On Tuesday, Duchess Kate surprised royal fans as she stepped out to visit students at the University of Derby. She heard how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted university life.
Kate spoke to first-year students, sports societies and nursing students about the effect that COVID-19 has had on them, and the ways in which the university is supporting their mental health and wellbeing.
Her visit came as Universities UK, which represents 139 institutions including the University of Derby, published a new checklist to help universities support student wellbeing during the autumn term.
The universities should provide students access to basic necessities during self-isolation; including food, laundry services, cleaning materials, bin bags, tissues and toilet rolls.
Cases have been detected at many of the UK’s 65 universities and at least 1,700 students there have been told to isolate for 14 days. Some of them are even hanging out signs out their windows saying they didn’t have food.
Kate arrived in a check coat by Massimo Dutti, a light blue jumper beneath paired with jeans and a black leather and gold belt. She also wore a necklace that features her children’s initials
During the visit Kate was briefed by Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity. They say that the pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges facing student mental health, in addition to creating new ones.
The organisation recently launched Student Space, a new resource providing information and 24/7 direct help by phone and text.
Duchess Kate finished off her day by meeting a few members of the women’s football team. They chatted about how sports is beneficial to their mental health, especially during the pandemic.
“Is it really weird not being in lectures?,” Kate asked.
One student said they were enjoying the change. However it is “difficult not learning face-to-face”.
“You’re doing very well,” Kate answered. The Duchess’s visit comes ahead of World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10 October, which she and the royal family have long supporteed.