A Preston community group is helping the city’s international students remain in good physical, mental and emotional health during the pandemic.Advertisement
Kind Communities was set up during lockdown in February 2021, with five Student Health Champions and five Student Volunteer Health Champions who speak nine languages between them.
In just over four months, Kind Communities has run various campaigns including encouraging students from Commonwealth countries to vote in the UK elections, answering queries about vaccines, and providing emergency food assistance to 122 vulnerable students.
The group’s main focus is a consultation to assess the impact of the pandemic on Preston’s South Asian Heritage international students. Along with UCLan, local government and the NHS, the group will be working on the steps needed to keep the students and the wider Preston community safe and healthy.
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Monish Mohan, Student Communication Champion at Kind Communities, said: “Every one of us has been affected by the pandemic, and international students have faced the same difficult challenges whilst living away from their families and loved ones.
“As Prestonians are renowned for their warmth and hospitality, we wanted to show that no matter where students were from, and regardless of their circumstances, they are an integral part of the wider Preston family and are welcome in our city.”
Monish says working with the international students in this way helps to acknowledge the value they bring to Preston.
“International students are crucial to the fabric of Preston and the United Kingdom. They pay tuition fees to UK universities, pay rent to local landlords, shop in local stores and bring huge amounts of money into the local economy.
“The vast majority work in key sectors such as care, nursing, essential retail and distribution, and have been vital in keeping the country going over the last 15 months.”
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After receiving what they describe as ‘amazing support’ from Preston City Council, local community organisations and Community Trade Union, Monish and Kind Communities have plans to continue into the future.
“We’d like to remain a forum for international students to empower and support each other, and also feel a part of the wider Preston community.
“We hope to open a run local Food Hub to meet the needs of the student community, continue to help with the wider pandemic-related health needs of the student and local communities, and see if we can utilise student skills and knowledge to teach local youngsters – particularly in maths, science and technology.
“The pandemic has shown how interdependent the world is, and in our small way, we’ve shown that by helping others we also help ourselves.”
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What do you think of Kind Communities’ efforts to help others? Let us know in the comments.