“My beautiful princess, my best friend.”
Those were the heartbreaking words of Sandra Foster Larmour whose daughter Jeni was one of three university students to die after taking drugs last weekend.
Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare.
Jeni and a fellow fresher, both 18, had only arrived at Newcastle University 48 hours earlier. A 21-year-old student at Northumbria University allegedly died after taking MDMA, while another 18-year-old, not a student, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, was feared to have been killed by the same drug.
They had their whole lives ahead of them. Now, instead of planning this new chapter, their devastated families are tragically planning their funerals.
Every parent is in fear every minute their child is away from them or out of their sight.
A friend who dropped his daughter off to university a few weeks ago hasn’t slept properly since. He can’t believe 18 years just went by in such a flash. But he expects a certain level of care from the establishment that will be her home for the next three years.
Freshers Week is a chance for new students to settle in, meet new friends and let their hair down before the serious business of study begins. But current restrictions have meant
loads of activities have been cancelled and the social scene is far from what they expected.
Things are being made worse by restrictions on socialising and bars and pubs closing at 10pm.
As a result bored youngsters are improvising by having impromptu parties, drinking and taking drugs indoors.
Drugs, apparently, have never been easier to get hold of.
Brazen dealers are slipping their business cards underneath the doors in student halls of residence.
The result is that students are taking risks and not taking them in places – bars and clubs – where trained medics are on hand to help anyone who finds themselves in difficulty.
Since students started or returned to uni they’ve questioned how educational establishments can justify the £9,000-a-year fees when many classes are online, they’re confined to halls and they aren’t getting the full experience.
The more I hear, the more I wonder how much student welfare is being prioritised.
The police have warned students about the dangers of drugs, but students have, and many always will, experiment.
But now more than ever they need a real education on the dangers before any other parents suffer a similar fate.