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Staying well during the festive season

08 Dec 2023

Support information for the upcoming winter break

Winter Wellbeing

Whilst the festive season can be a happy time for some, we also know that this can be a difficult time of year for colleagues. 

Below we’ve put together some tips for  looking after your wellbeing during the holidays, as well as details of a range of support services you can access, including mental health support. 

1. Tips for actively looking after your wellbeing during the festive season

• Stay active – physical activity is great way to boost mood, have some headspace and meet up with others.   Look at how you can regularly schedule in time outside and activity during the holiday. 

• Stay supported – find ways to connect with friends and family, even if you can’t be physically together. And look out for those around you who may be isolated, such as neighbours or friends that might not have people to spend time with or have been unable to travel to visit them. 

• Be aware of your expectations – we often set high expectations of ourselves and others during this time, whether it’s cooking the perfect meal, family getting along or feeling we have to buy presents. While seeing family and friends is enjoyable, sometimes it can be stressful too – and this doesn’t change just because it’s Christmas. Think about whether your expectations of the holidays are realistic and what things you can do to look after yourself if tensions do arise.

• Give yourself space – ensure you take time for activities you enjoy, whether it’s a walk, reading a book, watching a film, having a bath, listening to music or time out in nature.

• Keep a healthy routine and get enough sleep – it’s easy to fall out of our normal routines during this holiday. Sleep is vital for our wellbeing, as are regular healthy meals and drinking plenty of water. 

2. Support over the festive period

During the University closure period over the Christmas holidays staff support services will be closed. If you need support over the break, please view the external support information below.

24 Hour Support Lines 

Samaritans 116 123 (UK): for anyone at anytime for any reason.

Childline 0800 1111: support for 18 years and under and their relatives

Silverline 0800 470 8090: support for over 50s

Urgent Mental Health Support 

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or looking to signpost someone, the following services are available: 

Important: If you or someone else is in danger, call 999 or go to your closest Accident and Emergency department

• Samaritans – 24hrs a day, 365 days a year, 116 123, Contact Us | Samaritans

• SANEline – 4pm – 10pm, 365 days a year, 0300 304 7000, SANEline services - SANE

• Find a local NHS Mental health helpline in England: Mental Health Helpline for Urgent Help - NHS (

• Mental health crisis support in Greater Manchester: 24/7 helpline open to all: 0800 953 0285. Further local Manchester crisis care services.

• If you need help urgently for your mental health, but it's not an emergency, call 111

Staff Employee Assistance Programme: Health Hero 

Call 0800 358 5997 or +44 141 271 7555  (landline alternative for international and/or mobile use) to speak to an advisor.

Lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Calls are confidential - Confidentiality may only be broken in a situation where you or someone else is in danger. 

Online support

Qwell provides free, safe and anonymous online mental health support whenever you need it.  There are no waiting lists for support and no referral needed.  Access to these platforms is available instantly 24/7.

Domestic Violence 

Women can call The Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge on 0808 200 247 for free at any time, day or night. The staff will offer confidential, non-judgemental information and support

Men's Advice Line on 0808 8010 327  (Monday to Friday 10am to 8pm), or visit the webchat at Men's Advice Line (Wednesday 10am to 11.30am and 2.30pm to 4pm) for non-judgemental information and support

If you identify as LGBT+ you can call Galop on 0800 999 5428 for emotional and practical support

Anyone can call Karma Nirvana on 0800 5999 247  (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) for forced marriage and honour crimes. You can also call 020 7008 0151 to speak to the GOV.UK Forced Marriage Unit


Greater Manchester Bereavement service: find bereavement support local to you.

Cruse Bereavement Care Help for anyone experiencing bereavement to understand their grief and cope with their loss, with free and confidential support. Open Monday to Friday 9.30am – 5pm, Weekends 10am – 2pm. Helpline: 0808 808 1677.

National Bereavement Helpline Partnership: Open everyday 7am – 10pm for emotional support. Helpline: 0800 448 0800.

To find out more about grief and bereavement support, please read our recent article for Grief Awareness Week 2023. 

Support for homelessness 

Shelter: Shelter offers an emergency helpline and further advice and support for people facing homelessness. Emergency helpline: 0808 800 4444 Monday to Friday, 8am - 8pm, Weekends and bank holidays, 9am - 5pm 

Manchester City Council: 0161 234 4692 between 9am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday (except bank holidays) for local help and support. 

Drugs and alcohol 

Talk to FRANK: Find your nearest support service for drug related problems.  

Drinkaware: to find support services to help with alcohol addiction