Meet Tony Cowley. One of the Security team helping to keep us all safe.

Keeping students and staff safe in residencies and on campus is no mean feat with a community of around 40,000 people and almost 400 buildings to care for 24/7. We talk to Tony Cowley, Security Supervisor, to clarify the role of security in residencies and why following the rules mean we’ll all be safer. 

Tell us more about your team and the different Security Services staff that students will encounter in residencies. 

I’ve been at the University for nearly two years now and I lead a team of Security Officers that provide an in-house security service across the whole university estate, which includes keeping over 370 buildings, 9 halls of residences and the students and staff therein, safe and secure, 24/7. We respond to everything from fellow student complaints to fire incidents to building access issues  no day is ever the same and dealing with such a large campus certainly keeps us busy! 

We work closely with Residential Life and Residential Facilities teams to provide an all-round service for students that respond to differing needs. As you would expect of us, we respond to matters that would be deemed a breach of student behaviour rules and regulations, which include criminality, drug use/possession, excessive noise (usually loud parties) and other anti-social behaviour. It is important that we respond accordingly and seek to reduce the harm that certain behaviours can have on the individuals involved, other students and the wider community.  But it’s equally important to remember our role in supporting our students and staff and helping to keep everyone as safe as possible. This new webpage sets out more about what you can expect from us and what we can’t do – a way to explain the relationship between Security Services and our students. 

Students may have noticed that there are also Security staff in blue or orange tabards at the halls (we are the staff in yellow and black). These are additional contract staff that have been brought in specifically to assist the residential teams with managing student gatherings that would breach government guidance and university rules around social gatherings during this pandemic.  

How can students help to keep themselves and others safe in residencies during these challenging times? 

When it comes to student behaviour and matters that might lead to disciplinary action, it’s really important for you to be aware of the rules and regulations that are helping to keep us all safe so that you can continue to live and study safely and successfully. You’ll find an overview of how students and your security team can best work together in a new agreement. So whilst at the moment you can’t have parties involving people from outside your household for example, there are still loads of virtual events and activities to explore and make new friends this way.

Keeping safe within your residences really does rely on each student playing their part to look after one anotherAs much as we would like to be, we can’t be everywhere at once, so your safety depends on you all doing your bit. All students would have received a ‘UoB: SAFE’ booklet within their induction packs at the beginning of the year, which offers advice and links to further resources.  

For all welfare and pastoral care needs, do contact your local Student Support Centre to speak to someone from Residential Life and use the wellbeing resources online.

What’s the best part of your job? 

The best part of our role here is the sheer variety of matters that we deal with, as well as the ability to help so many people within our community. We are often working in challenging conditions with limited numbers of staff, so we also need to support each other during the tough times and our teamwork ethic is key to these situationsThis couldn’t be more true as we all navigate our way through this pandemic, where we are trying our best to balance very unique situation at the halls. By all doing our bit we can help avoid further lockdown and restrictions.  

We were all really proud of our colleague Stacey who won an award for ‘Security Officer of the Year for an Outstanding Act of Courage’ a short while ago. She went beyond what was expected to manage a serious student safety issue at a halls of residence and was recognised by the Association of University Chief Security Officers (AUCSO). 

And to finish, what would you say to the students here? 

Our role is absolutely to work with you and keep our community safe. We all have a part to play in reducing the spread of the virus so thank you for sticking to the rules.  

 

Find your Support

Hi everyone! Khadija here, chair of the BME network, elected by BME students to represent BME students at a university and SU level.

Many students struggle with finding support, and in my role, I particularly find this as an issue for BME students, who often find it difficult to see how to access the university’s services. As such, I’ve become familiar with what is available, and have had some great discussions with the staff behind them already to incorporate the needs of all students, including those from racial and ethnic minorities! How to Find your Support:

1. Student Wellbeing Service

This is your first port of call if you’re struggling, and includes a range of services, from:

Student Wellbeing Advisors, who can help direct you to where you need to go.

TalkCampus app, giving you online peer-support any time of day and night.

– Self-help resources, including the FIKA Covid-19 support app, which is designed to help you learn practical mental and emotional fitness approaches which you can apply to your everyday life.

