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Our community

A positive impact on people and places across the UK.

We believe in supporting the communities where we operate

We operate as a responsible landlord bringing positive impact for both local residents and wider communities.

University Students

Economic value

By helping to meet the growing demand for student accommodation, we create jobs locally, both during construction and during the entire lifecycle of a property. Students spend with local businesses which gives local economies a boost. The range of facilities available for local people is also enhanced as a result of the spending power of a vibrant student population.

Staff and students

Social value

We work hard to have a positive impact on local people and communities across the UK. We have established ‘community spaces’ within our properties which are used by charities and non-for-profit organisations providing services locally for a peppercorn rent. A great example of this is our Maha Devi project, a yoga therapy charity for children and adults with special needs in our Stapleton House property in London.

To drive our responsible business objectives we partner with the National Union of Students (NUS). We operate the award-winning Green Impact programme which we call Positive Impact, an engagement model encouraging positive social, sustainable and environmental behaviours.

Wind Farm

Environmental value

The amount of rubbish generated and left by students is a huge concern for residents particularly at checkout times. Through our partnership with the British Heart Foundation we minimise this through a donation programme for unwanted items. These are sold and the proceeds used for life-saving research, with more than £1million raised to date. We also encourage unwanted food to be donated to local foodbanks.

Unite Students employee

Resolving issues

We understand that some local residents may feel uneasy about students moving into their local area. We do all we can to alleviate any concerns from pre-planning stage through the whole lifecycle of a property. With 30 years of sector experience, we have a number of initiatives in place which prevent anti-social behaviour before it starts.

Our Home Charter is designed to create a safe, respectful and harmonious environment for students and local communities and was updated to reflect the changing situation with Covid-19. This sets out what we expect of students and what communities can expect from us.

Our award-winning Leapskills programme helps prepare students for the leap to independent living.

Unite Students employee and student

Meeting the needs of local communities

Local residents have easy access to our site teams and emergency contact centre if issues arises. For example, at Parade Green, Oxford following negative feedback from residents, we put an engagement plan in place which involved the appointment of a community champion.

We also work closely with our local communities to tackle local issues. For example, we have a special relationship with the city of Bristol and the local community. We provide extensive support to local organisations particularly those working with young people and the city’s homeless population. Each year our employees at South Quay House nominate and vote for a local charity partner to support. Over the past three years we have worked with three different charities supporting young people in the city.

Through our property at Nelson House, we provide a multi-agency youth homeless prevention hub run by Bristol Youth MAPs and other agencies, with fully renovated and fitted ground floor rooms at a significantly reduced rent. We also provide a city-centre office and funding for a mental health worker for Bristol’s Street Intervention Service, tackling the root causes of anti-social behaviour.

Other initiatives we have sponsored recently include sponsoring Bristol Pride for five years and Better Bristol, part of Bristol 24/7.

We are working closely with Streetwise, a charity in Bristol which supports the homeless and drug users. We have provided Streetwise with office space and are funding a full-time employee.

Over the past few years the impact of homelessness in Bristol has been felt by our teams, students, and local communities with regular instances of anti-social behaviour. So we are supporting Streetwise, an organisation with expert knowledge and experience around homelessness, to tackle anti-social behaviour through a multi-agency initiative,

Our support has provided and fitted out an office and meeting space for Streetwise and funded an additional full time ‘street beat’ worker. In the first four months of this position being filled, four clients have successfully completed an alcohol detox programme and 214 members of the street community have engaged in a methadone treatment programme.

Unite Students employee

The value we create

Key issues
• Trust and transparency
• Land use
• Local investment and job creation

How we engaged
Our operational teams are active in their communities through our Company-wide volunteering programme.

We are relaunched our Positive Impact programme in 2022, which includes awards for projects undertaken by employees aimed at delivering measurable benefits in their local communities. We also engage actively with local stakeholders for our development projects to ensure the design of our buildings, public spaces and community facilities meets their needs.

Value creation in 2021
• Employment for 1,500 people in local communities
• Committed to build c.2,000 beds of new student accommodation in our communities
• Invested £3 million in initiatives to reduce our environmental impact
• 296 hours of employee volunteering in the year

Priorities for 2022
In 2022, we are developing a long-term community engagement strategy, which ensures greater ongoing engagement with local stakeholders from the development stage through to operations. This will focus on promoting healthy and economically viable communities, while increasing transparency

We have food and stock donation stations in every property

Since 2017 we have worked with the British Heart Foundation and our students and employees are encouraged to donate unwanted items instead of sending to landfill.

£930,000
raised

in donations to date.

2 million kg
saved

in CO2 gas emissions to date.

191,775 kgs
diverted

materials from landfill to date.

Having a positive impact on people and places across the UK

Spotlight on Bristol

Supporting young people and the homeless

We provide a multi-agency youth homeless prevention hub run by Bristol Youth MAPs and other agencies, with fully renovated and fitted rooms. We also provide a city-centre office and funding for a mental health worker for Bristol’s Street Intervention Service, tackling the root causes of anti-social behaviour.

We're working closely with Streetwise, a charity in Bristol which supports the homeless and drug users, to provide and fit out an office and meeting space for Streetwise and funded an additional full time ‘street beat’ worker.

Money can be a major stressor for students

Spotlight on Birmingham

Volunteering and canal cleans

Unite Students volunteers at our Selly Oak, Birmingham property partnered with the Canals Trust and the University of Birmingham to create volunteering opportunities for employees and students who regularly work together to clean up the canal and surrounding area to provide a safer, cleaner and more engaging environment for local residents and students.

Still from our Birmingham Canal Clean video

Spotlight on London

UK’s only special needs yoga centre

The Maha Devi Yoga Centre in our Stapleton House, Holloway Road, London, provides subsidised and free sessions for children with disabilities. The charity’s lease enables it to unlock emergency funding from the National Lottery, Sport England, and the London Community Response Fund so it could continue to operate during the pandemic.

How we're supporting our communities

16/10/2020
Case studies
Superhero Foundation
Four employees join Jamie McDonald in coast-to-coast run across USA to help sick children
16/10/2020
Case studies
Edinburgh: Youth homelessness charity
Unite Students supports The Rock Trust, Scotland's youth-specific homelessness charity
18/09/2020
Case studies
Oxford: Parade Green – Community Champion
Unite Students appoints role to listen and feedback directly to community
03/09/2020
Case studies
Bristol: Street Intervention Service
Unite Students helps to reduce the number of people living rough in Bristol