JCRs have planned a number of events to support student welfare during the second lockdownLucas Maddalena

Since England went into lockdown last Thursday (05/11), JCRs have started a number of initiatives to support student welfare and create a spirit of community despite the lockdown..

During an open meeting with the Vice Chancellor on Monday (10/11), Stephen Toope confirmed that measures are being taken across the Collegiate University to look after student wellbeing

Multiple JCRs are putting on events to maintain college spirit. For example, Murray Edwards will be running events throughout the rest of the term, including a week 5 “pamper evening”, vegan cookery classes with the Murray Edwards chefs and a college-wide Secret Santa.

The Medwards JCR has also taken to social media and created an infographic on their instagram for “Lockdown Lean Ons” “which includes places for students to seek support”.

Medwards JCR President, Freya Watson, told Varsity that the Committee has also put out two surveys asking for feedback on the College’s lockdown measures and social distancing guidelines, which have been presented to College Council and will be used to “vouch for student welfare weekly to the Senior Tutor”.

The JCR are also using online platforms to remind students about the welfare options available to them and they plan to distribute “Self Care Tips” with ideas such as film recommendations and room decorating tricks

When asked about the College’s response to the lockdown, Watson told Varsity that she has been “in constant communication with College staff throughout this period”. She further noted that “the frequency of meetings between the JCR and college staff mean any upcoming issues from students are dealt with in a timely manner.”

In a similar vein to Murray Edwards, St Catharine’s will also be running a ‘Cook-Along’ event, which will involve preparing and distributing food to every College household that signs up to the scheme free of charge. Students will cook along while watching a livestream event hosted by the Catering Operator and the JCR President, Rory Cockshaw.

Cockshaw described the ’Cook-Along’as a fun way to “teach [students] crucial cooking skills in the admittedly limited cooking facilities provided by most first-year Catz accommodation.”

Another unique initiative created by the St Catharine’s JCR Committee will be the ‘Catz Lockdown Charity Challenge’, affectionately known as “#AWheelyLongWay”, in which students who sign up will be able to walk, run, cycle and erg a combined total of 3,500 miles - the approximate distance from the college’s Main Court to Sana’a, the capital of Yemen.

Money raised from the event will go towards their JustGiving fundraiser for CARE International’s Yemen Appeal, in order to not “only [...] connect Catz to the wider world [...] but [...] encourage our students to go outside, stay active, and socialise by walking or running in pairs.” Cockshaw added: “having a purpose outside of oneself and staying active are crucial for welfare”.

On the importance of welfare, the Clare College JCR will be running Instagram story takeovers on their main account twice a week so that committee members share a ‘Day in my life: Welfare Edition’. Clare’s JCR will also be re-releasing a welfare document, which was created over the summer, to support College members who may be suffering to come to terms with the new set of circumstances created by the lockdown.

Like St Catharine’s, Clare Hall is also running a ‘Cook-Along’ event in order to “help give the sense of sharing a meal together”, according to the college’s Graduate Student Body President.

They have also adapted to the new state of lockdown by maintaining a Discord server on which students can communicate and play virtual board games, alongside a host of “no- and low-contact events that have been held since March, aimed at maintaining a sense of student community and social connectedness” such as pub quizzes, coffee chats, and ‘drink-and-draws’.In a similar fashion to which Clare Hall are using Discord to retain a sense of community, Darwin College Students’ Association (DCSA) making use of a Teams channel so that any of the College’s societies or sports clubs have a forum on which members can meet online.

The DCSA is also “working with other mature colleges on a Blind Date Fridays scheme so Darwinians can socialize beyond the college boundaries”. Meanwhile St Catharine’s JCR are organising one-on-one blind dates with other colleges, such as Lucy Cavendish, next week.

Other JCRs have been encouraging students to participate in creative activities, with “a very popular recent T-shirt making event” being held at Selwyn, and an “art and photography competition” at Clare.

Events place an emphasis on “wholesome welfare initiatives”, says Tomos Wood, president of Queens’ JCR.

“Our welfare officers, Leoni Boyle and Damola Odeyemi, produced a brand new welfare timetable as soon as the lockdown was announced, with five events a week,” explained Harriet Hards, president of Emmanuel College Students’ Union (ECSU).

“This includes online yoga and Zumba classes, an online welfare drop-in hour each week and Netflix Parties.”

JCRs have not found it difficult to liaise with their College leadership, according to student representatives.

Ludvig Brekke, president of the Trinity College Students’ Union (TCSU), said: “The TCSU maintains a very strong, cooperative relationship with the College leadership.”

“It is a difficult tightrope to walk, but by working together, the TCSU and the College are doing all we can to look after the students’ physical and mental well-being.”


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The president of Queens’ JCR also noted that “never before have the senior officers and JCR and MCR committees worked so closely.”

Even with the welfare efforts of Colleges and JCRs, “the rest of term will pose many more challenges”, according to the president of ECSU, but she remains optimistic.

“I’m really proud of the way that ECSU has responded to the changing situation and the solidarity and compassion that has been shown so far. [...] I’m confident that we will all work very hard to support students during this difficult time.”