How is your summer going?
Are you struggling with your motivation, or with isolation or loneliness through working from home?
Are you looking for a wider community for more support?
It is now over four months since the lock-down began and many of us are still faced with a longer period of working from home. This is not any easy situation for anyone and especially if you are struggling with difficult working conditions, possibly feeling isolated or lonely, in addition to concerns about access to the essential equipment for your research. The University is progressing with plans to open up access to buildings safely, and your Schools and institutes will advise further when this is possible, but the priorities will be for research and the opening process will take time.
Most researchers find it beneficial to have contact with peers experiencing similar problems, even virtually and some of you will have your own online networks. Below we outline a range of support for those continuing to work from home over the summer, including events run as part of the development team and the support provided by the wider University and a new online workshop for those in the middle years of their PhD.
If you are experiencing serious anxieties or lasting problems with motivation, this will be a particularly difficult time. There are many people in the University who do understand and are willing to talk with you about your concerns. The University offers a range of specific support, whether from peers or in the wider University, as outlined below, and we strongly urge you to make that first contact.
Online writing retreats
Our regular writing retreats are continuing on Tuesday mornings within August, moving to fortnightly in September. These provide a structure for your writing along with the experience of community support and peer accountability. You can use the session for your writing, or any other work that you need to progress with, producing diagrams, calculations, writing code and so on.
For further details and regular email reminders, please sign up to our email list for these sessions:
|Online Writing Retreat – Tuesdays 9:45 – 12:00|
A further group arrange peer-led sessions in Microsoft Teams and details are shared within the Tuesday morning retreats.
Surviving the middle years – NEW online workshop
|Surviving the PhD – the middle years Wed, 23 Sep 2020 13:00 – 15:15|
This new online workshop is for those in the middle years of their PhD, who are past the initial excitement at the start of their PhD project, possibly experiencing loneliness and isolation enhanced by the current pandemic and who are looking for ways to maintain their motivation and productivity for the years ahead. We will use small group discussions to explore these topics and to seek practical solutions.
(Follow above link for more details)
Peer support and Peers for PhDs
Peer ambassador scheme: Many Schools and Institutes in the University run the Peer ambassador scheme where you can discuss your problems with your peers in confidence. Yours schools can advise on contact details in these cases.
Peers for PhDs is a student-led project, who work across all faculties, aiming to improve PGR wellbeing at the university, through regular meetings for those who need a chat and to share problems with other researchers. During the current lock-down the group have had regular meetings in zoom.
Date of their upcoming meetings include:
- Thursday 6 August, 10:00am
- Tuesday 11 August, 9:00am
- Thursday, 20 August at 10:00 am
Details are sent to all on the mailing list. To join this list, please contact one of the three organisers:
- Ella Fox-Widdows, email@example.com
- Mohamed Hammad, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Natasha Bradley, email@example.com.
Wider support within the university and the Student Guild
Student Services: Counselling and Mental Health Advisory Service, and Student Welfare Advice & Guidance
During Covid-19, Student Services, which includes Counselling and Mental Health Advisory Service, and Student Welfare Advice & Guidance, continue to provide support and guidance for all students. If you would like to speak to an Adviser, please email them at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and Student ID to request a telephone appointment and an Adviser will call you back.
Student services provide a range of wellbeing resources to help you look after your mental health and to find support if you are experiencing mental health difficulties. These include strategies and tips for coping with COVID-19 anxiety. You can find further information on their website at https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/studentsupport/advice/resources/ .
There is specific advice available for international students regarding Visas available on the University COVID-19 FAQs via the ‘I am a Student’ link and under the ‘information for international students’ heading.
If you still have further questions relating to visas or other concerns as an international student, please contact the International Advice and Guidance team either via email email@example.com or telephone 0151 795 1000 to speak with one of the team.
They have provided specific COVID-19 FAQs query pages for the following areas:
The Student Guild provide independent support, which can include academic issues and which is also available digitally. The Guild advice team is available to all students inclusive of PGRs and currently, they are operating as a digital support service . If you require an appointment please contact the advice team via email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a telephone or online appointment.
There is also a specific page on the support provided for postgraduate researchers by The Guild which can be found here
External services supported by the university
There is lots of self-help information, guides and online counselling services available via the university which can be incredibly helpful in managing your own mental wellbeing not only during this time, but throughout your time completing your PhD.
There is also a very good online resource ‘The Wellbeing Thesis’ developed to support PGRs with their wellbeing, learning and research.
External sources of support
Further to this there a number of support services and organisations that offer support for mental wellbeing: