Mental health & wellbeing: the need for a blended community

Tom Martin, residency living manager at Student Living by Sodexo explains how the company creates a ‘home away from home’ atmosphere for students

In recent years mental health has become a topic at the forefront of political, sociological and economical interest with media outlets, academic professionals and even members of the Royal Family discussing this on an increasing basis.

At Student Living by Sodexo, we place equal importance on mental health and physical health. All our team is trained in mental health first aid, mental health awareness and some specialists are trained in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills (ASIS).

Building communities that care is at the very heart of residential living.

We support students throughout their journey, from pre-arrival, arrival, living and departure, providing an environment that promotes positive health and wellbeing, and that nurtures a community.

Quality of life

Values and principles are key to providing safe, supportive and inclusive living-learning communities. Our residency living programme has been designed with Sodexo’s Quality of Life values and framework in mind and looks to develop, support and guide our residents from applicant to alumni.

A student’s journey is often fraught with challenges and opportunities, both negative and positive in nature. Our team is in the privileged position to enhance key moments in a student’s journey. We bring together multiple activities, interactions and campaigns to seamlessly support and guide residents through the jungle that can be student life. Whether addressing pre-arrival nerves and anxiety with a simple phone call from the site team or creating a campaign to support career development, our programme helps to improve the overall student experience.

Home from home

We create a ‘home from home’ atmosphere where students can comfortably live and learn. While our sites are small communities, we aim to connect the larger community across our buildings. We host ‘site nights’ where all our sites come together to join initiatives and programmes aimed at engaging students and staff. Activites include ‘speed friending’, salsa nights and our new ‘flat chats’, which involve our staff visiting to share insights about a specific topic such as sleep hygiene and making friends with the aim of boosting social connections.

We recognise that students want to feel connected and we understand that we occupy a position of trust. Students open up about issues or stresses that affect their time at university. A small issue for one person may be all-consuming for another; if it is important to our resident, then it is important to us. We are proud to have a team who are passionate about delivering the best experience for our students, ensuring they are proactively dealing with any concerns. Our people are what make our communities strong and our students succeed.

Alongside programming and planning, education is a key focus of our residency living programme. In the past, punitive methods of dealing with unacceptable behaviour have left students in debt, upset and disgruntled with their living arrangements. We seek to educate and promote reflection and reflexivity of behaviours to ensure our residents understand how individual actions influence the wider community.

Investing, caring and developing is our priority. We are proud to help shape students’ futures and ensure they have a blended community that allows them to grow as individuals and succeed in their studies.

Read more: Investment in blended living set to soar, thinktank says


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