News stories from across the Facilities Directorate at the University of Leeds.

The Edge winners pose with their award.

FD Marketing, Sales & Communications team scoop top national award

An initiative to attract new members to The Edge – the University’s health club – has won Best Marketing Campaign at the 2023 CUBO Awards.

As the national body for campus and commercial services professionals in HE and FE, the CUBO awards are recognised throughout the sector. The ceremony took place at their conference at the University of Glasgow last Thursday (6 July.)

Ann Allen, Director of Campus Innovation & Development said: 

“These are tough times for many people, including our students, and we work hard to offer great value for money in all of our commercial services, including The Edge which had a major upgrade just a few months ago.

“Working closely with students, the Sport & Physical Activity team consistently review membership packages to make sure they are meeting their needs.

“The marketing team’s imaginative and strategic approach to sales includes a full and sympathetic understanding of this external context. I send them my very warm congratulations for this well-deserved achievement.”

A new approach 

Following the pandemic, membership at The Edge severely declined and the club sought to understand more about what student members wanted.

Led by Tom Pickering, Sales and Marketing Manager, and Emily Halsall, Marketing Officer, the team undertook extensive research, creating detailed personas to understand what the diverse student membership population were looking for and their preferences for communication.

A key takeaway was that they wanted to hear more about the experiences of their peers and less from the University.

Feedback has been very positive for both the campaign and the services on offer and  almost as many people are using the Edge now as they were pre-pandemic.

To view the state-of-the-art facilities at The Edge, click here to visit the Leeds Sport website.

FD bulletin

FD Bulletin – June 2023

Email sent to all FD staff from Ann Allen, Director of Campus Innovation and Development, on Friday 30 June.

As we reach the end of term and another academic year, I want to start with a big thank you. It’s been a busy year with plenty of challenges as always, but I do believe that we are increasingly coming together as a single directorate. Thank you for all the work you do and thank you for how you support your colleagues across the FD.

Having your say and making a difference

Key to how we work better together is creating different ways for people to have a say. This is one of the key aims of the People & Culture strand of our business plan. At the end of last year the new FD Leadership Forum was established and I’m so delighted that this week I got the chance to meet the new Staff Voice group. Others have chosen to give voice to their views through strike action and as always I hope that both those on strike and those who have come to work feel that their decisions and choices have been respected.

The Employee Engagement Survey was a great opportunity to speak up, and 53% of you did. Thanks to everyone who helped us to get that great response rate. We have recently shared some brief headline findings from the survey, and the People and Culture working group are sifting through more data.

Further FD-specific results will be shared through the Leadership Forum and Staff Voice group so that we can discuss and understand what the data is telling us and find ways to address any issues. This is in addition to analysis of findings at a University level which will be shared through staff communications channels like eNews.

Partnership and community

As one of the largest institutions in Leeds, we are increasingly working in partnership with other key organisations locally and nationally to make Leeds a wonderful place to live and work. This includes the City Council and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust as the idea of a Leeds Innovation Arc develops.

There are some great examples of collaboration already, including Gair Wood and the FD’s recent work with the Environment Agency and others to rescue endangered crayfish. I very much enjoyed celebrating the successes of the Sustainability team at an event this week. Their work to affect our relationship with local communities is inspiring.

The future

The opening of Cloth Hall Court this year provides exciting new opportunities for the Conferencing and Catering teams. The launch event was a wonderful occasion and all the teams involved in creating this venue should feel very proud.

Next year we will be focusing on making our campus an even better place for students and staff through our ‘reimagining the campus’ work and Net Zero by 2020. A cultural highlight for me this year was “Another Brick in the Wall”, an exhibition which celebrated our architecture and the development of the campus in the 1960s (with Print & Mail producing some of the lovely prints.) I’m excited about the campus development of the future and I want it to be equally as inspiring.

