Our Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic
Although University Centre Telford has temporarily shut its doors and staff are working from home, learning provision of all types is ongoing. We have continued to place the Centre at the heart of our region during crisis and recovery.
Learning is vital in a pandemic for all ages and for a range of reasons and this work forms a vital strand of the Centre’s response to COVID-19.
The Centre is vital for growth, community engagement, place and positioning of the University but reciprocally, it is vital to its local communities in supporting growth, access to learning opportunities, providing information and support to potential and current students.
The Centre’s priorities are:
- Continuing to put learning at the heart of the communities we serve.
- Business continuity to support growth, recruitment and innovation.
- Continued engagement with specialist groups to combat marginalisation and isolation.
- Continued positive impact on economic, social and cultural wellbeing.
- Continued drive to create life chances for all and to support those furthest from HE.
The work we are doing
During lockdown, Centre staff have been working very hard to continue to engage with our University students, staff, community groups, prospective students and members of the public.
We are engaging with these groups on Zoom and via Facebook and Twitter.
Live streaming public lectures - The Centre staff have been working with faculties to support growth and take our work to new and expanding audiences in key locations:
We have set up a series of live streaming Public Lectures delivered by academics and hosted by University Centre Telford using Zoom which enables live engagement with the audience through Q & A. There have been 6 Sports themed lectures including: What Lessons can we take from Elite Sport?, Keeping Active in the Home, Long Blonde Hair and Endless Legs – the representation of women in printed sports media, Sport in a Time of Crisis: Historical Precedents, Online Sports Coaching and Compulsory Exercise in Schools: Pupil and Teacher Eye Views. We also have Arts and Culture themed lectures such as Witchcraft, Voodoo and Fake News and a Wellbeing lecture with some gentle yoga. Recordings of these lectures can be viewed on our Youtube Channel
We are also offering a suite of Taster Lectures to promote our main CIPD and Marketing course offer at the Centre which includes the L7 PG Diploma in HR Management and the L4 CIM qualification.
- English Café - Members of the migrant communities in Telford now attend online lessons on Zoom for social interaction and English Language support. Those with higher skills are supporting those with less and they are using innovative approaches to develop language skills including the setting up of an English Language Book Group.
- Community Group in Telford – this group of lifelong learners has moved from making blankets for dementia patients after a specific call from Telford’s Princess Royal hospital to making PPE for nurses and hearts for bereaved COVID families. They are connecting via email, Zoom and Facebook Messenger Video to combat isolation and loneliness including an 85 year old care home resident who attends the face to face session, and with the help of her daughter, she joined the Zoom session.
- Alumni – the Telford Centre is working with local alumni in Art, Music and Literature to feature their work during lockdown e.g. Sarah Griffiths, a local author is doing book readings promoted through the Centre. We have also featured Ben Millington, Head of Music at Telford Priory School and his 37 lockdown videos produced and performed by Ben and 31 different performers from the school and beyond. Corinne Evans, an Illustration student has also been featured. She has supported us with Comicon 2018 & 2019 and has her own website.
- As part of our work on the Creative People and Places Bid, the Centre has participated in Carers Week – 8th – 14th June. The Centre has linked in our Alumni to provide activities during Carers Week. Sarah Griffiths, a children's author delivered live readings of her books on her Facebook page. One of the Foundation Degree Tutors provided a Wellbeing talk with a practical yoga session. These sessions have been advertised in the Carers week programme which has been distributed to all carers in Telford.
Centre staff have written a range of blogs to support current students, prospective students and members of the local community with home learning, mental health and digital skills. These include: Reading Together at Home, How to Start your Wildlife Adventure from Home, Looking after your Mental Health during lockdown and Accessing the Digital World. Staff are also updating the Centre website to improve the navigation around the site and to support with access to crucial information about home learning and mental health.
Click here to visit the blog.
Support for current students: The Centre is providing wellbeing support for current students who are struggling both with the transition to online learning and an invisible issue - single parents who need to complete studies and assessments whilst home schooling their children. With support from the wider University, we have been providing advice on home schooling approaches for students who are struggling.
Careers Guidance: We have also been providing ongoing careers support for Year 1 and Year 2 students. This has included a bespoke online Careers presentation and access to Business Start-up support through one of the SPEED Business Consultants.
Ongoing Information Advice and Guidance support for potential new and current students, many of whom have no family background in Higher Education. This is being delivered through telephone and email engagement;
- The Centre is continuing to reinforce the message that learning plays multiple roles in supporting people of all ages during the pandemic. It is vital that learning is positioned in the recovery as enormous changes will need to occur once the lockdown ends e.g. changes in workforce needs including skills, recognising the changes in digital competency that have resulted from the lockdown for many workers. We are very aware of the huge challenges around digital poverty (skills, resources, confidence) in the Telford and wider Marches area.
- The Aspire to HE Older Learner programme is offered from University Centre Telford. The programme is working with FE partner colleges across the Black Country and Telford and Wrekin to engage adults from low participation neighbourhoods to break down barriers (real or perceived) to them progressing to Higher Education (HE). This programme was developed around a face to face programme of interactions within the Colleges linked to eligible learners on courses leading to HE but, in light of the lockdown, the Project Officer has had to change the programme to enable her to engage with these learners in an online environment. The challenges of online engagement create a real barrier and need to be addressed to increase participation both now and in the new normal of 2020-21. The Officer is relying on emails and texts to engage people. Whilst she cannot address the challenges of equipment, home schooling or child care responsibilities, as a University team, we can work on creative solutions to break down the challenges of confidence and low digital skills levels in order to promote engagement and remove a barrier caused by lack of confidence to study in a blended learning environment. We are currently looking at simple solutions to support adults with no digital skills in collaboration with other staff across the University.
- We are one of the partners involved in communicating the wider message ‘Back to Better’ which will support the recovery of 3rd sector organisations and communities across Telford.
- We will continue to provide specific support in communities to businesses, partners, current and potential students and the public.
- We will continue to promote learning and align the work of the Centre with the UNESCO motto ‘No one is left behind’. This forms the ethos of the work in the community context focusing on sharing, supporting and enabling people to succeed.