A Newcastle lettings agency has launched its own Chinese Lettings Bureau to connect with the Chinese student community in the city.
Walton Robinson has appointed two part time members of staff to oversee the niche market; Alice Lam who is 27 and originally from Hong Kong, and Qi Wang, 23, from Beijing speak English, Mandarin and Cantonese between them and will look after the growing Chinese market of students moving to Newcastle to attend university.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs estimates that 17% of the student population in the North East is international, and Walton Robinson has noticed an increase in the number of Chinese nationals making enquiries for accommodation in the city.
Walton Robinson partner Jaimie Hocking said: “It’s great to live in such a multicultural city and have so many international students attracted to studying here. Newcastle is a wonderful place to live and study, and we want to make sure all of our customers experience that feeling from the minute they arrive here.
“We thought it only right to recruit two new members of staff that have knowledge of the cultural differences between China and the UK and have been through the experience themselves of arriving here to study and finding their way around.
“We spend a lot of time helping students find accommodation, navigate their way around and generally settle in to Newcastle life. By recruiting Alice and Qi we will be able to offer a bespoke service to our Chinese clientele, in their native tongue and by young people who have been in their shoes.”
Both Qi and Alice are Newcastle University graduates, so have themselves experienced the challenges of moving to a new country to study.
Alice explained: “It can be daunting to make such a big move from home at such a young age; there are many cultural differences that can make organising aspects of your life that bit more difficult.
“Newcastle luckily has an established and growing Chinese community, with great local Chinese supermarkets, places of worship and of course China Town for nights out. However, issues like getting a UK mobile phone contract, installing internet access at home, and understanding how to pay bills here, are all very different to that in China. This is where Qi and I always try and offer an extra bit of advice to help new tenants feel more looked after.”