The Best Student Life. Bristol SU

Coronavirus Guidance for Student Groups

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the student community and we understand this is a scary time for many. Being a committee member can be tough enough without factoring in a pandemic so we have pulled together the below guidance to support you.

We’ll be updating this page regularly to provide you guidance, information, resources and links to external support so your student group can continue to operate. If you have any questions about any of the content on this, please email or

It is important for our committee members to understand that the guidance we provide on our services is led by a combination of: 

  • Government guidance
  • University of Bristol rulings and expectations
  • What Bristol SU deems safe and appropriate. 

If you feel that the guidance is not in line with what you think you should/could do regarding your student activities, please get in contact.


Update: March 30th 2021

We have now released our Bristol SU Roadmap out of lockdown. We've mapped out the main dates that we expect restrictions to change to allow student group activities to begin to return in-person.

These are subject to change depending on government guidance, but hopefully these are useful for you to begin planning activities for Spring and Summer. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about your specific group.


Update: January 5th 2021

Following the announcement from the UK Government last night we now know a third lockdown will be in place in England from Tuesday 5th January 2021. For the forseeable we will all need to stay at home unless for specific purposes
During this time, all face-to-face student group activities will not be able to take place. We are expecting further updates from the university shortly on how this will affect the coming term.


Update: November 19th 2020

As we approach the end of lockdown we just wanted to reach out to you with expectations for the period between lockdown ending and Christmas break.

The latest Government directive states that after 2nd December 2020 all face-to-face extracurricular and social activities within the higher education sector must remain paused.

Unfortunately, this includes clubs, societies, and projects, so plans for face-to-face socials, events and activities will need to be delayed until the new year. We understand that breaches to this directive may be illegal, and could incur fines, as well clearly being in breach of the University Acceptable Behaviour Policy, and Bristol SU Code of Conduct.

We understand these restrictions will come as a disappointment. Like you, we were hoping to get activities up and running from the point this lockdown ends, however unfortunately this is not possible.

As ever, we are committed to helping you make the best of this challenging situation, please do reach out if you need help.


Update: November 2nd 2020

Following the announcement from the UK Government over the weekend we now know a second lockdown will be in place from Thursday 5th November. For four weeks we will all need to stay at home unless for specific purposes.

During this time, all face-to-face student group activities will unfortunately have to stop.

What does this mean for student groups?

  • No face-to-face group activities inside or outside.
  • All Student Group activities in the Richmond Building will be paused from Thursday 5th November.
  • Access to storage in the Richmond Building will be available however we recommend collecting or returning items before the building closes at 8pm on Wednesday 4th November.
  • Post and Parcel collection from the SU office will be paused after today. If you urgently require something please contact and we will do our best to help.
  • You may need to refund activities, student services can support with this just email



Most Bristol SU staff continue to work from home for the foreseeable future on a full-time basis. Student Groups main points of contact continue to be:

Development Team

  • Thom Cornall
  • Matt Humberstone

Book a Development Meeting, find us on Microsoft Teams chat @Thom Cornall and @Matt Humberstone or post to one of our Facebook groups:

Student Services

  • Char Long
  • Sarah King
  • Alex Kidd

Volunteering Team

  • Hannah McGough
  • Charlotte Anderson

View the full staff list.


Meetings and Drop-Ins

From 12 October you will be able to book appointments to collect post and parcels from the SU reception between 9am-5pm on a Monday and Wednesday.  For all other services and support running your group, we strongly encourage you to book a virtual meeting in with us.



Our phone lines will reopen on Thursday 8 October and then remain available weekdays between 9am-5pm.

Call us on 0117 331 8600.



Checking Emails

This year more than ever it’s really important you are able to see the communications coming out from us as we update on changing advice for group activities. We will always try to communicate key messages via email and within the core Facebook groups but we would ask that you:

  • Keep Committee details up-to-date at all times. Changes to Committees can be sent to
  • Check you Junk Mail folder. We frequently send email to you from our Mailchimp account which can fall foul of some email clients aggressive filtering.



Storage, Post and Deliveries

The Building is due to reopen on Monday 5 October with restricted opening hours (Mon-Fri 7am-8pm, Sat-Sun 10am-4pm). Committee members will be able to access their groups storage during this time by visiting the Estates Assistances desk in the foyer and asking for access to their storage.

From Monday 12 October Bristol SU Reception will reopen on an appointment-only basis for cash drop off and post and parcel collection. You will be able to make appointments shortly on Mondays and Wednesdays between 9am-5pm.

Nov 2020 update: Please note that due to the new lockdown measures being brought into place, office access is paused until further notice.


