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Building a community

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Published: 30 March 2020


University of Sunderland in London student on her phone

In the unprecedented times we’re living in many of us are finding that we rely on each other, even when we have to be further apart. For BA (Hons) Business and Management student Maria Ntoulellari, she saw her work at community app Halo as a chance do a little good.

“I want to connect the student community and all of us support each other in this pandemic. No one is alone and will never be.” - Maria Ntoulellari, BA (Hons) Business and Management student.

Halo is a free messenger app for local communities. The aim is to help people connect with others in their area. In normal times the project brings people with likeminded interests together, helping to combat isolation. But Maria saw the potential of Halo in helping to connect her fellow University of Sunderland in London students whilst the University’s doors are closed. She’s brought together an open community of our students where people can share supplies, send out alerts to nearby students to help family members nearby and spread messages of hope

“I run different community groups for Halo, including one for helping people during the Coronavirus outbreak,” Maria told us. “I suggested to our CEO that students at the University might be interested in creating their own community. The idea was for each student to write their Unis’ initials next to their name so we could find each other and connect. For example, my name would be “Maria Ntoulellari UoSiL”.

“When we’re studying, it can be really easy to forget to connect with other students across the University. I wanted to help other students discover who lives near them and connect. I think the reason it’s worked is that, so far, I haven’t seen any other Covid-19 support groups for students, so we’re in a unique position.

“The response so far has been very positive, and not just from our own students. I’ve already had other London universities, including the University of Greenwich and London South Bank University, get in touch about helping their students set up their own groups. It’s really brilliant seeing students supporting each other.”

You can join the conversation and the community by visiting the Halo website and downloading the app. Join the Coronavirus group and make sure you add “UoSiL” to the end of your name so other students can find you. Find out more by following #WeAreSunLon on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.