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Family Programme - Single Information Point

Sam Howarth
Sam Howarth

Originally published 20 October 2003

For the past 3 Welcome Weekends, the Vice-Chancellor has addressed the parents and family members of new undergraduates to welcome them in the Warwick community.

Sam Howarth, from the Alumni and Development Office has been responsible for dealing with the RSVPs from parents as well as compiling a database of parents’ addresses and emails in order to send them a bi-annual letter from the Vice-Chancellor keeping them up-to-date with happenings at Warwick.

Sam's Explanation of the Family Programme:

We set up a special telephone number to allow parents and family members to contact us with any queries or questions. I particually want to highlight this service to everyone working in the residence system.

The phone number is 024 7657 4647

We produced a special term dates card for all the parents and family members with the Family Programme telephone number printed on it. This means that calls will come straight through to my office rather than being passed around the internal telephone system, causing unnecessary disturbance to various staff members and some level of distress to the parents or family members calling.

The number is available during office hours only and the calls are taken either by myself or by my assistant (also a Warwick graduate). A voicemail message is switched on at the end of the day or at weekends that allows them to leave a message. The experiences I have had both as a resident tutor and now as a Deputy Warden allow me to deal with many of the queries from parents immediately or if I am unable to help, I know exactly whom they need to speak with.

No promises or guarantees are given to any parent or family member who calls and I am careful to identify between issues of over-anxious parents and genuine cases for concern.

My staff members are aware that they should never give out direct telephone numbers for any members of residential staff, but instead take details of the callers to pass on.

The feedback we have received from parents who have used this telephone number is all extremely positive and if nothing else, the chance to talk to a member of Warwick staff and helps enormously.

The type of calls we’ve received over the past 3 years are quite varied – many of them are quite basic queries, such as asking for dates of graduation ceremonies in future years, information on local hotels/restaurants or departmental information. Other queries are more serious and involve the need to contact individual residential staff, the Senior Tutor’s office or Student Services.

When possible, simple questions like “My son/daughter wants an extra blanket, what should they do?” etc are answered by staff within my office. I have provided them with an information sheet; similar to the handbooks given to all students on arrival to help them deal with these questions.

Most of the calls we receive come in the first few weeks of the academic year or around exam times. However, there are the odd few that come at other times of year.

I felt it was important to provide this information to all my colleagues within the system, especially if messages need to be passed on from parents.

I have also created a web-page containing useful information for parents and family members which can be found at http://www.warwick.ac.uk/family

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me on ext 28478 or by email sam.howarth@warwick.ac.uk

Sam Howarth

Director of Annual Giving

Development and Alumni Relations