Sherren House – Unite Review.
SHERREN HOUSE - LONDON
If you’re thinking of signing your fresher’s year away to Unite, then this review is perfect for you. I did exactly that; I had a strange desire to share my experience.
Ok where to begin, let us set the scene. It is August 16th I think. Results day. I check UCAS, scroll to track. To my horror and confusion, In place of ‘Conditional’ next to Downing College – Cambridge. I have ‘Unsuccessful’. Besides Durham, it still says Conditional. So I urgently drive to school, get the results and a look of ‘I told you so’ from my chemistry teacher. Results: AAABa in Physics, Geography, Biology, Chemistry and Maths[AS] respectively. I called Durham in tears, and explained I don’t want their place. My heart was in London or Cambridge, I had lost everything. I wasn’t planning on settling. The problem is with medicine, is it’s a 5/6 year commitment so it’s important to be where you want as once you’re there, you’re kind of stuck.
Through amazing charm and whit, I called up the remaining medical schools in London, and did find a place – God really was on my side. Medicine never appears in clearing. But charm wasn’t going to get me university accommodation. Gasp! The whole, fresher’s, fire alarms, cramped rooms, people your own age, sharing a kitchen and most of all; close to campus; These all greatly attracted me. So, I goggled ‘student accommodation – London’ and Unite came up.
After going over my finances previously with my parents, I had agreed on no loan. Cambridge rent was about £110 per week. So £440 per month. For that, I had a central location in one of the most beautiful buildings not only in Cambridge, but in the UK. That scrapped, Unite wanted £160 per week. Ok so time for the actual review keep in mind the Location of Sherren House is in Whitechapel – Tower Hamlets. The poorest borough in London. The building is attractive on the outside, Large metallic gates with code access guard the front of the glass breasted building. An oyster-like cardkey grants access to the building and individual blocks. There is an office there to deal with inquires and a laundry room. One must walk ‘in then out’ of this main building to get into their ‘blocks’. The back of the complex has a path which runs parallel to a wooden fence riddled with holes. This wooden fence is what prevents people from getting into the complex. This wooden fence is designed to match the security of the silver metallic electronic gates and fence which line the front of the building. This is a fine example of how Unite have invested in appearances rather than security.
As you enter your block, you are greeted by a white tower and a pained steel handrail running up and around a circular concrete like stair case, much like the sort from a council estate. My ‘flat’ is at the very top of the building. Three floors up. Door is opened with a regular key; my flat consists of 6 housemates and a kitchen. Kitchen comes with two fridge/freezers and a cupboard set for everyone. Table, chairs and a window which opens two inches. I was highly impressed with the size of the kitchen. On first inspection it appeared fine, however two glass shelves in the fridges were broken and the toaster was last inspected in 1995, and as such, refuses to nicely brown toast. Options include ‘Bread’ or ‘Carbon’. Other than that, everything was fine. It’s university accommodation and I sort of liked the slight tattered life style. Ok onto the rooms, all beautiful en-suites. You walk in, and place your cardkey in the wall. This maintains power, without such, heating and lighting cease function. This makes it impossible to have friends in your room while you ‘pop out’ to the shops as one can’t even get back on the complex without these key. Another fundamental flaw is the heating, the rooms depreciate heat like a new car, so if you fancy the night out say from 8:00pm till 4:00am. And it’s January as it is while I’m writing this. You can look forward to being greeted by your own breath as you walk into your room early morning.
The room size is mediocre at best. I don’t have a tape measure, so I will describe the size in arms length. Width 1.5, length 2.5. If you don’t understand that, imagine a single bed. No better still, imagine those really small, like purposely small single beds. I am unable to have that along the width of the room as it’s too narrow. I won’t bore you with details of the quality of the bed. I’ll let you assume. The bathroom is not a bathroom. It’s a wet room. A wet room with a sink and toilet crammed inside. However, the flooring is tiled, and with cracks. This normally is not problematic, but when soapy water and dirt from shoes and God-knows what else get down those cracks, they like to ferment. I have to pour thick bleach on the floor each week to help rid/cover up the smell.
Small wardrobe space, no hanger rail so one must go out and buy flat pack storage or similar to be able to neatly store their clothes. Desk space is large, and notice board is large. Excellent network infrastructure. To access it you must choose between ‘lite’ or ‘super’ internet. Lite, not only has a very basic speed, but many restrictions which make browsing websites such as YouTube, Facebook, even my university intranet a pain. So I picked super, which gives you 2mbps and a download cap of 30GB! Need I add, my university provides 40mbps internet, no download cap, and it’s included in the rent. [Rent which is lower and in zone one of London]. Who cares!? Ok so I paid the £150 to have it, this will only work until the end of this month where I will be required to pay another £150 however, so £300 for the entire year. After getting it, it’s poor quality, it’s slower than stated, and websites such as YouTube and Facebook are still painstakingly slow. Wireless is not available, only cable internet. At least I didn’t have to pay extra for the cable!
The social.... What? What social?
No events, no common room, no games area. People in your flat don’t necessarily go to the same university as you, or do the same course as you. I’m the only medic, the rest of my flatmates are girls and artists. They are really nice people, but there is just no spark. We are always in the wrong places at the wrong time.
So I conclude with a quick synopsis.
Sherren House offer a quality of accommodation similar to most universities, for a substantially higher price. Sherren House is smack down in the middle of Whitechapel/Mile End area of London, a highly deprived area. Crime rates are high, forget street wise, I get a taxi everywhere. The office I mentioned at the start is only available for taking payments. They won’t even give me change for the laundry machine. Point is, when the office is closed, there is no security and no point of call.
Prices are £160 per week. If you choose to pay monthly you will be asked to pay £841 per month. Yes I know, ridiculous, call up and find out why. I missed a payment last month, and received a letter saying that if I did not catch up immediately, my account would be passed to debt collection. I.e. bailiffs and court. Hardly the action of a company which specialises in student living!
When picking your accommodation, think carefully. Do you want a landlord who has your education as a priority, or one who just cares for profits? Signing with Unite was the biggest mistake I made second to rejecting Durham. But we’re young! We learn from our mistakes. There certainly are alternatives to extortionate poor quality blood sucking... errrm.. I mean Unite.
I don’t know if there are legal issues attached to me writing about Unite like this. But I want to clarify, everything above is absolutely true, I have not exaggerated I’ve told you how it is. My main outrage with Unite is the rent. Perhaps is they picked a price to more appropriately match the quality of life for the tenets. So many of us wouldn’t leave dissatisfied.