This competition is now closed winners are:
— Cici (@yaqianxi) March 9, 2015
It’s that time of year again, Sunday 15th of March is Mother’s Day. We know you want to spoil your mum, let us take away the strain this year and do it for you.
We want to spoil three special mums:
1st prize: Choose between: Champagne and chocolate gift set or a big bunch of handtied fairtrade flowers, all delivered to her door with a personal message from you.
2nd prize: A special bunch of flowers with a box of chocolates, all delivered to her door with a personal message from you.
3rd prize: A gorgeous bunch of flowers, all delivered to her door with a personal message from you.
We will announce the winners Wednesday 11th of March.
Who can enter?
Anyone who is a student can enter. We’ll retweet you and feature our favourites on this page.
Here are some of our favs from last year:
@sweetspothomes My Mum’s been so upset after my bro dropped out of college. I want her to know I appreciate her support, even if he doesn’t.
— Lily Frohlich (@lilyelizabeth1) March 12, 2014
@sweetspothomes I don’t get to see my mum much with it been my final year. I just want her to know I love her!
— kelly dove (@kellydove3) March 13, 2014
@sweetspothomes As a family we’ve been through a lot in the past year but my mum is so supportive and always manages to keep smiling
— Natalie (@jellyfox1991) March 13, 2014
@sweetspothomes My mother is always there for me no matter what, through the good times and bad. I just want her to know how much I care 🙂
— Imaginary friend (@imaginemusicart) March 14, 2014
@sweetspothomes My mummy has had to handle with me and my twin leaving this year, and she deserves some nice flowers for mothers day.
— Hannah Kate Whysall (@hanime123) March 15, 2014
@sweetspothomes My Mum is the most accepting, most forgiving and most caring person I know. And more than that, she’s my best friend!
— Xanie Saunders (@XanieSaunders) March 20, 2014
@sweetspothomes My mum has lost over 3 stone and im so proud of her! Shes supported me through university & she deserves to be treated♥
— Mary Sneath (@Mirzsneath_) March 20, 2014
Despite working 3 busy jobs and always being on her feet, my mum somehow finds the time and energy to make sure everybody around her is happy. She has really helped me the past year as I have struggled on and off with my mental health- she always makes me feel special even on my worst days. I want her to be reminded that she is very special too
Fog stopped me getting home last week for Mum’s 50th; want her to know that if I’m not there, I am always thinking of her!
My mum is the best. My boyfriend has lost his adopted mum (auntie) he had no where to live as the house was council. No money or income he was left with nothing. My mum is the best because she has a huge heart and took him in even with 3 kids of her own and only a sofa on the livingroom she also paid for him and still is my mum just lost her dad and she is being super strong I want her to know how much I love her and how proud I am to have a mum as wonderful as her xxxx
Nottingham & Exeter
Who can apply?
Students studying in Nottingham & Exeter
Who wants to give money to advertising companies? Not us. We figure that the people who could benefit most from money are you guys. Whether you’re already completely perfect and live in a SweetSpot home or out there in the world of far inferior houses not made by us, we invite you to join us in helping students make the right choice and move in with SweetSpot.
£200 one off payments for every house let – we have 26 homes in Nottingham and 15 in Exeter
How the referral process works when letting a home:
It’s a simple process:
1. Refer a student to SweetSpot – they need to put your name in brackets after their surname on the online booking form
2. They visit a house and decide they want it
3. When they sign the contract we’ll send you £200
It’s as easy as that! There’s no limit to the number of houses you can refer to us. So if you let say 10 houses in Nottingham that would be £2,000.
SweetSpot started with a simple thought: students deserve better places to live. The idea was to create houses for friends to learn how to make a home together, in places for 4 to 7 people, because long corridors and anonymous doors don’t make for good communities. Read more here
To be part of this you need to get in touch with us (just so we can confirm everything). Please email us at email@example.com
What course are you on? What do you like about it?
Studying BSc Geography (now in my Second Year) at the University of Nottingham. I love the fact that the course is so diverse and I get to jolly about in other countries if I want and just say that I’m studying for my degree, learning about new cultures; or I can just stay at home and learn about the diverse geography of our own tiny little island.
