Starting university can be both very exciting and quite daunting. With most universities now returning to in-person teaching for the first time in over year due to Covid-19, this will be the first opportunity that many first- and second-year students have had to form close friendships and to explore student life in their chosen city.

For lots of LGBTQ+ people, going to university offers them a chance to express and explore their identity in a way they haven’t felt able to before. This means it’s perfectly normal to be feeling a little overwhelmed in your first year away from home. 

We’ve put together some resources to help you if you’re struggling or just need a few pointers whilst you’re studying. 


Finding student accommodation  

One of the biggest hurdles at university can be finding suitable accommodation, particularly amidst the shortage of affordable housing throughout many British cities. Though the situation varies from uni to uni, there are some good starting points for anyone in need of accommodation to look at.  

University halls – most universities have halls available for first year students, either directly through them or with a third party provider such as Unite. It is worth searching for the Accommodation Office on your University’s website and then getting in contact to explain your situation. They may have short-term emergency accommodation or even some long-term solutions available. 

SpareRoom.com is a popular platform for advertising new rooms and seeking out new housemates. There are also options to filter for LBGT inclusive houses or dietary preferences like veganism. You can also ‘Buddy up’ with fellow likeminded room-seekers to then find a full house/flat to rent. Rooms posted on this site often receive many applications quickly so follow the guidance on the SpareRoom FAQs if you want to make yourself stand out.  

Social media can also be a useful tool for finding places to live, though you need to be wary of fraudsters. Lots of cities have Facebook groups where private landlords or tenants post about available rooms, such as Homes for Queers (London, Manchester, Leeds). You can find these by searching with your city name and a keyword like ‘housing’, e.g. ‘Loughborough Rooms to Rent’ on Facebook and joining the relevant groups. 

Sites like OpenRent, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace are also good places to search for rooms or housing. You can also post a ‘Room wanted’ ad on these sites so that potential landlords or roommates can find you. Generally, the more information you give, the more responses you will have. 

If you’re looking for communal living you could contact Radical Routes, a network of housing co-operatives around the UK. 


Student Finance issues  

Many students may be experiencing registration delays which will have a knock-on effect on Student Finance being paid. If you are struggling financially you should contact Student Services and Student Finance.  

Most universities and/or student unions offer financial support such as hardship funding, referrals to foodbanks and short-term emergency loan schemes with 0% or low interest rates.  

If you have a Caseworker at akt you can speak to them about financial support available.  


Useful links

UCAS  

Turn2Us Grants Checker  

Student discounts

TOTUM card

Student Beans 

UNiDAYS 


Free or cheap household items, clothes etc

FreecycleTrash Nothing, charity shops, Facebook groups, mutual aid groups 


Meeting new people 

The first term at uni is a great time to meet new people. You could get involved with: 

  • Societies through your Student Union 
  • The local LGBTQ+ centre 
  • LGBTQ+ groups and events (including through Meetup) 
  • Student freshers events at bars, community spaces and arts venues 

LGBTQ+ Support   

The Tab has dedicated pages to lots of uni news and events 


Staying safe 

Uni may be the first time you’ve had the freedom to go on a night out, experiment with drugs and alcohol or explore dating and hook ups. In any scenario, your safety and welfare should be a priority!  

Talk to Frank has loads of information and advice on drugs: Talk to Frank  

We’ve put together a guide on dating safely including what to do if you’re uncomfortable and need to leave 

StrutSafe is a community organisation set up to support people who are worried about walking home alone.  

And Unite Students have some great advice if you need to get a taxi home 

If you’re on a night out then think about making an agreement with your friends that you will stick together! If anyone in the group is under the influence and looking unwell then don’t leave them alone, and if necessary seek medical assistance from bar staff or by calling 111. 


Mental health and wellbeing 

Moving to a new place, feeling overwhelmed on your course, missing home – there are lots of reasons why your mental health can be impacted when you’re at uni, and it’s easy to feel isolated and alone. You can speak to the Student Support service at uni for help including counselling. 

There are also many organisations and resources out there who can support you: 

Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity and they offer support to students, friends and parents. 

Our Online Hub has many useful resources including: 

Information on Helplines (including out of hours support) 

Mental health support for trans young people 

Wellbeing tips and resources for black LGBTQ+ young people 

Wellbeing top tips for LGBTQ+ young people  

Coping with loneliness during your first term at uni 


Healthcare 

It’s important that you can access healthcare during term-time. Even if you’re still registered with a GP in your hometown, you can still register with a GP at uni.  

Here’s some info from the NHS on access healthcare as a student: 

Getting medical care as a student - NHS

Read about the NHS low income scheme  

If you’re an international student in the UK then the UK Council for International Student Affairs has put together some guidance 

The University of Cambridge also has lots of useful healthcare information, including advice for those subject to the EU Settlement Scheme


Balancing studies and life 

How to avoid burnout  

Studying at uni can be a big leap from A-Levels. If you’re struggling to keep up with your work then you can reach out for support – speak to your tutor as well as Student Services who may be able to signpost you to learning support. Some unis offer a peer learning support service. 

If you have learning difficulties, disabilities or additional needs then you may be eligible for the Disabled Students’ Allowance to get extra support with your studies. 


Leaving uni 

Uni isn’t right for everyone. If you’re thinking of withdrawing from your course then speak to your tutor who can discuss your options – you may be able to transfer to a different course or get extra help if you’re struggling. 

If you’ve decided to leave, and you’re worried about where you’re going to live, we’ve put together some advice and information on navigating your move out of uni.  


If you need any further information or advice you can contact us on live chat, Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm!  


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