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Representatives from Ulster University and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, in partnership with police hand delivered letters to all student houses in the BT55 area of Portstewart last week, to reinforce community safety and support messaging. The aim of the collaborative initiative was to welcome students to the area, and provide them with advice and guidance on Council and government good neighbour guidelines, with specific acknowledgement of COVID-19 regulations.

A team from Ulster University, alongside two environmental health officers from the council engaged with hundreds of students and members of the local community. The community engagement was well received by residents in the local area and students responded positively, emphasising that it was reassuring that the University has been taking measures to welcome students to the area and support them in complying with the guidelines and latest COVID-19 regulations. The Ulster University team also provided students with information on the support available to them from the Student Wellbeing team both on and off campus.

Professor Karise Hutchinson, Provost of the Coleraine campus welcomed new and returning students to the area, commenting,

“We are delighted to welcome all new and returning students to the North Coast. We recognise that our students are an integral part of the community and we are very proud of the student community who have played their part in keeping everyone safe. It is important that students are able to experience all aspects of student life, but it is imperative that everyone plays their part in keeping one another safe. The letter drop was initiated to keep students well informed of the guidelines surrounding COVID-19, and it gave us the opportunity to make students aware of the support they can avail of, including the Student Wellbeing team, who are working remotely to support and give advice to students, should they require it.”

Neighbourhood Officer Constable Ross Finlay thanked the University for its support in reaching out to the students, saying

“I would like to thank Ulster University and the Causeway Coast and Glens council for their efforts last week in communicating with students in the Portstewart area. The feedback from this initiative has been very positive and we have had no noise complaints or COVID-19 breaches reported to us in the last week in relation to students. We have carried out licensed premises checks and can confirm students were out enjoying themselves but were all complying with the current guidelines. We have also been in the student areas each evening and have not observed any issues. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the students who are abiding by the COVID-19 guidelines and helping to keep the local community safe.”

Alderman Mark Fielding, Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council commended the efforts of those involved, saying,

“We welcome this partnership initiative with Ulster University and the PSNI. I would like to thank the students who are adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines as this co-operation is essential in ensuring the safety of the community. It is fantastic to be able to welcome students to the area again, but we urge them to continue to abide by the rules and regulations because compliance is crucial for the protection of everyone.