Your Accounts and Spending

Clubs and Societies may still continue to view their accounts using the Expense 365 app. They may also continue to spend from their accounts. The eXpense365 app can be used to submit expense claims which Presidents/Club Captains and Treasurers can authorise or decline. Presidents/Club Captains and Treasurers can also use the app to view the income and expenditure reports for their group.

Invoices can be paid out from your groups account as per normal, in order to get an invoice paid by us please ask your treasurer to email a pdf copy over to

At the moment we are advising groups to continue managing their finances virtually. 

We may be able to arrange cash payments and withdrawals once term begins, but this will be dependent on building opening conditions and the availability of the finance team. 


Sponsorship and Funding

Sponsorship is an agreement between your group and an external company where they offer cash and/or in-kind support in return for a reward or service from your group. Whilst the current situation has made some deals less available we do still encourage you to seek and secure sponsorship where possible.

For more information visit our Finances and Grants page.

Bristol SU Groups Grants, Alumni Grants and Activity Hardship Funds are all running close to normal.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to groups needing to cancel events, shows, tours and trips at short notice as well as incurring additional costs to run their group in a safe way. The University's Alumni Board have provided us with funding to support student groups that have been affected financially by the Covid-19 pandemic to enable them to recover costs and keep their group afloat.
Covid-19 Support Grants should be for either:

  • Loss of income due to the impact of Covid-19 between March and August 2020
  • Additional expenses incurred due to the impact of Covid-19 between March and August 2020
  • Additional expenses incurred due to the impact of Covid-19 between September and December 2020 (please note that priority will go to applications from Clubs and Societies that were impacted between March and August)

Covid-19 Support Grant applications are open at the same time as standard Bristol SU Group Grants, but only for the first round in October.

For more information visit our Finances and Grants page.



Sporting Activities

What Counts as an Organised Sport? 
If you can answer yes to one of these questions, you are an organised sport:

  • Do you have a National Governing Body?
  • Do you compete in a league / competitions?
  • Do you have a regular training programme?
  • Do you have a coach who trains your members regularly?

Organised Sports can still run their activities in line with approved plans produced by governing bodies. If you are not sure whether your activity is permitted, please first check with the relevant governing or body (NGB), and get in touch  if you are still unsure of what you can do, or if you need help to plan changes to the way you run your activity.

Indoor Sports Update Sep 2020
From 24 September, people aged 18 and over playing indoor team sports must adhere to the 'rule of six', which means playing in a group of no more than six people. SEH has been in contact with all Indoor Sports Clubs to discuss how this will affect your year and are working with clubs on how to proceed. Please direct any questions on this to SEH in the first instance –

In addition, ALL session leaders/coaches/support staff for indoor sessions (including those at the swimming pool and indoor tennis centre) are now required to wear a face visor. These will be available to collect from reception prior to the session.



We ask that where possible you organise trips that are ABTA or ATOL protected and all travellers have insurance to make sure you are covered for all eventualities. 

We would also like you to register all trips, competitions or sports fixtures both within the UK and abroad on our trip registration form. This will allow us to 'track & trace' should the need arise, and also keep a log of where our groups have been. To reduce confusion, we would ask that any trip, regardless of size or destination, be registered.

Complete this form if you are leaving Bristol with your group.

We recommend all groups travelling overseas download the university SafeZone app. The app allows you to alert the University's Security Services via your mobile phone if you ever need urgent assistance, or if you want to let Security Officers know where you are. Further information and download links.


Room Bookings

Regular Room Bookings

These bookings will begin from Monday 12 October and groups will be contacted with their confirmed bookings by Tuesday 6 October. We appreciate the delay has been frustrating, it is for us to. however the University have now cleared the building to reopen and have set our opening hours to 8am to 8pm weekdays, and 10am to 4pm on weekends from the beginning of term one. We feel that this does not meet the needs of our student groups and we have proposed that the building remains open until 10pm, and are working hard to get this agreement from the University. We will keep you updated on this.

Ad-Hoc Room Bookings

We are not able to offer ad-hoc room bookings in term one, this is something we are constantly reviewing and hope to reopen in term two.

In term one Bristol SU will only be able to provide regular room bookings. We are hoping the Richmond Building will reopen on Monday 5th October. We do not have a confirmed date yet for when student activities can commence.



In-Person Socials

Currently social gatherings are restricted to 6 people, therefore club or society socials must adhere to those regulations and your planning needs to reflect this. Any breach of the law in this regard will incur the highest level of personal and group sanctions.

Meeting in larger groups is against the law. The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).

Venues following COVID-secure guidance can host more people in total, but no one must mix in groups larger than 6, unless you all live together.

