Northumbria Students without heating or hot water on coldest night in over 60 years

Residents at Trinity Square had to bathe themselves in sinks and share blankets between flats

Fury has spread amongst residents of Northumbria University’s Trinity Square accommodation over disruption to basic utility services such as heating and hot water.

Over the last week residents of the accommodation, which is owned by Northumbria University and managed by Sodexo Student Living, have suffered disruption to heating, water, and WiFi in at least three separate incidents.

Many students in multiple blocks of the accommodation were without either heating or hot water on the night of the 10th February, which has been confirmed by the Met Office as the coldest night in the UK for nearly 60 years.

Residents of university-owned accommodation have been disgruntled previously, with multiple threats of rent strikes and action from the “9k4what?” campaign group earlier in the academic year.

Angelika, a first-year Law student living in Trinity Square, told us she’d struggled with the heating for most of January, and suffered the sub-zero temperatures last night.

She told The Newcastle Tab: “Sleeping in clothes isn’t the best. Not showering has been a struggle also; and having to boil water and wash myself in the sink has felt really degrading.

“I’ve put a lot of trust into this accommodation to have something in place for when stuff like this happens, but they’ve truly disappointed me.”

Last weekend, when students suffered an internet outage for over 16 hours, residents were unhappy when the accommodation providers turned off comments on posts in the official residents’ Facebook group, which led to an apology and comments being reinstated on the following morning.

There have also been reports of leaks and an ongoing problem with insect infestations in the flats.

The accommodation has made attempts to provide for students, offering the use of a shower normally used for the onsite gym to any student without hot water. They have also made multiple apologies on social media.

When approached by The Newcastle Tab, a Northumbria University spokesperson commented: “After being made aware of the heating outages we took immediate steps to rectify the issue, however we are sorry for any discomfort some students felt at this time. During this time, affected residents were offered a fire-safe alternative heat source to keep warm, as well as a token of appreciation for their patience as the issues were corrected. Engineers on site have fixed the problem and we are confident that the problem has been resolved.

“We take all issues around accommodation extremely seriously and will respond immediately to them as soon as we are made aware of them. If any students are currently experiencing any problems within their residence, they should report them to the Help Desk within their accommodation as soon as they can.”

The issues at the accommodation have led to the intervention of the 9k4what campaign group. Nicole, a second-year Criminology student and 9k4what member, told The Newcastle Tab: “The problem is that these issues have been ongoing for this past academic year, if not longer. The accommodation and University have neglected students.

“These issues have just come to light recently as the straw that broke the camel’s back: no wifi, no heating, and now not even a chance to get a warm shower. It’s gotten to the point where people from different flats are having to share blankets and hot water bottles.”

Students at the Gateshead-based accommodation pay a minimum of £121 a week for their accommodation, which works out at over £5,200 a year. This is more than many students’ maintenance loan, often resulting in students turning to savings or part-time jobs to afford their accommodation.

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