What’s the problem?
In the current cost of living crisis, things like food, gas and electricity are costing more than ever. The result? Many students in your community are falling into spiralling debt just to cover the cost of groceries, bills, text books and transport.
A recent National Union of Students (NUS) survey found that more than 1 in 3 university students have less than £50 to live on for the month after paying their rent and bills. It’s simply not right that anyone should have to go without the basics, just to stay afloat while studying. Yet, there will be students in your community experiencing exactly this.
What can you do about it?
While you might not be able to single-handedly solve the cost of living crisis, there are some small ways you can make a big difference in the lives of the students in your community.
Make your church a warm welcome space
A warm welcome space is a registered space that those struggling to heat their homes can come and spend time this winter. By registering your church as a warm welcome space, you could choose to offer hot drinks and refreshments, free Wi-Fi, or even desk areas where students can hunker down and get some work done without having to worry about the heating or electricity bill.
Cook a meal (for one or many)
Chatting over a good plate of food is one of the best ways to build community – and with a shocking 50% of students having had to cut back on food, and over 1 in 10 (11%) using food banks, cooking a meal for the students in your community could be a real lifesaver for many.
If you have the space, why not set up a student Sunday lunch for new and existing students to gather after your Sunday service, or during the week? You could also ask members of your church to invite students round for dinner each week, giving them a chance to get plugged in, get connected and enjoy a free dinner at the same time.
Pick up some extras
With food prices at a high, supermarkets have started limiting the amount of ‘budget’ items each person can buy. For a student on a tight budget, this can be the difference between eating and not eating. Not to mention, buying for one often means paying disproportionately more, given that most items are not often sold as single portions.
Next time you’re shopping, pick up a few extra bits to pass on to the students in your community. Maybe grab a meal they enjoy but can’t justify spending when it’s just for them, or pick up a special treat you know they love but can’t afford. By getting to know the students in your community and buying a couple of things they really like, you’re showing them you really care and that they’re seen, no matter their situation.
Be a friend
With 90% of students saying their mental health has been impacted by the cost of living crisis, a non-judgemental listening ear makes all the difference. Student life can be full-on, and by simply being a friend, you can positively impact someone’s whole experience. You might not be able to fix whatever challenges they’re facing, but by offering a safe space to talk and process, you’re offering safety and security in an otherwise uncertain time.