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Thursday, 3 December 2015

November survey - Quick fixes

These are some quick answers to points raised in our November 2015 mini feedback survey. Other, more complex, matters, will get their own posts as we work through your feedback in the next few weeks.


HOW TO REPORT FACILITIES PROBLEMS



"One thing which is difficult is communicating an immediate issue with the facilities. For example the women's bathrooms on the 3rd floor: [...] . These are small issues but the problem is I don't know if anyone has already reported it and they are soon to be fixed. Also I am not positive who to go to about these small issues."


Thank you for letting us know about these problems. There are two simple ways you can report this kind of thing: (1) write it in the blue maintenance folder which is always left open on the desk at main reception; or (2) send an email to suggestions@connaught-hall.org.uk. Our housekeeping and maintenance teams can often fix this kind of thing within one or two working days.


NEWSLETTERS ARE HARD TO READ


"The necessary information is supplied although the email newsletters are usually quite overwhelming and not that easy to read - it would be possible to miss information this way. [...] Emails could be clearer if they were shorter (less to scroll down) or had a highlights section at the top."

Sorry about this! To send mass emails, we use custom-built software called Kinetics (it also contains all your payment details, contract, emergency numbers, and so on). But it's rubbish for emails: only plain text, no html, and it mixes some characters up.

We will send future newsletters either as a pdf attachment, or as a link to an html post on this blog.


LONDON LIVING WAGE


"With a job for my university, I am paid the London Living Wage and wonder if the staff at Connaught Hall are paid the same."

Yes, all University of London staff and contract staff (e.g. security, catering, housekeeping) are paid at least the London Living Wage.


CULTURAL EVENTS, NOT JUST DRINKING PARTIES


"I feel lucky to have the opportunity on carving a pumpkin on Halloween. There should be more meaningful events like this besides just drinking parties."

It's great that you enjoyed pumpkin carving! Since that event, we've hosted a Diwali celebration, a German night, and American Thanksgiving (with the chance to make hand turkeys!). Coming up, we've got Christmas decorating, Christmas dinner, Lunar New Year, Burns' night, and Valentine's day - all cultural celebrations where the focus doesn't have to be on drinking. We hope you enjoy them!


PEST CONTROL


"apparently many of my friends report having seen a few mouses on the lower basement, in the cafeteria or in the bar... "

Our pest control team are currently dealing with this situation. They have excluded the possibility that rodents are living inside the Hall - it seems they are coming in when doors are propped open on the lower ground floor.

Please, please report any rodent sightings to suggestions@connaught-hall.org.uk so we can pass this information to our pest control team.


OVERNIGHT GUEST RESTRICTIONS


"increase the number of guests a month"

Although the basic allowance is 10 overnight guest stays per calendar month, I will almost always grant exceptions to this rule. You only have to ask me. See the green text at the bottom of this poster: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8aHo3-r-MQLdG9qWXE5aGg0dDQ/view


OPEN THE DINING HALL DURING THE DAY


"It would be great if dining halls are opened in the mid-day. So that when we order lunch together, we can eat there together. Or, sometimes we want to study together in the environment that is opened for discussion and Lang Room is often not the best place to do that. If dining hall is opened to us for studying, it would be wonderful."

We do allow you to use the dining hall for study during the daytime (between about 10am and 5pm, depending on how much cleaning the staff need to do after breakfast and before dinner).

You are welcome to use the toaster in the dining hall at lunch time. But we can't provide the bread or stuff to put on it.

If you go to use the dining hall in the middle of the day and find it closed, just ask in the Hall office (behind reception) so they can prompt the catering staff to unlock it for you.


BAR & GARDEN CLOSING AT 11PM


"Common rooms are nice but it is a shame that the bar closes at 11pm, even the garden. I understand that things could become 'rowdy' but it might be an improvement to give the bar staff some control over whether they kick you out - kicking out a small group of three or four chatting quietly at 11pm on a weeknight, for example, hardly seems necessary."

