UK Politics

Brighton University students’ properties binned by halls


A student who returned to her halls of residence five months after being made to leave because of coronavirus restrictions found all her belongings had been thrown away.

Hannah Mullins and two other students at the University of Brighton made appointments to collect their items and arrived to find them all gone.

She said thousands of pounds of goods and sentimental items had been lost.

Kaplan Student Living Scheme said the rooms had been cleared “in error”.

Ms Mullins was forced to leave the accommodation at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and returned home to London with just an overnight bag.

When Ms Mullins, her twin sister Holly and their mother Alexandra arrived at the privately-run halls on Thursday and saw the empty room they assumed the items were in storage.

Holly Mullins said: “We went to reception to ask where it all was, they didn’t know.

“They told us to check the bins because rooms started being cleared on Monday.”

‘Distressing and violated’

The women found piles of items, including other students’ passports and private documents, but nothing of Hannah’s.

Hannah Mullins said: “It was distressing, I felt violated. A lot of stuff can be replaced but they can’t compensate for the emotional distress they’ve put me through.

“It’s horrible to think somebody has gone through your stuff without permission.

“It’s just wrong.”

Hannah said as there were daily bin collections her possessions – including her professional camera and art supplies for her graphic design degree, clothes and make-up – would be “long gone”.

She said bank statements, medication, photographs and sentimental items from holidays were also gone.

Mrs Mullins said: “It’s worrying that somebody could have all her information. We saw other people’s documents in that rubbish pile, nothing had been shredded.”

A spokesperson from Kaplan Living Brighton said: “[We] have been working closely with students who returned home before the end of term due to the Covid-19 pandemic in order to arrange for them to collect their belongings.

“We became aware today that two rooms had been cleared in error and we are currently investigating how that could have happened.

“This should not have occurred and we offer our sincere apologies to the two students affected. We have reached out to the two students affected and will of course compensate them for the loss of any items that have been cleared.”

However, Mrs Mullins said nobody from Kaplan had yet contacted her daughter, and added she believed the clearance had affected many more than two students.

“There were three students there that day who had all lost their stuff, and none of it was in that huge pile, so that must belong to others,” she said.

“More students are booked in to collect their possessions next week. It looks like a lot has already been thrown.”

The halls are independent from the University of Brighton, but a university spokesman said it would “be offering its full support to all affected students as they seek appropriate redress”.

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