Healthy lives for young people

COVID-19: Students living away from home

Brook’s advice on how to look after yourself and others while living in student accommodation during COVID-19.

How COVID-19 rules apply to students

What counts as a household?

If you live in student halls, the guidance from government is to consider how to separate out spaces into households. For example, if halls consist of several buildings then each building could be considered as a ‘household’.

Another way to decide what counts as a household is based on the physical layout of the space, taking into account who shares a kitchen or bathroom; this means your corridor might be considered a household within a larger building. 

All universities and colleges are different, but they should all be able to give you advice on what counts as a household within your accommodation, so if you aren’t sure you should contact your university administration.  

If someone in halls has symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19

Students living in halls of residence who develop symptoms of coronavirus should self-isolate in their current accommodation. The government guidance states that universities and colleges should facilitate any self-isolation that needs to happen. You should discuss this with your university or college, or with the manager of your halls if they are privately owned. 


Health services for students

Accessing general health services

You don’t need to be registered with a GP surgery to receive emergency medical care from them, however if you are living in student halls it is a good idea to make sure you are registered with a local GP in case you need to receive medical care for more than 14 days.  

You can register with a GP with a temporary address if you are expecting to live near that surgery for up to three months. If you do this, you will remain registered with your permanent GP surgery. If you end up living in halls for more than three months you will need to register as a permanent resident. Read more about temporarily registering with a GP here.   

Accessing sexual health services

To make sure you’re protecting yourself and others from COVID-19 (coronavirus), now is not a safe time to be having sex with new people or with partners that you do not live with. However, if you do need to access sexual health services during this time, please do not delay. 

You should still be able to access your usual sexual health services as they are considered essential services and therefore will remain open. However, always make sure to call ahead to confirm their opening times as these may vary from their usual core hours. They may also have implemented an appointment system rather than having drop-in services.

Visiting a Brook service

Brook clinics are still open for appointments and our friendly staff will not judge you or report you.

Until further notice, all of our clinics are running appointment-only services and some are only able to offer telephone consultations. There are no walk-in services available – please contact your local clinic to schedule a time for us to call you. Please also note that:

  • If you arrive at a clinic without an appointment, our staff will not be able to see you there and then, but will arrange for you to have a telephone consultation and/or arrange for you to return at another time.
  • To keep everyone safe, we are limiting the number of people in our clinics at any one time. Please attend your appointment alone. If you need to bring someone with you, please call us first.
  • If you are unsure whether or not you need to come to a clinic, please call ahead to check.

Please do not visit a clinic if you have symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus) or if you live with someone who does. Instead, follow the latest self-isolation advice and call us – our staff will work out the best way for you to access the help you need.

Abortion services

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the government has approved the use of telemedicine for abortion care. This means clients will be able to take both pills for medical abortion (up to 10 weeks) in their own homes, without attending a clinic. More information

If you are pregnant and you need to access abortion services, you can call a Brook service, other sexual health service or GP for guidance on referrals and what steps you should take at this time.

You can also contact:


Looking after your sexual health

To make sure you’re protecting yourself and others from Covid-19, now is not a safe time to be having sex with new people or with partners that you do not live with. However, if you do need to access sexual health services during this time, please do not delay.

View FAQs about sex, relationships and wellbeing during lockdown, including how you can still have safe sex, find new ways to connect with your partner and keep yourself mentally healthy.

To keep yourself safe we recommend:

Practise safer sex – use a condom!

Condoms are the only method of contraception that also protects you from STIs. You can get them in pharmacies, supermarkets and online. There are often options to get condoms for free if you are under 25, but if not you can buy them for as little as 99p.

Make sure you have enough contraceptive pills.

If you use the contraceptive pill (or patch or ring) check now how many you have left and contact the place you get it from as soon as possible if you think you might run out in the next week or two. If you do run out, make sure you have another method of contraception available.

Don’t delay emergency contraception.

If you think you need emergency contraception, do not delay seeking help. If you have been instructed to self-isolate or have COVID-19 symptoms, call you nearest sexual health service for guidance on how to access emergency contraception.

