Charlie Waller podcast: Stigma to Strength

September 27 2023

White curve
We’re excited to share our new podcast series – Stigma to Strength. Episode 1 is all about Freshers Week at university.


After an initial chat and introductions, hosts Eliza and Kyanne let everyone know that the podcast is very informal and based on their personal experience – though they’ll also signpost professional mental health support.

Prior to recording, Eliza and Kyanne asked friends and university staff what word first comes to mind when they said ‘Freshers Week’.

The answers were:


Anxiety, Drinking, Busy, Stress, Fun, Alcohol, Opportunity, A Blur and Tiring.

Drinking culture

With those responses in mind, Kyanne and Eliza played several voice notes from some of their fellow ambassadors. The first was from Usman, who said:

“I don't drink and I'm comfortable saying no to a drink. But when I think about Freshers’ Week, I do feel a pressure. With the change of place and meeting all new people. I really want to make sure that I'm going to make a good first impression. I don't think I'm going to start drinking at Freshers week. But I feel a pressure to drink.”

Some people feel as if they have to drink in order to be like, the bubbliest like version of themselves

Eliza and Kyanne really empathise with Usman’s situation. Kyanne, who’s 18 and on a gap year, said:

“Some people feel as if they have to drink in order to be like, the bubbliest like version of themselves…Obviously, it's unrealistic to be like that all of the time. And…you know, it's just not healthy to rely on drinking.”

Eliza, who’s 21 and has finished her second year at Durham University, agreed:

“You can still have a great time. Like we were saying earlier about like how both me and you love a boogie around the kitchen…stone cold sober and that's really fun.

“Actually uni is different to how it was like 20 years ago, or even five years ago…There are also people on the university support team to help you …so definitely do speak to people because you should never be feeling pressured to drink.” 

Kyanne (right) and Eliza recording the podcast

Kyanne (right) and Eliza

How do you feel - really?

Another guest, a former ambassador, left a voice note saying:

“I think that universities should make their wellbeing services really well known, especially in those early days, so you know where you can turn to.”

She went on to say how important it is to destigmatise conversations about how people are really feeling, so that new students are “not trying to put on your best front to be the most entertaining, charming version of yourself.” She thinks that would have been really helpful to her.

Kyanne and Eliza's top tips

It's so important to desigmatise conversations about how people are really feeling.

Eliza and Kyanne go on to cover topics such as money and the cost of living, health and self-care, and social media. They signpost professional and clinical support and also give their own personal seven top tips. The first three are: 

Silhouette of back view of person with long hair dancing


  1. Speak about how you are feeling.
  2. Use the support that’s on offer.
  3. Take each day as it comes.


To hear the other four tips plus Kyanne and Eliza’s go-to songs for dancing round the kitchen, listen to their great podcast:


Listen here


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