The Student Counselling Service, including a specific BAME Counselling service run by NILAARI, which the BME Network supported being expanded into the university last year.

– The uni are working with Bristol Drugs Project too and ‘The Drop’ harm reduction service. If you’re thinking about trying drugs or if drug use has become a problem, reach out via email thedrop@bdp.org.uk find them on Instagram above or call 0117 987 6000.

2. Personal Tutors

Make sure to reach out to your Personal Tutor whenever you need them, for any issues, no matter how big or small. As a network, we’ve engaged with the services to try and work on some diversity training so they can better support all students.

3. Study Skills

Check out the Study Skills online! I’ve been a medical student for 3 years, and now I’m intercalating in a Masters and having to manage my own learning far more. So I used these pages for the first time this year and found them surprisingly helpful!

4. Library Services

The Library Services are always there as a channel of support with subject librarian advice, if you have any issues finding resources and there’s a Library Support team too for accessibility. In light of COVID they have some great online resources, including the 24/7 live chat service and a great range of self help books too – their One-Stop Shop page is super helpful.

They’ve also just collaborated with the BME Network on sharing resources and books by Black authors for Black History Month, with students like yourself writing the reviews!

I’ve spotted they’re offering Online Study Lounges during October, they’re half-day events led by the Study Skills team and an opportunity to connect with other students online rather than working completely alone.

5. Students’ Union

You can become a course rep and advocate on the issues that you’re finding in your course to help feedback and represent your fellow students.

As well as this, engaging with societies and volunteering can be a great way to find friends and build your student community. I dressed up as a Banana for a week to raise money for charity as part of the Islamic society, something I never dreamed I’d be doing when I first started!

The BME Network believes in collaborating with a range of societies to create a variety of spaces to suit all needs – from large social events like festivals and cultural exchanges, to smaller more relaxed sessions like political discussion groups or wellbeing chat.

At the beginning, the range of what’s out there can feel confusing. It’s all about finding the areas you feel you belong and understanding what helps you feel good early on, so that you know where to find it in times of stress. Maybe sport is your thing? They’re part of the ‘Give it a go’ taster sessions currently running.

6. Peer Mentoring

If you’d find it helpful talking to a current student studying a similar subject to you, look into the Peer Mentoring scheme. It’s open to first year undergraduates to help you settle into uni life and nice to talk to someone who likely knows how you’re feeling and may have the answer! You do need to complete the form before the end of October.

 

This university should support you in thriving both academically and socially, so make sure you access and use the full range of services available, and if there’s something missing, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Remember, even if you might not feel like you fit in to the university community immediately, you still have the right to take up space in being unapologetically yourself!

Find your Balance

You’ve likely heard by now that uni is a great place to try new extracurricular activities and continue with the things that you’re passionate about. We’ve got you covered at Bristol with a huge array of options so that you can strike the right balance between your studies and making the most of being a Bristol student.

Due to COVID-19 you’ll see a lot of these events and activities have gone virtual this year. There’s still much to enjoy on campus and we’ve made some changes to enable you to get involved safely, such as adapting our spaces and enhanced hygiene measures.

Explore societies, volunteering & much more at the SU Welcome Fair

Held on 7 October 12 pm – 8 pm, the Official Bristol SU Welcome Fair is going virtual for 2020 with registration opening on Monday 14 September.

At the virtual fair you’ll be able to chat to stallholders live online using the interactive chat, sign up to sports clubs and societies and look into volunteering projects. It’s a great way to find out more about Bristol SU and as an added bonus, commercial stallholders will be giving out freebies and discount codes!

Sport – there’s something for everyone

Sport and exercise can have a hugely positive impact on your student experience. It’s not only a great way to stay active and healthy, it can also improve your mental wellbeing, be a great way to meet new people, improve your confidence and help you learn new skills. There are 70+ Sports Clubs and Societies at the University of Bristol, from Performance level sports such as Rugby, Hockey, Tennis, and Rowing – all of which have men’s and women’s or mixed teams – to the more unusual sports including Spike Ball, Synchronised Swimming and Quidditch!

If team-sport isn’t your thing, check out the Indoor Sport Centre on Tyndall Avenue where you’ll find the University Gym and fitness studios. You can book gym sessions and classes online now too via the University of Bristol Sport App.

