University of Bedfordshire’s staff and students have been proudly ‘doing their bit’ in the fight against Covid-19. From supporting local communities to helping on the frontline, their efforts are now being celebrated as part of the national #WeAreTogether campaign.
Coinciding with the arrival of WHO’s World Health Day, the Universities UK group has launched a social media initiative – #WeAreTogether – which will serve as a platform for universities to showcase heartening examples of solidarity, support and gratitude during this challenging time.
From streaming digital art classes to producing live radio shows, from helping at local food banks to launching online neonatal training, the University of Bedfordshire has already seen numerous ways in which its community has come together.
With a ‘keep calm and carry on’ attitude, University employees and students have shown determination when it comes to helping out, ensuring everyone feels supported and knows they are not alone.
?? More than 5,500 Year 3 student nurses from 35 UK universities have joined the NHS frontline— Universities UK (@UniversitiesUK) April 7, 2020
On #WorldHealthDay, thank you to the researchers and the volunteers - staff and students - doing so much in support of the national effort#WeAreTogether ?? https://t.co/0Xu6SrmTDa pic.twitter.com/lqKSAoqLM6
Professor Rebecca Bunting, Interim Vice Chancellor said: “Despite being uprooted and having to adjust quickly to a new way of learning and working, the University has been encouraged by the resourceful ways in which students have adapted their study routines and have been helping their peers and wider communities.
“These examples have sparked the beginning of our #ProudToBeBeds campaign, which will allow us to shine a spotlight on some of the wonderful things our students and staff have achieved during isolation and social distancing.”
An inspiring number of recent graduates and third year students have been continuing their Paramedic, Nursing and Midwifery placements across the county during the pandemic. The University was heartened by the number of healthcare students who chose to stay on placement and help support the NHS and frontline staff.
A University spokesperson said: “We are extremely proud and grateful to our students who have been able to step up and support our NHS in this time of crisis. We have ensured that they are provided with required PPE and appropriate supervision within a protected environment to assure safe and effective practice.”
The NHS has been given the use of rooms at the University of Bedfordshire’s new premises at Stoke Mandeville Hospital for PPE training purposes. The official opening of the Mary Seacole Building has been delayed due to Covid-19 but placement students and staff are already on-site, making sure trainee nurses and midwives are prepared and ready to go out into full-time practise, to help support the hospital’s efforts.
The University’s Faculty of Health & Social Sciences is also scheduled to donate spare PPE to the Stoke Mandeville’s local GP surgery, as soon as it’s needed.
The University has provided much-needed surplus materials to a local school where healthcare face masks are being made. The volunteers at Chiltern Academy received enough laminate and clear A3 covers from Dave Plummer, Head of Print and Document Services, which will allow them to make at least 400 additional mask screens.
Whilst closed to pupils, a team of teachers at the school have volunteered their time to make over 1,500 masks. These have been sent to staff at Luton & Dunstable University Hospital where a number of third year University of Bedfordshire students and graduates have chosen to stay on placement.
Anna-Marie Madeley, Lecturer in Midwifery, has been offering neonatal training online and on Twitter using baby manikins. She also streamed a ‘situational’ Newborn Life Support course via webcam from her kitchen table where student paramedics were asked to provide guidance on what to do and ask questions.
Daisy Perry, a second year PE student, is volunteering as a sports teacher at her old school. Daisy, who is half way through a four-year PE degree, was due to start a seven week teaching placement as part of her course but this was cancelled due to the pandemic. Instead she has begun volunteering with Burnt Mill Academy and neighbouring Sir Frederick Gibberd College, Harlow, running PE classes for the pupils of key workers.
A second year Primary Education student is launching free online art classes in time for the Easter break. Martha Kay will encourage kids (and parents) to use different resources from around the house in place of traditional arts materials. Streaming via YouTube, ‘Martha’s Primary World’ will also document her journey in the teaching profession offering tips and advice for other teachers in training.
