Holiday Toolkit

Advice content


We recognise some students may need support over the holidays when our campuses are closed. 

This toolkit will provide some useful signposts to help you.

Please do not suffer in silence. There is support out there for you.

Spectrum Life, our Student Assistance Programme

Unlimited access to a telephone helpline, 24/7, 365 days a year

Offering help and support in managing whatever personal, study or work issues you are facing

Spectrum.Life - Google Play store

Spectrum.Life - Apple Store

We hope you have an enjoyable, safe break and look forward to welcoming you back after the holidays.

ALISS is a national digital programme enabling people and professionals to find and share information on resources, services, groups, and support in their local communities and online.          


Emergency support content

Emergency support

Emergency support

  • If you're in immediate danger of hurting yourself or others:

- Go directly to the Accident & Emergency (A&E) department of your local hospital to get help.-

- Call 999 to request an ambulance if you are unable to reach the hospital yourself

  • If you're feeling distressed and need urgent support:

- Contact your GP surgery to request an emergency appointment

- If your GP surgery isn't open, call the free NHS out-of-hours medical line on 111 for help accessing the right services or contact NHS 111 via their website

- You can call the Samaritans on 116 123 to talk to someone at any time, day or night

  • Free, confidential, 24/7 support is available by text message. Text ‘shout’ to 85258 or visit for more information.
  • text Mikeysline for support
  • information on anxiety, low mood, stress and where you can get help from NHS

For more information visit our emergency support pages.

Foodbank information content

Foodbank information

Foodbank information

Find Your Nearest Foodbank Highland Foodbank.

Please see our amended opening times for over Christmas and New Year, attached.  Please note, the Foodbank Centres in Inverness and Nairn will now be closed on Wednesday 27th December.

Also, a wee reminder that Friday 17th November is the last day for requesting emergency food boxes for use  between Christmas and New Year, if your agency is providing emergency support.

Foodbank Christmas Opening Times
Date Glebe St. Nairn Tain Alness Dingwall
Thursday 21st Dec 12:00-14:00 CLOSED 12:00-14:00 CLOSED CLOSED
Friday 22nd Dec 12:00-14:00 12:00-14:00 CLOSED 11:00-13:00 13:00-15:00
Thursday 28th Dec 12:00-14:00 CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED
Friday 29th Dec 12:00-14:00 12:00-14:00 CLOSED 11:00-13:00 13:00-15:00
Wednesday 3rd Jan 12:00-14:00 12:00-14:00 CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED
Thursday 4th Jan 12:00-14:00 12:00-14:00 CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED
Friday 5th Jan 12:00-14:00 12:00-14:00 CLOSED 11:00-13:00 13:00-15:00

the app too good to go is great locally 


check out if your town or village has a community fridge 

Money advice content

Money advice

Money advice

Financial support in the local community

Where to get help
Your local Citizen's Advice Bureau (external link)
Payplan (external link) 0800 716239
National Debtline (external link) 0808 8084000
Business debtline (external link)

Money Advice Service (external link) 0300 500 5000

StepChange (external link) 0800 138 1111

Citizens Advice Bureau
The Citizens Advice service helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free, impartial, independent and confidential advice.

Telephone: 0808 800 9060

Find your local bureau (external link)
Get free advice (external link)

Welfare support
Are you missing out on benefits you might be entitled to, or needing support with money matters or personal budgeting advice? Get in touch for free confidential help and advice.

Telephone: 0800 090 1004





Scottish welfare fund 0800 083 1887

The Scottish Welfare Fund helps families and people in Scotland who are on low incomes.

You can apply for a:

Crisis Grant – if you're in crisis because of a disaster (like a fire or flood), or an emergency (like losing your money or job, or an unexpected expense)

Community Care Grant – to help you or someone you care for to start to live, or to carry on living, a settled life in the community
You must be 16 or older and on a low income, or getting certain benefits, to apply for these grants

Staying at college or university over the holidays content

Staying at college or university over the holidays

Staying at college or university over the holidays

Gareth Hughes is the Clinical Lead for Student Space and is a psychotherapist, researcher and writer on student wellbeing, including the book 'Be Well, Learn Well.'

If you are staying at university for the duration of the end of term break, making some plans in advance will help to ensure it is as good an experience as possible.

Your university is likely to be quieter over the break. At least some university buildings are likely to be closed for part of the time and most staff will be taking a well-earned rest from work. It may also be that there are fewer students around and less to do with your time.

In addition, it can be easy to feel worried or upset at the prospect of spending it alone or away from your family.

