Published on 27 March 2020
Alex Hoey is currently isolating in the University of Sunderland’s halls of residence.
The 20-year-old is studying Media Production and is now being supported by the University staff as the coronavirus outbreak continues.
Alex is among the many estranged or care experienced students who study and live at the University.
He lost his mother to cancer last year, and is now estranged from his father. Alex is transgender, and is currently going through medical transition.
"I am self-isolating in halls, and though it can be lonely I am coping well,” says Alex. “Continuing study has been tough at times as my sleep schedule and anxiety isn’t the best, but the tutors are supportive and I'm adjusting my routine to work better with working from home.
“Outside of uni I have the unwavering support of my friends. We keep in contact through social media, mostly Snapchat and Instagram.
“We talk daily, especially when we have problems, from low moods to problems with university work, we keep each other afloat. Talking to them makes me feel way less alone, and I am so thankful I have them.”
Outside of his studies Alex has his own business, creating costumes for Cosplay enthusiasts.
“Even though I have missed out on some of the events that were planned it's been interesting seeing some of them come to life in different ways,” he says.
“Conventions have been held online on video chat platforms, and the artists who would trade there have been gathering online to make pages where people could buy the art that they would at conventions.
“At the moment I'm filling my time with working on costume and art commissions – it’s important to keep yourself busy when you're stuck indoors.”
The University of Sunderland’s We Care Team are supporting 128 care experienced and estranged students during the current health crisis.
Wendy Price, Access to Higher Education & Scholarships Manager, leads the We Care Team, she says: “Many of the students supported by the We Care Team live on their own, and don’t have family members to ‘check in' with or support them.
“The University offers ‘one voice’ support to our students, and we are working closely with the Students Union, our Chaplain, and our Wellbeing, Student Financial Guidance, and Progression Teams so that our students are aware of the support on offer.”
Alex added: “I miss seeing my friends and family, and going out to get coffee, but I know sooner or later it will all be done. Until then I'm keeping fit by taking short walks (within government guidelines) and doing sit ups from the comfort of my lounge space.
“The biggest tip that I can give is to not overwhelm yourself with anxiety from things such as the news. Practice calming techniques such as breathing or meditation to help with anxiety, or do some calming creative activities. It's a perfect time for taking up new hobbies to fill up all of that spare time. "