Estranged Students Solidarity Week

Estranged Students Solidarity Week 



Stand Alone charity is now closed.

Stand Alone's Estranged Students Solidarity Week is now run by the 

Estranged and Care Experiences Students Network 

Please contact EaCES for more information

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X: @EaCES_

Instagram: @eaces


The EaCES Handbook


Resources for events and activities during ESS Week:

Background information on estrangement

Information for Student Officers

Information for Students

Information for Staff


Why Estranged Students Solidarity Week?

Estranged students deserve to be heard and understood. Estranged Students Solidarity Week was for universities, colleges, student unions / associations and higher education sector organisations to reach out to those  studying without family support.

Stand Alone charity's ESS Week aimed to raise the level of awareness that not every student has parents to fall back on. Many estranged students do not feel comfortable approaching their institution so promoting support available to them during this week was key.

The campaign had 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 university or college who are studying without support from parents and often the wider family and encourage and facilitate a wider discussion on family and changing family dynamics.

3. To encourage universities and colleges to improve the support for estranged students at every stage of their higher education journey.

How did SUs / SAs and universities, colleges, HE sector bodies and organisations get involved in ESS Week?

• Promoted the support available to estranged students on social media or in-person events during the week. 

• Ran 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.

• Campaigned for better recognition and support for estranged students thoughout every stage of their higher education journey.

• Christmas is a difficult period for those not in touch with their families. Many estranged students will not have a home to go back to for Christmas. The timing of ESS Week at the end of November was deliberate as it served as a good 'hook' to raise awareness of estrangement and what it means. 

Each year ESS Week events, actions and activities were documented through blogposts, pictures, etc, and share via social media using #WithEstrangedStudents to raise the profile of students without family support throughout the week. Below are some examples.

Stand Alone's ESS Week took place annually from 2017 to 2023 at the end of November - beginning of December and often included the Stand Alone Pledge awards for higher education providers.


Estranged Students Solidarity Week 2023: 27 November - 1 December

#ESSW2023 #WithEstrangedStudents

'Identifying Estranged Students'

Thank you to all universities, colleges, student networks, sector organisations that reached out to their estranged students through events, activities, social media throughout ESS Week 2023.

Also during ESS Week 2023: the Stand Alone Pledge Awards 2023

Click here to see who the winners were!


21 - 25 November 2022


'Tick the UCAS Box'

'Tick the Box' campaign on social media in collaboration with UCAS throughout the week #TicktheESbox

Learning From Each Other Forum for higher education staff. Free online discussion and sharing of good practice on: 'Ticking the UCAS Box'

Stand Alone Pledge Awards 2022 announcement

UniConnect conference


22 - 26 November 2021

'Manifestos for Change'

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

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.


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!

Our campaign template helps 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

Student Unions 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 a digital awareness raising campaign during the week and students across the UK 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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