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Friday, 31 January 2014

Getting food from the dining hall if you are unwell

If you are currently unwell with diarrhoea and/or vomiting, or have been within the last 48 hours, please try to limit the number of visitors you have and don't eat in the dining hall.

We have asked the kitchen to let your friends collect food for you over the weekend, and bring it to your room. Please get in touch with a friend and ask them to collect your meals for you.

If we stop the spread of this illness promptly now, it will be much easier to contain. We all have a part to play but isolating ourselves if we are sick, helping friends, and making sure we all wash our hands with soap and water frequently.


Washing your hands with soap & water is the most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of illnesses like flu and norovirus.

It is really important that you wash your hands with soap and water frequently, and ALWAYS:
  • after using the bathroom;
  • after coughing, sneezing, or vomiting;
  • after contact with someone who is unwell;
  • before eating or preparing food.

Full information about self-care and handwashing, etc, at

Separate toilets for people with diarrhoea & vomiting

We now have 9 residents who have told us they are unwell with diarrhoea and/or vomiting. The true number is likely to be higher and some may have already contracted the illness but not developed symptoms yet.

To help prevent the spread of infection, s
ome bathrooms have been designated for the exclusive use of people who are unwell, and some for the exclusive use of people who have not been unwell for at least 48 hours. 

If you're unwell (or have been within 48 hours), only use bathrooms with a yellow triangle. 

If you are well (and haven't been unwell in the last 48 hours), only use bathrooms with a green tick.

And always... wash your hands!

Full information about self-care and handwashing, etc, at

Have you been unwell in the last 24 hours?

We are aware of a number of cases of diarrhoea and vomiting in the Hall. It is vital that we establish how many people are affected, so we can put infection control precautions in place if necessary.

If you've been unwell with diarrhoea and/or vomiting in the last 24 hours, please email us ASAP at and We need to know:

a) your name and room number;
b) what are your symptoms? (e.g. diarrhoea, vomiting, fever?);
c) when did your symptoms first start?;
d) did you eat in the dining hall at Connaught Hall on Thursday night, and if so, what did you eat?
e) do you need any practical help from us right now?

We will use your email to keep a list of everyone affected, and a member of staff will check that you're OK within 8 hours of receipt. If you need help more urgently, contact reception (extension 8200) and ask for the Duty Senior Member, available 24 hours a day over the weekend. If lots of people are affected, we may need to set up separate toilets for those who are ill, so as to avoid spreading their illness to others. We always notify our caterers of any outbreak of diarrhoeal illness in Hall, so they can commence an investigation into any possible allegations of food poisoning, although a viral illness such as Norovirus is more likely.

If you are ill with diarrhoea and vomiting, please visit your GP today if possible, tell them several residents have been unwell with the same symptoms, and ask if they will send a stool sample for you. This will help us work out which bug has caused people to be unwell, and maybe where came from.

Remember to drink plenty of clear fluids, use paracetamol to relieve pain and/or fever, and let a friend know that you're unwell. Please observe strict hygiene in the bathrooms to avoid passing any bugs to others! There is more advice about self-treatment of diarrhoea and vomiting here:

If you are not affected by any symptoms, please remember to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the bathroom or visiting anyone who is unwell. This will help ensure you don't catch anything.

I have put up more information on a dedicated page on our website:

Visit this link for blog updates on the situation: 

Happy lunar new year

Gong xi fa cai
Wishing you to be prosperous in the coming year.

Happy lunar new year to everyone who is welcoming in the year of the horse over the next two weeks. We at Connaught Hall wish you health, luck, and prosperity in this new year.

Xin nian kuai le!

Happy new year!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Lower ground floor: Looking after your wellbeing & welfare

We know that coming back to college after the Christmas break can be a really stressful time. Academic stress from exams and coursework deadlines, as well as the stress of making plans for accommodation next year, adds up and can take its toll on your personal welfare – sometimes in ways you couldn’t have predicted.
Recently, we have noticed frequent evidence of vomiting in the early evenings in the female toilets on your floor. We’re worried that someone might be feeling distressed and we want to help.
Here in Hall, the Senior Members and I are used to listening to residents’ worries and concerns. As Warden, as also in my other career as a medical doctor, I have many years’ experience of helping students like you deal with a whole array of issues, from self-harm and problems with food to relationship breakdown and revision problems. The Senior Members have all received mental health awareness training, including eating distress. We are here to listen, to understand, and to guide you to the best sources of help.
Conversations with us are confidential: the Senior Members might need to tell me about something if they’re worried, but we will only contact anyone outside the team if we consider that you are in immediate danger. So you really can come and talk to us about absolutely anything.
You can read about what we do and how we can help at there’s more about us in the Resident’s Handbook (
If you would like our help with something:
  • email me for an appointment – (I have some time available on Sunday evening this week);
  • come to an open office session –;
  • text me (if you want to be anonymous) on 07 907 753 894;
  • contact Joe, the Senior Member for your floor – – or Vikki, if you would prefer to talk with a female Senior Member –; or
  • ask reception to call the Duty Senior Member between 6pm and 9pm any evening (or overnight in a real emergency) – you don’t have to tell the security officer what the problem is; just say you really need to see the Duty Senior Member.
If you’re distressed about something but not ready or willing to speak with one of us yet, please consider checking out or calling one of these sources of external help:

Mental wellbeing

Talk things through with a trained volunteer on the phone, by text, or at their Central London branch (9am-9pm): 46 Marshall Street, London W1F 9BFCentral London branch:
08 457 90 90 90  -  -  Text: 07 725 90 90 90  -

Student volunteers offering telephone support
020 7631 0101  -  Skype: londonnightline  -


Support, information, and lots of advice leaflets on their website  -  0300 123 3393

Eating distress & food problems



Please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of us. We really do want to help.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Noise complaints

Since the beginning of this new term, I have become aware of a few noise complaints that in some cases have been an ongoing problem for several months, but have not be escalated to me to deal with, leaving the people suffering with noise now feeling very frustrated. It is possible that others find themselves in the same situation, so I am writing to remind you how to complain about noise. For I understand that noise can cause a lot of stress, anger, and sleeplessness, and I want to be able to help you with noise problems effectively.

