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A Day in the Life of… our Birmingham South city team

2 May 2024

We’re proud of all our city teams and how they deliver a great student experience – but in 2023, it was our Birmingham South team who scooped our internal Teamwork award.

We spoke to Mitchell Fellows (General Manager), Dan Ruscoe (Student Experience Manager) and Nardi Kinson (Student Experience Team Leader) to find out how they work together, what makes them an award-winning team and what they love about working in the Birmingham South team.

Which different sub-teams make up the Birmingham South city team, and what role does each team play within our buildings?

Mitchell: We have four sub-teams. We have our housekeeping team, who are responsible for keeping our buildings clean and tidy. They’re also responsible for our kitchen inspections, so making sure the students keep their communal spaces clean and tidy. We have our facilities team, who ensure our residents can live here seamlessly by attending to issues with their room. We also have a student experience team, who are split between day and night teams. So, they’re predominantly there to keep our residents safe and to ensure they have a really welcome experience when they’re living with us through the year.

Nardi: I’m part of the student experience team. We’re the ones that have constant contact with the students and help them from when we send out their booking offer, until the first day they arrive here, and throughout their stay in the accommodation.

Dan: We’re four separate teams, but we work as one.


Tell us what a typical day involves for your team.

Mitchell: We can be cleaning the canal out one day for one of our Positive Impact partners. We can be giving out parcels or we can be helping students learn how to cook, or we can be in the communal spaces sitting down with students trying to just give back in terms of what they can be doing outside of their studies. Every day is totally different and it’s what keeps us going every day.

Dan: You can deal with all sorts of things, but the important thing is we all pull together for whatever we’ve got on that day. So if there are rooms that need cleaning – yes, the housekeeping team are there, but if they’re running behind we can jump in and support. Or sometimes the facilities team might have to help a student by getting their parcel.

Nardi: The most important thing is the communication between different teams. During the days we have the customer experience team, housekeeping team and maintenance team in the building, and we’ll all stay in contact throughout the day. The maintenance team might update us about a maintenance request they’ve dealt with, or if housekeeping need us to send an email to a student they’ll let us know.

Every single person in the team receives a handover so they know what’s happened during the day or at night. It can be challenging to keep up that communication between the day and night teams, but we do face-to-face handovers between the night teams and those on the late shift, who finish at 10pm.


The Birmingham South city team won the operations Teamwork award at our internal Stars Awards last year. How did it feel to win, and what’s the secret to working brilliantly as a team?

Nardi: It felt really good to win. It felt like our work was recognised. The secret is what I mentioned before – the communication between the different teams. We always keep our standards high and strive for the best, we always compare what we’re doing to previous years and think about what we can do better next year.

Dan: It was an amazing achievement. I’ve been with Unite Students for a year now, and it’s been exciting to see how everybody’s grown and is on the same page, wanting to push and make us the best we can be. I think getting the award summed all that up for us.

Mitchell: I was very proud. We’ve been through a lot of change over the last 18 months. What’s been particularly pleasing is that the team have adapted so well to that change, they’ve really embraced the challenge and hit the ground running. What really put us in the position to do that was the strong collaboration within the departments that we spoke about earlier.

The teams work so strongly together. We will always chip in and help each other when things get a bit tough, and we’re always striving to be better.


What’s your favourite thing about working at Unite Students?

Dan: The best thing is the Birmingham South city team. If you’re struggling with something, they’re there to pick you up when you’re down or support you. We all help each other out.

Nardi: Yes, it’s the people I’m working with. There’s never a time where I’m scared of asking for help or bringing a situation to my line manager or to a co-worker. We all get along well.

Mitchell: We’re really empowered by the business to have an impact locally with our Positive Impact initiatives. Positive Impact is a programme where we are empowered to have an impact on our local community through volunteering or setting up local community initiatives.

I think what’s been really pleasing for me is the team have really bought into that. Over the last year we’ve built some really strong partnerships, whether it be with Sense [a charity supporting people with complex disabilities], the Canal River Trust or even the local youth club, which we’re doing some work with at the moment.

Last year we did three canal clean events through the year in the stretch of canal that runs alongside Battery Park. We invited our HE partners, the local community, students and our own team. We spent a whole day grappling through the canal, pulling out anything that we possibly could, whether it was tyres, shopping bags or trolleys.

I think that’s what I most enjoy about turning up for work every day – it’s what can we do next that’s really going to have an impact and leave a legacy on the local community.


You can read about some of our other Positive Impact initiatives here, and find out more about the Birmingham South city team’s work with the Canal River Trust in our canal clean-up video:

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