Check out the Help & Advice section of our website for information and guidance on sexual health, relationships, wellbeing and loads more. There’s also lots of signposts to useful helplines and services.

Emergency contraception

If you need emergency contraception, you should not delay as it is only effective for a short period of time after unprotected sex. The method of emergency contraception you use will depend on how long ago you had unprotected sex. You can calculate your risk of falling pregnant on sxt.org.uk.

More information about the different types of emergency contraception and how they work.

Emergency contraception is available from Brook services (please call for an appointment), other sexual health services and pharmacies and is often free for under 25s.

If you are 18+ you might be able to order the emergency contraceptive pill (“morning after pill”) from Fettle or Superdrug. Please note: these are paid-for services.

STI testing

If you don’t have any symptoms but have had unprotected sex and want an STI test, you might be able to order one online and have it sent to your home to complete and return.

If you are experiencing symptoms of an STI, it is important that you see a healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment. This could be a Brook service (please call for an appointment), another sexual health service, or a GP.

Repeat contraception – pill, patch and ring

If you will run our of your pill, patch or ring in the next week or two, contact the place you get it from now to find out how you can get more. Don’t leave it until the last minute. Brook services (please call to discuss), GPs and other sexual health services can all prescribe the pill.

If you do run out, use an alternative method of contraception. We recommend condoms – they’re easy to get and also protect against STIs.

If you are 18+ you might be able to order contraceptive pills from Fettle (also have the patch and ring) or Superdrug. Please note: these are paid-for services.

HIV and COVID-19

Please see information about HIV and COVID-19 and accessing PEP from the Terrence Higgins Trust.


Sexual assault in halls

Sexual assault, abuse or violence is any act of unwanted sexual contact including rape (having sex with you without your consent), someone sexually touching you without your consent, online grooming, domestic abuse and sexual exploitation. 

Find out more about consent.

If you experience any type of sexual violence while living in student halls, it is not your fault and no one should have to put up with it. We have listed a few steps below which could help you deal with it: 

  1. Ask them to stop. If you feel comfortable doing so, tell the person that you don’t like what they are doing and you want it to stop. If you don’t feel safe confronting them, speak to someone else who can help like a trusted adult or friend. 
  2. Make a note of what happens. It is a good idea to make note of when and where the sexual harassment happens, and if possible get details of any witnesses. If you are receiving unwanted letters, emails or texts; keep a record of them. 
  3. Speak to someone. If you’re experiencing harassment it’s a really good idea to speak to someone who you trust, like a family member, carer, or teacher. They will be able to help you with next steps, or assist you in finding additional support if you need. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to someone you know or would rather tell someone over the phone, there are organisations that you can contact, like Victim Support.  
  4. Report it. It is always your decision whether to report harassment. If you report to your school, college or work, they will have to follow up and investigate your report. If you are in immediate danger, you should call the police on 999.  

If you need support with an instance of sexual violence, you can contact Rape Crisis, or see our page on sexual assault for more places to contact.  

Read more about sexual assault and violence

Read about getting help with abuse.


Support with mental health

Staying at home for a prolonged period can be difficult, particularly if there is no access to outside space. It is important to take care of you mental as well as physical health and seek support if needed.  

If you or someone you know needs help right now you should, if possible, try to talk to a parent, carer or trusted adult. Your university or college is likely to have a mental health service they can point you towards, such as a college counsellor or support groups, so it’s always worth getting in touch with student services to ask about this. 

If that’s not possible, there are other sources of help and support: 

  • Samaritans: someone to talk to about whatever you are going through. Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • YoungMinds – crisis messenger: text the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger, for free 24/7 support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis. There are also details of other sources of help and support.
  • On My Mind – urgent help: a list of organisations offering mental health help and support collated by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. On My Mind also has ideas for self-care and a directory of mental health services.
  • Child Bereavement UK: a helpline offering confidential support, information and guidance to children, young people, parents and families experiencing bereavement.

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