Published: 06:00, 24 December 2020
A student who was nervous about spending Christmas alone has been bowled over by an outpouring of support from the community.
Alex Tubb, 20, had initially planned to spend the holiday season with her parents, who live in Moscow, but has been left unable to fly home due to travel restrictions.
"I really miss my dog and my family, but all of a sudden this [Tier 4] news came up," she explained. "I got really anxious about the virus, particularly this new variant."
While Alex has some relatives in the UK, she decided to stay in Canterbury on her own rather than form a bubble with them, for fear of catching Covid-19 or passing it to loved ones.
The Canterbury Christ Church second-year, who lives in Palamon Court on the city's ring-road, usually enjoys a bustling Christmas with her family.
But as her flatmates left for home, she found herself facing the prospect of spending the festive season on her own.
"When you're alone, student halls can feel literally like a prison cell," she said.
"I chat with my family over the phone and that's great, but as you look at them and all the noise that's going on around in the house, you sit there in silence."
She decided to reach out to the community, penning an emotive post in the 40,000 member-strong Canterbury Residents Group on Facebook, describing her predicament and asking for guidance on when the Covid situation might improve.
"I was feeling very trapped and wasn't sure what to do," she told KentOnline.
"It's the first time I've publicly posted something very personal like that. I was nervous about the response."
But to her surprise and delight, hundreds of positive comments soon began pouring in as people rushed to offer her food, Christmas cards and decorations.
Others have offered the student, who dearly misses her own dog, the chance to walk theirs; while others still have invited her to join them for a socially distanced walk over Christmas.
"An overwhelming amount of people were sending me so much love, generosity, and kind words," said Alex. "I did not expect it at all.
"Initially, I thought I was the only one spending Christmas alone here.
"But this has made me feel that I am not alone.
"A lot of people have messaged me saying they didn't realise young people were suffering as well. They thought it was mainly the older generation who aren't able to see their families.
"But actually, it's not just them. Young people are struggling too."
Thanks to the post, on Christmas Day Alex will now get together with other students who are spending the holiday in Canterbury via video link.
"I'll also chat with my dad by video, which will be really nice," she said. "Thank God we've got technology."
While the student community can offer feel detached from the wider Canterbury community, Alex says the outpouring of support she has received has inspired her to continue the circle of goodwill.
"Some people commented on my post asking if I'd want to join Porchlight, so I think I'm going to volunteer for that," she said.
"If people are helping me, I want to help someone else.
"In a world where you can be anything, be kind. And I think that's what's been achieved through this post....kindness."