Campus Services news
Missing the daily bustle of campus? Read on to catch up with colleagues, and hear what different teams and individuals are up to during restricted campus operations.
Latest news - 7 September 2021
The last few months have been incredibly exciting for Campus Services. Not only have we continued to provide an excellent on-campus experience for our students in the wake of COVID-19, but we’ve also successfully hosted graduation celebrations for the Class of 2021. As one of the only universities to do this, I couldn’t be more proud of all the Campus Services teams that helped to make this year’s graduation a reality. It is testament to everyone’s hard work and creativity that we’ve also begun welcoming the Class of 2020 back to campus for their own long-overdue celebrations – you can see the festivities for yourself in the Green Heart until 8 September.
More excitement is yet to come as we prepare to showcase the best of the University of Birmingham to prospective students at our upcoming open days and welcome thousands of new students to campus for the start of a brand-new academic year. This year will be busier than ever as we have 800 additional students to accommodate, following a record-breaking A-level results day.
With more students on campus than ever before, many of our commercial venues, including the Bramall and Staff House, will temporarily be turned into teaching spaces; we’re currently working with Timetabling to create solutions to any challenges this may create for everyday campus operations. We are also providing an increased accommodation offer this year, supported by our nominated Partner Providers, which means that it’s more important than ever to give our students a warm welcome to their new home.
In the next few weeks, we will all be busy doing what we do best: providing an outstanding campus experience for our students. Teams are currently preparing isolation boxes to support our international students throughout their quarantine period and plans are underway to make Welcome Week 2021 the best one yet, with a packed social schedule and food festival. I want to thank you all in advance for your efforts and enthusiasm that I know you’ll bring throughout this period and beyond. As a new year begins, I look forward to seeing how we can continue to exceed expectations and play our part in showcasing why the University of Birmingham is one of the world’s top universities.
‘Enriching the lives of the University of Birmingham’s students, staff and key stakeholders.’
In Campus Services, we’re in a unique position to make a real difference. Everything we do has a direct impact on the University and its people and we’re proud to play such an integral role in Birmingham life.
Whilst each area has its own expectations, everything we do in Campus Services is underpinned by a common set of values and behaviours:
These values ensure that we’re the best we can be and also support the delivery of the University’s ‘Birmingham 2026’ vision.
Many of you may have spotted that some of campus’ food and drink outlets have had a makeover in the last few months. This rebranding is part of the launch of Business and Operations’ exciting new brand identity, Food Fellows.
Food Fellows is all about delivering high quality, memorable food and drink experiences for students, staff and visitors. As part of this, the team will be providing an in-house provision using the finest ingredients, with a focus on animal welfare, sustainability and ‘keeping it local’.
To support Food Fellow’s commitment to championing local suppliers, Yorks – a Birmingham-based coffee roaster – will be campus’ new coffee provider and has already replaced Costa in the Bramall (now known as Fellows Coffee Shop at The Bramall).
Winterbourne House and Garden, Murray Learning Centre, University Centre, the Main Library, and the Bramall were the first locations to be refreshed and rebranded, with all outlets on campus due to be completed by the end of September.
So far, Food Fellows has been a success, with Winterbourne’s tea room seeing 4x as many Afternoon Tea orders since the refurbishment took place. The tea room’s new look has also been a big hit with customers, many of whom have left positive views on TripAdvisor.
The project has been supported by PMP Consultants who have helped to enhance our current food and drink offer and inject personality into our facilities. It is hoped that the new brand will boost the University’s standing as a one of the world’s best universities, not only for research but for food and drink too.
When you’re next on campus, why not check out our Food Fellows outlets for yourself? The team would love to hear your thoughts. Get in touch by email via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conference & events Receive the Keys to The Exchange
In July, work on the University’s newest venue, The Exchange, was completed in preparation for its official launch this month. The Exchange has been partially open for business since then – its coffee shop opened to the public on 4 September and the venue hosted its first event on 28 July.
Matt Knight, Venue Manager, on handover day.
With The Exchange due to open fully next month, the Conferences & events and Exchange teams are working hard to prepare the venue to welcome ‘The Air We Breathe’ exhibition, which opens on 2 October. From this date, The Exchange will also be fully open for events and available for bookings. Contact a member of the Conferences & events team to find out more.
The Exchange Hosts its First Event
On 28 July, The Exchange opened its doors for the first time to host a special reception for Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games stakeholders. The event was a part of a series of celebrations in Centenary Square to mark the Games’ ‘1 Year to Go’ milestone, which gave the public a taste of just some of the sports the city will be hosting next year.
