The University’s very own Student Life team is dedicated to supporting student wellbeing, developing communities and enhancing the student experience.
Southampton Connects Staff catches up with Martin Hand, Student Life Manager, to find out more about this unique service operating 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year.
For how long has the team been around?
Before the Student Life team was introduced, we were known as Residences Support and only operated at night (between 18:00-08:00). From 1 August 2017, Residences Support was unified and transitioned to the current Student Life team.
Can you tell us a bit about the team?
There are 38 members of the team working a variety of shift patterns to provide round-the-clock support.
Although we’re mainly based at halls of residence, we also work at other sites during key times of the year. For example, after a successful pilot scheme in the 2017-18 academic year, we also have advisors based in the Hartley Library each night from 18:00-06:00 during its 24-hour opening period.
Our visits to the library are hugely popular; we averaged 200 student interactions a night during the last academic year. Interactions range from providing a hot drink and a quick chat, to having detailed discussions about specific concerns, and the support that’s available to help resolve them.
A proud moment for the team was during the most recent summer exam period. We’d collected feedback from around 1,200 students, and results showed that 95 per cent of respondents ranked our team’s support as either extremely helpful, or very helpful.
What’s your favourite thing about being part of the Student Life team? Do you have a favourite memory?
We’re a relatively new team, but looking back on how far we’ve come in the last 18 months, I’m so excited for our future.
While there can be challenging and difficult times, I really enjoy the wide variety of our work. The team can go from hosting a fun-filled film night or a halls-based Winter Wonderland event, to supporting a student in crisis, so there’s a real need to be adaptable and reactive.
In regards to a favourite memory, it’s difficult to single out just one. However, the most rewarding aspect of the role is when students contact us at the end of the year and feedback on just how crucial the support provided by our team was. We’ve even heard from some students who said there was a real chance they would have dropped out of their studies, had it not been for the ongoing support of our team.
If you could send one message to our students about the team, what would it be?
I’d want our students to know that there’s always someone for them to talk to, at any hour of the day or night, any day of the week, month or year! We’re here to listen to students’ concerns, big or small. So, whether it’s a discussion about academic support on Christmas day, or a friendly chat and a cup of tea at 02:00 on a Sunday morning, our team is quite literally always here for our students.
If people should know one thing about the team, what would it be?
That, although we’re mainly based in halls, we’re available for all our students, regardless of whether they’re in private rented accommodation or halls, in their first year or at the end of their studies.
Can you give us a Student Life bonus fact?
Our team colour is purple – you’ll often spot us in our purple t-shirts and hoodies, proudly displaying the team’s name on our backs!
Visit the Student Life webpage for contact details and more.
Like and follow the University of Southampton Residences Facebook page, where Student Life frequently post details of upcoming events and competitions.