Learning from the hybrid meeting rooms pilot – led by Andrea Kerridge and Jon Stothard and team – will also be really useful as we decide on how best to meet the needs of staff.

And that, of course, is why we are all here – to support the University Strategy and make this University a place where students and staff can thrive.

And finally…

On my first-ever day at Leeds, I went to see Rosa Quintana’s wonderful photographs of her colleagues during the pandemic months. Twelve months later Rosa and her colleagues are still making a difference. Rosa was named Cleaning Operative of the Year at the 2022 British Association of Cleaning Services in Higher Education Conference. Next month she returns there as their official photographer, which feels like a very positive way to end the year.

Jill Roberts, the Conferencing team and many other people across the University were involved in the success of this project, and that is when we are at our best – working together to make a difference.

I hope to see you at the next FD Staff Social in the Great Hall on Monday 31 July, 4.30-5.30pm.

Ann Allen,
Director of Campus Innovation and Development

Grid of Facilities Directorate employee head & shoulder photos

FD Bulletin: May 2023

Email sent to all FD staff from Ann Allen, Director of Campus Innovation and Development, on Wednesday 31 May.

It’s that time of year when teaching is over and assessments are well underway. 

More than ever, we hope that our students find the spaces we create and maintain serve them well as they navigate through their studies and – in some cases – prepare for the next stage of their lives. Thanks to all of you, our campus has wonderful spaces in which to study and to find moments of calm and wellbeing.  

On a personal note, it’s nearly a year since I started my role in the FD. I’m so proud of what we have achieved together, and guided by our road map – the business plan – we now have a clear path ahead. This all underpins the University’s Strategy and shows that we have an essential role to play in helping our students and staff achieve their potential and make a difference. Thank you for all your help and guidance in my first year. 

Staff Survey 

I was pleased to see the results of the University’s Employee Engagement Survey shared last week across the University. For the FD, a group of colleagues in the People & Culture working group are analysing our results and we will work with the FD Leadership Forum and FD Staff Voice to prioritise activity and implement change.

It’s early days yet and we’ll be sure to keep you up to date with progress. Thank you again to those who completed the survey and those who helped promote it. 

Net Zero by 2030  

Estates and Sustainability are making fantastic progress in our plans to deliver the Pathway to Net Zero 2030, a key commitment of the Climate Plan published in 2021 and one of the University KPIs.

Underpinned by detailed feasibility studies, and responding to financial, political and environmental changes since 2021, we now have a business case that offers an achievable means of delivery.It has been developed in close collaboration with academic leaders, is in line with research recommendations and is making its way through University feedback and sign off processes. The teams will keep us updated.  

Hybrid Meeting Rooms 

A lot of hard work has gone into the pilot of the hybrid meeting rooms project which launched last week; thank you to Jon Stothard, Andrea Kerridge and many others. This is a chance to trial ways in which virtual and physical meetings can come together successfully. You can find out more in this article on For Staff and I urge you to offer your feedback on the rooms to help shape the future of our spaces.  


I was delighted to hear that our very own Natalie Cherry – Assistant Manager of Residence Life at Leeds – was awarded New Professional of the Year at the CUBO Residence Life Conference earlier in May. Natalie has done outstanding work this year, including an overhaul of the Social Committee programme for Residence Life which led to a 38% increase in students volunteering. This is such an important aspect of the student experience so this work has real impact. Many congratulations, Natalie.  

The Residence Life team also hosted the Hall Awards  in partnership with LUU in May to celebrate the achievements of our social committees, Residence Life assistants and residents of our halls. I was so glad I was able to attend and hear about all the fantastic events and activities being organised in our halls of residence.  

And finally, congratulations to Rob Wadsworth for being appointed as the new Chair of the Sport Leeds Partnership, a city-wide group including education providers, professional sports teams and others that collaborate to promote opportunities across the city and further afield.  

Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon 

Thank you to everyone who supported the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon across our services including SPA and Estates. This included hosting Leeds Philharmonic Chorus on Parkinson Steps and a last-minute request from race organisers to provide extra barriers. Our teams also worked with a brilliant group of student volunteers who set up and ran a water station.

I know several people from the FD took part in the race itself too – congratulations! 

Ann Allen,
Director of Campus Innovation and Development

Students pose for a photo at the Halls Awards 2023

Celebrating the Residence Life Halls Awards 2023

On 11 May, the Residence Life team hosted the Halls Awards in partnership with LUU to celebrate all the achievements of our outstanding Social Committees, Residence Life Assistants and residents of our halls! 

Residence Life Assistants (RLAs) are students that live in halls and provide support to the other students living at the residence, while Social Committees are students that volunteer and come together to form a team that organises events and activities for other residents in their hall.   

Both teams dedicate lots of time and effort throughout the year to make the halls experience at Leeds supportive and enjoyable so we were thrilled to reward their hard work. We received nearly double the nominations we have in previous years. It was fantastic to see that our students are so appreciative of what they do. 

There were winners from across our halls on the night, with the biggest success of the night being Leodis, who took home a massive 3 RLA awards! There was also a fantastic medley performance from the cast of Devonshire Hall’s production of ‘Be More Chill’, which was nominated for Event of the Year.

Attendees included shortlisted students from across our halls of residences, Residential Services and Facilities Directorate staff as well as members of University senior leadership.   

Organised by Natalie Cherry (Assistant Manager – Residence Life) and Natasha Pickles (LUU Events Coordinator for Residences) and the rest of the Residence Life team, the event was a huge success enjoyed by everyone who attended.   

“It was wonderful seeing so many students and staff come together to celebrate the Halls community and the work going into supporting students in residences. The Residence Life Social Committees and Residence Life Assistants who won awards last week were exemplary of the hard work, dedication and joy that runs through all the work that we do.

I’m particularly happy that we were able to award two students the Halls Hero award, which is an award that any resident can win simply for being a great friend or a supportive flatmate. The number of nominations we received was really exciting and it was lovely to read all the ways in which Residence Life has made an impact on the student experience. Whether it be a great event or a helpful chat with an RLA, residents are clearly grateful for their peers and the work they do.”

– Natalie Cherry, Assistant Manager – Residence Life 


Natalie Cherry accepts the award for ResLife New Professional of the Year 2023

Residence Life Assistant Manager wins prestigious industry award

In May the Residence Life Team attended the annual CUBO (College and University Business Officers) Residence Life Conference in Nottingham. The team had the chance to meet other industry professionals, get involved with workshops and come up with new ideas about how to constantly improve students’ experiences in halls.

During the conference, the CUBO Residence Life Star awards ceremony took place. These awards recognise the hard work of Residence Life professionals and students across the country. The big award of the evening, New Professional of the Year, went to our very own Assistant Manager of Residence Life at Leeds, Natalie Cherry!

Natalie was nominated by the Assistant Director of Accommodation and Residence Life, Rebecca O’Hare, and the Residence Life team for all the time and effort she dedicates to helping our students in halls.

Natalie has done incredible work this year. She completely overhauled the Social Committee programme for Residence Life. This is a voluntary role that helps students to develop new skills and organise their own events in halls. Her efforts led to impressive results regarding student involvement with the Social Committees. This included a 38% increase in students volunteering and a 47% decrease in students withdrawing from the programme.

She is also responsible for organising the Halls Awards every year. This is an incredible event where we celebrate the achievements of our Residence Life Assistants (RLAs) and Residence Life Social Committee (RLSC) members. We also reward students that have made other people’s time in halls extra special. This year we received double the number of nominations we did last year, and the event was an overwhelming success.

“I was truly shocked and so happy to win the Residence Life New Professional award. I work with such a fantastic team, and to have them nominate and support me was a really lovely experience. I was happy to be shortlisted in the first instance, so when they announced my name at the awards, I could not believe it!

