Image credit:  Alex Ingram
Image credit: Alex Ingram

Have you ever received a mysterious email asking if you’d like a wheeled box? Do you recall being asked whether you’ve “borrowed” a black, faux leather swivel chair? I met up with the sender of these messages to find out more.

Luisa Holder is a Service Coordinator of the Physical Making Environment on UWE Bristol’s Bower Ashton Campus. She assists students in making workshop bookings and looks after the areas. Her motivation is simple: to make students happy by working hard.

For 10 years, Luisa has been organising and preparing workshops in the Fabrication department of the university, especially in the Print Centre for laser cutting. I caught up with her while she was electroforming resin into colourful skulls.

Bower Ashton campus regularly receives a lot of materials that are unwanted at Frenchay. Luisa told me that often two weeks down the line, she realises there isn’t enough space at the campus so she gives everything away for free to students on a first come first serve basis.

Another role that Luisa carries out is alerting students to issues around campus. One of them is the room population checks that happened around Bower to ensure that the spaces are being used efficiently. Luisa notified everyone about what is going on, encouraging students to attend university, as UWE reviews how they manage their money. She wants students to get the best facilities as possible as she is aware that “UWE is always under threat for funding”.

Luisa believes email to be the most efficient means of communication within the university. Although Blackboard was introduced as a link between students and staff, she has noticed that it is a service that is underused. “I don’t know where all of creative arts are that’s why I often say ‘apologies for cross posting.’”

Last month, Luisa emailed her global address book with the subject “Is this your shed?” which created some confusion amongst recipients. “I got probably about 40 replies which was really entertaining!” she told me. “I got people going, ‘oh, I’ve got a shed at home’ and ‘no, I’ve finished that project and the work’s now at the foot of my bed.’ Clearly it wasn’t meant for you.”

Luisa remains unfased at the fact that she emails students who have never met her. She said: “I know that the people I am trying to contact know who I am and I know that the rest of the people will ignore it.”

By Richard Peake