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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Kitchen gas supply restored

As previously advised via Facebook and posters, the gas supply to the kitchen has been restored and all meals are being served at Connaught Hall as normal.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

No gas in the kitchen

A gas fault in the kitchen means we are currently unable to prepare any hot food at Connaught Hall.

Starting from dinner on Saturday 15 February, all meals will be served at International Hall, Lansdowne Terrace, WC1N 1AS. (Here's a map:

Meals will be at the same time as at Connaught Hall.

We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused and will keep you updated via this blog.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

CCTV to be installed in pantries this week

Sadly, I receive many complaints about food being stolen from the pantry refrigerators. A very small minority of residents are responsible for this, I know, but I still find it quite extraordinary and very disappointing that adults at some of the best higher education institutions in the world engage in such petty theft.
We already have one tested, effective method for detecting food thieves. But its efficacy depends upon the technique being kept secret, and it is very time-consuming for staff, so we cannot operate that method all the time. That is why, from this week, we will be placing mobile CCTV cameras in the pantries. Some cameras will be hidden; others will be more visible as a deterrent. Not every pantry will be monitored all the time: we will rotate the cameras between different places.
Anyone who is caught stealing food will be subject to disciplinary action.
I am very disappointed that it has proven necessary to take this step. I have argued many times against installing CCTV in common rooms, pantries, and the bar because I very much dislike infringing your privacy in this way. But the number of complaints recently has made it plain that we simply must do something more.
Ideally, we shall not catch anyone stealing food: much better that those responsible simply stop doing it! For sometimes, your fellow residents keep food in the fridge because they are unwell and can only muster an appetite for certain foods, or because they have special dietary requirements. They might have to go hungry if someone else takes their food, whether we catch the thief or not. And whatever the reason for having food in the refrigerators, it is really upsetting (and can be expensive) to find it stolen by someone else.
So please only take food or drink from the fridge if you bought it.
I thought it important to write to you about our new CCTV initiative because you may wish to dress or behave differently when using the pantries if you know you may be being recorded. We have ensured that clear signs are displayed to remind you that CCTV may be in operation.
As always, come to an open office session ( or write to me if you have any concerns or if anything is not clear.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Lower ground floor: hygienic use of toilet facilities

I wrote to you just over a week ago with an offer of help and support in case you are feeling stressed or unwell at the moment. I particularly mentioned eating distress because we have noticed that there has been frequent soiling of the toilet facilities on your floor with vomitus, first before Christmas, but worse this term.
No one has asked for help so far, although of course that offer remains open and will remain open for the rest of the year. I have included a copy of my last letter with this one in case you misplaced it before.
The soiling of the toilet facilities, however, has become a greater problem. This must now stop immediately.
As well as vomitus in and around the toilet, we have seen toilets blocked with paper and sanitary products – and even a toilet brush. This is very unfair on other uses of those facilities, extremely unpleasant for the cleaners, and poses a hygiene risk, particularly in view of our recent outbreak of diarrhoea & vomiting. This can only be deliberate: sanitary products and toilet brushes do not put themselves into the toilets. And whilst all of us at Connaught Hall will do our utmost to help and support anyone who is experiencing mental or physical health challenges, we will not allow the continued deliberate soiling of toilet facilities.
Please follow this guidance:
  1. Place any sanitary products for disposal in the bins provided. 
    Do not put them in the toilet.
  2. Use the sanitizer spray provided and a small amount of toilet tissue to clean the toilet seat before use (if you wish to). 
    Do not put layer upon layer of tissue on the toilet seat, as this causes blockages when it is flushed away.
  3. If you have an accident and soil the toilet seat or the area surrounding the toilet, please use the cleaning spay and some toilet tissue to wipe it up and then flush away the tissue. 
    Do not leave faeces or vomitus on the seat or around the toilet.

    Cleaning spray has now been provided, so there is no excuse for leaving a mess.
  4. After you have flushed the toilet, use a brush if necessary to clean it. Do not use a brush while there is still tissue in the toilet bowl.
  5. If you notice any soiling of the bathroom or toilet facilities, please report it immediately:
  • Phone reception (extension 8200) and tell them what the problem is; and
  • Send an email to so we can build up a record of exactly when this is happening. This should help us to track down the person responsible.
  • If you have any suspicion of who might be responsible, please talk to me in confidence.
I hope this is clear. Allow me to stress again that if you are experiencing problems right now, we will do our best to help and support you. Provided there is not more soiling of the toilet facilities, there will be no disciplinary repercussions. If, however, this mess continues to be a problem, I will have no option but to pursue this as a disciplinary matter, for the sake of all the other residents on the lower ground floor.
As always, please contact me if you need any help, advice, or further explanation.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Toilet isolation lifted this morning

There have been no new reports of residents being unwell with diarrhoea and vomiting for over 36 hours.

This morning, as each toilet block is cleaned, the yellow triangle and green tick signs will be removed and all bathrooms will be back in normal use for everyone except:

  • on the first floor, the single toilet next to room 128; and
  • on the second floor, the single toilet next to room 228.

These two toilets will be for the exclusive use of people who have had any diarrhoea and/or vomiting within the last 48 hours.

If you have had diarrhoea and/or vomiting within the last 48 hours, we ask that you please only use one of these two toilets, until you have been free from symptoms for 48 hours.

We should be able to return these two toilets to normal use tomorrow or Wednesday, provided no one else becomes unwell.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Food poisoning investigation

The pattern of cases of diarrhoea & vomiting so far is more suggestive of person-to-person spread than of food poisoning, but we always conduct a full investigation into food safety whenever there is an outbreak of this type of illness in Hall.

The catering team will send food samples for analysis if there is any food left from Thursday night, which is when most people became unwell. 

It is also really helpful if anyone who is unwell sees their GP and has a stool sample sent for analysis. This is the only sure way to determine what the cause of this illness is.

Finally, we ask that everyone who has been affected completes this form and sends it to or hands a printed copy to the Hall Manager on Monday morning:

D&V: Fewer notifications in last 24 hours

Only two new notifications of people being unwell with diarrhoea and vomiting have come through in the last 24 hours. If there are no more notifications overnight tonight, we may be able to reduce the number of toilets reserved for sick people on Sunday morning.

It is extremely important that if you are unwell with diarrhoea and vomiting today - or if you have been in the last two days, but haven't told us yet - that you tell us by email. If we don't have accurate numbers and locations of those who are sick, we cannot make a proper assessment of when to relax the isolation precautions, and we cannot help you individually if we don't know you're unwell!

We need you to tell us by email: not in person, telephone, Facebook, or any other means. This helps us to keep an accurate log and ensures that everyone who needs to know does know in a timely manner. 

So if you are or have been unwell in the last two days, please send an email to both and Please send an email even if you have already told a member of staff verbally or by some other means.

In your email, please mention:

  • your name and room number;
  • what are your symptoms? (e.g. diarrhoea, vomiting, fever?);
  • when did your symptoms first start?;
  • did you eat in the dining hall at Connaught Hall on Thursday night, and if so, what did you eat?
  • do you need any practical help from us right now?
There is lots of information about this outbreak, and tips on how to look after yourself if you are diarrhoea and/or vomiting, at

Updates are being posted here on my blog. You can see them all at