Friday, 20 December 2019

Reading University end of term update

We got the following update from Reading University. Green councillors will keep working with the University to improve the town for everyone.

This is probably my last post of the year so merry xmas everyone.


As many of you may know, the University term ended on 13 December and the University closes for Christmas on the afternoon of Friday 20 December. Before we close, I wanted to send an update on local community activity this term (I’ve also sent this to local community groups, including East Reading SNF, Earley NAG, NARA, ACER, MERA, KCA and Woodley and North Earley Forum).
The University opens again on Thursday 2 January, but I will not be in the office until Monday 6 January. If you need to speak to someone at the University on 2 or 3 January, please call the switchboard on 0118 987 5123 or University Security Services on 0118 378 7799. University Street Wardens will begin patrols in local neighbourhoods again from Saturday 11 January.
New Neighbourhood Complaints Officer – January 2020To start with some very good news – the University has created extra resources to help manage neighbourhood complaints. From January, a new part-time Neighbourhood Complaints Officer will work Monday-Friday 8.30-12.30. This will provide extra resource to respond to complaints quickly and proactively manage local issues. Please continue to use the telephone number 0118 378 6764 and to raise complaints or issues and do feel free to contact me directly at any time.

3G All Weather Playing Pitch Event – 16 January 2020The University is holding an information event about the proposed 3G pitch on Thursday 16th January between 15:00-20:00, at the Reading University SportsPark. We are leafletting houses around the campus this week, including New Road, Elmhurst Avenue, Northcourt Avenue, Redlands Road and Marlborough Road. I have attached an electronic copy of the invitation – please do pass onto anyone who might be interested. I will also send a reminder out at the start of January.

Safety review of Whiteknights lakeWe carried out a safety review of the Whiteknights Campus lake and made a number of upgrades, which you can read in detail on our website.
University Alcohol Action PartnershipThe University has created a University Community Alcohol Partnership with Reading Borough Council, academics and professional service colleagues, to reduce alcohol harm by students on campus and in the local community. This term we have completed the following tasks:
         We have held 3 alcohol awareness and brief intervention training sessions at the start of term aimed at student bar workers and hall welfare reps. The training gives advice on the risks of excessive alcohol consumption, myth-busting, practical tips to consume alcohol responsibly and ways to support friends and peers. We have had very positive feedback and will continue to work with students and experts to further develop the training, before rolling it out to RUSU sports clubs and societies.
         We launched our Be A Mate campaign during national Alcohol Awareness Week. The campaign includes campus wide posters, social media activity and practical tools to encourage students to look after one another when consuming alcohol.
         The practical tools include measuring glasses for students to use to learn more about units and measurements and scratch-cards, which students can use to self-determine how much alcohol they consume a week and where to get help if they need it. We know from other universities that both these things are very successful at initiating conversations, which is one of the most challenging barriers when addressing alcohol harm.
         The Students’ Union Welfare Officer recorded a podcast on alcohol and mental health, including interesting interviews with the welfare rep of the rugby club and our expert on alcohol, Dr Ranjita Dhital, Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice.
         We have held a number of regular alcohol-free events on campus throughout the term. Some of these have been more popular than others, and are useful in learning why and how students consume alcohol. Free tasters of alcohol-free drinks have been well received by students, as have been low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks for sale in halls bars. However serving alcohol-free beverages on busy club nights have proven less successful, but we know from feedback that many teetotal students want to socialise in the same venues as their friends who do drink alcohol – so we need to do more research and try more of these events.
         We are working with the new Alcohol and Drug provider in Reading, Change Grow Live (CGL), to provide support to students on campus and to potentially provide training to students who are disciplined for misconduct relating to misuse of alcohol and drugs.
Community Forum reportI recently sent a link to a report on the University Community Forum held on 26 September. You can find reports from all the University Community Forums held since 2018, on a new community webpage on the University website. This page will be regularly updated with community meeting reports.

Reading and Wokingham Student Strategy Partnership
The University has created a Reading and Wokingham Student Strategy Partnership, based on best practice from Manchester universities and Manchester City Council. The partnership includes key officers from Reading and Wokingham borough councils to discuss issues relating to students living in local neighbourhoods. The aim is to agree a partnership action plan for how we reduce negative impacts. We held the first meeting on 21 November 2019, and are currently agreeing the action plan including measurable activities. Once we have agreed an action plan, this will be published on our new community webpage.

Community Leaders ForumFinally, we aim to create a forum to bring together community leaders in the area, to better understand University impact in local neighbourhoods, and improve the way we communicate with community groups. I am still working on the detail of this forum, but we aim to include chairs of community and residents groups, ward councillors, faith leaders, trustees of non-profits and small business leaders. More information to follow on this.