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Residential Life

Who are your trusted contacts?

By Adrian 29 Aug 2023

We hope that your time at university and living in our accommodation will be happy, healthy, and safe. Students do, however, sometimes encounter problems with their health and wellbeing, and in some cases these issues can be serious. If you become unwell, or if you are at risk of harm, our ability to help you and keep you safe is much greater if we can contact one or more people whom you trust and who care about you.

This is why we ask you to provide contact information for one or more trusted contacts. You can add, remove, or change your trusted contacts on the Accommodation Portal any time.

Many students choose to give the details of parents, guardians, or carers, but you can provide the details for anyone whom you trust and who would want to know, and may be able to help, if we were worried about your health or wellbeing.

Please check with the person that it’s ok for you to put them as your trusted contact, and let them know in what kinds of situations we might contact them.


Where there is an emergency the University can share your information to safeguard your vital interests. For example, this might mean contacting medical or other emergency help if we considered your life to be in danger. If healthcare or emergency personnel advised us also to contact your next of kin / emergency contact in such a situation, we would do so.

Other situations

If we are worried about your health, safety, or wellbeing but there is not an immediate risk to life, we do not automatically have the right to contact anyone else about you. But there are times when it may be helpful for someone who cares about you to know that you need help. So we ask for your consent to get in touch with one or more people – typically family or friends – who would want to know if you were struggling.

If you are under 18

If you are under eighteen years of age, we will only offer you a place in halls accommodation if you allow us to contact your parent or guardian about health, safety, and wellbeing concerns.

Your consent

Wherever possible, we will seek your explicit consent before sharing information with your next of kin, emergency contact, or other trusted contacts. We will explain why we want to contact them and what information we propose to share with them.

If we cannot obtain your consent

In circumstances where we consider you to be at risk of serious physical, emotional, or mental harm, and we are unable to gain your consent, we may share information with your trusted contact(s) as part of keeping you safe. Such circumstances include where you:

  • have unexpectedly been admitted to hospital for emergency treatment;
  • have suffered a serious physical injury, including those relating to self-harm;
  • have not been seen for an extended period of time and cannot be contacted;
  • have an ongoing illness and appear to be significantly deteriorating; or
  • are experiencing a mental health crisis.

This list is not exhaustive.

Why might we be unable to obtain your consent?

Some examples would be if you were:

  • unconscious;
  • mentally incapacitated or significantly cognitively impaired;
  • uncontactable for more than a few days (or less, if we already have reason to be concerned about you); or
  • behaving in a way that gives reasonable cause for us to believe that in may be unsafe to seek your consent.

More about confidentiality

See our article about confidentiality in student support.

You can also check the Policies & procedures section of our website for:

Being a trusted contact for someone else

This section is for people who have accepted the responsibility of being a trusted contact for a student. Being a trusted contact means that you might get a call or a message from the University to let you know that the person you care about is unwell or has been involved in an emergency situation. We understand this can be stressful for you as a trusted contact – and maybe even more so if you are providing support from a distance. Finding it hard to support the person you care about doesn’t reflect badly on you. This is hard, for everyone. It’s important to take time to look after your own wellbeing, too. Your own wellbeing is important to continue supporting others effectively.

  • Contact your local GP. Explain you are a carer and need support for your own wellbeing. Your GP can assess you and refer you to counselling or other support services if needed.
  • Reach out to mental health charities like Mind or Samaritans. They provide confidential support by phone, email and webchat for anyone supporting someone with a mental health problem. Calling or texting Samaritans can provide an outlet to discuss your own feelings in a non-judgemental space.
  • Look into local carer support groups. Speaking to others in similar caring roles can help reduce isolation and share coping strategies. Carers UK is a national UK charity that may list local support groups.
  • Consider taking breaks from your caring responsibilities, even for short periods, so you have time for self-care activities.
  • If you feel you need more intensive support, speak to your GP again. They may recommend counselling to help you manage stress and difficult emotions from your caring role.

Find out more on our Support and Wellbeing page.

Adrian profile picture

Adrian is a medical doctor, the Student Health & Wellbeing Manager at the University of London and the Warden of Connaught Hall, where he has lived for more than 25 years.
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