The Games’ Organising Committee were in attendance, along with Team England athletes, sporting champions, and community heroes who have dedicated their lives to grassroots sport. Hosting such a landmark event was the perfect debut for this impressive, Grade II listed building, which will become a hub for collaboration, creativity and innovation in the heart of Birmingham when it opens fully next month. You can find out more about this unique space here.
The Green Heart Buzzes with Activity
This month, the Green Heart marquee will host students new and old. It’s currently being used for the Class of 2020’s graduation celebrations, and it’s been so wonderful to provide our alumni with a proper University of Birmingham send-off after the events of last year.
From 18 September to 8 October, the marquee will welcome thousands of new students to campus for Welcome Week (or Welcome Weeks as it should be known!), before being transformed into a study space to accommodate this year’s extra students. The Conferences & events team plan to design the marquee to look like an extension of the Main Library’s study space, rather than a separate venue.
University of Birmingham Alumni and Students at the Olympics
The Birmingham sporting community has been incredibly excited to see current students and alumni compete in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Over the last few weeks, there has been plenty of reason to celebrate. Birmingham alumnae Lily Owsley MBE, Anna Toman and Hannah Martin contributed to Team GB’s Olympic success by securing bronze for the Women’s Hockey team, alongside reserves Sarah Evans and Amy Costello.
Also flying the flag for Team GB and the University at the Games was current second-year chemistry student, Oliver Dustin (Men’s 800m). The 20-year-old star has an exciting future ahead in the sport. The University of Birmingham has been well represented at the Paralympics too, with one current student and four alumni competing for Team GB in a variety of events. Current PhD student Ali Jawad competed in the powerlifting event (at what was his fourth Paralympic Games!), whilst alumnae Alison Peasgood and her guide Nikki Bartlett competed in the paratriathlon event, as well as Laura Sugar (paracanoe) and Lora Fachie (para-cycling).
Birmingham’s own Paralympians: Alison Peasgood and Nikki Bartlett (top left); Ali Jawad (top right); and Laura Sugar (bottom left).
Junior Sports Camp Finishes for 2021
After a successful summer of activities at Sport & Fitness, Junior Sports Camp is now officially over for 2021. Over the course of the summer break, our experienced coaches taught over 180 children, with most days being almost fully booked.
8 to 13-year-olds of all abilities were welcome to attend and try their hand at inclusive activities, including indoor climbing, swimming, tennis, martial arts, and much more. That may be all for 2021, but make sure you keep an eye out for Sport & Fitness’ 2022 dates, which will be posted on their website soon!
Our Hockey Pitches are Commonwealth Games Ready!
Any eagle-eyed staff will have noticed that Sport & Fitness’ pitches are now completely blue. The team received the keys to their brand-new competition-ready hockey pitches last month, which will be used for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The resurfacing was carried out by McArdle Sport Tec and Tiger Turf to ensure our water-based pitches comply with the Games’ regulations and are to an FIH standard.
First to make use of the new pitches was the student hockey squads as part of their pre-season training, and there will be many more students to enjoy the pitches before they host the Game’s hockey tournaments next July.
As the city counts down to Birmingham 2022 (B2022), the University has been busy hosting a series of ‘1 Year to Go’ celebrations and preparing to fulfil its Games’ commitments.
As well as hosting a reception for Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games stakeholders in The Exchange, the University also held an internal webinar for over 300 staff and students to share the latest Games’ opportunities and news. In the coming months, there will be plenty of ways to get involved – keep an eye out on your emails to ensure you don’t miss your chance to be a part of this once-in-a-generation event!
Elsewhere on campus, contracts have been signed with the B2022 Organising Committee (OC) to finalise the University’s role as an official Games venue and Athletes’ Village. These are just the first in many exciting agreements to come.
We also recently welcomed David Grady, Chief Financial Officer from the B2022 OC, to campus to give him an update on progress to date and an opportunity to familiarise himself with campus for the first time. The site visit was successful; not only did it allow the University to strengthen its relationship with the OC, but it also confirmed that we’re on track for bringing the Games to life on campus next year.
Last but not least, plans are beginning to be put in place to minimise any disruption the Games might bring to campus’ operations. The University’s Commonwealth Games team have been working with all College and Professional Services to understand the impact that the University’s Games commitments will have on ‘business as usual’, especially from a campus access, parking and transport perspective.
