Support and Guidance
Living in halls of residence can be one of the best experiences of your life, but that's not to say that it will always be without challenges. Your Residence Life team is here to help you to make the most out of your experience in halls, including providing advice on how to tackle problems that you may encounter in halls.
Take a look at the following sections for guidance on specific topics, and you can also speak to the Residence Life team to discuss any issues you may be experiencing.
Moving into university halls should be an exciting and enjoyable experience, but we understand that you might have some worries as well – don’t worry, your Residence Life team is here to help!
Here are some tips to help you manage the transition to life at uni and get to know your new flatmates:
- Say hello! A friendly greeting goes a long way.
- Spend time in your communal kitchen. We know, it can be super nerve-wracking to start with, but the more time you spend with your flatmates, the easier you will find your interactions.
- Get to know your flatmates – what are they studying, where are they from, and do they have any hobbies or interests? Knowing some basic information about each other will help you to get chatting.
- Make your room feel like home. A few simple photos or your favourite blanket or cushions can go a long way to reducing those feelings of loneliness.
- Attend your initial flatmate meeting with your Resident Adviser. This is essential as it provides you with the opportunity to agree your own specific flat rules, alongside the overarching halls of residence terms and conditions, to support positive communal living relationships.
- Arrange a games night with your flatmates. You will find lots of ideas for fun activities in your flat Welcome Box.
- Try out something new. Starting at university is a great time to step out of your comfort zone! A good place to start is the clubs and societies on offer at the Students’ Union.
- Arrange some evenings where you will eat together with your flatmates. You could take it in turns to cook or make it a team effort. Why not try to make each other dishes from your home-town or country as a way of getting to know each other’s backgrounds? And as a bonus, cooking as a group usually works out cheaper – win win!
- Going for a walk to explore our beautiful surroundings? Invite a couple of your flatmates and use the time to get to know the campus and each other.
- Need to relax after a full-on Freshers? A movie night is the perfect way to take it easy while still offering a way to bond with your flatmates.
- Don’t forget to have some ‘me time’. The start of university is a busy time, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed if you don’t schedule in some well-earned down time as well.
If you’re moving away from home for the first time, you may have some worries about what you will do if you feel unwell or experience more serious health concerns. We have lots of support and guidance for you to help you to know what to do.
Long term health conditions:
If you have a long-term health condition, it’s important that you register with Disability and Dyslexia Support. The team will help you to access the support you need in relation to your studies and in halls of residence, if applicable.
- Register with Keele Health Centre: As part of the enrolment process, you will receive guidance on how to register with the GP on campus. This is important so that you can access NHS provision in the local area.
- Campus pharmacy: For minor illnesses and health advice, you can visit Well Pharmacy on campus and speak to a pharmacist.
- NHS 111: Call 111 when you need medical help for a non-life-threatening situation like a broken bone, or if you aren’t sure who to contact about your medical issue. The service runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Calls to 111 are free.
In an emergency:
The NHS advises that the following symptoms are classed as a medical emergency:
- loss of consciousness
- an acute confused state
- fits that are not stopping
- chest pain
- breathing difficulties
- severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
- severe allergic reactions
- severe burns or scalds
- heart attack
In these cases, you should call 999 to request an ambulance. You should also contact Security after you have called the ambulance. This is important as it allows for security to guide the ambulance to the correct location, and also attend to the emergency as a first aider.
When it’s not an emergency:
There may be some occasions where you are concerned for your health, but it doesn’t require a 999 call. In these cases, you should contact the NHS 111 service to seek the appropriate medical guidance.
Calling an ambulance when it’s not an emergency can mean that resources are diverted from other callers who are experiencing a medical emergency.
Keep a first aid kit:
As an adult living independently, you should make sure that you have the appropriate equipment and medication to enable you to look after yourself in the case of minor injuries or illnesses. A first aid kit should include:
- Antiseptic wipes or spray
- Painkillers such as paracetemol or ibuprofen
- Anti-allergy medication
- Cold and flu relief
Looking after your health
Sleep: A student lifestyle of studying and socialising can make it easy to slip into poor sleep patterns of staying up late every night and sleeping in past those 9am lectures! But it’s important to try and maintain a good sleep routine of getting around 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night and trying to get up at a reasonable time (most definitely in the morning!) each day, even if you’ve not got lectures.
Healthy eating: Make sure that the majority of your meals are well-balanced and nutritious with plenty of fruit and vegetables, protein and fibre, and then when you do treat yourself to a takeaway or a meal out you will enjoy it even more! Planning your meals in advance and batch cooking with your flatmates can be a good way of keeping your food healthy.
Keeping active: You don’t need to train for a marathon or lift heavy weights to be physically healthy but incorporating aspects of activity in your day-to-day life is beneficial for both your physical and mental wellbeing. Make the most of the beautiful outdoor space to go for walks or runs or take part in a fitness class at the sports centre.
Alcohol: If you drink alcohol, make sure you know and stick to the recommended weekly limits. Excessive consumption can have a long-term impact on your physical health and can also affect your mental wellbeing.
Learning to live alongside other people, who may have different backgrounds, interests and opinions to you, is an important life skill to develop, and the Residence Life team is here to help you do this.
I don’t get on with my flatmates:
- It’s an unfortunate fact of life that you may not always get along with the people you live with – this could be the case in a future professional house share as well as at university. Therefore, it’s important to develop the tools you need to be able to handle these difficult situations.
