A mental health initiative founded by two Bristol medical students has launched a fundraiser to support Bristol University students who have been forced into quarantine due to coronavirus.
PROJECT:TALK, which was established earlier this year by fourth year medics George Cole and Daisy Isabella, is a non-profit organisation that seeks to improve mental fitness among Bristol students.
In the wake of the decision last Friday to quarantine approximately 300 students at The Courtrooms accommodation in the city centre, the group is now seeking to support those students who have to self-isolate – many of whom are away from home for the first time in their adult lives.
In a statement launching the appeal, PROJECT:TALK announced: ‘We can only anticipate that this [lockdown at The Courtrooms] will not be an isolated case and more student accommodation could follow suit over the coming months.
‘It is important not to ignore the mental health implications of being isolated inside for two weeks. It will undoubtedly be challenging for all students, let alone for somebody who already faces challenges with their mental health.
As an organization, and on a personal level, we wanted to get up and do something. And we feel like we can
‘We can anticipate difficulty in areas such as making friends and feeling supported when isolated with minimal social contact. We will make it our mission to support students who may be struggling in a situation they had not anticipated.’
Speaking to Epigram on his motivations for initiating the project, George added: ‘We were just worried about the welfare of these students. As an organization and on a personal level, we wanted to get up and do something. And we feel like we can.
‘There’s plenty of passion and know-how from our team of people who could actually make a really big difference to the situation. So we wanted to put our hand on the deck and do something, as we always do as an organisation.’
The University have so far issued free food packages, as well as delivered toilet roll, sanitary and cleaning products with some students in quarantine at The Courtrooms having praised their response.
Cole reiterates, however, that their initiative will be targeted to help the potential mental health challenges faced by those ‘thrown into mass uncertainty who have now been told they can’t leave their house for two weeks.'
‘The way a lot of people cope typically is by going outside, exercising and socialising,’ he added, ‘and they’re not going to have that so there’s going to be an increased demand on therapy.'
The group are currently looking to source local therapists who would be willing to donate their time to provide one-to-one therapy at a reduced rate, as well as implement a peer-support network.
In addition, PROJECT:TALK are aiming to supply ‘care packages’, including games, baking kits and other items to bring quarantined flats together. This will be assessed, however, on what the University and Students' Union are already supplying and on the needs of the students in lockdown.
Above all, the group have said, ‘we want to communicate with the students so they can determine what they feel they need.’
All donations from the fundraiser will be spent on these initiatives.
Featured image: PROJECT:TALK
PROJECT:TALK are also seeking volunteers. For anyone interested in getting involved, visit project.org.uk or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
For Bristol students struggling, access to the University’s wellbeing resources can be viewed here.