Each September, Student Liaison Officer Emma Robson works tirelessly to settle in the student community to their new homes in Cathays, Roath and Gabalfa. We caught up with Emma to find out a bit more about what she does to help the community as a whole.
Emma, September is a busy time for you; can you tell me what you get up to and what keeps you busy for the rest of the year?
I have been helping students with their transition into their new homes in the community. I’ve attended 10 Freshers events and followed up with door-knocking in the Cathays, Plasnewydd and Gabalfa.
Up next is the “Avoid The Pitfalls” campaign to advise first year students about house hunting for next year, and a new campaign to educate tenants about energy efficiency in the private rented sector, in a bid to save them money, increase energy efficiency and prevent damp and mould in their homes.
Both campaigns are supported by our student volunteering group, Environmental Champions, who work hard to improve the quality of life for students and their neighbours in the community. This year, we have trained 37 volunteers so far, who have completed over 220 hours of volunteering since September. A fantastic achievement!
Have you noticed any changes in student habits or attitudes towards students in the time you have been doing your job?
I’ve noticed that students are becoming much more aware of their rights and responsibilities now than when I was a student, over 5 years ago. I’ve also noticed a shift in behaviour when it comes to recycling. There is now a greater desire from students to recycle and minimise their waste.
Likewise, more permanent residents are taking on the responsibility of welcoming their new student neighbours, giving out waste collection calendars and ensuring they know where they can go for help if they need it.
What are the common misconceptions about students in Cardiff?
That they are all the same. If you’ve been disturbed by student neighbours in the middle of the night due to a big party, or live next to a student household who have a disregard for their bin days, it’s easy for residents to think that all students are noisy and don’t care about their environment or the community they live in.
In reality, many students are interested in getting involved in their community, and want to give back and make a difference to the city they now call home. Hundreds of students choose to do this through volunteering, with many students choosing to work with children, the elderly and vulnerable in our society, as well as projects that focus on the environment, community, sports and leisure.
Do you work with other people in the community at all?
I work with people from all walks of life in a bid to make the community a safer, cleaner and happier place to be. I attend the community PACT (Partnerships and Communities Together) meetings to keep up to date with the issues affecting the local community. I also encourage residents to get involved with our volunteering initiatives, in a bid to bridge the gap between students and permanent residents.
If you had one message to give out to either students or permanent residents in Cardiff, what would it be?
If I had one message to give out to students and permanent residents in Cardiff, it would be to get to know your neighbours and look out for one and other. A quick hello can go a long way in breaking down barriers between people!
If you are a Student studying in Cardiff and would like practical advice about moving into your first home or volunteering opportunities, visit Emma’s website www.cardiffdigs.co.uk