What’s your favourite thing to do in Nottingham?
I love being able to travel to other cities with great ease but the Boilermaker cocktail bar and Crisis at Rock City are pretty awesome too. But sometimes you just can’t beat staying in and watching a good movie on the TV at home with a huge bag of popcorn and your housemates.
What the best kept secret on your campus?
The ERC (Edwards Resource Centre) in the Sir Clive Granger (Geography) building. It’s so quiet and out of the way that it makes the perfect place to get work done without getting too stressed – perfect for Geographers (it is a map room after all).
What advice would you give people wanting to move to Nottingham to study?
Definitely come to Nottingham – it doesn’t matter whether you’re moving from far away or an hour down the road, it’s such a lovely city with friendly people and lots to do. The University is amazing with such a beautiful campus, you won’t regret studying at such a brilliant university. Live on campus in your first year and really think about who you want to live with and what you’re willing to pay in your second year for a house. It’s much better than staying in halls again – you feel more grown up and independent, plus you get your own space. And don’t be afraid to pay a bit extra for your house if you do, because it will be SO worth it!
Finding the right home
How did you find your flatmates for your new home? How did you decide to move in together?
We searched online and found some nice looking houses within our budget and then contacted the representatives of the companies. I think we searched on Unipol, Rightmove Students and the SweetSpot website itself. We decided to live together because we were friends in halls and therefore thought it would be a great idea.
When did you sign up to move in? Did you leave it till the last minute?
We signed up to our contract in January and then officially signed in Febrary/March I think. I’m not entirely sure. We definitely didn’t leave it until the last minute, however I think we were slightly panicking that there wouldn’t be any houses left in January as lots of people had already signed for their houses in both Nottingham and many other cities where our friends from home go to university.
How was your flat/house hunting experience? What would you do differently (if anything) next time?
House hunting was a bit stressful, but I think that was because we panicked a bit, I think if we had done it again we may have looked around a bit and talked things through better, however ultimately I feel even if we had done that we would still have gone for the awesome house which we are in now.
It can be a stress finding the right home, what made you choose this one?
We chose this one because our local rep Gwen really sold us on the refurbishment of the property and how it was ultimately going to look in the end. We are in a recently purchased house so when we looked around and signed for it, it was completely different to how it is now, therefore we took a bit of a gamble but we always knew it was going to look great because of the other houses that we have seen on the site. The current students living there were really pleased with the house and the broadband and TV license included in the rent was an added bonus that sold it to us.
What’s your favourite thing about your new home? Why?
The favourite thing about our new home has to be the living room. There wasn’t one in the house previously. The whole communal living area is now great with us all being able to socialise in the lounge/kitchen/dining room area. Its really makes the difference being able to socialise in a way that you’re just not able to do when living in communal catered halls on University Park Campus.
SweetSpot grew this summer, but with growth comes challenges. Our resident interior designer Hannah Collins had to work day and night to transform the old unloved buildings into homes suitable for our new tenants. We caught up with her now everyone has moved in, to ask her about why she made certain choices and her thought process when designing under pressure.
How many houses did you refurbish this summer?
We refurbished sixteen houses, averaging six bedrooms each in Nottingham and five houses in Exeter. That’s nearly 130 bedrooms in total – and we did this in six weeks!
What’s the most important thing to you about refurbishing a home?
That’s a tricky question. First and foremost, the most important consideration when refurbishing any property is to carefully consider the budget and the client’s expectations. If both these are managed correctly, then nobody will be disappointed.
Secondly, I have to focus on the brief. I need to think about why we’re doing this, who we’re doing this for and what we need to achieve out of it.
Our clients are students and they are the most important consideration in planning and designing each room. Of course, I would love to run away with my ideas most of the time but I am constantly having to pull myself back as practicality is of the utmost importance when designing any student home and surprisingly design and practicality tend to contradict each other. The challenge is achieving a happy middle road between stylish contemporary design and comfortable living on a competitive budget.
What’s the most stressful thing about doing a big scale refurb like this?
