Universiteit Leiden

nl en

How brightly coloured pillars reduce student loneliness in Leiden

Since last year, coloured pillars have been dotted around the university campus. These are ‘Acts of Kindness Pillars’ where students can hang cards requesting or offering help. This brings students together and tackles loneliness. The pillars have already forged many a successful connection.

De ‘Acts of Kindness Pillars’ zijn moeilijk te missen: ze staan prominent boven de Spaanse trappen op de Campus Den Haag, in de hal van het Lipsiusgebouw en Plexus, in het restaurant van het KOG en tegenover de bibliotheek van de Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen. Studenten hebben ze ook duidelijk kunnen vinden. Twee maanden na de lancering van de eerste pilaar op de Campus Den Haag waren er al 400 kaartjes opgehangen.

An ‘Act of Kindness’ card

Language lessons and reading buddies

The requests and offers of help are wide-ranging. On offer are free plants and Spanish and Dutch lessons and being sought are reading buddies, badminton players and someone to talk to about topics as varied as war, endometriosis and deciding what to study. About half of the cards have received a response, a survey by the student well-being in The Hague has shown: of those responses, more than 70 per cent were positively received by the students in question, who in general are very enthusiastic about the project.

Information about ADD

One person who has used the pillars is Aysenur Öztürk, a Master’s in Pharmacy graduate. She is very positive about them because they helped her personally. ‘I put up a card asking for information about ADD because I suspected that I had it myself. I got loads of reactions and ended up meeting one of the people who had responded. That really helped: I could really identify with that person’s story and the symptoms they described. It confirmed my suspicion that I might have ADD.’

Aysenur hopes that the pillars will remain on campus for a long time to come. ‘The pillars really have a positive impact on the mental health of Leiden students. They show that you don’t have to face your problem alone and that there are always people who want to help.’

More initiatives

There will be various activities focusing on student loneliness and community building during Loneliness Awareness Week from Thursday 28 September to Wednesday 4 October. You can ask all your questions to a study adviser or lecturer on Open Doors Day on 28 September or attend a guest lecture on suicide and suicide prevention by Saskia Mérelle. And of course there will be plenty of opportunities to meet others and ask any questions once the week is over. You are welcome at the POPcorners, living rooms and the other student well-being initiatives that the university has to offer.

Text: Sabine Waasdorp
Photos: Student Support Services (banner) & Aysenur Öztürk (detail photo)

This website uses cookies.