The past year has been, without a doubt, a challenging one of Security Services. Managing everyone’s safety and security throughout the pandemic has tested the team’s resilience and flexibility. However, they have proved that, with the right focus and support from colleagues across the University, anything is possible. With the new academic year beginning in a matter of weeks, Security Services are hoping to build on these existing partnerships and support the University’s ambitions with some new development projects.
Improved CCTV Coverage on Campus
With support from IT Services and Estates, Security Services are currently building a new dedicated and resilient CCTV network. The network will link all Security-controlled and accommodation cameras on campus through an upgraded operating system, providing greater security for staff, students and visitors. To ensure this, the team are working closely with the police and security experts to check that CCTV is active in the best places to protect both people and assets.
Mitie engineers will be working on campus over the next nine months as the project is implemented, with completion expected by May 2022. The Security Control Room has already been refitted and expanded to ensure that it can facilitate the new CCTV system and provide a safer, more COVID secure environment for all staff.
As you may have seen from the news, this year’s A-level results have seen record highs for top grades, meaning that many more students than normal have secured their place at university. As a result, Birmingham will be full to the brim with new students this September.
Whilst this is great news for the University, housing more undergraduates than expected can be challenging. Fortunately, this demand for accommodation has been offset a little by a reduction in postgraduates living on campus, many of whom come from overseas and will be commencing their studies online due to COVID-19. The Living team have been doing a fantastic job allocating these students and dealing with their enquiries, during a significant period of uncertainty.
After a year when students spent most of their time in lockdown and were unable to socialise outside of their flats, it was inevitable that the Living team would be left with something of a mess after last year’s students moved out. This summer, they have identified more than double the usual number of maintenance issues and expect to have over 12,000 jobs completed by mid-September.
The Student Accommodation Villages team, alongside colleagues in Cleaning Services and Estates, are now working extremely hard across our 1,000 flats and over 5,000 bedrooms, to make sure they are ready to welcome their new student occupants.
Since its full reopening to commercial guests in May, business has boomed for Edgbaston Park Hotel. With no restrictions on group business, overnight stays or parties, the hotel has operated at 70% occupancy throughout August and at 95% on Saturday nights. It even has 100+ confirmed wedding bookings for the next 12 months in Horton Grange alone.
Not only has this exceeded all expectations – the hospitality industry predicted that businesses wouldn’t perform to this level until at least 2023 – but it’s also contributed to a record-breaking summer for the hotel since its opening in 2018.
For business to have recovered so strongly after the events of the last year is a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone at the hotel, as well as the strength of Edgbaston Park Hotel’s offers. Head of Commercial, Billy Harris, commented that “adapting and diversifying our packages, services and offerings has been key. From guests staying for their summer staycation to residential conference delegates, Edgbaston Park Hotel has something to offer everyone.”
As the hotel marked its third birthday earlier this month, there’s been much to celebrate for the entire Edgbaston Park Hotel team.
Billy Harris Shortlisted for miaList 2021
Head of Commercial, Billy Harris, has been shortlisted for the Meetings Industry Association’s miaList 2021, which showcases the exceptional talent within the sector.
The miaList formally recognises inspiring individuals who continually go the extra mile, exceed expectations, and play a pivotal role in their organisation’s success, so Billy’s nomination is a real achievement.
Judges at the mia will interview Billy and the other award candidates in the coming weeks to decide who will make this year’s coveted roll of honour. The results will be announced at the miaList 2021 award ceremony on 4 November, which will celebrate the very best of the meeting and events industry. You can find out more about the miaList and book your place at the celebrations online.
With just a few weeks of summer remaining, why not top up your vitamin D levels by going for a walk around campus? Not only is walking a great way to exercise but it can also reduce your stress levels and give your mental health a boost. It’s even been found to be more energising than drinking a cup of coffee. So, next time you’re in a productivity slump or craving a break, why not give one of campus’ Culture Trails or the Campus Mile a go?
Flexible Season Tickets
Why not leave the car at home and travel to work by train? This summer, flexible train season tickets were launched across all rail operators, including West Midlands Railway and National Rail. The new anytime return tickets allow commuters to travel any eight days in 28, making them ideal if you’re combining remote work with time on campus.
Electric Vehicles Cut Campus Emissions
An audit was recently carried out on the University’s fleet vehicles, which looked at how many low-emission vehicles have joined the fleet between April 2020 and July 2021, as well as the impact they had on emissions throughout this period.
The total vehicles in the fleet have remained constant at 114, which include campus’ core vehicles, except for Grounds and Gardens’ agricultural vehicles, and some research vehicles. In April 2020, 44% of these vehicles were either electric, hybrid or fuelled by hydrogen. By July 2021, this figure increased to 51%.