And, if you’re looking for something a bit more fun, with a bit less commitment, then B:Active might be for you. B:Active is our physical activity programme exclusively for students. The focus is on getting moving, having fun, being social and feeling included.

If your time on campus is going to be limited, make sure to check out the virtual and on-demand fitness classes and events that will be on offer this year from Bristol Uni Sport, and join the #WeAreBristol community from your own home.

Being Well, Living Well toolkit

Take a look at our new Being Well, Living Well toolkit for some great resources on ‘Living Well’, ‘Feeling Well’, ‘Staying Safe’ and ‘Spending Well’. These have been developed by a team of mental health experts, healthcare professionals, university students and staff to equip you with practical tips and tools that will empower you to manage your mental, physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing. It also includes where to seek further help if needed.

“We want you to make the most of your time at university and for you to feel settled and supported. The toolkit has a lot to offer with interactive modules, practice scenarios, student interviews and much more. I’d encourage you to spend some time exploring the resources and feel free to discuss and share with your friends.”

Professor Sarah Purdy, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Student Experience)

The toolkit helps build self-insight and understanding that you are not alone in experiencing challenges. It highlights useful aspects of your student life such as what to expect, adapting to change, how to manage your money, and build healthy relationships.

How to access Being Well, Living Well

You can access the toolkit anytime, using your single sign-on in Blackboard. You will be automatically enrolled a few days after your Blackboard account becomes active, but if you want to access the Being Well, Living Well content sooner you can self-enrol and access it now. Follow the self-enrol link, log in with your University ID and Password and you will be taken to a page with instructions for joining. If you don’t see the self-enrol button then you’re already enrolled. Once enrolled, you can find the Being Well, Living Well materials on the Blackboard homepage under the My Organisations section.

Spend some time looking through the toolkit to help you feel settled and successfully navigate your new uni life.

Chill out in an SU Living Room

The SU Living Rooms are a space to relax and unwind either on your own or with friends. You’ll find one on the fourth floor of Senate House plus four more in halls of residence. Follow the link and join the online living room to connect with others right now, ask any questions and have fun in one of the many events that are planned.

Get to know Bristol

Keep an eye on our social channels next week for lots more about ‘Bristol Living’ and tips on places to explore. Bristol has all the perks of city life with wide open green spaces only a short distance away – much within walking distance or a short bus ride. The entire city is bursting with culture, flavours, music and opportunities to get involved – you will never be short of ways to Find your Balance.

Lydia’s MSc shaped her career path

‘I initially chose the MSc at Bristol as I wanted practical training in wildlife health and this course stood out to me. During my Masters however, I discovered that I really enjoyed the research side. I want to be part of the answer and provide useful research to inform wildlife conservation management on a larger scale.

I’ve just started a PhD at the University of Southampton where I’m researching hunting patterns in Belize. I managed to publish my thesis, supported by my excellent supervisor, which has really helped me to stand out from the crowd and secure this next opportunity.

My MSc has shaped my career path and I’m proud that my research will make a difference on an international scale.’

Lydia Katsis, MSc Global Wildlife Health and Conservation

Read about Lydia’s research in Kenya and how this is informing conservation strategy.

 

Read why Sam’s postgraduate studies enabled him to follow his passion

Having a good relationship with his project supervisor inspired Sam to progress from an undergraduate course to an MSc and currently a PhD, all here in Bristol.

‘It’s a really exciting time for nuclear robotics and I feel my path to date has led me to an industry I’m passionate about. I’m currently researching robotic scanning of nuclear waste which could address the issue of nuclear waste storage and make it more accurate and cost effective.

I chose to stay at Bristol as the positive and open ethos within the University lends itself towards innovation and the prospect of interesting and exciting future research.

I became friends with some really fantastic people during the course and I’ve extended my professional network too. I’m sure further opportunities will open up in this field in the future and because of my postgraduate studies, I’ll be ready when they do!’

Sam White, MSc Nuclear Science and Engineering / PhD in Nuclear Robotics

Adventures in France: my year abroad

Jaw-dropping scenery; unique personal development; enriching relationships with people from across the world; a year practically dedicated to eye-opening, inspirational experiences: doesn’t sound like a bad year, does it?