While these worries are perfectly normal, there are things you can do to increase your enjoyment of the break. Taking control of your time proactively can help you to get the most out of the break and feel more positive.

Keep busy

Maintaining a daily structure and keeping active will help to maintain your mood and energy levels. A lack of structure and vegging out can be fine for a day or two, but over time it leaves us feeling sluggish and down.

Having a plan for each day can help you to stay active. You may want to think about socialising with friends who are still around; spring cleaning your room, getting regular exercise or studying for next term. This will help you to feel you are achieving something each day.


Volunteering is an excellent way of keeping busy and doing something positive. Volunteering to help others is also good for us and it can help to build up your CV.

Your university, Students’ Union or Guild may have some volunteering opportunities or you can explore what opportunities there are through local and national charities such as Time Bank.

Volunteering will also help you by putting you in touch with other people and giving you a sense of purpose.


Try to maintain social contact with as many people as possible. Not all students will go home for the whole of the break. Find out when your friends are going to be around and if local restrictions allow, plan socially distanced meet ups with them. If there are periods where your friends aren’t around, try to schedule regular calls and video calls with friends and family elsewhere.

You could also use Togetherall to keep in contact with other students. This could be an opportunity to make new friends.


It can be tempting to stay indoors where it’s warm but you should make sure you are getting outside and exercising each day. Sunlight and exercise improves mood and will help you feel better physically as well.

Try to see the positives

For many people spending time alone may be preferable. If you are going to be alone you will have complete control over your own time, you can do what you want when you want, without pressure to please anyone else.


Give yourself rewards over the holidays. These don’t have to cost a lot of money but, if you can, treat yourself to something special. You could, for example, cook yourself a nice meal or just set aside time to watch a movie or read a book.

Seek support

If you are worried about how you will feel during the break it may help to talk to someone beforehand or please remember that Togetherall and Spectrum life provide 24/7 support during the academic breaks.

Information provided by: Staying at university over the Christmas break | Student Space

Advice for the holidays content

Advice for the holidays

Advice for the holidays

While the holiday season can represent joy, gratitude and togetherness, it can also be associated with family and financial pressure, loneliness, anxiety and tension. Even if you look forward to the holidays, it’s normal to experience periods of stress or difficulty.

According to research from the UK, most people feel stressed, anxious, and depressed over the holidays.  In fact, over two in five Brits have felt stressed during the festive season, while one in four have struggled with anxiety or depression (YouGov 2019 UK)

If you find yourself experiencing mixed emotions, worries, or even real distress over the holidays, that’s okay, and perhaps keep some of these thoughts in mind.

First of all, it’s okay to not be okay during the holidays and reach out for support when you need it.

The holidays may cause a mixture of complicated situations and emotions, such as family and relationship conflict, anxiety around relationships, worries about food, coping with grief, or feeling that everyone else is having a great time and you’re missing out.

All these feelings are valid and okay, and you’re not alone.

Don’t wing it during the holidays - come up with a plan to feel better and take control 

  1. Write down the days you’ll be surrounded by people or have a lot going on. Think through the days that might be tough and identify when you’ll need extra support or breaks.
  2. Identify the people and resources you want to use for support. Talk with these people beforehand or investigate a resource and define strategies for coping.
  3. Set your intentions: Whether it’s sleep, how you eat, how much you drink, where exercise plays a role, or whether you engage in certain conversations, set your intentions in advance so you can feel in control in the moment. This approach can be generalized for the holiday season or you can do this on a day-to-day or event-by-event basis.

Take time to develop a list of coping skills that work for you and then think carefully about when you’ll use them.

  1. Take time to get support from people who understand your experiences on Togetherall. Get ideas, get support, or create your own group of friends to support each other during the holiday season.
  2. Take a nap
  3. Go for a walk alone in a favorite location or walk with someone who helps you feel better
  4. Plan to meditate in a way that works for you and will help you to feel calm and gain perspective.

Remember to allow yourself to be in the moment

Rather than comparing your experiences, feelings and relationships to others’, allow yourself to be present in your life without judgement.

Be realistic about the holidays and plan ahead if you think you might experience complicated emotions.

The holidays can be wonderful, happy, complicated, and stressful.

If you feel like you need a safe space to talk with others who understand, try Togetherall; a free, safe anonymous online community where you can give and get support from others.

Information provided by: Chief Clinical Officer of Togetherall, Dr. Ben Locke

Information for parents content

Information for parents

Information for parents

Some activities for under 13s 

With concerns about money here is a great blog to read for parents tips on supporting children's wellbeing in the cost of living crisis.

Student minds have created a guide for parents about money and mental health.

