Coronavirus isolation for students: ‘The three of us formed such a strong bond and supported each other’

By Adam Rear

With lockdown restrictions becoming ever tighter and the number of COVID-19 cases increasing every week, the prospect of going into isolation is becoming more of a possibility for students due to the nature of social mixing in university halls of residence.

According to the GOV.UK website, the government guidance if a person in your household tests positive for COVID-19 is that you must stay at home for 14 days.

The 14-day period starts from the day the first person in your house developed symptoms or, if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken.

Also according to the guidance, if you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 yourself you do not need a test. You are urged to only arrange a test if you develop COVID-19 symptoms.

Third year Law student Chloe Moon went through 14 days of self-isolation after her housemate tested positive.

“It wasn’t as bad as I feared, mainly because I had good company and people who were willing to help. However after isolating for two weeks, I understand how some people could fear going into isolation alone or even how people had bad experiences with it,” she said.

Chloe, 21, enjoying the last day of isolation with a celebratory drink and celebration

 “There were a lot of adjustments to make to our lifestyles. A simple one was getting a supermarket delivery rather than popping to the shops.

“I feel like it was very hard to separate work from pleasure as we were contained within this six room house. So we had to regroup and think what was convenient and best for all.”

With universities and residential halls welcoming back thousands of students, the likelihood of isolation is becoming a harsh reality for many.

That is especially the case in Leicester where the Government’s latest lockdown regulations see the city placed into the Tier 2 high alert category.

For Chloe and her housemates, they worked together to make sure everyone coped with self-isolation.

“We had to discuss that it was okay for us to get up and leave if we needed some space and that we shouldn’t always take each other’s actions personally,” she continued.

“The three of us formed such a strong bond and supported each other. We had more movie marathons and binge watched more TV episodes than I’d like to admit, but it definitely helped as it’s things students don’t always have time for such as our 24 hour Harry Potter movie bonanza.”

Prince’s Trust Hinckley request donations after fundraising halted by coronavirus

By Alexander Hodgkins-Jones

A member of the team hard at work.

The Hinckley Prince’s Trust team are desperately seeking donations for two big gardening projects due to the coronavirus pandemic curtailing fundraising efforts.

The programme is a 12-week course which offers unemployed young people aged 16-25 a chance to meet new people, gain new skills and boost their confidence.

The pandemic has hit the team programme hard yet services are needed more than ever with youth unemployment rising to its highest level in two years.

“It’s difficult because we haven’t been able to do the fundraising we would normally do for these projects,” said Michelle Keatman, the assistant team leader for groups across Leicestershire.

“We raise around £250 just for an Asda bag pack and now that is totally gone.”

The team of young people, who have been split into two bubbles, will be working hard next week to renovate an outdoor area at the Hinckley Police Station and clear a space at Next Generation, a volunteering charity.

One half of the team will clear the overgrown outdoor area at Next Generation.

The team are looking to the generous people of Hinckley and the surrounding areas to donate any unwanted gardening equipment.

Key items wanted for upcycling include trellises, planting beds and outdoor chairs.

However, there is one thing in particular Michelle is keen to get a hold of for the police station project.

“A picnic bench would be ideal. It’s a small area but we want to make it into a nice chill out space for the officers.”

The team are also on the hunt for something to provide privacy from overhanging flats.

The work has already begun with members of the group painting plant pots in preparation for beginning the hard graft next week.

Michelle says times are tough but the work is invaluable.

“We are so grateful to even have a team programme running right now. Times are tough and these groups are extremely valuable with so many young people out of work,” she said.

Despite struggling to source everything needed so far Michelle is not concerned about the ability of the group.

“We aren’t DIY SOS or anything – I don’t know what the projects are going to look like, I just know they will look good.”

If you have anything to donate or want more information on future team programmes in Leicestershire, contact Michelle on 07858 300255 or email mkeatman@wcg.ac.uk.

Donations will all be collected in a COVID-safe manner.