My name is Steve, and I’m a 4th year, studying Music and French. Having spent my year abroad in Bordeaux and Lyon, I returned to Bristol to see last year’s year abroad students swarming the streets again. Our first conundrum: how do we approach *that* first conversation?

If you’re late for a lecture, it’s option A: ‘yeah, the year abroad was good thanks!’ Option B is the elaborate five minute epic poem describing everything that has seismically shifted over the year. Nope – five minutes is never enough!

Mind you, five minutes is ample to make observations about what has changed. Most returners are human adverts for what their year abroad experience has brought to them. Some are wiser and more confident; others are more open-minded; many have been completely inspired. Thereafter, each will treat you to a different story of how it all unfolded… just like this:

Build me up, build me up…

Needless to say, the year abroad experience can be a huge challenge. In fact, those first three months of my time abroad were some of the toughest of my life. Plunged out of my comfort zones of city, family and friends, the expression ‘fish out of water’ comes to mind. Would I have opted for a more convenient, relaxing placement to have avoided those tough first three months in Lyon? Non, absolument pas, because it’s all an exposure which forces you to develop in unique ways. At the end of the year, the fish returns to the river having learnt how to breathe air, and I enjoy being an air-breathing fish. This unique personal development is pretty much a given when forcing your brain to adapt to a new language and culture for as much as one month, let alone eleven.

Inspired

I’ve chosen the subtitle ‘inspired’ for a specific reason, which involved something more special than a bit of personal development…

Imagine a typical 21st birthday party. You may picture a marquee in the garden with everyone dressed up, or perhaps party balloons and a juggler. Well, I’m all for clowns and gowns, but as a June baby on a placement that finished in July, I needed to think outside the box when 17 June came around.

It had all the hallmarks of an underwhelming day. I had under-slept, having submitted my year abroad essay the night before a Monday at work; I was translating tourist information; and I had no evening plans. So, I hurriedly got in touch with my friends who hadn’t yet left the city: ‘Quais de Saone, tonight at 8 pm?’

The scene was set: the sun was going down over the Fourvière Basilica, and a smattering of my dear friends gathered round me in the late-night summer heat. On another day, the sunset may have inspired me. Or perhaps the view of the Basilica, reflected in the torrents of the river. This time, the real cherry on the birthday cake was the people that came.

Today’s news bombards us with stories of nations in conflict with nations, and the struggle of integration in multicultural communities. Meanwhile, here were 10 people representing Lithuania, Sweden, the UK, Colombia, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy using words, not weapons; laughter, not threats. The uniqueness of their humour, their intriguing philosophies and their cultural insight didn’t collide or clash, but combined in beautiful harmony that I had never witnessed before. It was conversation for conversation’s sake, and laughter for laughter’s sake, with contrasting backgrounds, races and religions, and we never once risked any dissonance or discontent.

I took a step back, felt the warm breeze, and gazed over the river, the view and the sunset, contemplating this moment that only a year abroad experience could produce – one of the most utopian I’d ever witnessed. The sun was setting over my year abroad experience, with a moment to remind me what a heartening asset multiculturalism is to modern society. Since then, I have still been seeing those same dystopian stories of warfare and persecution around the world. But at least now I have hope that one day, the planet may have the same universal harmony as those 10 people on the riverbank.

Find out how you can study, work or volunteer abroad at the Global Opportunities fair on 22 October.

Find Your Flatmates

So you’re moving to a new city, into a new home with new people and new surroundings. Eek! You might be feeling excited by this prospect, nervous or a mixture of the two? Just remember that you’re not alone and many other students will feel exactly the same way.

Top tips from a few of our students 

Cameron Scheijde (BSc Politics & International Relations, 2019)

Recent graduate Cameron remembers how he felt moving to university:

“Moving to a new city is a daunting prospect – but you’ve already made the process easier by choosing Bristol as the place you will live for the next few years. When I received my A level results and found out I was off to Bristol, I felt as I am sure most incoming freshers will be feeling: excitement tainted with nerves and fears for the new start in strange and unfamiliar surroundings with strange and unfamiliar people. I imagined all the things I might be doing in my first week with the constant fear that I wouldn’t be able to make or find any friends. My fears were completely unjustified – from the first day, Bristol’s halls make you feel welcome and cared for. I was in Clifton Hill House, and while each Bristol hall has its own unique identity and feel, they are all set up in the knowledge that moving to uni, whether for the first time or the second, is an incredibly daunting experience.

