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University chaplains start new walk and talk event to help relieve Covid stress

by Tola Mbakwe
Photo Credit: @Chaplaincy61ParkPlace/ Facebook - Banner image
Photo Credit: @Chaplaincy61ParkPlace/ Facebook

Students at a Welsh university have been invited to go dog-walking as a way to get out and meet others during the Covid pandemic.

Anglican and Methodist chaplains at Cardiff University have started a weekly 'Walk & Talk' event around a city centre park to help students settle into the new term and meet others in a socially responsible way. 

The idea for the dog walk came about as other indoor events usually held by the chaplains had to be cancelled due to Covid restrictions. 

Cardiff is also one of the local authorities in Wales now in lockdown and a new travel ban in Wales means people from areas of the UK with high levels of coronavirus aren't allowed to visit. 

One of the chaplains, Rev David Sheen said: David: "The new semester is a proving to be a more stressful time for students than it might usually be, due to the pandemic. This is particularly felt by many new students who would normally be able to socialise widely and meet new friends but are currently much more restricted in what they can do.

"We know many students are missing home and family, and of course, their pets. We hope these walks will provide some sort of normality in their lives. They will have the opportunity to talk to us, to meet others, have some fresh air and, of course, just simply enjoy being with the dogs - although you do not have to be a dog lover to join us, all students are welcome."

Meanwhile, students unable to join the walks, or who may be self-isolating in their rooms, have been  invited to join the chaplains for a Zoom 'Bring Your Own' coffee and 'Drop-in Chat', 12.30pm every Tuesday lunchtime. 

"Everyone is welcome to join in and you can stay 10 minutes or the whole time," Rev Sheen said. .

"For the chaplains and those who join us, it's simply about making time for conversation, making connections, and building community. The Zoom drop-in replaces our popular lunchtime curry which can no longer take place." 

However, all the university chaplains are still available to meet or talk to students, who may be anxious or troubled or exploring their faith, on a one-to-one basis.  

"Students can email us to arrange to meet us for a one-to-one chat," Rev Sheen added. "We are not a counselling service but we do offer pastoral care so we can listen to students and help them in the right direction."  

Meanwhile, The First Minister of Wales has confirmed the Welsh Government is looking "very carefully" at introducing a time-limited circuit-breaker lockdown in Wales, 

Mark Drakeford said the "short, sharp" lockdown could last for between two and three weeks, with a decision due to be announced on Monday.

The Welsh Labour leader also suggested Wales could introduce a new set of national restrictions after a successful reset of the virus, after warning around 2,500 people in the country are currently being infected every day.

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