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Volunteer framework and expectations

You may be considering applying to join Warwick’s Residential Life Team as a volunteer. This page may help you with useful information about being in the residential system. If you are successful and join the team – what do we expect from our volunteers and what can you hope to gain from your experience?

If you join the team your volunteer role lasts for a full academic year (starting in September). If you are struggling to fulfil the role then you may be asked to leave early or may not be considered when reapplying the following year.

Some of the most common questions asked by people when they are thinking about joining the team are:

This information is not comprehensive – it aims to help briefly answer some frequently asked questions. If you have any more queries then you can always contact the Residential Life Office (or once you are part of the team you can ask your Warden).

What is the time commitment of the role?

It is difficult to place a time value on the role of residential volunteers. The role works with students and this interaction means that your time spent on residential matters may be relatively low one week or very high another (if dealing with a complex welfare matter for a student). No two weeks may be the same! This is what can make the role enjoyable and provides personal challenges which you can learn from.

As a guideline we say that an average week may require you to:

  • Check the student kitchens each morning (you also need to check at weekends)
  • Meet with students in the early evening in their kitchens to talk through issues, get to know them and sign post information
  • Attend a team training session and liaise with your hall team
  • Help with the preparation for a hall event

As you can see this could add up to approximately 15 hours commitment from you.

For three or four times a term (or for a whole week if you are in Westwood) you are required to remain on call on campus for any student issue for 24 hours.

Sometimes there may be a need for you to help out for a more intensive period of time. This may impact on your work or studies. This is why we ask for your manager or supervisor to sign your application form so that they are aware that there may be additional calls on your time.

We also ask you to consider if you are likely to return late from a night out (usually after midnight) that you consider taking the evening as time off. You need to remember that some of the time supporting your students will happen after midnight (when they are still up and around!) and there will be an expectation from the University that you are there to help with any issues.

What about holidays and time away?

As a volunteer in the residential team you have an allocation of one night off a week in term time. In essence: 10 nights a term – 30 nights in an academic year. This time can be gathered together for a weekend off but you must not be away from your hall for longer than three nights at a time during term time without permission from your Warden.

You need to consider the impact that your time away may have on your students and fellow team members who will cover for you whilst you’re away.

This cover is vital. A lot of our students are here over vacations and postgraduate students are here for 51 weeks in the year! The teams need to organise cover all year round for the students in their halls. Wardens’ work with their teams to ensure appropriate cover is maintained. So you may be expected to help cover at Christmas or Easter vacations.

If your work or studies has time critical elements or extended/frequent periods away from the University visiting or undertaking research then you need to carefully consider if it is appropriate for you to apply. We need you to be available for University term times.

We understand that some courses may have an element requirement for placement away from campus (such as MBChB) and we may ask you to take your placement over the Easter vacation to minimise the impact on students.

You can take longer personal holidays outside of term time as long as there is cover for the students in your hall. You will liaise and work with your Warden to ensure the necessary cover is in place.

What comes with my accommodation?

If you are successful and join the residential volunteers then you receive on campus accommodation.

Your accommodation is allocated to you after interview. We are not able to provide you with specific accommodation. Our accommodation is varied and we need to match this to our volunteers. An example of this would be if you had applied and let us know you are married. You may be successful but we may not have accommodation available which is suitable for a couple. This means that you may need to go on the waiting list until suitable accommodation becomes available.

You do need to pay a modest contribution for your heating and power consumption. You will be asked to sign up for a regular direct debit to your bank or building society account to pay for this.

You will also receive a mobile phone and have a phone extension in your accommodation. These are for University purposes only and may not be used for personal calls.

You are expected to keep your accommodation clean and in good order. The University may need access periodically to undertake routine maintenance or tests. The University may require you to temporarily move elsewhere on campus so that refurbishment work can take place. We will work with you if this happens.

The accommodation is provided furnished and it is not possible to store this furniture so that you can use you own. In most cases it is not possible to bring pets onto campus. There are very few residences that are able to accommodate this for residential volunteers – Westwood is an example.

You may also apply for a parking permit in the nearest designated car park.

You need to vacate your residence promptly at the end of your time with the team and leave things in good order.

What happens if my personal circumstances change?

During your time in the team your personal circumstances may change. You may wish to take time away from your course, have a partner move in with you or find a job outside of Warwick.

We do need to know if your personal circumstances change - we work with you to get the best outcomes for us all.

Please be aware – if you are married or have a partner then we need to know. They need to sign an agreement so we can notify local government agencies that we may have an additional registered voter, etc. Your partner is not able to act as a volunteer and help out with the students.

Not all residential accommodation is suitable for children. If your change of circumstances means that you have parental responsibilities then you need to talk to the Senior Wardens. If there is no suitable Residential Life Team family accommodation available in residences then you will need to make arrangements to leave the Residential Life Team and make your own arrangements for accommodation. You will be notified if a vacancy in a flat designated as suitable for occupation with children becomes available. If there is more than one eligible applicant for one vacancy then a selection process will be undertaken.

We are not able to accommodate friends for extended periods. You can have guests and visitors stay overnight and weekends - however, it must not be for long stays. Just like the students in your halls – you are responsible for anyone you invite into the accommodation.

What other things do I need to consider?

It is sometimes difficult to get the balance right with students. You may naturally wish to be their friend, however, this may be perceived by others as favouritism and may make some of your role more difficult to achieve. You need to remember that when you join the team you are representing the University. It may no longer be appropriate to go out with the students to the Union!

Your behaviour and conduct needs to set a good model for your students to follow. Behaviours which the University would not condone in the wider student community - such as drinking to excess, using illegal substances, antisocial behaviour or being excessively noisy - will not be tolerated if you are to be a member of the Residential Life Team.

Entering in to personal relationships with the students in your hall is not appropriate. Should you find yourself wishing to enter into a relationship with a student who is part of the community for whom you are responsible, then you need to take advice from the Senior Wardens.

What may I take away from my experience?

This is a unique opportunity to meet a different group of people. You will have chances to develop some “softer” skills such as mediation, active listening, event project leadership and dealing with difficult situations and conversations. This will help with future employability.