This is really about striking a balance between people who want to stay up and people who want to sleep. Because of the way the bar sticks out into the courtyard, noise inside the bar can sometimes be heard in ground- and lower ground- floor rooms facing the garden. We have been receiving noise complaints about the bar this term, and part of my response to the complainants is that I can guarantee that it always closes at 11pm. If we don't lock up at 11, the bar would have to stay open all night (I can't ask senior members and bar staff to stay up even later to lock up.)

The Bell room and the Bamforth room, which are further removed from living accommodation, stay open all night. Noise in those areas is much less of a problem.


VACUUM CLEANER


"If my room is not cleaned / forgotten about (possibly), can I request for someone to vacuum it - or even request to use the hoover myself?"

Yes! There is a vacuum cleaner behind reception, which you can borrow by leaving your Hall ID card. Also, if your room has been missed on the day it should have been cleaned, email info.connaught@london.ac.uk to see if they can re-schedule for you.


PACKED BREAKFAST & PACKED DINNER


Quite a few responses asked for packed meals to be available at the weekend.

I can confirm that packed meals are available seven days a week.

You can order a packed breakfast for any day of the week (Mon to Sun) by leaving your ID card at reception before 5pm the day before the packed breakfast is required (e.g. before 5pm on Friday for a packed breakfast on Saturday).

You can order a packed dinner for any day of the week (Mon to Sun) by leaving your ID card at reception before 11am on the day.



DIRTY WASHING MACHINES IN LAUNDRETTE


"I have washed my clothes down the laundrette, and because the washing machine was dirty, all my clothes were polluted."

We reported this to WashStation, who manage our laundrette facilities. They sent an engineer who was able to resolve the problem.

If you find any problems with our washing or drying machines, you can report it directly to WashStation yourself, for a faster response: call 0800 141 2331 or email service@washstation.co.uk.




QUIET STUDY ROOM


"It would be nice to have another common room for studying. The one that is available is very close to the bar, so it's hard to focus there."

We hope to be able to re-open the Convocation Trust Study Room (on the lower ground floor, further down the corridor where the laundrette is) next term. It's had to be used as a storage room and workshop this term for the lower ground bathroom refurbishment.



CATERING STAFF FEEDBACK



A number of responses to our survey mentioned rude or unfriendly catering staff.

We wonder if these responses were demonstrating a lag effect. In late October, we identified some lapses in customer service in the dining hall. Some catering staff were redeployed as a result; and we were joined by some new servery assistants. 

We hope these changes have improved customer service in the dining hall - and the changes would have been happening just at the time that this survey was conducted, so might not have been reflected in your feedback. But as always, we depend on your comments (good and bad) to tell us how you're finding things. 

So keep in touch about this and let us know about your customer experience in the dining hall at suggestions@connaught-hall.org.uk.



COOKING FACILITIES FOR RESIDENTS

The single most common suggestion in your survey responses was for there to be cooking facilities / access to a toaster in the daytime / larger pantries / more refrigerator space / fridges with lockable compartments.

As mentioned above, we do already allow you to use the toaster in the dining hall at lunch time. You must provide your own bread and toppings, of course.

Space is at a premium in Connaught Hall, as in all central London halls of residence. We unfortunately do not have any spare room available to put more fridges on each floor. And in the refrigerators we do have, we could only fit in maybe 6 or 8 lockable compartments, which is clearly insufficient for the 40+ residents on most floors.

On cooking facilities - we try to strike a balance between being a fully catered hall, offering SOME cooking facilities (microwaves, fridges, dining hall toaster), and preventing false fire alarms - and real fires - that can be caused by cooking. The policy on this - set by the central University of London, rather than by us at Connaught Hall - is that we are not allowed to offer ovens or hobs in our pantries. The same policy applies in all the intercollegiate halls.

Whilst we understand there can be some frustrations in not being able to cook for yourself, and we strive to take action on all feedback we possibly can, regrettably this is one area where we cannot adopt the suggestions put forward in our survey.