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Providing support when it’s needed the most

Kristina Drmic is a first year product design student. She is also one of the 41 percent of Hallam students that come from low income backgrounds.

Thanks to the generosity of the University’s donors, Kristina has managed to get through an extremely challenging few months that might otherwise have had a greater long-term impact on her future.

At the start of this year Kristina’s grandmother, living in Serbia, suffered a heart attack. She luckily survived, but not only did this cause emotional distress for Kristina, it also meant that her mother - the only person in her family able to provide any financial support - was forced to leave her job as a live-in carer, to look after her grandmother in Serbia. As her grandmother’s condition deteriorated, her mother had to stay even longer.

This left Kristina without any financial support for a month, putting her at risk of not being able to pay for her accommodation. 

Since then, Kristina has faced even more challenges.

The introduction of the nation-wide lockdown in March forced Kristina to move out of her flat, and sadly, her grandmother recently passed away. Not only has Kristina been unable to visit her family in Serbia due to the lockdown, but, as her father and sister have a medical condition that means they need to take extra care during the coronavirus pandemic, she has not been able to visit them either.

To further complicate things, Kristina had also been relying on the University’s library facilities - which have been closed during the lockdown - to do her coursework.

Luckily, Kristina was able to apply to the Hallam Hardship Fund, and received an £800 bursary to help her with her accommodation and living costs, and allowing her to continue her studies.

The support she has received from the University has been key in enabling her to get through these difficult times. Despite the lockdown, she has been able to finish all of her coursework (which will help her when applying to placements next year) and has been able to spend time with her new housemate, as well as start drawing and even attempting some DIY challenges to keep busy.

At Hallam, we know that University can be a huge challenge financially for many students like Kristina, even without the added strains of a global pandemic, which is why the Hallam Hardship Fund – that provides support for students in financial emergencies – is so important.

Kristina said:

“I am very grateful, the financial support helped me a lot, and meant I wasn't under a lot of pressure like I was before.

“That money helped me get through the crisis I had and I can't ever be grateful enough. The good part about all of this is that I know there are people who can help me like the University did. Especially in times like this.

“It is hard to go through all of this when you're just 19 years old, but I know that if I ever need help or advice, I have staff at the University who are always happy to help.

“For now, I am just isolating, avoiding going out, and spending time with my friend. I am very hard working and it is tough to sit around all day and have no idea what to do next. I can say that I am succeeding and I will find more challenges to make myself busy. Maybe learn how to play the guitar, who knows?”


The Sheffield Hallam Coronavirus Appeal
has been put in place to support students across the university, like Kristina, who are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Appeal will provide support to students that have been most seriously affected by this crisis so they can continue their studies. To find out more about how you can help, please visit The Sheffield Hallam Coronavirus Appeal page.

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