‘Thank Goodness It’s Thursday’ is best night of the week for cash-strapped students

A tasty hot meal, a take home food pack and fun social activities have made Thursday evenings the favourite night of the week for many QMU students.

THANK GOODNESS IT’S Thursday (TGIT), is a weekly initiative launched by QMU to support its students with the cost of living crisis. With over 330 people attending a recent event, the University knows that the support is not only popular with students, but necessary for many who are really struggling with escalating costs.

QMU has an excellent reputation for looking after the welfare of its students and creating a strong sense of community, so senior management and a team of dedicated staff volunteers were determined to relieve some of pressure, particularly over the winter months and the important exam period.

Run from the food court in the QMU campus, TGIThursday gives people a hot meal, a meal pack with a recipe to cook at home, and an evening of social activities.
Lecturers and professional services staff dish up at least one soup, one hot main dish and hot drinks to attendees, giving them options for different dietary requirements. The two-day meal packs distributed at TGIThursdays also come with a recipe card, walking people step-by-step through the preparation and cooking process with all the ingredients provided. The idea behind the recipe cards is to let students see how easy it can be to prepare a nutritious but cheap meal for several people.

Not only does TGI Thursdays give students the chance to get a warm meal and help keep them from worrying about dinners over the weekend, it’s also a great opportunity for people to feel connected with their university community and enjoy time together in a warm space. Activities such as clothes swaps, bingo and raffles give students the opportunity to spend time with friends and classmates. And the staff volunteers, who organise TGI Thursdays, get the chance to spend more time with their students and really get to know them.

Simra Aslam and Grace Allan are both first year students studying the BA (Hons) Theatre and Film. Living in the University’s self-catered flats on campus, they loved the first event so much that they’ve made a point of coming along every week.

Simra said: “It’s so nice to come to TGIThursday. In my flat, I eat the same cheap food practically every night – a pasta dish – so I’ve really enjoyed the range of free food at TGIThursday. There’s always nice soup, a hot main dish and hot drinks. You never know what’s going to be on offer, so it’s a nice surprise.

My favourite dish was the turkey tagine with couscous, and there’s always a vegan option. The University also makes up meal packs with a recipe card which we can take away on the night and use it to prepare a meal to share over the weekend. I don’t know how I did it, but I’ve sometimes managed to make the meal pack last me a whole week!

“But, aside from the free food, I also like the chance to take part in the different activities.”

Grace said:

"TGI Thursday is so good. We are really lucky that QMU has made this available for students because some universities are not doing anything like this. We’ve enjoyed the food, but we also like coming along to join in the social activities like the crafting, the quiz and the games night. There’s a great community feel at the event and it’s really nice to get away from studying."

TGI Thursday was so well received by students, that the senior management team decided to extend the initiative to run in 2023. Hopefully not only giving students something to eat, but helping to bring a real sense of community to QMU and reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness as a result of the pandemic and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

Dr Kat Lord-Watson, Senior Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education, and organiser of TGIT, said: “TGI Thursday has been very well-received, and although we’re sad it is needed, we are very happy that we’ve been able to help so many students. We have had some wonderful student feedback, with many of them telling us they look forward to Thursday night, as it's not only a chance to have a satisfying and filling hot meal for the week, but with the option to take any leftovers away for later, along with the food packs we provide, it helps them offset the cost of groceries.

“We've also had lovely comments about how TGIT helps them feel connected to their fellow students, staff, and our wider campus community. This is important, given a recent survey of our students showed the sense of loneliness and isolation they were experiencing as a result of the pandemic disruption. Knowing that we are having this impact is so encouraging to hear, and we hope we can continue to offer a space for students to feel connected and supported by QMU.”