Clifton Hill House’s family atmosphere meant that I, and the people who I shared corridors and lunchtimes with, were immediately part of a strong and welcoming community. Each hall has a packed social calendar and I would strongly encourage you to get involved in this – halls act as vessels for your own passions, and if you want to do something, whether it be sport, drama, music or something else, the hall is the best place to start.

Before all that, however, is the dreaded moving in weekend and the anticipation of welcome week to come! One of the best things you can do – sorry mums and dads – is say your goodbyes and unpack on your own. This way you can shape your new room yourself.

Also, more importantly, you can prop your door open while you unpack. In doing this, you are inviting your new neighbours to pop in and introduce themselves. I met some of my closest uni friends in these first exchanges – so pack a doorstop! It’s also nice to have some home touches – maybe a rug, desk lamp, photographs – to make your room feel homely.

Freshers’ week can often feel like a complete overload, so creating a space that you feel is safe and homely will be crucial for when you need an escape from freshers fun. Make use of the day time events especially – do not overlook the society ‘give it a go’ sessions or some of the Student Union’s more relaxing activities. These sessions can often be better for getting to know people, as you are immediately united by shared interests. Don’t fret if you don’t immediately get involved in the SU – there will be endless opportunities to get stuck in at a later date. Similarly, do not be intimidated by societies that seem like you need to have done it before to get involved. Every society in the SU is very welcoming to complete novices, and some – such as Quidditch – only have beginners in the first year. Some of the best times in your uni career may well play out in the societies you join.

It can be difficult to adjust after freshers’ week once the lectures start coming and the deadlines loom in the distance. The excitement of the first week means you’re probably too busy to do much thinking, but once the next few weeks start, things like homesickness and exhaustion, as well as freshers’ flu, can become real problems. However – it is important to remember these feelings will be completely normal and more or less universal across your peers. I’d absolutely recommend maintaining a good diet and exercise – even if just walking to lectures – as this will stop your body turning on you. Also, if things get tough, do not be afraid to talk to your academic department or staff in halls. These people are there to help you and will know exactly what you’re going through. Despite what some may have you believe, you’re not ‘doing uni wrong’ if you’re not having an amazing time, 100% of the time. Like anything in life, there are ups and downs. Enjoy the ups, but make sure to ask for help if you’re struggling during the downs.

Halls life is, for most, a completely new experience. Your new environment will shape your next few years and may well forge the friendships that sustain you throughout the rest of your life. I was terrified driving down the M4 in my mum’s heavy-laden car – but the fear was completely misplaced. It will be ok.”

Rosie and Kaylan (3rd year – History and Biochemistry)

Current students Rosie and Kaylan, share their packing recommendations for Bristol!

For any accommodation queries, contact the Accommodation Office.

See the new student webpages for lots of additional information about the items mentioned in this blog.

Next week’s blog…

Find Your Way will help you to feel more familiar with the campus with suggested places to explore and key locations to know about from the start!

 

It’s time to Find Your Bristol!

Congratulations on securing your place at the University of Bristol. The countdown is now on until you join us! We’re really looking forward to welcoming you very soon.

No doubt you’re full of questions as you start out on this new, exciting chapter. Well, you’re in the right place. This is the first of a series of weekly blog posts to help answer some of the questions you may have about preparing for your arrival in September and beyond.

Current third year students, Rosie and Kaylan, share their tips on where to find further information.

Top places to find info 

New student webpages

For really useful checklists on what to do next and what to do when you arrive, check out the new student webpages. If you’re an international student, take a look at our information for new international students which includes an international student handbook.

Welcome pack and guides

Undergraduates – look out for your Welcome pack in the post, similar to the one above. Postgraduate students – you’ll receive your welcome guide on arrival, either a printed version or via an online link provided by your Faculty. You can also expect to receive an email or two from us in the next few weeks updating you on all the important things to remember.