Managing everyone’s expectations. On a project of this scale, in such a short space of time, we could not achieve anything if we all didn’t work as a team. I know it might sound clichéd but there were so many different people involved that project management was of the utmost importance. It was critical that one job was completed before another could get started. For example, after every wall had been prepared and decorated, the carpets had to be laid. Until this happened, the furniture couldn’t be delivered and therefore the rooms couldn’t be made up. It was an extremely fast paced and finely tuned process by the end. We were turning houses around in three days in the last two weeks. It was an organised chaos. We had a great team behind us and overall everything went very smoothly considering the pressures we were all up against.
What’s the best thing?
The end goal! After the houses have been professionally cleaned and they’re all shiny and new, I love the styling process and the final stages working closely with the photographers to achieve the finished look. It’s all in the detail.
It’s such a super feeling of achievement when we put that over-worked dusty old kettle on for the very last time to make a cup of tea and everyone sits down and takes a step back to see what we’ve all created: from a tired unloved building to a sparkling stylish and comfortable new home. That’s the best thing.
What’s your thought process when it comes to designing for a new home?
Making an impact. That doesn’t have to mean a radical makeover but it does mean doing something to make a difference. I place a huge importance on colour and the effect colour has on a room and how it makes one feel. Of course, it goes without saying that a beautiful view and natural sunlight is one of the crucial elements of careful contemplation when designing any room. In a bedroom for example, ideally I will design a room around its natural features. It’s always a luxury to look out of a window from bed and to have a window to look out of while studying at your desk. Because space is at a premium I will always do my best to focus on the comfort of sleeping and study. Secondary to this, is storage. We all know how important storage is.
When designing any room I always try and imagine myself in that room. Is it somewhere where I’d like to be? Most importantly, the bedroom needs to feel secure and comfortable.
How should a home make you feel?
Somewhere you look forward to coming home to. Our homes are who we are.
A home should offer a sense of identity. Somewhere we can call our own and shut the door away from the stresses of everyday life and relax in our own private space, share with friends and enjoy in company. Your home should be welcoming and comfortable, safe and warm.
Why do you think so many student properties are sub-standard?
Because not everyone places as much importance on student accommodation as we do. We care about our students and want to offer them a luxury standard of living whilst they’re at university. We know what a positive impact our SweetSpot homes will have on our students and therefore place a huge amount of importance on this. We also feel that for many students a SweetSpot move will be their first move away from the security and all that they know of their home environment. We want to make their ‘flying the nest’ not only a positive one but a move that they’ll always remember as it’s such an important transition in a student’s life.
The rooms this year are almost colour-coded; red rooms, blue rooms, purple rooms, what was your thinking behind that?
I wanted to give each room an identity so I did this by expressing colour in punchy bursts of moody blues, earthy greens and tonal reds on statement walls in every bedroom. I wanted to highlight and define the space for study. As a team we all thought this was very important. I chose a versatile and universal palette of bold colours. I then coordinated the window blinds and the desk task lamps accordingly to tie in with the chosen colour scheme. To complete the space with designed a bright white beautifully bespoke clean-lined sharp Corian desk worktop. Therefore every room was defined by a different accent colour and this created a focal point and identity to each bedroom.
What makes the homes you design special?
I enjoy the aesthetic of beautifully worked clean lines. For example, every piece of furniture has to be thought out and it’s critical that a work of art is placed and hanged correctly. This artwork then has to work perfectly together with perhaps a mirror that has to be placed thoughtfully so it emphasises its best use of the light or refection from the window. Positioning and scale are incredibly important when designing a room.
It’s always very difficult to design any space with a limited budget but I’m very good at sniffing out my one-of-a-kind finds and special treasures. I have a keen eye for colour and detail and simply adore unique pieces and original artwork and uniting them all together. I have put some exquisite wall art in to our SweetSpot houses over the years. I find heritage pieces here, there, and everywhere and enjoy the history and authenticity. I love colour and I love statement. I will always shy away from mainstream mass production or ephemeral fashion trends. I feel the art of great design is keeping it classically simple but thoughtful. I can always spice a room up with a twist of colour and intrigue after all.
We had an amazing day out and about in Nottingham talking to our tenants as they got ready for the summer / sat in terror as exam results pile in.
