Why we belong

The COVID-19 pandemic has put everyone in a very difficult situation. Over 100,000 students from over 160 countries arrive in Greater Manchester each year and, throughout the pandemic, have continued to be an asset to Manchester with their strong contribution to the local economy, culture, research, labour force, volunteering and fundraising, among other things. Access to part-time jobs and increasing cost of living have been some of the major challenges faced by students within this pandemic. This solidarity campaign is a humble plea to our stakeholders in Greater Manchester to provide support for the various aspects of student life in Manchester, that has been affected by the pandemic.

  • Over 60% of graduates who study in the North West stay in the area to work – 46% specifically in Manchester – providing businesses with a skilled and sustainable pool of graduate talent.
  • Manchester was recently named one of the most innovative cities in the world
  • 5,000 students from the University of Manchester volunteer in the community each year, from working with the elderly to supporting the homeless to facilitating sport and arts-based activities.
  • The University of Manchester Students’ Union houses Student Action. This supports and empowers students to participate in and manage their own community projects that help to make a meaningful and beneficial contribution to people in our local community.
  • Manchester Students’ Union RAG raised £73,798.76 in fundraising during the 19/20 academic year.

We belong aims

Now, more than ever before, students need support and solidarity from the local Greater Manchester communities and the city. We are inviting the Greater Manchester Universities, Colleges, community groups, Students’ Unions, the City Major Office and its councils, landlords and accommodation providers to provide as much support students as they can, and offer their solidarity within and beyond the objectives of We Belong project.


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'We Belong' Town Hall: Q&A with local councillors

26th February / 3-4pm

As part of this campaign, your Welfare and Community Officer will be meeting with local counsellors to discuss the support that Manchester City council is providing for students during this difficult time. The meeting is a chance for you to get your questions answered and address the issues affecting students right now!

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We belong objectives

Goodwill rent reductions and students’ ability to terminate rent agreement

Many students have decided to move home during the pandemic, rather than stay in their student accommodation. Others have remained in Manchester but are struggling with financial hardship or find it more difficult to pay their rent. We ask that landlords and private accommodation providers grant student tenants the ability to terminate rent contracts without penalty and offer rent reductions for students who choose to stay in Manchester.

Student discounts for products and services

The hospitality sector has been a great source of part time employment and income for students and students make up a huge percentage of the employees in Manchester’s hospitality sector. We ask that retailers (supermarkets, restaurants, etc.) and service providers (storage, courier, transport services, etc.) provide students with discounts codes, following the example of CO-OP which is supporting with reduced delivery cost.

Ability for students to continue feeling safe to stay in Manchester

We ask that the GMP and other safety groups in Greater Manchester use solidarity messaging to support and work collaboratively with students so that they can feel safe in the community.

Ability for students to continue contributing to the Manchester community and employment opportunities

COVID19 had drastically impacted employment opportunities. We ask that businesses in Manchester find ways to continue providing employability opportunities, such as internships and part-time jobs for students in Manchester.

Ability for students to travel safely and commute in Greater Manchester

We ask that TfGM support students with some temporary weekly and monthly discount codes for travel passes so that students can travel and commute safely around Manchester.

Ability for students to receive mental health support services

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on students’ mental health. We would like to increase mental health awareness as part of this campaign.


Who is this for?

We are calling on residents and students in Greater Manchester, community groups, universities, and students’ unions. You can show solidarity with students right now.


  • We have worked with the University to achieve the University accommodation pledges. The University of Manchester also offered students free rent until they returned to campus. From October 2020, students could leave their accommodation licence without penalty. Many other Universities have followed our example to offer students different support packages.
  • We have worked with the MMU SU and Manchester Students Homes to send out a letter to the local private accommodation providers, asking that they offer the same level of support to students in private accommodation. Many providers have responded with support for students.
  • We partnered with Invisible City Manchester to deliver tours of Manchester city centre during Welcome Week, introducing students to their local area.
  • We partnered with the CO-OP to offer students reduced delivery cost of £0.99.


Get involved now!

We hope to achieve more through your involvement. Whether you’re a local provider or body who would like to show your support for students, or a student who would like to fight for the rights of the student community, please get in touch with us to get involved!

Contact us


We Belong is supported by the University of Manchester, the University of Manchester Students’ Union, MMU Students’ Union, Manchester Students Homes, Students Partnership Group, Students Safety Group.

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