In April last year the fleet’s CO2 emissions were 11,268 G/KM, whilst readings in July saw a 10.28% decrease at 10,110 G/KM. From these figures, it’s clear that low-emission vehicles are worth the investment and play a significant role in helping to reduce the environmental impact of campus’ operational activities.
Following such success, the Post, Portering and Transport team will continue to replace vehicles with low-emission alternatives where appropriate, supporting the University’s net-zero agenda.
Recycling and Waste Contract Handover
The mobilisation of the waste and recycling contract will commence this week (6 September). The Environmental Services team have planned for a smooth transition in time for student arrivals.
As part of the new contract mobilisation, the University will begin collecting food waste in new locations, including the nurseries and the Medical School café. This food waste will be sent for anaerobic digestion and converted into natural biogas to generate electricity for use across campus.
As this year’s Green Impact deadline fast approaches, the 10 Green Impact teams across Campus Services are working hard to collate their sustainability evidence in preparation for the 30September. Submissions will be audited on 13October and awards presented in December.
If your department is taking part in Green Impact, please assist your sustainability champions wherever possible this month and encourage your team to log any sustainable activities, even if they are not specifically mentioned in the toolkit; they may be eligible for special awards.
If you’d like support with submitting your Green Impact evidence, please contact Jade Willetts at email@example.com to arrange a chat or planning meeting.
Car Parking Services are happy to announce that pay and display permit holders who pay for their parking sessions via the RingGo mobile app can now park across campus. This includes in car parks that have been previously restricted to Purple permit holders only.
The location code for staff permit holders is 15690.
If you pay via RingGo, please ensure you pay for your daily sessions before or on arrival.
New to RingGo? When you register, make sure you say ‘No’ to SMS messaging; it’s not mandatory, is chargeable at 10p per text, and isn’t necessary if you’re paying a standard all-day rate.
Further authorisation will still be required for parking in any of our three restricted access car parks: Med School Forecourt, Chancellors Court and Hills car park.
Don’t forget that University permits are not valid for:
- 90 Vincent Drive rear car park
- Ground Floor NE Multi Storey
- Red marked bays in Pritchatts Road car park
- Sport & Fitness car park – staff with a Sport & Fitness membership should contact Sport & Fitness directly.
You can find out more about car parking charges and permits here.
Hiring manager briefings
Earlier this year, Worklink and HR updated their casual work processes and delivered briefings for hiring managers on the new processes. As many managers were away or on furlough during this period, the team have planned further sessions ahead of the start of term. Attendance is strongly recommended for anyone who couldn’t attend in April. Sign up links are below:
The Worklink Project
In October 2019 the Worklink Project was launched. Since then, the service has worked closely with HR, Finance and IT Services to move work functions across departments, streamline activities and processes, and create a five-year service strategy. The project review took place last month and the project has officially closed, but this is just the beginning!
The service is now purely a student casual work service and will be focusing on enhancing opportunities for students; providing enhanced student employability provision in collaboration with Careers Network; broadening student reach; and supporting departments across campus with their varying resourcing needs. If you’re after resourcing support, simply drop into the Worklink office in the Guild where one of the team will be able to help you.
New Worklink staff
Worklink are delighted to welcome Hayfaa Joomun to the team as their new Recruitment and Operations Administrator. In her new role, Hayfaa will be assisting the team with the recruitment of casual staff and helping to manage Worklink’s social media accounts.
The team is currently recruiting for five additional Recruitment and Operations Administrators to join Hayfaa, and the new Worklink Deputy Operations Manager is due to start with the team soon (more on this in the next newsletter), so you’ll see some new faces on campus over the coming months.
The Worklink social media pages are currently being updated with new content added regularly. The team would really appreciate it if you could support them by following or liking these pages. You can find them on Twitter (@UoBWorklink), Facebook (@worklinkuob) and Instagram (@worklinkuob).
Worklink have been very busy over the summer recruiting students into numerous and varying roles. The team was proud to support July’s graduation ceremonies and are looking forward to assisting with Welcome Week 2021. As part of this, the team are recruiting for the event and have already received over 150 applications from students, which is fantastic news!
Along with the team’s annual term one plans, preparations are in place to enable Worklink to promote and support additional recruitment opportunities created by the Commonwealth Games. If you have any vacancies you would like to advertise, or queries about this, please get in touch with the team via the Worklink Portal.
Cleaning Services are excited to announce that Lee White will be joining the team this month as Deputy Operations Manager.