Check out our video of the day:
On a #CharityTuesday a couple of weeks ago, SweetSpot came across @BethanElinor, a second year student at Nottingham University. Bethan is one of the many students who are getting involved in campaigns run by various Student Adventure groups: the idea is to raise money for a designated charity (in this case the Breast Cancer Campaign) and take part in an adventure along the way. For Bethan, her journey involves trekking through the Andes for up to ten hours a day for six days until they finally arrive in Machu Picchu and she’s already 1/3 of the way towards her target.
There’s been in a rise in numbers of students taking part in expeditions like this compared the the traditional gap year route and it’s potentially a much better way to see the world: gap year’s often sees young people fundraising and paying thousands of pounds to spend a year abroad only to discover that, more often than not, their hard earned cash goes to support offices in the UK rather than the country they are volunteering in. So we caught up with Bethan to get her advice and thoughts, on this kind of student charity work, and as a newbie to fundraising it’s been quite a challenge for her already:
Why are you raising money for the Breast Cancer Campaign?
They are a Charity which is very close to my own and many of my friends’ hearts. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK. Research is vital to saving lives and reducing the impact of a breast cancer diagnosis and the discovery of new and improved treatments. Fundraisers like these mean that Breast Cancer Campaign are able to support 95 world-class breast cancer research projects, worth over £15 million in 33 centres of excellence across the UK and Ireland that provide the greatest potential to benefit patients.
I struggle climbing the stairs so never in a million years would I have thought of doing something like this, but for such a great cause and experience I decided to get out of my comfort zone and do something to help others this summer!
Your campaign has been very successful, what advice would you give students who want to do a similar thing?
My advice for students would be to not underestimate how hard it is to raise money. Go on all the high street collections and supermarket bag packs that you can, get in touch with companies or your old school, get all the help that you can from your friends and family (strength in numbers), collect in nightclubs or at social events, arrange big fundraising events and just get stuck in. Aim high, the worst you can get is a no. Every penny counts!
“I won’t be able to go on the Trek if I don’t reach my target”
Did you take a gap year? Do you think that students are more inclined to do volunteer projects like this where the money goes direct to a charity rather than gap years now?
I did not take a gap year. Many of my friends took gap years and many volunteered abroad for a year. A lot of students find it appealing to do trips like these because they help worldwide charities while giving students once-in-a-lifetime opportunities at the same time. It definitely appealed to me more to do this kind of trip as I feel like I am helping others less fortunate than myself.
What happens if you don’t achieve your target of 3k? Are you still going to do the trek?
I won’t be able to go on the Trek if I don’t reach my target. I signed up for the Trek knowing that I had to raise the money. There is leniency in some circumstances but we do need to raise the money to go. There are other options like pushing the Trek to the following year which gives you a little more time and we can raise a little after the Trek if needs be but we must have raised the vast majority in order to do this.
Have you done this kind of travel before? What advice would you give someone preparing to do a similar thing?
I have never done this kind of travel before, which is why it is completely out of my comfort zone. My advice would be to make sure you prepare in plenty of time by getting all the right equipment and vaccinations. Also, make sure to train hard and get excited!
At the time of writing Bethan has raised £1,191.63 of her £3,000 target. If you support anyone this #charitytuesday make it her.
Whether you’re a student or not, getting your deposit back is a daunting, annoying and often stressful experience. Over 2011-12 less than 70% of deposits were returned in full across the UK and just over 13% got nothing back. The average amount taken off was a whole month’s rent – a staggering fee in some cases.
When you’re a student, these statistics get worse for a couple of reasons: landlords can view you as naive or unaware of the laws which are set out to protect you or because you have no expectation of getting your money back so why bother trying.
The facts about your deposit:
It is illegal for a landlord or agency to hold your money without registering it into a tenancy protection scheme regardless of who they are. This means that your money is held by an external and regulated body who are compelled by law to protect it: your landlord can’t spend it or touch it during your tenancy.
You are entitled to receive your deposit within ten working days of your ‘check out inspection’. This inspection works in accordance to your ‘check-in’ inventory which should occur at an agreed time when you move in. Make sure you get a copy of this for your records: if there is no ‘check-in’ inventory then the landlord cannot legally take anything from your deposit.