Thank you so much to my colleagues Sarah, Rebecca, Rita, Dom, Lucy, Josh and Tasha, and also to CUBO for considering me for this prize. I’m really excited to go to America for the ACUHO-I Conference 2023! I think it will be an eye-opening experience and I hope I’ll learn a lot about how Residence Life operates overseas. I’ll be sure to bring back everything I learn to Leeds so that we can continue to improve our service here.”

– Natalie Cherry, Assistant Manager – Residence Life


FD Bulletin web header displaying 'FD Staff Voice'

FD Bulletin: April 2023

Email sent to all FD staff from Ann Allen, Director of Campus Innovation and Development, on Friday 28 April.

This time of year always bring a fresh burst of energy with it and there has been some fantastic activity here in the FD. Seeing our business plan – Our Way Ahead – come to life is very exciting. Thank you to everyone for your efforts.

New brand for Conferencing

The Conferences team have been especially busy and this week launched their new brand. MEETinLEEDS has become ‘University of Leeds Conferences and Events’. This change brings the service’s identity closer to the main University brand to reap the benefits of the strong recognition that we have as a world-class institution.  

The new brand was showcased at our Cloth Hall Court venue in the city centre on Monday as the team hosted the welcome event for the Conference Hospitality Show Leeds. I was so impressed by the positive buzz in the room about the service we offer and about the venue itself. This represents a fantastic new commercial opportunity for the University. Congratulations to Sam Glenister-Batey and his team.

Commercial success

Maximising opportunities such as Cloth Hall Court and the wider work of the Conferences team to deliver positive commercial contributions to the University is core to Aim Three of our business plan. I want to stress once again that this plan forms the blueprint for everything we do and has two questions at its heart: how do we work together to get smarter with our essential day-to-day service delivery, and how can we do more to help the University deliver its Strategy? Our Way Ahead gives us a clear focus for the next three years.

Staff Voice

I enjoyed chatting to many of you at the FD Staff Social on Tuesday, especially about the launch of the Staff Voice. The People & Culture group have worked at pace on this because defining our culture is the core activity for this year for Aim One of the business plan.  Please do read more about the group and consider applying to be an Ambassador or a Champion. There’s a very short form online or a paper copy will be available from your line manager. It’s your chance to get involved! Thank you to Jane Clayton and the Staff Voice group for all their work.

Single-use plastics

Work to address single-use plastic (SUP) in University operations is continuing via the Plastics Programme. This aligns to the Climate Plan objectives and builds on the Plastic pledge. Many areas across the FD including Catering, Cleaning and Residences have already been instrumental in achieving significant reductions in their SUP. Thank you to all involved for your sustained efforts on this. Please do get behind this work and contact Claire Booth if you have any questions.

Digital innovation

Last week the University hosted the international Digital Universities UK Conference. It was a great opportunity to showcase how the FD creates amazing spaces to enables the success of students and staff. We were able to provide delegates with a preview of HELIX, a new space in E.C Stoner filled with state-of-the-art digital equipment. I can’t wait to see what comes out of there!

I’m also excited to see the progress made with the hybrid meeting rooms project. You may have have noticed new equipment in some of our meeting rooms prior to the pilot beginning next month. This is the start of work to provide a streamlined and efficient service for everyone in the University booking meeting rooms.

Both of these projects are part of our activity to create places that are sustainable, inspiring and creative.

A quick update on the three new Director-level roles that we are recruiting for. I’ve been thrilled with the amount of interest and with the quality of the applicants. The closing date has now passed and the interviewing process is in train. I look forward to telling you more in due course.

Finally, congratulations to Theresa Fahy and Stephanie Bligh from Cleaning Services. They recently clocked up 872,538 steps and raised over £1000 for Cancer Research UK’s ‘Walk all Over Cancer’. Brilliant work!

