Elyse Emanuel
BA(Hons) English & History
Student Community Warden

In August 2018, I applied to be a Student Community Warden, knowing I needed a part-time job in second year. After several attempts at waitressing, I knew couldn’t do anything that involved handling plates and taking directions from angry chefs. 

The brief for the role in its simplest form was helping students and local residents come together and growing Falmouth as a green and safe space for everyone to live. As both a student and Cornish resident (my parents and mum’s family are dotted around every part of Western Cornwall imaginable), I thought this could be the perfect job for me. However, I truly had no idea how much it would enrich my second year experience going in.

I filled out the written application with ambitious creations of projects to draw the student community and local Cornish residents together. In my interview, which wasn’t nerve-wracking like I thought it would be, I still thought I rambled too much about Cornwall’s micro-politics. I knew from the interview that I really wanted this job, so when I received the call that I was one of the new wardens, I was genuinely so happy my rambling had paid off for once in my life!

During training, the six of us got to meet lots of different local organisations which helped students and residents, as well as work with the Students’ Union and Living Support. As a testament to Cornish friendliness, on our first patrols introducing ourselves to local residents, we were welcomed with open arms. Everyone in the community seemed really keen to tell us about how much they thought the student community benefitted Falmouth. Of course, there were some grumbles: parking, noise and litter seemed to be most consistent issues, but we learned that it was a small minority making a lot of noise about students being disrespectful. The positive feedback and in-depth conversations we had with local groups and residents really put us at ease for the rest of the year from the offset: that students are generally an appreciated and wanted presence in Falmouth.

Each of the six wardens is designated to a pair and we all got our own part of Falmouth’s Smithwick ward to be the point of contact for. Rachael, my partner, is level-headed and solution-focused, which means she is great at handling grumbles. Her personality complemented my upbeat personality and chatter about Cornish issues. Together we soon learned that we loved the community projects aspect side of Wardens and made that our year’s mission. In the run up to Christmas, we organised a food bank drive for Penryn and Falmouth foodbank and held a Christmas bakes and book sale for Helston and The Lizard foodbank. Both were incredibly successful and spread the message about the vital work foodbanks do in Cornwall.

Throughout the year, we had opportunities to learn about recycling management, alcohol abuse and mental health first aid training, fire safety training, and environmental support training, just to name a few. Frequent job opportunities included coffee mornings, residents’ meetings, community beach cleans and litter picks, as well as our regular walk-arounds.

Our summer project was a community cafe called Bloom, which aims to reach out to students to increase awareness of opportunities within the local community and act as an outreach service, signposting to all of the welfare groups that the universities and Falmouth/Penryn have to offer. We held the cafe in the yurt on Penryn Campus with an open door policy: we reached a fantastic amount of students with awareness of the Wardens scheme, got to hang out with some great dogs and societies, and eat hot cross buns all day for three days straight. I have hopes it will continue from September, working closely with other university groups to make our community as safe and green as possible.

The highlight of Wardens, apart from the general great feedback we have had from helping local residents and students, was winning The Andy Hocking Award in June for outstanding community work. It was an absolute honour and none of us were expecting to win, so it was a wonderful surprise. I have also loved being a part of such a close-knit group of supportive people, with all of the Wardens and the Students’ Union. I can’t wait to return in September to keep abusing my coffee privileges in the SU office and meet the new Wardens team.