DMU student opens cosmetics line amidst COVID-19 pandemic

By Mary De- Wind

A student from De Montfort University launched her successful cosmetics line in late May, during the height of the pandemic, and has now shipped orders worldwide.

Twenty-year-old Tamara Tavares studies Fashion and Communication at De Montfort University and is currently in her second year.

She said: “I’ve always loved fashion, but I never really wanted to go into design. So, I picked a course that does everything EXCEPT design.

“I’ve been a waitress since I was 14 and I’m tired of working in customer service. I wanted to find something I can do from home.”

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) the unemployment rate from June to August was 4.5%, which was 0.5% higher than the previous year.

Tamara continued: “Coming to university I realised everyone had their side hustle whether it was doing hair, food, nails or a clothing line.

“I was so focused on sports I pushed it to the side.”

During the pandemic Tamara came across a YouTube video about creating lip glosses and lipsticks. She began to learn more about it and do her research.

She decided she wanted to build a brand that would support her studies.

Photo taken by Tamara Tavares

Tamara launched Kriola Kosmetics in May 2020 and has sold over 80 lip-glosses as well as shipping products to France, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Portugal, and USA.

The word ‘Kriola’ comes from Cape Verde where she is from. Kriola was made for young, independent women fit for anyone. Currently, there are nine different shades of lip glosses. They are vegan, organic and cruelty free.

Tamara’s goal long term is to add more products as well as have someone who would help her in the production side of her business who would help her pack orders, make shades, and post the product.

“It’s a lot of work. I would rather solely focus on the content, product launch and technical elements,” said Tamara.

For those who are still in the procrastination stage of starting a business Tamara advises to “JUST DO IT and stay consistent. Consistency is key!”

De Montfort University launches Good Neighbours scheme

by Emily Rooney

De Montfort University (DMU) has launched a Good Neighbours volunteer scheme, which aims to help students living in university halls during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Volunteers for the scheme will be helping other students with practical help such as shopping, especially if a student is self isolating, but also with making sure students are aware of DMU’s support resources, including mental health and finance help.  

The aim of the scheme is to create a network of support in student halls in case a block or entire residence did need to be placed under lockdown, although DMU hopes this will not happen. 

NHS nurses unhappy with declining PPE quality

By Luke Pawley

Nurses worry over PPE quality amid rising COVID-19 cases

NHS nurses across Leicestershire are unhappy about the declining quality of their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The issues have arisen over a number of weeks, affecting nurses working in NHS hospitals and out in the wider community, including midwives and district nurses.

Nurses are feeling increasingly unsafe at work as the number of daily COVID-19 cases continues to rise and with Leicestershire remaining in the ‘high’ tier of restrictions imposed by the government.

“There has been a massive decline in the last few weeks,” said one community nurse, whose colleagues conduct a lot of home visits and must ensure their safety in unknown environments.

“There have been constant changes and each set (of PPE) has got worse and worse,” she added. “Our masks are snapping as soon as we put them on, the aprons are terrible and you only have to look at a pair of gloves for them to rip.”

Nurses working in hospitals have also noticed a decline in quality over time and are unhappy with procedures. The problem is understood to stretch across many hospitals across the city and county, increasing anxiety across several county NHS Trusts.

“The quality of PPE has been affected massively,” said one nurse at Leicester General Hospital. “We’re having to deal with more infections now than at the height of the pandemic as we have resumed loads of operations and procedures.”

With routine procedures continuing to run as the number of COVID-19 cases rise, the situation with PPE across the county is worse than ever for many members of staff.

“But with the pandemic still going on, and more COVID-19 patients in hospital than in March, we’re using more PPE than ever. Cost-cutting measures have been taken and the quality of material is getting poorer,” she added.

“There have also been problems with standards of infection prevention as use of disposable aprons is not being managed properly.”

Staff have been told that downgrades have been made due to a lack of local NHS funding. No further explanation or solution has been offered.

The NHS Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups were asked for a comment but, at the time of publication, have not responded.

Leicestershire County Council’s Director of Public Health Mike Sandys has also failed to reply.