Cutting The Costs of Socialising As A Disabled Student

My name is Pippa, and I’m a chronically ill writer and blogger. I attended the University or York and graduated with an honours degree (BSc Psychology in Education) in 2016, but my experiences were far from the norm. My health rapidly declined during my first year as a student, and struggling to find the tailored support and advice I was seeking, to help me cope, led me to write a book of my own.

University And Chronic Illness: A Survival Guide is a chatty and informative non-fiction book, covering everything from the application process to socialising, independent living to exam arrangements, as well as what to do when things go wrong. Essentially, it’s a book of all the things I wish I’d had somebody to tell me, during my own student years.

Inspired by the book and the fabulous work of the Nimbus Team, today I’d like to share a few tips for managing the costs of socialising as a disabled student…

Being mindful of your money is a life lesson every student has to learn, but doing so takes on a whole level of importance when you’re disabled. Having any kind of long-term condition can give rise to numerous additional costs, so knowing where you can save a few pennies and access some savings can make all the difference. Here are three of my top suggestions:

Student discounts
Arguably one of the best things about being a student, these discounts entitle you to a glorious range of savings on everything from shops and restaurants to local tourist attractions. For some places, a student identity card issued by your university will be evidence enough to qualify you for the savings offered. For others, you may need to join a more formal student discount scheme and use your card from them. The NUS card, for example, is one of the more-recognised schemes for students and entitles you to various offers throughout the academic year. Who’d ever say no to a free
McFlurry?

Access cards
Similarly, it may be worth looking into a disabled access card. These schemes issue you an identity card based on the medical evidence you provide, and they can be a useful and discreet way of demonstrating your needs and avoiding any costs these things may incur, such as pesky charges at public toilets. There are established access schemes such as the CredAbility Access Card (the one I personally have),
which detail your access requirements and entitle you to extra support in certain locations listed on their website. Then there are similar schemes for specific activities or organisations: the CEA access card for cinemas is particularly popular among disabled young people.

Carer/companion tickets
Having an access card such as the above may also entitle you to carer or
companion tickets for various outings and activities, where any one person accompanying you receives a complimentary or discounted ticket. This means that you’re not automatically disadvantaged for requiring a carer or companion to be with you, where you would otherwise have no choice but to pay for the cost of two people. Again, sometimes evidence isn’t necessary here: booking theatre tickets for yourself and your companion, for example, generally tends to be relatively straightforward. Other times, having an access card as described above may be necessary to qualify for the discount. In both cases, if your companion receives a concessionary ticket, you could split the costs of the one ticket you’ve paid for
between you, meaning you both get access for half price. Win-win situation.

Managing your finances can be tough, especially whilst you’re negotiating the challenges of your impairment, but fear not: it does get easier with time. The most important thing to remember is that being a little savvy can make all the difference in ensuring you really make the most of the social aspects of your university experience.

Thanks for reading! You can find much more tailored guidance on attending university as a disabled student in my debut non-fiction book, University And Chronic Illness: A Survival Guide. You can also find out more about me and my own story on my blog, Life Of Pippa!