Lee will bring a wealth of experience to the team, which he’s built working in a variety of cleaning services environments across the region. Most recently, he has been working with Tom Cruise on the set of Mission Impossible 7, which is certainly a conversation ice breaker!
Books Wanted for Second-hand Bookshop
Having a clear out? Think of Winterbourne when you rehome your overgrown book collection. The team happily accept donations of good quality used books for the bookshop, all proceeds from which go towards looking after the house and garden. Simply drop your books off at any time during Winterbourne’s opening hours or, if you’ve got lots of boxes, give the team a call on 0121 414 3003 beforehand so they know to expect you.
Birmingham Honey Show
Winterbourne has the privilege of hosting this year’s Birmingham Honey Show, a fun-packed weekend for all the family in celebration of all things honey. As part of the ‘Edible England’ Heritage Open Days festival, entry is FREE for all and no booking is required.
Visit Winterbourne on 11-12 September, 10:30am-5pm, to meet local beekeepers, attend live bee demonstrations and see bees at work in glass observation hives. There will also be plenty of stalls that champion all things bees and honey to browse, as well as a pollinator-friendly plant sale.
For a full list of Winterbourne events, click here.
With a summer of sport in front of us and further lifting of restrictions, it feels like normality is slowly returning. Seeing spectators at the various sporting events feels very exciting. Teams across Campus Services are busier than ever; and with Graduation and other summer activities planned, everyone is working hard to deliver an excellent University experience, while working to government guidelines. Once again, I am proud to see how much work and passion we put into what we do
It is a credit to everyone that we will be delivering onsite graduation ceremonies this year. This is a huge achievement, especially as many other universities have postponed such celebrations until next year. Thank you to everyone for making this possible.
Staff consultations are coming to an end across Campus Services and as we move to a new ‘rhythm’, the senior management team and I are asking for your support with the development of each functions 5-year business plans. Please do support this activity. You can help shape our future and ensure we really can ‘Enrich the lives of the University of Birmingham’s students, staff and key stakeholders’
To help support operations, I’m delighted to announce that Fiona Wilkie has accepted the role as Deputy Directors for Campus Services.
The Deputy Director will be responsible for supporting the Director of Campus Services, to deliver the department’s objectives and those of the wider University. This will involve the strategic and proactive management of people, resources and infrastructure, and supporting the senior management team to develop their functions. Fiona will also proactively work with Professional Services and Colleges across the University, to benefit the University and its stakeholders.
In the coming months, members of Campus Services will be taking part in a working group to put on a series of in-person events with the theme ‘Recognising Resilience’. The events will not only acknowledge the achievements and hard work of staff throughout the pandemic but will offer time to remember the colleagues, loved ones and friends we’ve lost to coronavirus. Details will be released about this soon – I look forward to celebrating and reflecting on the events of the last 16 months with you all.
Finally can I wish you all a happy and healthy summer. I do urge you all to take some time off, from what has been a very challenging 16 months.
Simon Bray, Director of Campus Services
George Wrigley Awarded MBE
Last month, Head of Security and Emergency Planning, George Wrigley, was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, and awarded an MBE, for his services to higher education throughout the pandemic.
George received this special accolade for ensuring that critical campus activity operations were safely and securely maintained throughout lockdown, safeguarding the wellbeing of the entire University community. It is this support that has allowed the University to aid the local community, NHS and nationwide research response during the pandemic.
As well as being an asset to the University, George has played an instrumental part in the wider Birmingham community. He has helped to deliver over 40,000 items of PPE across Birmingham and overseen the wellbeing of 1,400 students who were unable to leave their halls of residence due to lockdown restrictions, amongst other reasons.
On receiving his award, George paid tribute to key operational managers in Professional Services and across the University’s Colleges, as well as the senior managers he has worked with to keep activity on campus running.
He also made a special mention of the UOB Security team, who have worked around the clock to deal with the pandemic’s many challenges: ‘I am immensely proud of them all for what they have done to keep campus safe and secure. I accept this honour on behalf of all the above and many more – we have worked together, in partnership, and with a simple aim of making sure the University continues to do what it does best, “making important things happen”.’
Director of Campus Services, Simon Bray, commented on this outstanding achievement: ‘Many congratulations to George for this well-deserved award. I’m sure I speak for everyone in Campus Services when I say thank you for all your hard work and dedication over the last 16 months. With your help, we’ve been able to keep our community safe and everyone afloat during these uncertain times. You’re a credit not only to Campus Services but the University as a whole, and I'm thrilled that this has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.’
