“SPARE a thought for some who are perhaps coping a little less well than they would like. Remember how you might felt when arrived somewhere new, where you knew nobody?”

So says a parent as they dropped their daughter off at Winchester University.

This rite of passage for hundreds of thousands of teenagers is taking place in the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic. It comes as lockdown restrictions are again being tightened to try to prevent a second spike in cases. Pubs must close by 10pm.

Things have been and will continue to be difficult for many people in society and when the pressure is on some people will look for someone to blame. An easy target in Winchester will be the many hundreds of freshers, the first year students away from home for the first time and trying to make their way in the academic world. In the first few weeks it will be natural for them to want to stick together as they look to make new friends away from home for the first time for the majority.

It would be kind for Winchester to welcome them and cut them a bit of slack if the rule of six is put under strain.