Winter break 2017: Support and things to do

6 December 2017

UCL will be closed from Friday 22 December 2017 to Tuesday 2 January 2018. Students still have access to plenty of support during this period and there are lots of things to get involved in!

Fairy lights

UCL Students still have access to plenty of support during the closure period and there will be a wide range of festive activities taking place in and around the university for you to get involved in.

Telephone and online counselling

UCL works in partnership with Care First to provide you with telephone and online counselling support. Care First counsellors, who are all professionally qualified and accredited by the BACP, are available from Monday to Friday from 5pm to 9am, and for 24 hours a day at weekends and during university closure periods. This support is available to you over the Christmas break, when other UCL support services will be closed.

Care First counsellors are able to provide advice and guidance on any issue no matter how big or small, from things happening at home to university life.

For free telephone counselling through Care First, call 0800 197 4510.

Care First also offer support through a one-to-one online messaging service, in which you will speak to a counsellor in real time.

To access this support, visit Care First Lifestyle. You will need to log in using these details:

  • Username: uclstudent
  • Password: bentham

The Care First service is paid for by UCL and is available only to UCL students. This means that you will be required to provide your name, date of birth and UCL student number in order for a Care First counsellor to be able to help you. Care First must inform UCL Student Support and Wellbeing if a student is at serious risk of harming themselves or someone else.

More information about the support available through Care First is available here.

Study Abroad

If you are a student currently abroad and you require emergency assistance, please contact your travel insurance provider on the emergency number +44 (0) 1273 400 850.

If you will be staying in your placement over all or part of the Christmas period, don’t forget that you can contact the Global Student Assistance Programme for advice. The service, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, provides independent, impartial support and guidance on a wide variety of legal, financial and personal matters.

Please visit the UCL Study Abroad website for more information (log in required).

Ridgmount Practice and GP support

From Friday 22 December to Tuesday 2 January, the Ridgmount Practice opening hours will be different from usual and it will be closed on certain days. Take a look at their website for up-to-date information.

Other GP surgeries will also be operating different hours over the Christmas period. Please check with your local surgery if you are unsure.

For UK students returning home for the winter break, remember that you may need to complete a temporary resident form for your local GP to see you.

External and emergency support

The Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 at any time and everything discussed is confidential. Central London Samaritans also provides emotional support and a drop-in service from 9am to 9pm every day at 46 Marshall Street, London W1F 9BF.

In an emergency, always phone 999 or make your way to the accident and emergency (A&E) department at your local hospital. The closest A&E to UCL is at University College Hospital.

Halls of residence

If you are staying in UCL halls of residence over Christmas, you will have access to the same support as usual from your team of wardens and Student Residence Advisers (SRAs). There will be a member of staff on duty every day if you need assistance. Your hall noticeboard will have their contact details.

Travelling abroad

If you are travelling abroad over the winter break, please take care of your personal belongings, especially your passport and BRP if applicable. In the unlikely event that either of these documents is lost or stolen, please follow the guidance on the International Student Support website.

Money matters

For useful information regarding financial support, please visit the UCL Students website. MyFamilyClub.co.uk also has some useful information regarding emergency financial support over the festive period.

Library opening arrangements

Most UCL libraries will close on Friday 22 December and re-open on Tuesday 2 January. The UCL Main Library will be open every day during the winter break from 11am to 9pm.

Please see the UCL Library Services website for more information.

These alternative study spaces will also be available during the closure period:

  • Wilkins Cloisters
  • Graduate Hub (graduate students only)

Please note that all general access to the main Bloomsbury campus during the closure period will be via the Gower Street entrance on production of a UCL ID card. 

Return to regular service

The Student Support and Wellbeing daily drop-in sessions will resume on Monday 8 January 2016 at the Student Support and Wellbeing helpdesk on Level 4 of the IOE building, 20 Bedford Way. More information can be found here.  

Activities over the winter holidays

Christmas lunch

A Christmas lunch for students will take place on Christmas Day at International Students House. This includes a full three-course meal, drinks and a Christmas movie marathon!

Students need to sign up in advance for catering purposes; tickets cost £15. Further information and tickets are available on this Facebook page.

Christmas carol services

There are Christmas carol services taking place in the run-up to Christmas and on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day itself all over London. For details of carol services near you, please visit this website.

Estranged students

The organisation StandAlone supports those who are estranged from their family or children, and they have produced a festive guide with advice for the Christmas period.


There are plenty of volunteering opportunities over the Christmas period and this is a great way to meet new people and keep yourself busy whilst doing something worthwhile! The Volunteering Service in the Students’ Union have a range of one-off volunteering events going on throughout December, all of which are advertised on their website.

Some charities may also offer volunteering opportunities over Christmas. A good example is the homeless charity Crisis.

Students’ Union activities

For details of the activities organised by the Students' Union, please visit their What’s On page. Bloomsbury Fitness opening hours are different to usual, so check the details here before you go.

Exploring London

If you’re staying in London over the holiday period, there are lots of things going on that you can do to keep you busy. Websites such as Time Out and VisitLondon.com are full of good ideas, from Christmas markets to ice skating!

You can find 7 suggestions for things to do over the Christmas break in this article.

UCL Student Support and Wellbeing wish you all a happy, healthy and safe winter break!