Start connecting

Official Bristol University Freshers 2019 Facebook group

You may have already joined the Official Bristol University Freshers 2019 Facebook group. We’ve joined forces with Bristol Students’ Union to host this group so it’s definitely worth joining to find out about the big events taking place and start meeting people. Watch out for unofficial Facebook groups and events set up by external organisations. Bristol SU is the only ticket seller for the official Welcome Week programme. You can find out more about this here.

Peer mentoring

Many students choose to get involved with our Peer mentoring scheme. A peer mentor is a current student usually studying a similar subject to you, who can help you to settle in to University. You can ask them any questions you may have about your course or about university life in general.

Don’t forget that all new students are in exactly the same boat as you are, so asking questions and making links with fellow new students, may help to calm those nerves.

Welcome Week

Welcome Week will be taking place from 23 – 27 September and we’d encourage you to get involved in as many activities and events as possible. It’s a great way to start finding your way around campus, meet new people and settle into your new home and the vibrant city of Bristol. You’ll see lots more about Welcome Week in the coming weeks including the University Welcome Ceremony, held in the iconic Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building. The University will welcome you more formally and introduce you to what it really means to be a student here.

Next week’s blog…

Recent graduate Cameron (Politics and International Relations, 2019) will be sharing how he felt about moving into Halls plus more around accommodation.

Mental Health Awareness Week starts 13 May

University life is full of ups and downs. To help manage these stresses and strains it’s important to be aware of your physical, emotional and mental health and take active steps to look after your wellbeing.  

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week from 13 – 19 May, a good opportunity to think about how you’re feeling and look at what you can do to look after yourself.

Keep talking

Connect – with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. These relationships can help you to feel happier and safer. Talking about the way you feel with someone you know and trust can ease the pressure. Even if they can’t help, just being listened to is a positive step. In return, if you’re caring and supportive to others you might be making a big difference, simply by listening.

The Bristol SU Living Room is a great place to relax and unwind and there’s a weekly programme of events open to everyone. They’re completely unobtrusive, so if it’s not your thing, you can just come along and chill or have a game of foosball or ping pong.  

If you’d prefer, there are lots of people to talk to at the university or via our resources, from student welfare support, to peer support at the Big White Wall and Just Ask – the Bristol SU’s advice and support service. Visit the ‘Where to get help’ page for more information about the support available to you.

If you’d like to share your thoughts on how we can continue to support the wellbeing of our student community, we’d welcome your input in the Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey. You don’t need to have experienced mental health issues to take part. It takes about 15 minutes and is entirely anonymous.

Stay active

Recent graduate and netball superstar, Eboni Beckford-Chambers, shares the benefits of keeping active and why extra-curricular activities will enrich your life.

You don’t need to be a high performance athlete to benefit from staying active, even just a gentle stroll will help; all activity is clinically-proven to improve mental health.

During the summer term (29 April – 15 June), all B:Active Campus sessions on the timetable are completely free so if you haven’t already, why not check out what’s on offer? There are plenty of B:Active initiatives that don’t take up a lot of time or require a membership, specialist equipment, or commitment to training sessions, so do have a look. There’s also the B:Active Healthy Minds programme – tailored to helping students who are experiencing mental health difficulties – which is well worth looking into.

As Eboni says…

“You just need to seek out what it is you want to do, what you can fall in love with, and roll with it.”

Balance study and leisure activities

At this busy time of year, help to maintain a healthy frame of mind by sleeping and eating well, taking regular breaks away from your screen or desk and making time for yourself. Doing something you enjoy can improve your self-confidence and lift your spirits; whether it’s cooking, seeing friends, doing something creative or learning something new. Helping someone else, through volunteering for example, or setting yourself a realistic challenge can help you to feel positive about yourself too.

Bristol SU’s Mind your Head events are running into June and are a great excuse to take a break and try something different. Library services are also offering opportunities to get crafting and creating during the Summer assessment period. 

If you like the theatre, honorary graduate Jonny Benjamin will be performing ‘Stranger on the Bridge‘ – an inspiring tale of human kindness, mental illness and redemption. See this moving portrayal of one man’s determination to find the Good Samaritan who changed his life at the Tobacco Factory, 14 – 18 May.

Study support

Need help with revision? The study support pages provide loads of information about where to find study spaces and how to access useful resources. 

However you’re feeling or whatever you’re up to, remember to take time to look after yourself.