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Housing Week: An Interview with VP Welfare & Societies Emily Rees

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From 31st January, Southampton University’s Student Union paid host to their very own housing week: a whole week dedicated to providing students with priceless advice about finding properties. Organised by vice president for welfare and communities Emily Rees, housing week involved informational flyers, including a checklist for visiting a property, a list of trusted landlords and a chance to get questions answered by the Accommodation service and the Information and Advice Centre.

We caught up with Vice President Welfare & Societies Emily Rees to discuss the event.

For people that might not know, what is housing week?

Housing Week is held in the New Year and gives students all of the support that they need in transitioning from halls to private rented accommodation. We have a team of staff from the advice and information centre and also from the university accommodation service who come along to check contracts, direct students to letting websites and most importantly, we ensure that they are provided with checklists and support in finding the suitable house.

Do you consider housing week 2011 a success?

Yes it was a success, we had a high turn around of students and directed them to the online Housing Guide; the first year that we have made all of the information available online from the start of the year! Normally it was just handed around in booklet form, but this was not ideal for anyone who missed out on that delivery. Advertising of the event was effective through To Let signs being posted around the union area and also utilising online media.

Is there anything you did differently to last year's housing week?

The way we advertised was a lot more interactive and unusual and the way we branded it through the Wizard of Oz, 'there’s no place like home' ensured that the campaign was colourful and interested students.  We also created some online videos with SUSUtv that enable us to get out to more students even if they can’t attend the event.

Is there anything you would suggest doing differently next year?

In terms of the week itself, staffing tables can often be a challenge and sometimes unwelcoming to students. I would suggest that the best way of getting Housing Info out there is to be creative.

If anyone has missed the events and activities of housing week, what advice would you suggest to students who need some guidance?

If anyone has missed the event, check out the Housing Guide Online www.susu.org/life. Also, this year we created videos with SUSUtv (www.susu.org/tv), so check out the videos for all the help that you need. 

Following on from Emily, we would also like to advise students not to rush into anything, especially when exchanging money is involved, and make sure you check out a property thoroughly before making any decisions.

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