Today Ben and I returned to Sheffield, not having been there since that fateful week in September when he jumped ship and decided to take a year off. Like then, we did the rounds of just about everyone we could do the rounds of: accommodation office, student support services, disability support services, student health services and the faculty admissions tutors - between 10am and 5pm and I am well and truly knackered!
There is so much support in place for Ben when / if he returns to university this September that really and truly I don't know how much more they could have done. We've organised a different kind of accommodation which he might find easier to adjust to living in... accommodation mentors, 24/7, should things get tricky at any time of day or night... other mentors... an invitation to a pre-intro week week designed to help students like him meet up with like minded students a week before the rabble arrives, with nice quiet events like games evenings, quiz nights, etc i.e. not booze / party focused.
Student Support Services are coordinating a team of people to support Ben in every area of student life. Not sure how useful the Disability Services would be but they do have mental health specialists should things become unstuck.
We met the eating disorder specialist nurse in Student Health Services who seemed really good and suggested Ben meets with her once a week for a chat.
Then we met the faculty admissions tutors who said they'd help to formulate a timetable that would allow Ben to live at home for half the week and in Sheffield the other half, in order to ease him into university life to avoid the "throwing into the deep end" problem that happened last September. He can use our local university library and there is a ton of study materials on the university intranet. Some of the lectures are on podcast, too, so in theory, if he felt more comfortable initially, he need only be in Sheffield from Monday lunchtime through to Thursday afternoon.
In an ideal world he would want to be in Sheffield seven days a week. But this way he has the option of easing himself in at a pace he feels comfortable with, supported by this army of mentors, counselors, student services and so on.
Now all he has to do is to decide, by July, whether or not he is going ahead. July being the deadline for accommodation.
I am well and truly exhausted!!!