances which can affect your mood will help you to stay safe and keep feeling well throughout your self-isolation. If you need to talk to someone about this, the Wellbeing Service have a dedicated Senior Drugs & Alcohol Practitioner who you can speak to.

Limit your exposure to the news

It’s important to stay informed, but try not to let the news cycle become all-consuming while you’re in self-isolation. Make a plan for how much news you plan to read or watch, and at what times of day which will fit with your routine.

Recognise your strengths and achievements

Make sure you give yourself credit for managing this challenging time. Think about ways to safely celebrate the end of self-isolation and recognise your own resilience.

And if you need support…

If you find you’re struggling in terms of your wellbeing, a range of support options are available through UWE. The Wellbeing service can provide appointments by phone or video call – register with us to get started.

Please also have a look at our guide to self-isolating in accommodation and our University life in self-isolation page for advice and resources to keep you connected to university life.

Disclosing a mental health problem

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by the Wellbeing Service

For some people, the transition to university can be made more daunting by the thought of being surrounded by new people who don’t understand our difficulties.

Opening up

Telling people about your mental health is a personal choice and you should never feel like you have to. However, it can mean that new people around you better understand your experiences, needs and behaviours and can support you more effectively.

Telling people does not have to be ‘all or nothing’ – you can choose who you tell and what you tell them and you only need to share what is relevant. For example, you may want your flatmate to know you get really anxious around new people and ask that they let you know if they’re having people over.

If you choose to tell people about your mental health, be aware that this may be the first time they are hearing about these kind of difficulties. Letting them know where they can access accurate information is really helpful in their understanding. Mind have a great website with particular information for friends and family.

A helping hand

The University’s Wellbeing Service can support you to tell staff and friends about your difficulties if you feel it would be helpful for them to understand what you are experiencing. This could be on-going difficulties or a specific set of circumstances. This would be collaborative and is never done without your consent.

Dealing with diagnosis

If you have a formal diagnosis, our Disability Service can support you with telling relevant people in the university about your needs. They can work with you to prepare what’s called an Impact Statement which informs academic staff about your difficulties and how these affect your studies – for example letting lecturers know you may need to leave for breaks if you become too anxious. The service can also support you to arrange ‘reasonable adjustments’ to make your study experience as accessible as possible.

Access support

If you’re finding it difficult to disclose your mental health difficulties, remember that you can speak to someone at the Wellbeing Service for support. To arrange an appointment, contact us on 0117 32 86268 or email.