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Hardship help during isolation

Muhammad is an international student studying towards an MBA at Sheffield Hallam University. He started his degree full of ambition and had even secured a short term student job to help with his finances. However, like so many students, his plans were disrupted as a result of coronavirus leaving him in a precarious position.

“Just like all other international students, I came to the UK with a lot of ambitions. I took a break from my 12 years’ long journey of banking job because I was looking for something new in my professional and academic life. After joining Sheffield Hallam in January 2020, I felt that my excitement was worth it. Luckily I was able to work with Hallam Fund campaign and overall it was an excellent beginning for me here.”

However, as spring came, and the scale of the pandemic grew to proportions few people expected Muhammad was left alone in a country he wasn’t familiar with trying to support himself. He also had intense anxiety and fear over his own physical health after developing coronavirus symptoms. For international students remaining in the UK the feeling of isolation is often more pronounced.

“As the concerns regarding COVID-19 grew in early March, nobody knew that things would be that worse. If I had a little idea of its severity I would have gone back to my family. After completion of my job with the Hallam Fund I was not working for a while, but then to remain financially more stable I started working in a warehouse job and worked there for 4 days. But then I got some symptoms in early April and remained in isolation for 7 days on recommendation of NHS online. Those days were the scariest of my life because I was missing my family while having a fear of death constantly hitting my mind.”

Muhammad reached out to the Hallam Hardship Fund and received a voucher to purchase food, which helped him when he could not work or sustain himself. The Sheffield Hallam Coronavirus Appeal is raising additional funds to provide food vouchers, or emergency help for students.

Now that he is healthy, Muhammad has repeatedly tried to return to his family but with the lockdown continuing in both the UK and in his home country, he has been unable to fly back. He is now stuck in the UK for the foreseeable future, which has had a significant toll on his mental health, and he worries about the future.

“I am healthy now and feel better mentally but still I am unable to concentrate on my education despite having a lot of free time. This is now a totally different world we are living in, where even I find it difficult to dream about an ambitious future. I hope that I will complete my degree in time but I am worried about getting the most out of it and I am also worried about the second installment of University fee that will be due in September this year because things have become a bit difficult at home as well. But again, nobody is sure about anything; even the brightest of minds are confused.”

With many international students stuck in the UK, away from their families and friends, we know there are many other students like Muhammad who will need help. The Sheffield Hallam Coronavirus Appeal is raising additional funds to help get students through this crisis, and back to their families.

“I pray and hope that once this challenge is over, we are able to live in a better world.”

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