Staff and Student Vaccinations
From 29 June – 1 July, the marquee on the Green Heart became a vaccination centre for University students and staff. Delivered in partnership with University Hospitals Birmingham/NHS, the centre was opened to encourage students to get vaccinated as part of the national vaccination rollout. This is just another way that the University has supported the global effort to tackle COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
The pop-up vaccination centre wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of teams across Campus Services, including Cleaning, Accommodation, and Security as well as Estates. Thank you to everyone involved for helping to keep the University community safe.
UB Sport and Fitness
Sport & Fitness Hosts World-Class Athletes
On 5th June, the University had the privilege of hosting the 2021 Müller British Athletics 10,000m Championships & European 10,000m Cup. As well as being much-anticipated events in the sporting calendar, this year’s races also acted as Trials for the Olympic Games.
Staff from across Campus Services collaborated for this prestigious event to welcome world-class athletes, including Sir Mo Farah, to the Sport and Fitness stadium and athletics track. Two University of Birmingham students, Elisha Tait and Charlie Davis, also competed, alongside many alumni.
The event saw multiple sporting successes for Team GB and NI; Eilish McColgan and Marc Scott were crowned British 10,000m champions, and the GB and NI women’s team won the European Cup, whilst the men secured silver.
In total, three British athletes secured their place at the Tokyo Olympics and 64 personal best performances were achieved, along with six national records, six Olympic qualifying standards, nine Commonwealth Games qualifying standards and one European Athletics U23 qualifying standard.
The event has been one of the University’s most high-profile sporting events to date with extensive news coverage on Sky Sports News and write-ups in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, and countless other regional and European news outlets.
Everyone involved, including Edgbaston Park Hotel – who hosted the athletes overnight and ensured they were fuelled for the duration of their stay with special menus – Grounds Staff, Maintenance, Security, Conferences & events and Club Development delivered to the highest standards – a tremendous achievement by all involved.
Eager to catch up on the action? Watch the live stream of the event online.
Sport & Fitness Review of the Year
Last month, UB Sport launched a virtual celebration of staff, students and alumni by hosting their 2020-2021 Sport & Fitness Review on YouTube.
The event featured a round-up of the highlights from the last 12 months, throwbacks to some of the team’s favourite events, interviews and videos, as well as the announcement of this year's Sports Colours, Half Blues, Full Blues, and Sports Person of the Year recipients.
It was particularly wonderful to see so many staff members recognised for their relentless hard work throughout the past, challenging year.
You can celebrate the year’s achievements over on UB Sport’s YouTube channel.
Student Sport Test to Play Success
The ‘Test to Play’ initiative, which was introduced in April to ensure the safety of students participating in sport, has successfully allowed thousands of students to return to indoor and outdoor club training.
Since 12th April, 707 clubs training sessions have taken place, with nearly 12,000 attendances! 369 students have been turned away for not having a valid or negative COVID test result, which has ensured Sport & Fitness remains a safe environment for all visitors.
Find out more about how students have been keeping safe during training here.
Sustainability on Campus
Sustainable Campus Events
The Conference & events team are on target to complete their ISO 20121 accreditation by the end of the year. This is a voluntary international standard for sustainable event management, created by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).
By working towards this, the team are improving sustainability throughout the entire event management cycle and implementing sustainable practices into their operations and supply chain. As well as being good for people and the planet, gaining ISO 20121 accreditation will allow all those involved in events to work more efficiently, thereby reducing costs for all campus-based activities, and improve the University’s reputation as a sustainable venue and key destination for green conferences and events.
Teams from across Campus Services are embracing sustainable workplace practices, with a total of 10 departments now taking part in the Green Impact scheme. Since May, five new teams have pledged to work more sustainably, including Winterbourne House and Garden, Birmingham Day Nurseries, Cleaning, Worklink and Accommodation (The Vale Village).
Many teams have already made great progress on their checklists, with The Oaks Day Nursery and Sport and Fitness currently the top-performing departments across Campus Services. Despite this year’s programme deadline of 30th September, there’s still plenty of time to get involved.
If your team has yet to sign up for the scheme, why not get started today? Contact Jade Willetts for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your team is participating, ask your Green Impact representative(s) how you can help move your department one step closer to achieving its sustainable goals; collaboration is key to Green Impact so don’t hesitate to share your ideas with your colleagues.
New Bike Hire and e-Scooter Hire Scheme
We have welcomed two new additions to our active travel and transport offer on campus: Voi e-scooters and West Midlands (WM) Cycle Hire.
