Coronavirus: University of East Anglia gives empty rooms to NHS staff


Ziggurat halls of residence, UEA

Image caption

NHS staff working at hospital in Norwich are staying at the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) campus

A university has given empty student accommodation to NHS staff to allow them to isolate from at-risk family members or to avoid commuting.

About 68 hospital staff and carers from Norwich are at the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) campus.

The university said most students had returned home with teaching now online.

Sarah Smith from the Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said it was “essential accommodation”.

The rooms would be used for extra staff brought in to tackle the coronavirus pandemic coronavirus and “staff sheltering away from their homes”, she said.

UEA, based in Norwich, said students who had moved out of their accommodation would not have to pay rent for the final term of the academic year, but “hundreds of students” still remained on campus.

‘Something nice’

Those still on the campus have access to launderettes, the campus shop, support services and the regular cleaning provision, the university said.

Paul Bailey from UEA said: “We’ve tried to be as flexible as possible with students to give them some certainty during these unprecedented times.”

Not all universities have been able to waive accommodation fees and student leaders in England said full rent should not be charged on university rooms left empty by the coronavirus shutdown.

The university is hosting staff from both Norfolk University Hospital and the Colman Hospital run by Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.

Sophie Atherton from the UEA’s student’s union said: “The majority of students are living all over the country right now, but knowing that they have indirectly helped the NHS in Norwich right now will no doubt be something nice for them to hear.”

Teams from UEA have also led a project to create face shields, and used materials from local brewers to produce hand sanitiser to help the NHS and local councils.

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