Until the government guidance outlines that it is safe to deliver social events that are also accessible to all members of a student group we would strongly recommend hosting all social events virtually.


Planning In-Person Group Activities and events in TB1

The recent government guidance on the ‘rule of 6’ did not address whether non-sporting student group activities are subject to this law, and we are working with the University and other student unions to interpret the guidance and potentially seek clarification.

We think non-sporting groups will be allowed to use COVID-secure premises up to the safe room/venue capacity for their regular activities. Participants should be separated into sub-groups of 6 within those spaces. Our planning reflects this, however, we all need to be prepared for the very real possibility that future clarifications of the rule may restrict non-sporting student group activity to 6 persons in total (regardless of the size of the venue/room).

We therefore encourage you to plan using the latest government guidance and use the following steps:

  • Go virtual: We advise committees to ask this question – does this event need to be in person? We strongly recommend that all groups plan to bring more online activities into their membership offer regardless of any future lockdown conditions, and we are excited to see what our groups come up with.
  • Size/attendees: Consider your realistic capacities as Government Guidance may impact this - Don't plan too big. The Government has already said no mass gatherings for the rest of the year.
  • Booking spaces: Regular activities should be held at a University or SU facility. If you are planning regular activities in an external venue you will need to inform Bristol SU ( and demonstrate the venue is COVID-secure before beginning activities.
  • Risk assessments: Make sure your risk assessment includes COVID safety measures. Your reaffiliation RA should cover this, but do check and make any necessary changes if you are doing something outside of normal activities. 
  • COVID-19 local lockdown: We cannot predict whether the government guidance will change again, but in the event of another full or local lockdown, the SU will support groups to transition offering online-only events and activities.
  • Services: Be aware that some services may not be operating or available such as AV, Security, Reception etc.

Be agile. We will encourage and work with all groups who want to adapt their activities. An example: If you are a group who have regular weekly meets, such a book club, gaming etc, you could form 'bubbles' of members, and book rooms for those smaller bubbles to still meet regularly at the same time.



Planning In-Person Events After Christmas

There is an assumption that everything may return to normal after Christmas, and that you may be able to plan your events normally. We advise groups to be planning for their large events as soon as possible but with contingencies in place. Use some of the below advice to plan:

  • Structure: Make a plan, but regularly review it regarding the size. Keep up to date with government guidance and adjust your plans accordingly.
  • Tickets: If you start selling tickets early, ensure that you notify members you may have to cancel on them/refund the ticket. Or release batches based on size of allowed gatherings at the time (based on the most current government guidance).
  • Sponsorship: Ensure your contracts cover you delivering the event in person or digital based on the current legislation.
  • Venue bookings: To limit your financial risk we advise you to hold any large events within the University if possible.
  • Speakers & content: Please do start planning your content and contacting your speakers. Notify them of the risks of your event potentially being cancelled, or being taken online, and say you will check in with them monthly on the status. Plan back up speakers.



Planning Digital Events

With restrictions on face-to-face meetings and an uncertain year ahead, we know some of you have been finding it difficult to connect with your members. But staying socially isolated doesn’t mean you have to cancel all of your group’s plans. You just need to adjust them a bit.

If you’ve got a webcam and an internet connection, you can still host events and socials. Our Taking your Group Online page contains a series of guides that will hopefully provide some useful advice for ways to get set up and share your screen — and then some ideas for what to do. 


Test and Trace

Whilst we would encourage all students to download the NHS COVID-19 Test and Trace app, we also require groups to keep record of attendees to all sessions, and contact details for these attendees should also be kept. This includes all participants at regular activities and/or COVID-secure socials. This is to allow us to support you to react quickly should a member test positive for COVID-19. 


Bristol SU Code of Conduct and COVID-19

In light of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the changes to the law in England, we have taken the decision to add an appendix to the code of conduct that outlines sanctions that could be placed on groups who put themselves, their members and/or the community at risk by breaching new guidance or laws put in place due to covid-19. You can view the appendix here and read the full code of conduct here.  


Reporting Positive Cases

What to do if a participant to your session tests positive for coronavirus?

  1. Inform the student they must register the positive test with the University by completing the coronavirus self-reporting form and ask them register the case on the NHS app. Ensure you have an up to date list of who attended the same session/s as the person testing positive.
  2. For Societies and Volunteer projects, please inform of the positive test.
  3. For Sports Clubs, please inform the Director of Sport, Exercise and Health ( and about the positive test.
  4. The relevant member of staff will decide if it is necessary to make contact with any attendees at the session to encourage them to follow Government guidance on self isolation.