Chris Ford, Hall Life Manager, has recently been shortlisted for an Association of College and University Housing Officers (ACUHO-I) award, in the ‘Best Residence Life Initiative’ category. We caught up with Chris to find out more about the award itself, and how the Hall Life team has progressed and developed since it began in September 2017.
1. Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your role as Hall Life Manager?
My role is to help our students living in Halls of Residence to feel welcome, settle into university life, offer support and guidance in a hope that students feel a sense of belonging to their Hall and campus life and to help prepare them for independent living. We do this through various awareness campaigns, events and activities .
2. Congratulations on being shortlisted for the “CUBO-ACHO” Award in the ‘Best Residence Life Initiative’ category. Could you tell us a bit about the award itself?
The award recognises the growing importance of residence life and activities designed to support students living away from home at UK Universities. The judges are looking for a special initiative which facilitates opportunities, events or activities that help to provide the best residential experience possible for students. Royal Holloway is slightly different to other Res Life programmes as we utilise our student staff to help create and run events within in halls of residence. This can be from an outdoor cycle cinema in partnership with Royal Holloway Sport, or smaller based common room events which bring students out of their rooms. We particularly focus on getting our students who are most vulnerable to these smaller scale events so that they have the opportunity to meet other people and not feel isolated in their rooms.
3. What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
It can be an extremely stressful job at times but knowing that you are making a difference to improving the experience of our students in halls is very rewarding. Knowing that sometimes by a student attending an event and making friends helps their mental wellbeing (potentially saving a life) always puts a smile on my face. The team as well. From Carolyne who keeps me in track and is so creative in thinking of events with the Hall Life student staff team to working across the college with various teams to help students feel safe and supported during their time in Halls.
4. What’s the most surprising thing you have ever found in a Halls of Residence?
I asked my colleague Carolyne the same question and hers is much more interesting. Mine was a litter of dogs - which we got the RSPCA to take away but Carolyne’s was an actual tree planted in a toilet...!
5. What do you enjoy most about working at Royal Holloway?
There is nothing nicer than getting on to campus and seeing Hogwarts in the sun. I often stop (and probably annoy the driver behind me) to take it all in. Love it.
The people here are friendly and supportive and I think it’s fair to say that everyone has the same vision around creating the best possible experience for our students which makes things easier to get done.
6. What do you enjoy doing outside of your work life?
Recently got into the gym, which is erm, sometimes a struggle but I love to get to the pool before work each morning. I am always looking out for my next city break to explore the world.
7. You may have seen our latest recruitment campaign, ‘Find your why’. We are interested to find out what Royal Holloway has helped you to discover about yourself…
Royal Holloway has helped me to broaden my strategic thinking and allow me to make changes in the interest of our students which is very rewarding.