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COVID19 – Serving the community in a crisis

The University has taken an active role during the pandemic in many ways. From students and staff going on the frontline to help the health service, starting their own charity and fundraising initiatives and the opening up of vacant student halls to house healthcare professionals. Here is our round up just some of what has been happening, with a big thank you from all of us to all of them.

Read our report for how we responded to the pandemic and supported our community:

Supporting our Community: The University of Northampton’s Response to Covid-19

Students from across the Faculty of Health, Education and Society stepped up when the Government issued a call for nursing, midwifery, occupational therapy and paramedic science students to provide extra people hours to help the NHS.

A total of 273 Nursing (all four fields), 37 Midwifery, 40 Occupational Therapy and 45 Paramedic Science (BSc and Foundation) students did this during lockdown.

One of those was Adult Nursing’s Hannah Shaw who said: “My family is definitely proud of me, but also nervous because I am on the frontline, exposing myself to the virus more than I would have done if I was staying at home.

“The University is also so proud of us all, whether we opted in or out of a placement. There’s a real sense of pride and a feeling of togetherness, which is a nice thing to have come out of this situation.”

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Photos of Sharon Smith as a nurse and HCA

Senior Lecturer in Early Years and former nurse Sharon Smith answered the government’s call for retired/out of practice nurses to return to the wards to support the NHS. After a 25 year gap, she worked for several weeks at Northampton General Hospital as a Healthcare Assistant.

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Photos of fabric for Scrubs Up for Northants NHS

Staff from our Institute for Creative Leather Technologies helped dye half a tonne of material that was turned into clinical scrubs for local NHS staff.

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Our men’s student rugby team helped ensure doctors, nurses and health care assistants working at the Northampton General Hospital’s (NGH) A&E department continued to have fresh, hot beverages by donating a coffee machine.

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Simi Chacko, left, and Anna Walker

Simi Chacko, left, and Anna Walker.

Overseas students who were stranded in Northampton during the coronavirus lockdown were supported by kind-hearted UON volunteers. The students who benefited from the Check-in and Chat initiative said it provided them with much-needed reassurance and company, during what many found to be a stressful period of isolation.

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First-year Advertising and Digital Marketing student Chahak Kawatra also gave the thumbs up for the University’s super-supportive ethos when the pandemic meant she couldn’t safely get home and spend time with her family.

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MA Social Work's Nancy Tsvara is pictured

Social Work (MA) student Nancy Tsvara spotted vulnerable members of her local BAME community needed support during lockdown accessing ethnic traditional foods, so she started her own food donation charity to help out.

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University accommodation was temporarily given to a local charity who are supporting rough sleepers in the town to get back on their feet. With support from Northampton’s Single Homelessness Forum – which includes three meals each day, toiletries, a laundry service  and support to find work and medical treatment – 26 people are now off the street before moving into more permanent accommodation.

During the pandemic, our Business Support team helped 428 local business with their webinar. 103 start-up businesses have been supported by our advisers on a 1-to-1 since late March and 60 social enterprises were supported by our Inspire2Enterprise programme since May.

Our Waterside campus housed a temporary assessment clinic. The clinic was specially equipped to ensure patients from Northampton with COVID-19 symptoms could be safely seen by a healthcare professional, instead of them having to visit their own GP practice or an urgent care setting. Around 200 patients visited and were safely assessed.

The University supported the Red Cross, when they needed a base in Northampton to store food to be packaged for delivery to vulnerable people across the county. The University gave the ground floor of the Creative Hub at Waterside and the services of several members of UON’s Security and Campus and Estates Services who volunteered to pack some of the boxes.

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University students continued giving English lessons during the lockdown, helping young refugees and asylum seekers in Northampton to continue learning the language.

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Paramedic Science students Felicity Hubbard and Anna Leitch became ‘Technicians receiving payment’ during lockdown and spoke about their experiences.

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The University’s Podiatry Clinic’s doors are open again for general appointments, but part of the team remained on-call for patients during lockdown They either gave advice remotely or came into the clinic to provide direct care to those deemed at high risk of developing more serious complications and who required urgent treatment. During this time, they gave advice to or directly saw over 250 patients.

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Masters in Business Administration (MBA) student Farsana Kodavandi put her critical thinking and research skills to good use, working for the NHS Test and Trace service. She said:

“When I saw the contact tracer role, I was determined to get the job, so that I could have the opportunity to do my part, serve the community, and help people to stay safe. Covid-19 has taught us to stay united and to put other’s lives and safety first before our own.”

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Our Director of Student & Academic Services Kathryn Kendon praised the on-campus teams that have been looking out for students who are living in halls.

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Molecular Bioscience lecturer David Young juggled daily lecturing duties and his own research with volunteering to support local hospital colleagues tackling the pandemic. He gave his spare time to support Northampton General Hospital’s (NGH) testing of Covid-19 samples.

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Occupational Therapy student Andy Jay combined his former life as a telecoms engineer with his passion for using OT to support people and created a telehealth helpline.

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Kind hearted criminology student Ben Eva donated £450 worth of food vouchers to help support fellow students in need.

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University staff members Nick Allen and Becky Bradshaw found time in their busier than ever schedules to join the ranks of the NHS ‘volunteer army’ to support their communities.

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Shortly after the lockdown officially started in March, we provided 400 free rooms in vacant student accommodation to house healthcare staff and patients to ease the pressure on the NHS during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Lastly, but by no means least, a big thank you to the University’s Dr Steve O’Brien. Every Tuesday morning during the crisis, he was the county’s voice of calm and reason with his informed, balanced and never alarmist coronavirus updates with BBC Radio Northampton’s Annabel Amos.

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