Estranged Students Solidarity Week

Estranged Students Solidarity Week 



21 - 25 November 2022

Get ready for Estranged Students Solidarity Week 2022! 


More information coming soon...


Estranged students deserve to be heard and understood. The Estranged Students Solidarity Week is for universities, colleges, student unions / associations to reach out to those who are studying without family support.

Your engagement will raise the level of awareness that not every student has parents to fall back on,  and since it's that time of year, not every student will be going home for Christmas.

Many may not feel comfortable approaching their institution so promoting support available to them during this week is key.

The campaign has three objectives:

1. To raise awareness about family estrangement, and the many barriers to success that estranged students face in Higher Education.

2. To reach out to those students at your university or college who are studying without support from parents/family and encourage/facilitate a wider discussion on family and changing family dynamics as part of your campaign and to reach out.

3. To encourage/work with your institution to sign up to and carry out the objectives of the Stand Alone Pledge.

What does the campaign ask from SUs/SAs and universities / colleges?

• To run activities throughout the week for students and staff to participate in, focusing on family estrangement, its causes and how it can affect student life, as well as facilitating a wider discussion on family and family dynamics.

• Promote support available to those estranged from family.

• Christmas is a difficult period for those not in touch with their families and it is a good 'hook' to raise awareness of estrangement and what it means.

• Ask your university or college to sign up to the Stand Alone Pledge if they haven't already done so.

• Document your campaign and activities through blogposts, pictures, etc, and share via social media using #WithEstrangedStudents to raise the profile of students without family support throughout the week.

Interested? Want to get involved? Have a look at the information and Guides below, have a look at what has happened during previous ESSW weeks and get in touch with us either on Twitter @StandAloneHE or contact Susan by email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Stand Alone Team


22 - 26 November 2021

#ESSW2021 was buzzing on social media #WithEstrangedStudents! Activities, events, campaigns from students, universities and colleges, sector bodies, and also Scottish Government.

This year we celebrated StrathUnion as the first Student Association to sign up to our new student union/association 'Manifestos for Change'. We also received a submisssion from Hartpury Students Union and Forth Valley Student's Association passed a motion to participate in 'Manifestos for Change'.

We announced the Stand Alone Pledge Awards 2021 which went to 12 universities, based on nominations by their estranged students.

Find out more about ESS Week below and how student unions, universities and colleges got engaged in previous years.


23 - 27 November 2020

'Be an ally to estranged students'

What is an ally? Allyship is a particular form of solidarity where you recognise that, while you do not have lived experience of another group's struggle, you understand that they face adversity, are willing to learn more about the issue and you will support them where you can.

What is estrangement? Estrangement is when a person has lost or broken contact with their family. People can become estranged for any number of reasons, such as abuse, a clash of beliefs, religion or values and parental rejection of their LGBTQI+ identity among many others. This can be a long slow process, or a sharp and sudden break.

There are lots of ways you can make a difference to estranged students' lives, here are a few to set you on the right track:

  • Talk about and normalise it!
  • Keep your language inclusive!

Have a look at our resources to help you run events and activities during Estranged Students Solidarity Week, and to be an ally to estranged students all year long:

Our campaign template is there to give you some ideas of what you could do throughout the week:


25 - 29 November 2019

Why should my Students' Union/Association run the Estranged Students Solidarity Campaign in 2019? Read the blog by Amie Waterman, Founder and President of Durham Estranged Students

Read the 'open letter to those wishing to become allies to estranged students' by Sam Macrae, estranged student at Glasgow University, for Estranged Students Solidarity Week 2019


 26 - 30 November 2018

Keele SU and Uni explain why it is important to join in ESS Week.

Read how the estranged students's group PAUSE reached out to the SU at Salford University.

GHWY poster campaign SOAS

SHU Hallam HelpDurham 2018


1st Estranged Students Solidarity Week 

27 November - 1 December 2017

Over 25 Student Unions got involved. Many linked up with their university Student Services departments and jointly put on a variety of events to show solidarity to their estranged students on campus and raise awareness of the services available for them.

Unions participated in the digital awareness raising campaign during the week and students across the UK also shared their stories and experiences of university via the hashtag #WithEstrangedStudents on Twitter. 

A couple of universities also organised a meeting of estranged students with the Vice Chancellor or Pro Vice Chancellor, which is what happened at Keele:

loweth anne Anne Loweth, PVC, speaks to Stand Alone's Emily Nelson about meeting a group of estranged students:

Emily: Why is supporting estranged students so important and why are you willing to help as Pro VC?

Anne: I think, to me, it's about trying to give everybody an equal opportunity. Everyone comes to university with the same aims and expectations; doing the course they want to do and doing their best at it. Some students come with a disadvantage or one sort of another, through no fault of their own, so I care about making the playing field as level as possible for all manner of students. I think estranged students have a particularly challenging time because of the amount of extra responsibilities they have.

Emily: What has it been like meeting estranged students today, and what have you learned from it – if anything?

Anne: It has been eye-opening, because I'll admit that estranged students weren't a group I was personally involved with prior to my role as Vice-Chancellor and I welcome the chance to become aware of them. It's a priority to look after our students as much as possible and these students need more help than some. It's been a pleasure and a privilege to listen to their stories, and I've got some ideas to take away with me to help push some further improvements in line with our Pledge commitment here at Keele.

Emily: How will the experiences shared today help influence policy at Keele?

Anne: I think it's about realising how complicated some student's home situations are, and thinking about how to join up support so it's not just academic support or student services support working separately. It's about all areas, from accommodation to finance, working in tandem to support students as best we can.

Anne Loweth took up the role of Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) in September 2017, taking on the strategic leadership of all aspects of student-related activities to promote and enhance the student experience, encompassing campus life, academic induction, transition and attainment as well as student support and wellbeing, continuing Keele's outstanding reputation for keeping students at the heart of its strategy.


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