- Try to find common ground – even if you don’t have enough similarities to become good friends, you can usually still find some topics of conversation.
- Compromise when needed. Some flatmates find it helpful to arrange for specific times when the kitchen will be used for socialising, for example.
- Respect each other’s differences. You may have different viewpoints, but it’s important not to turn these into arguments and instead to accept that people will have different lifestyles and personalities.
My flatmates are too noisy:
- When living in a communal environment, some levels of noise are to be expected at certain times of the day.
- You should discuss acceptable noise levels in your flatmate agreement meeting at the start of the academic year.
- If a flatmate is causing excessive noise, in the first instance you should discuss this with them directly, to explain the issues the noise is causing you.
- If you are being affected by noise disturbances at night, you should report this to Security, who will attend to the source of the noise and take appropriate action. Noise complaints will then get referred to the discipline team for potential further action.
- You can also report daytime noise disturbances to security. However, given that some noise is to be expected in the daytime, they will only attend to excessive noise issues.
- You can also contact your Residence Life team who will be able to support with a flat mediation meeting to address noise concerns.
My flatmates don’t clean up the kitchen:
- You should discuss how you will keep the kitchen clean and tidy in your flatmate agreement meeting at the start of the academic year.
- Some flats find it helpful to organise a cleaning rota – this could be taking responsibility for different areas of the kitchen, or designated days for each flatmate.
- If a flatmate is regularly leaving behind a mess, in the first instance you should discuss this directly with them, explaining the issues this is causing.
- If the issues don’t get resolve, you can contact your Residence Life team who will be able to support with a flat mediation meeting to address cleaning concerns.
My flatmates are always having friends over:
- While living in halls of residence, it is permitted to have guests over to your flat (subject to coronavirus restrictions) – both your bedroom and communal areas. Many students find it an enjoyable part of halls life to invite friends from other halls or off campus to join them for cooking or general socialising.
- However, if you find that this is intrusive or that it happens too frequently, preventing you from using the kitchen yourself you should discuss the issue with the person who is disturbing you and let them know how it is affecting your use of the kitchen.
- To be a considerate flatmate yourself, it can be helpful to pop a note on your communal whiteboard to inform others of when you will be having friends over or ask others in your group chat if you have one. Remember to follow the rules on guests if a friend is staying overnight.
- You can also contact your Residence Life team who will help to facilitate agreements for use of the kitchen and flat.
I’m struggling with communal living:
- The first step is to speak to your flatmates about the difficulties you are experiencing. They may not realise that their behaviour is having an impact on you.
- Remember, there is more to university life than the people you live with. Try to get to know other students through your course and societies, which will give you options for socialising outside of your flat group.
- If you have taken steps to try to resolve the situation but you are still unhappy, speak to the Residence Life team as we may be able to support you with a room move, subject to availability.
When living communally in halls of residence, it’s really important that you respect each other’s belongings, including food.
You will have a flatmate meeting at the start of the academic year which will be led by a Resident Adviser. This meeting will include completion of your flatmate agreement which will help you to agree on your own rules for living together. But regardless of what you agree, for example you might decide to all chip in and make milk a communal item, it’s not ok to help yourself to items that a flatmate has bought for themself.
Here are some tips to help reduce the likelihood of food theft:
- Discuss if any items will be communal, and if so, make a plan for how these items will be bought.
- Label your food. Some incidents of food ‘theft’ are actually genuine mistakes, so being able to identify whose food is who’s can be helpful.
- Make a note of where everyone will keep their food, for example which cupboard or fridge shelf. This can be helpful to spot if a flatmate is accessing a storage space that they shouldn’t be.
- If you’ve bought some extra special treats that you think might be just too tempting for your flatmates, keep room temperature foods in your room.
- Depending on the type of halls or flat you live in, your kitchen may be lockable. Check if your kitchen locks, and which of your keys you need to use.
Tried all of these suggestions and still experiencing issues? Please get in touch with the Residence Life team, and we will be able to talk through what you have already tried and any other options for resolution.
If you are tempted to take a flatmate’s food, please don’t - think about how you would feel if you came to the kitchen to cook your evening meal and realised some items were missing. It’s frustrating and can lead to tensions within your flat, which no-one wants. If you are struggling financially, please reach out for support instead – we have a university hardship fund available to apply for through the Student Services money team.
What you can do:
- Contact security in the event of a noise or antisocial behaviour complaint.
- Speak to your Resident Adviser for peer support and guidance.
- Make an appointment to speak to a Residence Life Manager for more in-depth support.
- Report your concerns formally if the behaviour of your flatmate is in breach of student discipline regulations.
- Most importantly, don't suffer in silence, there is lots of support available to you, but for us to be able to help you need to take the first step to access it.
What we can do for you:
- Arrange for a Resident Adviser to visit your flat to offer guidance based on communal living experiences.
- Provide general wellbeing support and a listening ear.
- Facilitate a mediation meeting between you and your flatmate/s, hosted by a Resident Adviser or Residence Life Manager.
- Support you through the discipline reporting process if the behaviour you are experiencing breaches student discipline regulations.
What we can’t do:
- Take forward an anonymous complaint through discipline procedures. This is because as a student you have the right to know if someone has made a complaint about you, so that you can respond to the allegations.
- Take action against another student without evidence.