“Hi! Welcome to University and your accommodation.
I’m Jan, the Tenancy Support & Wellbeing Coordinator for Unipol and I’m here to help when life gets a bit challenging. There are lots of handy tips and hints for how to deal with tricky situations in this blog post and in our our Tenancy Support Guide, but if you can’t find what you are looking for, just get in touch and I will be happy to help.
I hope you find this useful…”
Here at Unipol we aim to make your time at university and in your accommodation as comfortable, fun and stress-free as possible. We understand that moving away from home, perhaps for the first time, is exciting but can also be a little bit scary, especially moving into accommodation with people you don’t know, who will have a different ‘window on the world’ to you and whose expectations and value bases are not the same.
Given all this change, it’s not surprising that for some people it can feel a bit overwhelming, they may feel homesick, isolated or lonely, and worry about ‘fitting in’.
Here are a few tips to provide you with the basic tools to manage difficult or awkward situations during your tenancy. We understand that these may not always work and in those situations you can speak to your HMO or contact me, your Tenancy Support and Wellbeing Coordinator.
Moving into a new place with new flatmates is exciting, but can be a source of anxiety. As part of our wellbeing support, we provide a number of social events throughout the year. After Freshers’ Weeks we host a number of Welcome Events. These are a great opportunity to meet your new flatmates, neighbours and Housing Managers.
If you have any ideas about events you’d like to suggest, please speak to your Residents’ Assistant or Housing Manager.
Friendships, fall-outs and personality clashes
Many first year students will be ‘allocated’ their accommodation, which means they will be living with people they have never previously met. This can be difficult and friendships can deteriorate rapidly to uncomfortable atmospheres and fall-outs.
As a tenant you have signed a legally binding contract and therefore it is important that you try to get along with your co-tenants. Even if you don’t always agree, being able to agree to disagree is a good start and can enable negotiation to reach a compromise that you can all live with.
How to communicate
It is advisable to meet with all your co-tenants as early as possible once you have all arrived. This makes it easier to discuss things like rotas for cleaning, how to manage noise, how to share communal areas etc.
When people live together it is inevitable that issues will arise from time to time, so we have a few tips on how to try to resolve them:
- Try to talk calmly but be assertive and clear about what you want to say,
- State only the facts. Don’t make accusations about things you don’t know are true,
- State how the issue makes you feel,
- State what you want the other person to do,
- Avoid passive-aggression, social media, messaging, or anything else that is not face-to-face; it can lead to misinterpretation,
- Wait until everyone is sober!
And focus on the future and how to move things forward positively, rather than playing ‘the blame game’. Once issues have been discussed and resolved they should be closed.
Whilst we’re all aware how useful social media can be for networking, making connections, staying in touch, finding out what’s going on, research and so on, we also need to talk about how there can be a darker side.
The increased use of social media has seen the development of cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying can take the form of photographs, offensive or threatening comments, release of personal information and harassment. Cyber-bullying can cause the victim lots of distress, to feel lonely and isolated.
Try to avoid social media to resolve disputes, remind people of their cleaning duties or make comments about others. It can be easily misinterpreted or misunderstood and can cause issues itself.
We understand that, particularly in shared properties, there is going to be an element of noise that is unavoidable. Though when returning home from a night out it is important to be respectful. After a few drinks it is easy to become loud and not be aware of it.
Legislation is very clear and states that: between the hours of 23:00 and 07:00 (‘night hours’) there should be no noise heard from outside of the room it is made in. So don’t invite the whole club back to your flat for an after-party; you are responsible for your guests’ behaviour.
Smoking in your accommodation
Any smoking in any property or development must always take place in the designated smoking areas.
In shared properties, smoking can be a contentious issue and can cause divides between co-tenants, so it is good to discuss and agree some ground rules early on.If you are not permitted to smoke inside and you do so, you may have to pay for ‘de-fogging’ at the end of your contract and this would cost over £100 which would be recharged to the tenant(s) responsible.
You can get help to stop smoking from your GP or from local Stop Smoking services.
We understand that a large part of the student experience is the development of new friendships and social networks and that this often involves social events, parties, alcohol and perhaps on occasion other substances. Going out and having fun is great, but you need to keep yourself safe.
When going out drinking, make sure:
- Everyone in the group has fully charged phones and each other’s numbers,
- If one of the group ‘hooks up’with someone, agree to check in with each other,
- Always put aside enough cash for a taxi ride home,
- Don’t walk home alone,
- Don’t leave your drink unattended or accept drinks from people you don’t know – if you think you or one of your group has had their drink tampered with, report it and seek help immediately.
The fact remains that the possession and use of mind-altering substances for non-medical purposes remains illegal.
If you are involved in the use of substances be aware of your own safety and that of others around you. Think carefully about what you are taking and the risks involved.
Don’t bow to peer pressure – if you don’t want to do it, don’t.
If you have taken something and feel unwell get help immediately. The effects of many substances can be different from person to person; just because your friend is okay with something it doesn’t mean you will be.
If you need help with issues around the use of drugs see the contact list at the bottom of this page. If you have concerns about the use of substances in your accommodation you can speak to your Housing Manager or the Tenancy Support & Wellbeing Coordinator.
We all have mental health: sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s not. Thankfully there has been a recent openness when talking about it and its issues and impacts, which has been underpinned by household names being honest about their own experiences.
Here are Unipol we understand the stressors associated with the move to university. It’s a major life change and can be the best thing you ever do. For some people it can be simply overwhelming.
Poor mental health is often characterised by overthinking and catastrophising, which in turn can lead to two of the most common mental health issues: anxiety and depression. Sometimes just talking to someone can help, and will often be the first stop to putting things into perspective.
Unipol’s Tenancy Support & Wellbeing Coordinator is trained as a Mental Health First Aider and is your lead contact for mental health issues, should you wish to talk about them. Most universities also offer mental health support and counselling. All support services are free and confidential.
“I will be developing a newsletter for tenants over the academic year that you should receive each semester. In it there will be lots of tips, information and guidance about staying healthy, mentally and physically, general health & wellbeing. The newsletter is for all tenants and if any tenant would like to contribute a recipe, life hack, information, events or experiences they can submit their article to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.