Noise that could be fixed by building maintenance

If you are being troubled by a part of the building that makes noise (e.g. a pipe, a radiator, or a squeaky door). please report it in the maintenance book at reception. In most cases, it will be fixed within two working days. If it remains a problem after two working days, then email and it will be followed up at a higher level. 

Nocturnal noise from the courtyard garden or bar

The garden closes at 23.00. Except when we have a temporary event notice for a late party (not more than 6 times a year), there should never be anyone in the garden after 23.10, and no one in the bar after 23.30. Music from the bar should not audible in anyone’s bedroom after 23.00.

If you can hear noise from the bar or garden after 23.10, please phone reception (extension 8200) immediately and ask that the Duty Senior Member attends to deal with the noise. In addition, in the morning, email so I can look into why the garden and/or bar are not being closed at the proper time, and take corrective action. Send an email like this every time it happens. 

Noisy neighbours
The most common type of noise is that caused by other people. If your neighbours are making too much noise between 23.00 and 07.00, please follow the steps below:

  1. If noise from your neighbour is a rare occurrence (i.e. once or twice a term) and if you feel able to do so, knock on your neighbour’s door and ask them to be quieter.

    a. If the problem is not resolved 10 minutes after you spoke with them, call reception on extension 8200.

    b. If anyone is ever rude to you when you ask them to be quieter, call reception immediately and ask that the Duty Senior Member attends right away.

    c. If you have to speak to your neighbour about noise more than once a month, it’s time to stop trying this approach and go straight to point 2 below.

  2. If your neighbour is often noisy, or if you don’t feel able to speak with them yourself, please phone reception on extension 8200 and report the noise.

    a. If the problem is resolved within 10 minutes, enjoy a good night’s sleep and in the morning, email so that I can keep a record of what happened and when. In your email, tell us (i) what the noise was (voices, music, banging, etc); (ii) what time it was; (iii) what action you took. Send an email like this every time you ever have to call reception about noisy neighbours.

    b. If, 10 minutes after you called reception, it is still noisy, call again and this time ask that the Duty Senior Member attends to deal with the noise. Then, also send an email to giving the information listed in 2a above.

  3. If you have to call reception more than once a week, then please contact me to arrange an appointment or come to one of my open office sessions to discuss the next steps. But be aware that it is almost impossible for me to take effective disciplinary action unless you have called reception - as per point 2 above – at least two or three times previously. 

Page 60 of the Residents’ Handbook ( gives more advice about dealing with noise in Hall.

Ear plugs

I strongly recommend ear plugs for sleeping. They do not cancel out all noise, and they do still let your alarm clock wake you up. There will always be some noise in Hall – from traffic outside, people walking home after a night out, or banging doors along your corridor – that we cannot do anything about. Ear plugs can sometimes just help stop you from being woken up by these brief episodes of noise that otherwise might ruin your night’s sleep.

Could you be disturbing your neighbour(s)?
Our walls, floors, and ceilings are quite thin. It’s easy to cause noise for your neighbour without realising it. Please, whenever you are up after 23.00, think very carefully if what you are doing might be keeping your neighbour awake, especially if you have visitors in your room. The Residents’ Handbook gives this advice:

  • Respect others’ needs for quiet time: they may want to sleep or study at different times from you. Being unable to sleep or work when you need to can make you annoyed and stressed, and can seriously impact on your quality of life. You do not want to inflict those feelings on your neighbours.
  • Be polite and try to help if your neighbour knocks on your door and asks you to quieten down; next time it might be you asking for quiet!
  • Agree on quiet times with your neighbours, and times when it might be ok to make a bit more noise (not between 11.00 pm and 7.00 am, when everyone must be quiet).
  • Noise travels further than you think, so talk quietly in corridors; and don’t run or shout in hallways or stairwells.
  • Remember the walls between rooms are thin; and the floors and ceilings transmit sound very easily (most noise complaints are about the room above or below). Please make a conscious effort to think about your neighbours if you have visitors in your room at night.
  • Subwoofer speakers (with output in the 20-200 Hz range) are prohibited. If a subwoofer is found in your room after a noise complaint, it will be confiscated.
  • Our doors are heavy and have closer mechanisms to comply with fire safety regulations; so they make a bang when they close. Please try to pull your door closed quietly and pull the handle down so the lock doesn’t click, especially at night so you don’t wake up your neighbours.
  • In the garden keep noise down at all times: even a little noise here echoes around the courtyard and can disturb people in rear-facing bedrooms.
  • Outside the front of the building, don’t shout late at night: you can wake up almost half the Hall whose bedrooms face onto the square.
  • You must be quiet 11.00 pm to 7.00 am: no noise at all should be audible from outside your room between these times.

I hope some of this guidance is useful. As always, please talk to me if anything isn’t clear.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Away 10 - 21 January

I will be away until 21 January. Please contact the Hall Manager (in office hours) or Duty Senior Member (out of hours) via reception for help with anything you would normally contact me about. They can seek advice from the warden of another hall if required.

Please note that I will have limited internet access during this period, and will be unable to reply to emails and Facebook messages.

Management staff and Senior Members will still keep me updated about any serious developments while I am away.

Remember you can also write to: