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What’s next for our Resident Ambassador programme?

15 April 2024

By students, for students – our Resident Ambassador programme helps students to build a community in our buildings while being paid for their time and effort. 

Heather Hunter, Resident Experience Programmes Officer, shares how we enhanced the scheme for this academic year, some of the events our Ambassadors have run across the UK this year, and how we’re tweaking the programme for 2024/25 to make it even better. 


Being a student isn’t always easy. According to Blackbullion’s 2024 Student Money and Wellbeing report, 85% of students are worried about money and 1 in 3 students are less able to socialise or get involved in university activities as a result of their finances. We also know that, as discussed in our recent podcast episode, more students are experiencing loneliness. 

One of the ways in which we tackle these factors is through our Resident Ambassador programme. This gives our residents the chance to work part time where they live, organise events in their building and be a familiar, friendly face to other residents. And it’s paid at the National Living Wage, topping up students’ bank balances throughout the year. 

The programme has three main functions. It creates community within our buildings, with Ambassadors delivering events based on the needs of our residents. It represents the voice of our student communities. And it provides our residents with valuable peer support, with Resident Ambassadors helping them navigate their new city, meet new people and advise on university life. 

Open to students who live (or have previously lived) with us, Resident Ambassadors have total flexibility about when and how often they work. Our Resident Experience and Student Support teams train them so that they can have appropriate boundaries with other residents and know how to signpost them onto staff or university resources if they’re having a tough time. 

Since 2016, our Resident Ambassadors have worked together to create memorable experiences for their fellow residents, and it’s just as relevant in 2024. In the Global Student Living Index autumn survey, we asked our residents how best we can enhance their sense of community – and the most common response was ‘events’. 


Enhancing the Resident Ambassador programme for 2023/24 

For the 2023/24 academic year, we wanted to improve the programme and make it the best it’s ever been. 

Our first decision was to bring recruitment forward to spring. Traditionally, we recruited after everyone had checked into their building in September – but this meant that Resident Ambassadors weren’t in post for those first few crucial weeks to bring the community together and help new students settle into university life. 

By making this change, we had Resident Ambassadors present at check-in so they could support residents from the moment they arrived by giving directions, tips on the quickest route to campus and giving welcome talks. Their help also meant that our teams could focus on giving the best service possible, and we saw this reflected in our student satisfaction scores in buildings that had Resident Ambassadors present.  

This year, we also encouraged Resident Ambassadors to learn about the demographics of their building and plan events accordingly. We know that a building whose population is mainly made up of UK first year students will have different needs from a building that is primarily populated by international postgraduates.  


This year’s events – and what’s next 

From setting up suggestion boxes to creating online polls, our Resident Ambassadors have worked harder than ever this year to plan incredible events that the community really wants. We saw quizzes with more than 200 attendees in Leeds, book swaps in Edinburgh, an opportunity to pet farm animals in one of our Leicester buildings and a Kindness Day scavenger hunt in Southampton. 

We also introduced a cultural events calendar so that Resident Ambassadors were aware of important holidays that they might not have normally celebrated. Thanks to our Ambassadors, many of our buildings included traditional snacks for students breaking their fast during Ramadan, while several buildings held Holi celebrations. 

While Resident Ambassadors work hard to support their own communities, we also wanted to make sure they had their own community of Ambassadors across the country to rely on. This year, we’ve helped them to connect with each other more than ever before through quarterly meetings. That’s something we hope to strengthen in future, as Ambassadors have said they’re keen to have more opportunities to work together. 

We want to continue making the Ambassador programme bigger and better than ever as we plan for the 2024/25 academic year.  We’re looking to trial sessions which help Resident Ambassadors to develop vital skills for life after university, such as CV building workshops. 

The transition to university can also be challenging for some students, so we are planning to extend our programme of welcome events further into the first term. We hope that this will help more students to settle in and meet new friends in those formative early weeks at university. 

Finally, during this recruitment cycle we have plans to work closely with the Unite Foundation – an independent charity that supports estranged and care-experienced students with a unique accommodation scholarship. Any Foundation student who applies to become a Resident Ambassador is guaranteed an interview, and access to the employability support that Ambassadors get – even if their application is unsuccessful. 

We’re confident that with these small changes, the Resident Ambassador programme will continue to grow and thrive – contributing towards a ‘Home for Success’ for our residents and Resident Ambassadors alike. 

You can read first year student Izzy’s experience of being a Resident Ambassador here, and hear more about the Resident Ambassador programme in our recent podcast about student loneliness: 

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