Care experienced students content

Care experienced students

Care experienced students

Who Cares? Scotland




Going home for the holidays content

Going home for the holidays

Going home for the holidays

Gareth Hughes is the Clinical Lead for Student Space and is a psychotherapist, researcher and writer on student wellbeing, including the book Be Well, Learn Well

Not every student looks forward to going home for the holidays. This can be for many reasons and it is ok for you to feel this way. A few strategies can help you manage how you feel about this.

Many students feel obligated to return home, even when they don’t want to. It is important to remember that you are an adult and are entitled to make your own choices. Take time to think about the following:

  • why you are planning to go home
  • whether you do need to go
  • why you don’t want to return home.

Thinking through what will happen

It may help to think about who you are going home for and who, if anyone, it will help. It may also help to think about the potential consequences of either choice (going home or not), and how likely those consequences actually are.

Student life can be very pressurised and in these circumstances it can be easy to lose some perspective. Ask yourself – will being at home be as bad as I think? Are my fears realistic?

Try to work through the consequences in a calm way and to be honest with yourself about what the likely outcomes are. It may help to talk to someone else about how you feel.

If you are worried about a specific issue it may be useful to discuss this with your family, before you return home - if you feel this is possible. Sometimes, addressing areas of conflict can help resolve issues and strengthen your relationships.

You can get more information about preparing to address conflict here: Preparing to address conflict | Student Space

Reducing the impact of the break

If, after thinking it through, you feel you should still return home, even though you don’t want to, see if there are ways in which you can reduce the impact the break has on you.

Could you:

  • go for a shorter period than you’d originally planned?
  • Break up the time at home, by going out with friends or getting out of the house for a while?

Even if you eventually decide that you have to stick to your original plans, being clear about why you are going home can help you feel more in control and can make it easier to survive the holiday period.

If you do go home, it is important that you look after yourself while you are there. Try to find time for yourself and give yourself small rewards along the way. Keep in mind the reasons you decided to go home – you may find they help to motivate you.

Information provided by: If you’re going home for Christmas but don’t want to | Student Space

Safety information content

Safety information

Safety information

As the festive season begins and we find ourselves busier than ever, it is important to consider your personal safety.  From securing your home, and taking care when out socialising, to protecting yourself when online, Police Scotland have created a range of advice to help you enjoy the festive season safely. 

More safety information and tips can be found on the Highlands and Island Police Division Facebook page or on the Police Scotland webpage.

Strut Safe is a free UK-wide phoneline for when you’re walking alone.
Operating hours:
Fridays and Saturdays 7pm-3am
Sundays 7pm-1am
Please visit Strut Safe’s page or their website for more info
Safekab: innovative taxi/cab app with safety features. Download it now!
Ever felt vulnerable when running or walking alone on those dark winter nights? 
You're just a few taps away from never travelling alone again with SafeWalk! 
 You can share your location and journey home in real-time with a loved one, and know that there's help (should you need it) at just the touch of a button. 
Whether you're on your evening run, walking home from work, a night out, or are just in a city you don't know, SafeWalk will make sure you're never left vulnerable
Try SafeWalk by SafeKab today!
Self care in winter content

Self care in winter

Self care in winter

“Practicing gratitude is how we acknowledge that there’s enough and that we’re enough.” —BRENÉ BROWN

Have you tried our uhi wellbeing bingo?

Have you looked at your positives lately?

Look at our self care stocking activity for some ideas or there is a leaflet from NHS Highland about self care in winter .

Estranged Students content

Estranged Students

Estranged Students

The Christmas period can be challenging for people who have become estranged from their family or children.

This guide is intended to help you with some of the most common festive frustrations and give you an idea of how others in our community cope with the season... 

Self-care content



As a student, the holidays can be daunting. The weeks can stretch out in front of us and feel endless. Everyone around us seems happy, so it can feel like we have no excuse not to be happy! We might have left a support system behind when returning home after studying away, perhaps returning to a family who don’t know about, or understand, how we’re feeling. It can feel really lonely.

It’s absolutely okay not to be jumping for joy at the prospect of the holidays though. You are definitely not alone. (from



“Practicing gratitude is how we acknowledge that there’s enough and that we’re enough.” —BRENÉ BROWN

Have you tried our uhi wellbeing bingo?

Have you looked at your positives lately?

Look at our self care stocking activity for some ideas or there is a leaflet from NHS Highland about self care in winter .

Highland Council Ready for Winter Advice content

Highland Council Ready for Winter Advice

Highland Council Ready for Winter Advice

You can find information on being ‘Ready for Winter’ on the Highland
Council website here