Ann Allen,
Director of Campus Innovation and Development

Grid of Facilities Directorate employee head & shoulder photos

FD Bulletin: March 2023

Email sent to all FD staff from Ann Allen, Director of Campus Innovation and Development, on Friday 31 March.

I’m starting this month with a big thank you for supporting the Employee Engagement Survey. I’m pleased to say that 53% of FD staff took part which compares very favourably with other teams across the University.

The results of the survey are being collated by the University and we will use the FD People and Culture group (P&C), part of Our Way Ahead, to undertake some initial analysis of the FD results and share the findings in the coming weeks.

We are committed to finding ways for everyone to be heard. I’m really pleased that the P&C group led by Rob Wadsworth and with representatives from across all of our services is now well-established. A proposal to form a Staff Voice group is their first task – Rob and I will be able to tell you more about that in April.

The end of another term

As we reach the end of another term, it’s been wonderful to see so many more students back on campus. This brings more work, and particular thanks to Catering who I know are getting much busier. Their support around the cost of living initiatives and the £2.95 meal offer is much appreciated. These are still available to everyone and are fantastic value for money.

Looking ahead to the summer term, we know that it will be a busy one with the usual round of exams, graduation and repurposing the campus for conferences and other events. Increasing numbers of staff are back on campus which prompts us to think about how we are using our spaces and whether they are fit for purpose. The pilot scheme for hybrid meeting rooms – launching in May – is one of the ways that we are addressing this. Thanks to Andrea Kerridge, Jon Stothard and the teaching space support team for all their work.

Collaboration across the FD

There are some lovely examples of collaboration to celebrate this month. Examples include the building of HELIX, a new space in E.C Stoner for staff and students to develop ideas for how digital tools can be used to enhance teaching and learning. Thanks to Sarah Bacsich and team for managing this complex build with multiple stakeholders against the backdrop of the Digital Universities UK Conference which the University is hosting from 17-20 April.

The Security team have led an initiative to donate more than 300 bicycles abandoned on campus to a charity which helps train people in prison to repair them. A great result.


Also, congratulations to Ian Robertson and all of the team in Residential Services for their sector-leading scores in the Investors in Students survey. This is a testament to the hard work of many teams, particularly those in student-facing roles in our halls and within our Residence Life team. The data gathered will be used to set objectives to continue to improve the experience of living in halls.

Congratulations to Katie Clegg from Sustainability who has recently been appointed to the position of Director of Sustainability at Leeds Trinity University. While we are sad to see Katie leave, she goes knowing she has made a huge contribution to the University’s approach to sustainability.

We are also saying goodbye to Sara Hayes, our Interim Deputy Director of Estates & Facilities (Campus Services) who is retiring next month. Sara has made a real difference in her short time in the FD and I know that we will all miss her expert advice and energy. She has many exciting adventures planned and we will get a chance to mark both her and Katie’s departures in the coming weeks. Details to follow.

And finally, to those celebrating Ramadan, I wish you a peaceful and joyful month.

Ann Allen,
Director of Campus Innovation and Development

Aerial view of University of Leeds campus

Amazing effort from Residential Services to help stranded students

At the end of January an inspection by the fire service resulted in the private, non-University affiliated residence Eldon Court being closed at short notice. This left students from several universities including 170 University of Leeds students suddenly displayed from their accommodation. Thanks to the hard work and tireless efforts from staff across Residential Services, the University was able to respond quickly and efficiently to help support these students in their time of need.   

What happened

On 24 January staff were notified that Eldon Court was closing with immediate effect. They got to work straight away to find solutions. Team members in the Accommodation Office and site staff co-ordinated to confirm which rooms were ready for students to move into. Other colleagues and Security Services attended Eldon Court to provide reassurance to distressed students. They then redirected them to the Refectory whilst their emergency accommodation was arranged.  

