Case study

Colleagues in the community: University staff offer helping hand

As a university, we are committed to supporting our communities and the NHS through these challenging times. We are providing advice, guidance and practical support where we can.

Here are some of the ways staff at the University of Derby are supporting their local communities during the crisis.

Neighbours helping neighbours 

Paula Bushby, Quality Manager, is a coordinator of Repton Community Group; Coronavirus 19, an action group that has been set up to offer support to elderly and vulnerable members of the area.

Members of the group are doing shopping, making friendly telephone calls, posting mail and collecting urgent supplies such as prescriptions. They are also extending the support being provided to include members of their community who are NHS workers.

“We have been overwhelmed by the offers of support that we have received and the huge amount of kindness that is being shown – from ‘mystery’ milk deliveries, a village food bank, initiatives for local children of all ages, virtual knitting groups, as well as gardening advice. It really is wonderful to see how the community is embracing and adapting to the challenges that we are all currently facing.

“I have had the privilege to meet and speak to people in my community that I have not met or spoken to before. I have seen the good and kindness that exists in people of all ages.  I am happy and grateful that I am able to offer my help to those who need it.”

Sending postcards

Amy Hawksworth, DANCOP Legacy Champion, has been delivering postcards designed by Becky Wass through the letterboxes of those most in need, requesting them to get in touch if they require any help with their shopping, posting mail, or just want a friendly chat.

“When this started to get scary, I printed lots of postcards and distributed them around my neighbourhood for any elderly and vulnerable people who were self-isolating. It’s only something small, but it’s been really appreciated by my neighbours – I’ve even made a few elderly friends.”

Image of postcard designed by Becky Wass

Wellbeing advice

Dr Tracey Wond, Co-REF Lead and Researcher for the Centre for Business Improvement, helped create the community-produced website Live Well in 2020, which aimed to inspire and motivate others to support their family, neighbours and businesses in 2020, and particularly through COVID-19.

Tracey also leads her local village COVID response via the local village hall website.

“A street-level response to COVID-19 is a good way for communities to arrange themselves as you're likely to know one another, it's great for our community spirit in the long-run, and streets are manageable sizes.”

Supporting the vulnerable 

Hannah Stanley Scott, Content Development & Commissioning Manager, has been supporting elderly residents during COVID-19.

“It may be that someone who is vulnerable or in self-isolation needs some shopping or just someone to talk to. In particular, there are two elderly residents who live alone and so I am popping by every few days (keeping a distance of course) to check that they are okay and to just have a bit of a natter. Both are interested in plants and gardening so we have something in common to talk about.

 “It’s been great to see the community spirit that this crisis has brought about – a glimpse of hope in what some can see as dark times. It seems that generally people are friendlier now and willing to support those in need.”

Shopping for residents

Charlotte Budd, Senior Strategic Advisor, has been shopping for local elderly residents who are unable to do it for themselves.

“Hilton Community Support is a Facebook page that has been set up by locals in Hilton, to do shopping, make phone calls or collect medicines for those villagers who are unable to do so. 

“I have also been doing shopping for older residents in the village where my parents are. I have had two postcards through my door to offer support from neighbours – it’s really lovely how everyone is willing to help each other.”