It's 'walkies!' for students to combat Covid stress
Students at one university are being invited to go dog walking as a way of getting out and meeting others during the Covid pandemic.
Chaplains at Cardiff University are starting a weekly ‘Walk & Talk’ event around a city centre park to help students settle into the new term and meet others in a socially responsible way.
Joining the chaplains on the gentle stroll around Bute Park will be their three friendly dogs - Ianto, a three-month-old cocker spaniel, Dave, an eight-year-old beagle, and Megan, an 11-year-old lurcher. Dave and Ianto both belong to the Methodist chaplain the Revd Delyth Liddell while Megan is owned by the Anglican chaplain, the Revd David Sheen.
The idea for the dog walk came about as other indoor events usually held by the chaplains had to be cancelled due to Covid restrictions. Cardiff is also one of the local authorities in Wales now in lockdown. Students are invited to walk with the chaplains and their dogs, maintaining social distancing, so that they can meet face-to-face, chat and relax.
David says, “The new semester is a proving to be a more stressful time for students than it might usually be, due to the pandemic. This is particularly felt by many new students who would normally be able to socialise widely and meet new friends but are currently much more restricted in what they can do.
‘We know many students are missing home and family, and of course, their pets. We hope these walks will provide some sort of normality in their lives. They will have the opportunity to talk to us, to meet others, have some fresh air and, of course, just simply enjoy being with the dogs - although you do not have to be a dog lover to join us, all students are welcome.”
The ‘Walk & Talk’ takes place on Wednesdays, meeting at 2pm outside the Chaplaincy at 61 Park Place.
Nancy Collis, a second year French and Italian student, joined the first walk this week (pictured above, holding Megan the lurcher). She says, "Our first walk this week went brilliantly, it was great to be able to meet up with other students and the chaplains, and see their lovely dogs! Under COVID restrictions, the chaplaincy can’t be used for social gatherings, and so a socially distanced walk in the park is a perfect answer to the problem of not being able to meet inside. It’s a chance to talk and catch up with people, just as you would any other year, and having a little bit of normality is very welcome in what seems to be a strange term so far! It’s a great way to destress and unwind and I hope it continues after COVID restrictions are lifted.”
Meanwhile, students unable to join the walks, or who may be self-isolating in their rooms, are invited to join the chaplains for a Zoom ‘Bring Your Own’ coffee and ‘Drop-in Chat’, 12.30pm every Tuesday lunchtime.
“Everyone is welcome to join in and you can stay 10 mins or the whole time,” says David. “For the chaplains and those who join us, it’s simply about making time for conversation, making connections, and building community. The Zoom drop-in replaces our popular lunchtime curry which can no longer take place.”
However, all the university chaplains are still available to meet or talk to students, who may be anxious or troubled or exploring their faith, on a one-to-one basis.
“Students can email us to arrange to meet us for a one-to-one chat,” says David. “We are not a counselling service but we do offer pastoral care so we can listen to students and help them in the right direction.”
Worship also continues through the semester in the chapel, on Facebook Live, and on Zoom.
- Information about all the Cardiff University Chaplaincy’s social events and Christian worship is on its Facebook page: @Chaplaincy61ParkPlace and Twitter and Instagram: @cardiffchaplain