Martha said: “I am super excited to get my kids art classes up and running. The first video will be about crafting mini Easter egg boxes, which will allow the children to learn about 3D shapes and how to construct nets.”
Having successfully engaged with local faith communities on past projects, Professor Gurch Randhawa from the University’s Institute of Health Research has partnered with the UK’s Sikh Channel, to provide professional advice on supporting Gurdwaras during the coronavirus pandemic.
Streaming on the Sikh Channel via Facebook Live and on Sky (channel 748), the panel of experts address social distancing, symptom awareness and hand washing. They also provide advice on how Gurdwaras can safely provide Langar (an integral community meal) in takeaway or delivery format for families who have no alternative food sources or food bank access, as well as for the elderly and vulnerable in the Gurdwara’s community, both Sikh and non-Sikh.
As part of their efforts, the team has called out to the University’s trainee teachers to provide Harry Potter themed lesson plans and fun activity packs which will be shared via the support group for children and parents to access electronically.
Despite the closure of the Luton campus buildings, community radio station Radio LaB is still successfully broadcasting 24/7. After speedily adjusting to enable remote access to the studio’s equipment, student station managers Nathan Edwin, Achintya Iyer, Serene Muhammed and Adam Simmons are scheduling, editing and programming from their own homes, as well as actively promoting content across social media.
They have also launched a mental health project called the ‘Isolation Tapes’, where students and listeners can submit audio clips of their experiences during Covid-19 in line with Government advice around staying at home.
Peter Simpson-Leek, the University’s Web and Digital Marketing Manager, has started documenting his home schooling journey on Instagram to help share ideas and inspire other working mums and dads.
One of the themes discussed is the loss of routine which is vital to a child’s learning journey. An idea of Pete’s includes a 'promise wall' of all the things to do as a family once this uncertain time is over, whether that's playing football in the park or going to the seaside – just because it can't be done now doesn't mean it won't happen again!
Exercise is important for our mental health and wellbeing especially during times like this. And so Sports staff and students from across the Luton and Bedford campuses have been sharing their home-based fitness routines via social media to help inspire others who may or may not have outdoor access.
The University’s Get Active scheme has also gone interactive and is now offering free classes to all students and staff – the first week has seen over 131 extra people sign up to classes including Yoga, Zumba, Barre Fitness and Boxercise.
Radio and Audio tutor, Terry Lee, has launched a new series from his garden shed with his daughter. The podcast, ‘Primrose and Terry: In the shed’ is produced by 7-year-old Primrose and edited by Terry who works for the University’s School of Culture and Communications.
Terry wanted to allow his daughter to direct some of her own hands-on learning whilst not at school, and so through this project they hope to bring a smile to listeners and inspire others to get creative at home by showing just how simple launching a podcast can be.
Musician and Bedfordshire Honorary Tom Grennan has joined forces with Bedford Kindness and Bedford Foodbank to help the community in delivering supplies to the elderly, vulnerable and those in isolation. Born and raised in Bedford, Tom was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts in recognition of his outstanding services to the music industry.
The University donated a large quantity of toilet paper to the SMART Prebend Centre in Bedford. The campus on Polhill Avenue had additional supplies which were no longer needed after teaching went remote, so Sarah Blomfield, PA to the Dean of Education and Sport, hand-delivered the paper to volunteers at the homeless charity which was gratefully received.
University of Bedfordshire Senior Scriptwriting Lecturer Toby Norways has been named one of five winners of the national screenwriting competition ‘Twisted Tales in Lockdown’.
Emergency funding to help support local artists has been successfully secured from Arts Council England (ACE) thanks to a collaborative effort by the University of Bedfordshire, Luton Borough Council and a number of creative charities.
Ahead of the International Day of Yoga on 21st June, University of Bedfordshire’s Get Active team are celebrating a 94% uptake of their online yoga offering since lockdown began.
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