On Wednesday evening (October 7th) I met with the Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer to discuss the next steps in the University’s and Students’ Union’s response to increasing cases of COVID-19 amongst students both on- and off-campus. Although the number of positive cases remains low, the number of students impacted is higher. This is particularly the case for students in some halls where a single case can result in upwards of 15 students having to self-isolate, due to household configurations.
The University releases updates through its ‘Connect and Protect’ service twice weekly, which can be viewed here.
As the number of students in self-isolation increases, the University community needs to be prepared to support these students in whatever way we can.
On the advice of the University, LSU is now the lead on a project that will see self-isolating students directly supported by volunteers. ‘Covid Community Champions’ will provide doorstep delivery of prescriptions, post, library books, printing, and meals for students who are self-isolating and unable to leave their place of residence. This scheme will be available to all students, irrespective of whether they live on campus or off campus. Full personal protective equipment (PPE) will be provided. Volunteers will also be required to undertake training before being allocated jobs as and when they are sent in by students in self-isolation.
Perhaps what I am most proud of as President is the work of the Executive on this. I have established a gold and silver level of governance for this response. Gold group is chaired by myself and is formed of the chairs of each of the five silver groups: Recruitment, Marketing and Communications; Operations & Management; Halls Liaison; Pastoral Support; Sports. Gold Group meets once a week on Fridays, whilst Silver Groups meet twice a week on Mondays and Wednesday. The membership of all Gold and Silver Groups is almost entirely made up of the Executive, and each group is chaired by an Officer.
I have instructed the Executive to make this project a priority, and to empower their support staff and sectional committees to continue to deliver sectional activity and output from the Union. I have also reallocated some members of the Union’s permanent staff to support both this project and sectional activity. As a result of the extraordinary effort of my colleagues and volunteers, we find ourselves, 48 hours after the initial meeting, in a position where we have a fully operational voluntary response group that is already supporting students in self-isolation.
The scale of this project, nor the timeframe in which it has been launched, cannot be understated. It has been an extraordinary undertaking by the Executive and staff at LSU and I could not be prouder of them. We now find ourselves in a position to support students who would otherwise be unable to receive essential items, all thanks to an incredible volunteer force.
I hope that, if you aren’t already, you consider becoming a Covid Community Champion.
As ever, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me via email or arrange a meeting at LSU Reception.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are interested in becoming a Covid Community Champion and delivering essential items to students in self-isolation, simply fill in our register of interest form: www.lsu.co.uk/COVIDCommunityChampions.
A member of the Silver (Operations & Management) team will be in touch with you in due course to arrange your training.
COVID Community Champions can provide doorstep deliveries and perform welfare checks in collaboration with the Hall and Community Warden teams. If you require a delivery, please head to: www.lsu.co.uk/selfisolationsupportrequest.
In addition to this, Nightline continues to operate remotely should you wish to reach out to someone out-of-hours. Full details are available on their website.
In short, very little. Sectional activity will continue in accordance with government guidelines. A full, section-by-section breakdown can be viewed on our dedicated ‘LSU COVID-19 Hub’. Following the formation of this project and the respective Gold and Silver Groups, officer’s priorities have rightly shifted to support the student community in new ways at a time of national importance.
That said, they will continue to give time towards their sections and support staff who have been pulled in to offset the increased workload. I anticipate this level of re-prioritisation to continue for at least the next 6 weeks but decrease over time as Covid Community Champions becomes more autonomous.
On the contrary, representation has increased. All Officers who attend University committees are continuing to do so, ensuring your voice is heard at the highest level.
I am now a regular attendee of the University’s Gold COVID-19 group, Ana-Maria (Education Executive Officer) is a member of the University’s Silver Teaching & Learning Group, and both Jodie (Action Chair) and I are members of the University’s Silver Logistics Group which coordinates the campus-wide response.