WM bikes are available to rent 24/7, which makes sustainable travel accessible and practical. Ideal for short trips around campus and beyond, each bike costs £1 to unlock and just 5p for every minute of cycling, with easy payment through the scheme’s app.
Voi e-scooters provide a similar offer with easy scooter location and unlocking via the Voi app. You can pay per ride (£1 unlocking fee + 20p per minute) or take advantage of one of Voi’s daily or monthly ride passes.
As well as being cost-effective alternatives to short car commutes, travelling by e-scooter or bike is great for the planet and your wellbeing. They produce zero emissions and offer users a chance to exercise and enjoy the fresh air. With the launch of Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone on 1st June, there hasn’t been a better time to get your helmet on and contribute to a less polluted city for all of us to enjoy.
You can pick up and park your bike or e-scooter at several docking stations and parking hubs on campus, as well as at other docks in the city centre and along the traffic-free Bristol Road ‘blue’ cycle route (for hire bikes only). To find out more about the schemes, please contact Edward Shelley at email@example.com.
Don’t forget that there are plenty of other facilities on campus for cyclists, including cycle lockers, racks and showers. Cycle lockers can be found at University Centre, The Hills, Muirhead, Watson, Howarth and Biosciences, and cost just £4 per month to hire.
Ready to embrace sustainable travel? Explore the nearest cycling facilities to you.
This August, you’re invited to join us for our Wedding Showcase on campus, which will see the Great Hall transformed into one of Birmingham’s most spectacular wedding venues.
On 7th August (1pm-6pm) the hall will be dressed to show the venue at its finest, giving prospective couples a feel for weddings at the University. The event will also allow guests to speak to our expert wedding team and chat with some of our recommended suppliers.
So, if you’re looking for the perfect wedding venue, or know someone who is, make sure to save the date and book your place today!
The Great Hall and Green Heart Marquee will be available for large-scale wedding celebrations from 2022.
Employee Offers at Edgbaston Park Hotel
Staff Leisure Rates
Edgbaston Park Hotel is currently offering exclusive leisure rates for employees across Campus Services and their loved ones. Staff can enjoy bed and breakfast for just £55, whilst your friends and family can stay for just £75 per room.
These special rates are available for stays in any standard or twin room, until 31st December 2021. To claim, you must pre-book via the reservations team and quote CAMPUSEMPLOYEE. Please note this offer is subject to availability.
Ready to book your stay? Contact the reservations team on 0121 414 8888 today.
Christmas Early Bird Offer
If you’re eager to get ahead of the rush and book your team’s festive party, why not make the most of Edgbaston Park Hotel’s Christmas Early Bird deal?
When you reserve your party with the team today, you can choose for every 1 in 10 guests to go free, opt for an ungraded drinks reception or receive a free room upgrade to deluxe bedrooms, where you can relax in style once the party’s over.
Eager to know more? Download the hotel’s Christmas brochure.
Your 2022 Commonwealth Games Update
With less than 388 days to go until the Games begin, the operational and logistical planning for our venue and village operations is on track and gathering pace. The Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee (B2022 OC) has 64 different functional areas (FAs) and we will engage with most, if not all of them, to deliver our Games commitments.
A huge team effort across Professional Services has seen our contractual negotiations move forwards, with our user agreements to be completed and signed with the B2022 OC later this month. Our tender to deliver the official Games venue and Village catering has also been submitted, and work has started on refurbishing our two hockey pitches as part of a series of capital works that will be undertaken across campus to improve our infrastructure over the next 12 months.
In other Games news, applications are still open for volunteers as part of the push to recruit over 13,000 people to form the Commonwealth Collective, who will be the lifeblood of the event. If you’d like to help make the Games the very best it can be, apply online today. If you’re eager to be a spectator, rather than a volunteer, you can now plan your Games experience; an updated competition schedule has been launched online, as well as a portal where you can register for tickets.
Internally, our ‘Game Changing Birmingham’ campaign has launched, and it has been wonderful to see the first piece of Games branding come to life on campus.
With the 1 year to go milestone fast approaching, the University is working with the B2022 OC, Team England and regional stakeholders to celebrate the occasion as part of the wider activities planned in Centenary Square. So, keep an eye out this month for announcements and see how you can get involved!
Muddy Explorers at Birmingham Day Nurseries
Since 2014, The Oaks Day Nursery has developed its outdoor area into a thriving Forest School (FS) and created a unique setting for early years learning and discovery. Adored by many of the nursery’s staff and children, the Forest School has grown from strength to strength since then and continues to do so. Seven FS leaders have recently completed fire and tool work training to increase the opportunities available to children and, after successful staff PDRs, two additional members of staff will be joining the team this October.
