Where to get help when your university is closed

How students can get help whilst universities are closed.

This article was updated by the Great British Mag editorial team on 6 January 2021.

Outside of term time, universities provide a reduced level of support to students. We have compiled this list of resources to point you in the right direction in case you have a problem that you’re struggling to get help with. 

Charities that can help with mental health and financial issues 


If you are distressed, anxious or feeling lonely, call the Samaritans for free on 116 123. The charity has trained councillors available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Student Minds

Whatever is causing you concern – whether it’s your mental health, your studies, worries about money or relationships – you can telephone or email Student Minds.

The helpline is free and is open every day between 4pm and 11pm, just call 0808 189 5260. Alternatively, email students@themix.org.uk at any time – they aim to respond within 24 hours.

Friends International

Friends International have support groups around the country that help and welcome international students to the local community. The charity helps connect people through events and linking international students with hosts to go for a coffee or share a meal with (Covid-19 restrictions allowing). Download the app and find out if Friends International operates in your city.

Trussell Trust Food Banks

If you are struggling financially you can get free groceries and toiletries by contacting a local food bank. To find out the nearest one to you call 0808 208 2138 (open Monday to Friday, 9am–5pm) for free or use the map on the Trussell Trust website to find a food bank near to you.

Organisations that support International Students

UKCISA International Student Helpline

If you need advice on issues relating to your visa, travel or accommodation, or are having any sort of problem with your university, you can call the UKCISA student advice line on 0207 788 9214, which is open from 1pm to 4pm on weekdays.

National Indian Students & Alumni Union (NISAU)

Indian students who are facing financial hardship, struggling with their mental health or feeling lonely can contact NISAU by emailing team@nisau.org.uk.

NISAU works with other organisations to help students with food and groceries as well as more general support relating to everything from visas to accommodation. An up-to-date list of which cities are covered can be found on their Twitter page (@nisau_uk). 

Emergency financial support

Coronavirus funds

Most universities have set up emergency funds that students can access quickly if they run out of money because of Covid-19. If you would normally be earning money from a part-time job or would have travelled home if allowed, then contact your university or Students Union to find out what emergency financial support they can offer.

Emergency medical care

Urgent medical advice

If you need urgent medical advice, including advice on what to do if you think you have Covid-19, then call 111 in England and Wales and 08454 242424 in Scotland. This service offers medical advice for free, 365 days a year, and will be able to direct you to the nearest doctor or medical facility should you need it. 

If you have an immediate medical emergency and need an ambulance, call 999. The operator will ask what service you need from a list that includes the police, ambulance, fire and coastguard.

Rape helpline

If you have been sexually assaulted in any way, you can call the Rape Crisis freephone helpline on 0808 802 9999. The helpline is open 12pm-2.30pm and 7pm-9.30pm every day of the year.

Support from your university

When most university staff are on holiday, students can get emergency help by calling the emergency telephone number for your university’s student protection service. This telephone number and other useful contacts can be found on the most universities websites.

If you are staying in university accommodation the reception areas will remain open and staff will be available to help you through the holiday period. 

You may also want to read:

Student mental health guide for international students

Which Covid-19 tests do airlines accept?

How to self-isolate correctly when arriving in the UK