With communities pulling together to help at this time of international crisis, staff from across the University of Chester have been playing their part – and giving their time - in the response to COVID-19.
Jan Jones, Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Work Related Studies (CWRS), was part of a team helping to produce thousands of protective equipment for hospital staff. Alongside working from home, Jan joined a team of about 60 volunteers to make visors. These were designed by hospital staff for their colleagues working on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic and many have benefitted from them.
The Cadishead Community Hub visor making project formed in early April and about 65 volunteers worked across three shifts per day, Monday to Friday, to make around 35,000 visors. Jan said: “It's been a privilege to be able to do something useful. My department, CWRS, has a lot of NHS apprentices and two members of my family work for the NHS, so this has been a tiny contribution to support them.”
Senior Lecturer Karen Cregan, in the University’s Business School, has been one of the community volunteers for Chester West and Cheshire Council. She said: “I am pleased to do my bit where I can to help the community. I have also been checking in on neighbours and being there as a social connection, talking to them at a distance.”
Dr Trevor Omoruyi, management specialist and Senior Lecturer who teaches across all Business and Management modules, signed up as a Royal Voluntary Service (Responder). As part of the role, he has been asked to support vulnerable people by picking up and dropping off essential items. He can also be asked to call on, and provide support that could be helpful to vulnerable people.
He said: “I am able to manage the role with my working from home, especially during weekends. It is a wonderful opportunity to be able to come across as a support system to the vulnerable in our communities. Being a tiny light in the dark can be quite significant.”
Elsewhere, members of staff volunteered their time and resources outside of work to help address the PPE shortages. Members of the University’s Learning and Information Services team have been part of a voluntary project to produce 3D printed visors for key workers across a number of organisations in North Wales. One of the group, Chris Thompson, said: “We donated to prisons, hospitals, care homes, homeless shelters and so on. We worked with other community printing groups and small businesses to help each other out.”
In the Faculty of Health and Social Care, Barbara Holliday, Doctoral Research and Ethics Administrator crocheted ear protectors for NHS workers; Lecturer Lindsey Nicholls; Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Wellbeing, Rebecca Ribbon, and Lyndsey Hill, Programme Leader for Mental Health Nursing, made laundry bags for health workers to put their uniforms into (as well as raising money for the charity Chasing the Stigma). Senior Lecturer Dr Adam Keen, organised a fundraiser for Creative Stitchers, a group of sewers supporting hospitals by making scrubs.
Professor Eunice Simmons, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester, said: “So many people have been giving their own time during this pandemic to help others. This snapshot of efforts by colleagues at the University gives an indication of the kindness displayed throughout the pandemic from within our own community to the wider world.”
Pictured - Lindsey Nicholls and her kit bags.