Most common reasons to lose your deposit:
1. Inadequate Cleaning: no one expects you or your flatmates to be professional cleaners, but you must make the effort to do a ‘deep clean’. Commonly missed areas include ovens, grills, fridges, washing machine filters and gardens. Pop some music on and spend a day getting down and dirty – it’s worth it. Cleaning bills can cost anything up to £1000 depending on the state of your property. You’d be surprised how much it costs to get someone in just to do the basics, the usual bill for a property that has just ‘missed’ a couple of things is a minimum of £200.
2. People leave on different days: This is something we’ve heard a lot from our tenants. It’s an unavoidable issue when you share a home with people on different courses with different end dates. Often, people will leave one by one until you’re the last person in the house faced with a massive pile of cleaning to do – nobody wants to do that after exams finish. The best thing to do in this situation is get a calendar together and mark when people leave – pick a day when you are all there together before the first person leaves and give the whole place (including your bedrooms) a deep clean (it’s better to have your leaving parties before this date obviously). That way, even if you are the last person standing it should only require a much quicker and easier once over before you go.
3. Wear & Tear: What does that mean? At SweetSpot we’ve rarely had to take money off for this, however it’s the area where a lot of landlords are flexible with the truth but luckily, thanks to regulating bodies, it’s getting harder to bend facts. If you’ve been sharing a house with five other people for a year or so it’s likely that there will be superficial wear on the property; a mark or two here and there from furniture and other things. This is fair. You are allowed to live in your home and enjoy it – no one wants to walk on eggshells 24/7, after all you’re paying for it. If your landlord tries to take money from you for this and you feel it’s unfair stand up for your rights and contest it. Going to your Student Union is a good place to start – they can tell you what to do.
4. Missing Items: Some items can cost a lot to replace, the odd throw / picture frame might be £10 but this soon adds up if everyone in your house takes something you could be looking at another £200 or so coming off your deposit. Leave it where it is. At SweetSpot we take care to make your homes special with antiques and one-off objects which can be pricey, we’re more than happy to tell you where we got them from though so you can get your own.
We help our tenants as much as we can: we share charge-sheets on inspections and our students are free to speak to the Sweeteners (people who live locally to our properties and help out when there’s any problem) about what they can do to make sure the property is ready for inspections. We even share the cost of the independent inventory checks with our tenants so they don’t pay the full bill. We only charge what we spend – we never round-up.
We want everyone to get their full deposits back – let’s work together so we can change the statistics and show the world that students can clean…
As you know, SweetSpot started with a simple thought: students deserve better places to live. The idea was to create houses for friends to learn how to make a home together, in places for 4 to 7 people, because long corridors and anonymous doors don’t make for good communities.
We are looking for students in Nottingham, Exeter & Oxford who have opinions, strong writing skills and want to be a part of a growing team of people who are passionate about student welfare.
We’re looking for bloggers; people who want to review restaurants or clubs & those who want to comment on the politics of student life.
Get in touch with an example of your writing or the kind of things you’d be interested in talking about: firstname.lastname@example.org
We all know it can be a little daunting when you move into your first home. Our houses are designed to give you room, and plenty of it, because we appreciate that having your own space is important, but so is sharing it with the right people. Sometimes you need to reach out beyond your immediate friendship group and enter a new community.
Most of our homes cater for 6 people, but we welcome you if you’re in a smaller group or want to strike out on your own.
If you’re looking to find some great flatmates feel free to post on our Facebook page, or tweet us and we will match you up with other groups / individuals. We encourage you to meet up and go for a drink or two and see how you get on. We know it can take time to find the right people. If we do our job right, which we usually do, then you could end up with friends for life.
We like to spoil our tenants so we’ve sent everyone a tasty egg to nibble on for this festive period.
But we don’t want you to eat it straight away. Instead, go on an adventure with your little chocolate buddy take some snaps and send them to @sweetspothomes or facebook.com/sweetspothomes. The one which makes us laugh the most gets £20 cash. You buy more eggs with that and start a little egg family. Or get a couple of bottles of wine…or go to a gig. Whatever, just take pictures so we can laugh at you.
DEADLINE 1st May
Check out some of the entries so far:
— Eleanor O’Brien (@Elleobrien09) April 2, 2014