Our response to help students

The team handled calls, emails and in person meetings with displaced residents to provide emergency accommodation within hours of them having to leave Eldon Court. At the same time they continued to provide a high-quality service for our existing residents in halls. Before the offer of free emergency accommodation came to an end, many of these students chose to stay in our halls for the rest of the academic year.  

End results

The dedication, hard work and perseverance of the Residential Services team provided 173 students with emergency accommodation. The Accommodation Office subsequently offered 159 residents permanent accommodation. Of these, 76 students from Eldon Court are still living with us in halls.  

The Eldon Court incident perfectly demonstrated the amazing things that Residential Services can do when we are all working together, towards the same goal.

Colleagues within the Accommodation Office worked tirelessly to provide invaluable and time sensitive support to help students displaced during an incredibly stressful and disruptive event. I am extremely proud of how they worked to support residents and each other, in the delivery of this service. The success of their teamwork can be seen in the number of residents that we were able to support and the level of service that we continued to provide as standard.

It’s really important to highlight that we wouldn’t have been able to deliver the service that we did without the tremendous effort of colleagues, including site staff at University residences and those that we are partnered with, as well as Security Services.

The level of responsiveness and communication that we received from these colleagues was integral to the service that we were able to provide, and I’d like to thank them for being the face of Residential Services throughout this period.

Chantelle Aleksander, Accommodation Office Manager

Students playing air hocking in Montague Burton

Success for Residential Services in student experience survey

Residential Services are this year taking part in the Investor in Students survey. This student experience survey is run by student accommodation experts the WAU agency over two rounds of insight. It aims to give a 360 view of the experience of living in student accommodation. This is done by measuring the sentiment of students living in halls, the staff who work in them and the senior management who run them.  

There are currently 16 organisations participating in the survey. This includes other universities such as the University of Birmingham and the University of Sheffield. It also includes purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) providers like Homes for Students.  

First round – student experience survey

The first short survey to students in our accommodation saw a strong response rate of 28% in autumn 2022. The results were largely extremely positive. There were particularly strong scores for the check-in process and the cleanliness and condition of our accommodation when students arrived.  

For both of these questions we scored the highest out of all organisations surveyed. Clearly a testament to the fantastic effort and hard work put in by staff over the summer months! This ensures that students not only have a great first experience of their accommodation, but that their welcome to the University as a whole is positive.  

Second round – including staff in survey

The second round of the survey will be out in late April 2023. This time we will also be asking our staff for their impression of the student experience at the University. This helps to identify where we are succeeding and potentially what is holding us back if we don’t perform as highly in some areas.  

Gathering staff insight on the student experience as part of a formal survey is a new approach for Residential Services. Because of this the senior management team will be engaging closely with site staff to help explain what we’re trying to achieve by taking part in the survey. It represents a fantastic chance for our most knowledgeable resource, our staff, to help contribute their expertise.

Undertaking the student experience survey with the WAU Agency has provided us with the opportunity to uniquely benchmark many areas of our operation with some of our biggest competitors.

To be sector leading in a number of areas is a testament to the hard work of many teams, particularly those in student facing roles in our halls and within our Residence Life team. We’re excited to utilise the data gathered in order to set some achievable objectives so that we can continue to improve the experience of living in halls and help students feel part of a caring community.

Rebecca O’Hare, Assistant Director (Residence Life & Accommodation Office), Residential Services

Improved system for approving staff resource

A new system to speed up the process for resourcing approvals (ATRs), including recruiting new staff, will be available on the Stonefish system from 1 April.

The ‘Staff Requests’ function on the jobs page automatically guides the user through the approval process, allowing the user to track their form and monitor progress and comments.

Introduction to the Stonefish Approvals System

You can watch the following video for further information.

The introduction of the system follows extensive testing with schools and services. The HR team will continue to review and reflect on feedback to ensure the system is working well.

Further information

To support you in the move to our new automated system we have developed a range of user guides, which can be found on our HR website.

We are also running drop-in sessions via Teams:

If you have any queries, please contact your FD HR representative.