Supporting care experienced students in Higher Education during Ramadan
At the end of last year, Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) helped to promote the Unite Foundation’s guide to supporting care experienced and estranged students over the Christmas and winter period. Ramadan is another time of year synonymous with family and community, hence care experienced students may require extra support at this time of year.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During the month observed by Muslims, it is a time for fasting from early hours to sunset (no food or drink), reflecting, and giving back to the community. The exact dates of Ramadan depend on the moon (in 2023, late March to late April) and the month of fasting is followed by Eid. Ramadan is a time for community and family, which can be challenging for those care experienced students that may not yet have established strong links with the community.
Here are five ways that you can support care experienced students during Ramadan (note, this list is not exhaustive):
- Acknowledge Ramadan is here! This could be through wishing students ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ or just saying ‘Happy Ramadan’. Either way, the sentiment will be much appreciated by care experienced students.
- Signpost to the local community. Whether communal Iftars (breaking of fast) that are in-person or online; volunteering opportunities to give back; or making them aware of facilities in HE, such as, multi-faith rooms.
- Show an interest in Ramadan. Please don’t be afraid to ask question as it’s great when someone shows an interest. This could be as simple as ‘How’s the fast going?’ or asking what Ramadan means to them.
- Be aware of the timings of teaching. We’re not saying you should ask HE providers to rearrange their 9am or 4pm lectures/seminars! But rather, be aware that certain times of day can be challenging for care experienced students in Ramadan. The timing of breakfast in the early hours of the morning can mean tiredness, so early starts can be challenging and fasting during the day can mean they flag by 4pm. You can help by encouraging them to seek support from their HE provider, such as asking to attend a seminar at a different time in Ramadan.
- Encourage students to take breaks. It can be hard to stop and take a break when you’re fasting, as you will have no reason to eat/drink and may not have the energy for a walk. This could mean students study with no breaks throughout the day, which is less than ideal. You can help by encouraging them to take a break or signpost to activities. This could be yoga or mindfulness at the students’ union.
GHWY would like to wish all students and staff observing Ramadan a peaceful month. We know that you will support care experienced students as best as you can during this period.
Tahera Maya, GHWY Collaborative Outreach Officer