Izzy Russell – your Student Living Officer – recently met up with Steve Smith – your Community Liaison Officer – to talk about their objectives for 2022-23 and find out whether they have any shared goals.
Accommodation and community living
Izzy: One of the things I am asked about most is finding accommodation in Bristol that is affordable and in good condition. We are partnering with the University’s Accommodation Services and external partners such as Shelter to help with housing issues and I wondered whether you’ve also found this to be an area of concern for students?
Steve: Yes I have, and part of my role is helping students understand what is in their tenancy agreement and helping them out with any issues they have with their agency or landlord. I also work with eight local residents’ associations and they really want to welcome students into the community – all people really want is a clean street and a quiet neighbourhood! However I had 750 complaints last year and these were mostly about noise and waste, so I am working with residents’ associations, lettings agencies, landlords and students to create good relationships on all sides.
Izzy: I know a lot of students try to manage their waste properly, but they can’t because their bins get stolen!
Steve: Yes I’ve come across that. But they can order new ones on the Council’s website. If they’ve damaged the bin they will need to pay for a new one themselves – but if it’s been taken or gone missing they can get a free replacement.
Izzy: I’m really interested in continuing work on harm reduction, and making sure students are safe, even if they engage in drug use. Is that something you get involved in as part of your role?
Steve: Yes, I am particularly concerned by students who find themselves getting into financial difficulty because of the amount of money they are spending on drugs, but are feeling too awkward to talk to anyone about the situation. I’m also aware that there are people who are putting themselves into situations that make them vulnerable, for example lone females going to pick up supplies from people they don’t know in unfamiliar places. We signpost them to people who can help such as Bristol Drugs Project and Student Services.
Izzy: One of the SU Officers’ shared priorities for 2022-23 is sustainability. Are there any community schemes being run which would help us with this objective?
Steve: Definitely. Most of the residents’ associations run initiatives around gardening and litter picking – the High Kingsdown Community Association is a good example, but the others are also active and have newsletters which students can sign up to if they want to get involved. There are lots of other things going on like the Chandos Road Festival and the Window Wanderland. It’s a great way to meet your neighbours, have some fun and feel good about what you’ve achieved!
If you would like to get more involved with your local community please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions about housing check out the SU’s My Rent, My Rights campaign headed up by Izzy.
If you need advice about your health and safety please see the range of support on offer.