Funding for students with sickle cell and support via Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing

11 July 2022

Are you a facing learning barriers because you have sickle cell? Funds are available to support some living costs and/or purchase study related items..

Person with braids sitting working on their laptop.

Recently, a UCL alumnus, Efe, who stated that he benefitted greatly from support via Student Support and Wellbeing, made a financial contribution to support current UCL students who have sickle cell. Efe would like his small grant to be used to cover some living costs and/or study related items. UCL Student Support and Wellbeing will also support with similar costs and encourage students with sickle cell to book an advisory appointment  with a Disability adviser. Students can register their interest by emailing student.wellbeing@ucl.ac.uk with a brief summary of your needs, a little bit about you, and how this grant will positively support you. Deadline to register your interest is 22 July 2022. 

A little bit more about sickle cell and student wellbeing

Sickle cell is an inherited condition whereby a person’s red blood cells are irregularly shaped and therefore less efficient in carrying oxygen around the body. Sickle cell affects more than 15,000 people in the UK, and more than 20 – 25 million worldwide, and is more common among people of African and Caribbean heritage. People with sickle cell often experience anaemia, extreme tiredness, susceptible to further sickness, and painful episodes called sickle cell crises. 

Students with sickle cell may face several study-related barriers and often feel as though their condition is not recognised within Higher Education and society. As one non-UCL student previously noted, although “every student feels the pressure of assessments, deadlines and attending classes, most don’t face the daily dilemma of [those living with sickle cell].” UCL Student Support and Wellbeing recognise the lived experience of their students with sickle cell, putting tailored, and student-centred, support adjustments in place.

Increasing our understanding of how sickle cell affects students in the learning environment is key to devising inclusive, whole school policies that better support those with the condition. Increasing awareness across the university (student, faculty, and service staff) can also help to break down some of the barriers that students with sickle cell face. Some resources are available for people with sickle cell disease including the Sickle Cell Society and the NHS runs a screening programme for sickle cell and thalassaemia (SCT). There is also the Code Red campaign which “aims to shine a light on the impact of sickle cell disorder (sickle cell) in the UK by putting those with the condition at centre stage, as well as providing information and useful resources to support people living with sickle cell.”

Students with sickle cell are more heightened to recognising their symptoms, having to proactively manage the impact of their sickle cell, especially in their learning environments but also in their homes or accommodations. For instance, it is recommended to drink enough water, have unimpeded access to toilet facilities, partake in light exercise, maintain a comfortable room temperature in your bedroom and/or living areas, and get enough rest. You may also speak with your Student Adviser at UCL to support in communicating any needs to your department. Moreover, you can request reasonable adjustments by making an appointment to speak to a Disability adviser in Student Support and Wellbeing. It is important to ensure that you are registered with a GP, follow any treatment plans, and not wait until you are too unwell to seek medical attention or support.

How UCL Student Support and Wellbeing can help

If you have sickle cell and need support or advice, UCL remains open for current students, as well as applicants and alumni students. Make an appointment with one of our caring advisers.

If you have any concerns regarding this article, please email student.wellbeing@ucl.ac.uk