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Surviving Halls Isolation with a Severe Nut Allergy

When I moved to Bristol, I knew at least two weeks of self-isolation would eventually come knocking at my door. And when blocks of flats began to have positive tests, I knew our flat was not far behind. However, we were forced into it rather unexpectedly after a friend tested positive in the flat below, causing a stressful few days of getting tests and deciding to self-isolate. Due to the how sudden the situation was, my flat mates and I were unable to go out and get food to prepare us for our next two weeks confined to Flat 5, Block M.

Fortunately, the university began supporting students like us who were running out of food with large crates of snacks. All we had to do was send in a form, mention any dietary requirements and soon our cupboards would be full of enough food to last us the two weeks.

Bristol University Covid 19 lockdown food packages cardboard boxes isolation food
Original photo by Emily Fromant

Delivery of food parcels

A little bit of background on me before we continue. Since I was four years old, I have suffered with dietary issues. At 11, I was diagnosed with a severe nut and spices allergy. My allergy to peanuts was especially severe, even life-threatening, and it has meant that I must always have two EpiPens on me. And I do, well as often as I remember.

So, when our boxes arrived, I was happy to see mine arrive with a red tape (almost as if to say ‘danger!’ – kind of an ironic joke, you’ll see). I remember it was actually kind of sad how excited me and my flat mates were, probably a mixture of the never ending boredom of being confined inside and the delirium of not having eaten properly for our first few days of lockdown. However, as my curious fingers shifted through the trove of food, feeling like a 5-year-old, I came to the daunting realisation that something had gone wrong. They had given me peanut butter! And as I continued to investigate there was more, a brownie with walnuts, a cereal with hazelnuts and a peanut protein bar.

Bristol University Covid 19 lockdown peanut butter isolation food
Original photo by Emily Fromant

A jar of peanut butter in Emily’s food box

After a phone call and email to the university, I was left feeling disappointed. When the second round of boxes came, there was no box for me; with all boxes including peanut butter and hazelnut products. It did leave me feeling hurt by the university, and I believe it factors into a wider issue many students are facing during this isolation.

Bristol University Covid 19 lockdown food packages peanut bar isolation food
Original photo by Emily Fromant

A peanut bar in Emily’s food box

Many students have been left feeling isolated and alone, without adequate food and little emotional and mental support from the university; students have banded together in favour of a rent strike to show their feelings of disappointment in the service they have received. We are conscious of the amount of money we are paying for our accommodation and teaching, but this was with certain promises which have not been fulfilled. Whilst we are aware that the university is most likely overwhelmed and spread thin at this time, we cannot help but feel we have been discarded and forgotten in our university hall residences.

Studying an undergraduate degree in English literature at Bristol university
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