Teenage University of Portsmouth students living out of boxes surviving on 'takeaways and crisps' after Stanhope House delay

A STUDENT living out of boxes in a hotel and surviving on takeaways and crisps is considering quitting university.

Saturday, 28th September 2019, 12:59 pm
Jake Weatherston and Beth Carty-Gable at their room in the Travelodge, North End, Portsmouth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

University of Portsmouth students Beth Carty-Gable and her boyfriend Jake Weatherston, both 18, have been living in a hotel room after their halls Stanhope House were not ready to move into at the start of term.

Surviving on 'takeaways and crisps' and living out of a suitcase Beth, a first year media and digital practice student, is now considering leaving to move back home to Northampton and join her hometown university after the situation has put her off 'completely' from staying.

They had hoped to share a £198-a-week studio apartment at the city centre 19-storey 256-bed block developed by Crosslane Student Developments and operated by Prime Student Living. But a delay, blamed on contractors RGB Group, mean it is not ready even now, two weeks after term started.

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Student halls Stanhope House still under construction on September 25. The 256-bed halls were due to open for students at the University of Portsmouth but developer Crosslane Student Developments has not completed the project. Many students have been living in hotels. Picture: Ben Fishwick

The couple have been offered £150 off their rent bill. Crown Place, which had a similar problem last year, offered £500.

Speaking to The News, Beth said: ‘It's put me off completely.

‘I’ve been thinking about going home and going to Northampton University. I was thinking about another week and maybe we are going to be here, that was going to tip me over the edge.

Jake Weatherston and Beth Carty-Gable's possessions in the Travelodge, North End, Portsmouth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘This situation is horrible. I’ve missed all my freshers’ events because it’s really far.

‘It’s not fair, it’s just not ideal, especially when Prime say they’ll cover £10 a day. That’s not going to cover it.’

The operator is providing the accommodation but has not yet detailed how expenses can be claimed.

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University student halls in Portsmouth not ready for start of term

Beth praised the university’s student housing team who did offer alternative accommodation but she and Jake, who studies marine and environmental sciences, stayed with the hotel.

She added: ‘Most of my student living (costs) has been spent on takeaways, the only thing we have is a kettle.

‘We’re living out of a suitcase, and eating takeaways and crisps.’

The couple learnt their stay at Travelodge, in Kingston Crescent, had been extended for a week from hotel staff.

Jake added: ‘I feel stressed and I just want to move in now, I’m fed up with the situation and it makes me feel more uncomfortable and alone as I haven’t been able to socialise with other students.

‘The university wellbeing serviced reached out to us and asked if we needed any additional support which I took as my mental health has not been great.’

Professor Graham Galbraith, vice-chancellor, said anyone who contacts student housing will get help.

A Prime spokesman said: ‘Having been advised of the construction delay by the contractor very close to the planned completion date, Prime Student Living responded with an action plan to find temporary alternative accommodation for students as quickly as we could.

‘Arrangements were made for students to temporarily live in quality accommodation at a number of purpose-built student accommodation properties and hotels in the city, whilst the construction of Stanhope House is completed.

‘In each case we have informed students that expenses incurred for services that would otherwise have been provided in each building will be reimbursed within an allowance detailed to them.’