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#WeAreTogether: Proud to Help

#WeAreTogether: Proud to Help

by Newcastle University

Tuesday 30th June, marks the launch of Universities UK's "#WeAreTogether: Proud to Help" campaign which recognises, shows appreciation for and gives thanks to all student and staff at UK universities who have stepped up, volunteered, fundraised and much more during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Let's put our hands together for the incredibly brave and selfless individuals from our Newcastle University community who have gone the extra mile during such difficult times.

Protective Goggles for the RVI


Shaun Hughes, NU Estates

Our Faculty of Medical Sciences donated 1,000 pairs of protective goggles during the pandemic to provide NHS front line workers with additional PPE at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary. Shaun (pictured above) from our dedicated Estates team ensured the protective goggles were transported safely which demonstrated his fearlessness and willingness to help those in need. Well done Shaun!


FMS Staff Join the NHS

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Staff from our Faculty of Medical Sciences

The Coronavirus pandemic saw Newcastle University staff put their research and teaching on hold to support the NHS. Throughout the peak of covid-19, members of staff from our Faculty of Medical Sciences were trained to work at the COVID-19 screening facility at the Freeman Hospital. Those in that position were demonstrating true resilience and bravery and we are incredibly proud of them.


University Taxi for Screening Staff 


Tracey Dryden, Research Administrator from our Centre for Ageing & Vitality

To support screening staff at the Freeman Hospital, Tracey from our Centre for Ageing & Vitality stepped up and organised a taxi service to help get staff to and from work after long shifts. Not only did this provide a safe and comfortable mode of transport but it also eliminated the need for public transport, reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in such crucial times.


Screening Kit Checks

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Professor David Lydall, Professor Fiona Oakley, Professor Jelena Mann and Professor Julie Irving.

Another step in Newcastle University's efforts in the fight against Covid-19 was to validate many of the available commercial COVID-19 screening kits. All made possible by Professor David Lydall, Professor Fiona Oakley, Professor Jelena Mann and Professor Julie Irving, the team who together set up a qPCR-based validation pipeline in the Leech Building. Their efforts were absolutely crucial as it allowed the screening centre to switch to other screening solutions if the supply line failed; adding significant resilience to the work being done. Amazing work!


An Extra Pair of Hands

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Newcastle University Medical Students

To give something back to those saving lives, our medical students set up the North East group of ‘Medical Students Helping Hands’ which is a nationwide initiative offering NHS staff help with childcare, shopping and animal care across the region. As health workers faced increasing pressures with long hours and last-minute changes to their working schedules, our students offered a helping hand to those in need.


NUMES Gives Back


Newcastle University Mechanical Engineering Society & Jenny Olsen

During such uncertain times, our students also turned to think of those less fortunate, considering how this additional strain on everyone would affect those most in need. Our Mechanical Engineering Society did their bit to help and began donating their food waste to Newcastle West End Food bank. However, this didn't just involve the society's waste, the cause motivated students to collect non-perishable items from departing students all over the city which illustrated their true selflessness and desire to help others.

PhD Biomedical Engineering student Jenny (featured above) helped spread the word on social media.


Covid-19 Student Community


Joe Gubbins, Eleanor Killner, Sara Elkhawad, Katie Smyth, Pablo Charro de la Fuente, Grace Dean & Karina Sorrels [left to right]

In a time where an online community is everything, our Students' Union Sabbatical Officers used their initiative and created a student community Facebook group to support our student body. Providing events, tips, inspiration and somewhere to talk, our 2020 officers opened up a virtual space where every Newcastle University student could feel at home.

As of last Friday, our 2019/2020 Sabbatical Officers have since left us to move onto pastures new. We wish them all the best for the future and look forward to welcoming our new 2020/2021 team.


Our Medics Graduated Early

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Newcastle University 2020 Medical Graduates

Despite their university journey and experience being cut short due to Covid-19, our graduates illustrated their true passion for helping others by graduating early to help the NHS. Through much anxiety and fear of the ongoing pandemic, Sam Craven and Emma Rainey are just two of many students who displayed upmost selflessness and bravery during this time. Their efforts will not be forgotten.

Huge well done to all of our medical students who graduated early to help fight COVID-19. Watch the MBBS virtual graduation ceremony here.
Supporting our Campus Community

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Campus Security, Cleaning, Grounds, IT, Accommodation, Maintenance and technical colleagues

Throughout the entirety of the pandemic, Newcastle University would simply not have been able to function without the support of our key worker staff. Every day, security, cleaning staff, estates workers and more arrived at work with an aim to provide a safe and secure environment for our campus community and for that, we are eternally grateful.


Raising and Giving

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Newcastle University Raising and Giving (RAG) Society 

Even before lock-down was enforced, our Students' Union RAG Society was busy volunteering with FareShare North East, an organisation that gives surplus food from supermarkets to those in the community who need it most. Taking time out of their studies, students helped sort and pack up items for a variety of people in need. Their selflessness will have helped many.


Mental Wellbeing


Dr Jessica Wiese, Lecturer and Practitioner at Newcastle University School of Psychology 

Through such troubling times, we have learnt it's crucial to not only consider our physical health but also our mental wellbeing. To remind us of that, Dr Jessica Wiese provided some helpful wellbeing advice to our community via social media. She taught us that it is OK to feel uncertain throughout present times and inspired us to "go gently", allowing ourselves a sense of space to acknowledge how we are feeling, knowing that this too shall pass. An important and heartfelt reminder that we can all take away.

Dr Wiese also investigated the impact of Covid-19 on psychological wellbeing and distress through a series of questionnaires to understand and help support users. 


More RVI Deliveries


Newcastle University Medical Research Groups & Dr Sarah Rice (pictured)

Loaning equipment throughout the pandemic was carried out by many research groups from our Medical School, in the form of RNA extraction reagents. At the time, there was a global shortage of various reagents and some supply lines were unreliable. Our loan to the NHS meant the screening facility could be resilient against possible supply problems.

Research Associate Dr Sarah Rice (pictured), kindly agreed to keep track of all reagents and instruments that were donated so they could be reimbursed once the crisis ends. Great work Dr Rice! 


Reaching out to Asylum Seekers

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North East Solidarity and Teaching (N.E.S.T) Society members

One of the biggest changes during Covid-19 is undoubtedly our newfound reliance on virtual resources and online technology. Student-run group within Newcastle University, N.E.S.T, showed their adaptability during the pandemic by transitioning online to ensure they could still provide their services to over 400 asylum seekers within the region. Through live-stream sessions, wellbeing calls and social media, the student volunteers went the extra mile to advise and support their community during such unprecedented times.

With over 800 views in their first week, N.E.S.T online became a real life line for those in need.


An Uplifting Idea


Liv Cowle, Combined Honours 2020 Graduate

As the pandemic continued, student anxiety levels over online assessments heightened. With many uncertain about what virtual life would look like during a summer exam period, importantly, students also began wonder whether they will be able to get that iconic photograph in front of the Newcastle University arches. Luckily, Combined Honours student Liv managed to lift student spirits and ignited a social media trend with her makeshift arches made out of garden chairs! 

Her imagination sent waves through our student body, inspiring students from a variety of programmes to make their own arches. From Photoshop efforts to flower arches, we named it the #ArchesChallenge and you can see just a handful of our wonderful student submissions here.


Do you know someone who has gone the extra mile? Tag them to say thanks #WeAreTogether.


Learn more about Newcastle University's efforts in the fight against Covid-19