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18th March 2015

Halls 2 Home: Putting ‘Unity’ Back Into the Community

Halls 2 Home is a project which aims to support students in their transition from halls to private accommodation. It was created by Manchester Student Homes and works in partnership with the university’s Pastoral Care Team, involving a programme of awarenesseampaigns, events and resource documents which aim to improve student integration in off-campus areas

On the 7th of February 2015, some students may have been aware of a ‘Community Fun Fest’ which took place on a stretch of Derby road in Fallowfield in between Amherst and Mitford Road. The event was advertised as an effort at returning ‘unity’ to the community by allowing different people from the residential street and neighbouring area to get to know one another in a friendly, entertaining, well-policed zone.

The Derby Road Fun Fest was promoted through the use of posters and flyers in the Students’ Union building, certain places on campus as well as around the student hub of Fallowfield. Those living on Derby Road and the roads nearby were informed of the plans by posted letters.

There was a large turnout throughout the day as people came to and fro to enjoy free live music, hot food, face painting and more. One of the event’s main organisers, Community Officer Ellen McLaughlin, said: “the idea for the festival was to bring together students and local residents in a fun and friendly environment.”

In light of intense media scrutiny and criticism from non-student residents regarding the large house parties that have been going on in the community recently, Ellen said: “Community relations in South Manchester have been high on the agenda for the University and the local media and our intention was to do something positive and proactive to try and alter perceptions about the student bubble.”

On the success of the Derby road Fun Fest, Ellen stated that “it went really well. We asked people who came to the festival for feedback and by and large comments were that people wanted to see more events like this.”

The event was also used as a means of spreading anti-burglary tips and fire safety awareness among the vulnerable student body. It was also held in recognition of the hard work done by many students who volunteer in the local area. Community Officer Ellen hopes there will be another similar event in the summer and that this time students and residents that live in the local area will get involved in the process.

Poppy Humphrey, a representative from Manchester Student Homes, said: “The Community Fun Fest enabled all those that live locally to come together, learn about each other and the local area in a relaxed and family-friendly environment. We received great support from our partners, including Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, who gave personal and household safety advice to students throughout the day. We are also delighted to learn that Halls 2 Home has recently been recognised in terms of the benefit to the student experience with a nomination for an associated award.”

Forthcoming Halls 2 Home campaigns will focus on environmental issues and student safety.

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