Wow, what a superb package Sheffield University has put together to help Ben ease back into university in September (if, indeed, he chooses to return). And here it is, in all its awesomeness!
One day in March, we'll be spending a whole day in Sheffield.
First, we'll be spending an hour with the residential support lady (who we met last September after Ben decided to withdraw) discussing the various accommodation options because, if you remember, Ben found the cell-like room of the purpose built student apartments particularly difficult to deal with and isolating. Also the lack of storage space in the kitchen meant that he had to store an awful lot of non-perishable foods in his room which, when you have a history of anorexia which makes you think about food a lot of the time, isn't ideal.
After that we're visiting the wonderful lady in student services again to talk about easing Ben back into university life. As she says, part of the work her team does is to run activities through Intro Week that appeal to students who find the big alcohol focused events a bit overwhelming or unappealing.
Also, they run what they call Discovery Week, the week before Intro Week, for students who are interested in coming to Sheffield a bit earlier to find their feet. It's quieter and not at all party and booze-focused, and it's something that Ben can commute to from home. Plus, she'll arrange contacts from the various societies that might appeal to Ben e.g. the tabletop war games / Warhammer soc.
After lunch we will be meeting with the eating disorders specialist nurse at the university health service to discuss support should Ben need it at any time, followed by further support which can be offered by the disability advice department (which don't just deal with physical disabilities).
And, finally, at 4pm, we're meeting with two admissions tutors from the history faculty to introduce Ben to the department and also to discuss the possible option of commuting for the first semester - and to examine a typical week's lectures and seminars timetable to see how feasible this might be.
All I can say is... Wow!
Oh, and that - if you are worrying about sending your recovering son or daughter to university this September, and especially if they have a confirmed offer of a place - it might be worth contacting your university's student services to see if they can put together a similar package.
If your child is Sheffield University bound, then please get in touch with me and I'll send you links to the relevant people. Email me at anorexia @ anorexiaboy.co.uk (don't just copy and paste this email address; I've added spaces before and after the @ to avoid spammers getting hold of the email address).
The mistake we made was just to assume it would all be there, in place, and that Ben would find his feet, find people and activities that floated his boat and settle in.
He lasted two days.