Due to the Forest School’s success and expansion, The Oaks is embarking on a new outdoor adventure: Muddy Explorers. An outdoor stay and playgroup, Muddy Explorers will provide an extraordinary experience for children aged 6 months to 5 years, whatever the weather.
Muddy Explorers sessions will see children enjoy a range of activities, which have all been designed with natural resources, muddy play and nature in mind, and are open to all University families. Staff can let their little ones roam wild and explore everything the Forest School has to offer without having to enrol at the nursery.
Work is underway to launch Muddy Explorers in a matter of weeks, with the first sessions expected to be available by the end of July. More information will be released in due course but, until then, you can get in touch with Kerry Eyre (K.Eyre@bham.ac.uk) at The Oaks to find out more.
The Exchange Nears Completion
With a venue hand-over expected later this month, the Conferences & events team recently went on a hardhat tour of The Exchange to see how work is progressing on-site. As excitement builds for the launch of this brand-new venue in just 2 months’ time, the team wanted to share a sneak peek of how the venue is currently looking.
The Vaults, in the basement of the Exchange, is shaping up to be the University’s most striking space to date. The venue is characterised by original, floor-to-ceiling bank vaults, which will hopefully attract bookings for private dining and VIP events, increasing the number of high-profile bookings hosted by the University.
Rare Plant Fair at Winterbourne
The ever-popular Rare Plant Fair makes its long-awaited return to Winterbourne House and Garden this month. On 11th July, Winterbourne will once again host stalls of suppliers and green-fingered experts from up and down the country, not to mention hundreds of plants!
With the house and gardens also open to enjoy, the event is guaranteed to be a great day out for the whole family. So, if you’re looking to up your gardening game or wish to experience the beauty of Winterbourne in bloom, make sure you secure your place today! All University staff benefit from FREE entry, but tickets must be booked in advance via the Winterbourne website.
Pritchatts Park Redevelopment Update
The University’s ambitious redevelopment of Pritchatts Park, which was due to begin this summer, will now begin in autumn 2021. The redevelopment will provide high-quality, sustainable housing to students, as well as additional staff car parking spaces.
Despite this change of start date, the project is progressing well. The University has recently received images and further details about the development from ENGIE-Equitix, including a newly imagined social space in Pritchatts House and the landscaping around the site. Pritchatts House has been designed to be more accessible and offer a variety of flexible spaces for different activities.
Sustainability is at the centre of the development, with the team behind it committed to making the project as sustainable as possible and minimising disruption to staff, students and the local community. Want to learn more about the redevelopment? You can find out more about the redevelopment online
Call for Volunteers
For many, summer means holidays and a well-earned break. But, for Student Accommodation, it means the summer call centre. Summer is one of the busiest times of year for the team, with thousands of students getting in touch to find out about their accommodation for the next academic year.
To help with the influx of calls, the team are looking for confident and capable communicators to support these students with a wide range of accommodation-related queries. Colleagues will be working alongside an existing team of experienced accommodation officers, as well as an excellent team of student callers.
Accommodation is particularly interested in hearing from staff with the following skills:
- Good interpersonal skills and the ability to demonstrate a friendly and courteous manner towards customers and colleagues
- Competent IT skills (training on our systems will be provided)
- Good, clear and concise verbal and written communication skills
The team value diversity and inclusion and welcome expressions of interest from all.
Full training will be provided (along with copious amounts of chocolate and coffee). The call centre is operational Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm, throughout the summer and working hours are fairly flexible.
Accommodation would love for volunteers to join the team full time for an agreed number of weeks; however, help for an agreed number of days or hours each week during the peak period (9th-28th August), with the option to continue until 4th September, would be welcome. The team also operate over two weekends in August (14th/15th and 28th/29th/30th); a willingness to volunteer on the weekend rota would be gratefully received but is not expected.
If you or members of your team are likely to have the capacity and are looking for a student-facing development opportunity, then please contact John Mamo (J.Mamo@bham.ac.uk) and Chris Ellison (C.Ellison@bham.ac.uk), who will be happy to help and answer any questions.
Meet the Team
Looking after hundreds of students is no easy feat. Without the dedication of the Accommodation team, students wouldn’t receive the support they need to flourish in halls and find their feet at Birmingham.
But what is it really like to manage an accommodation site? Wayne Grey, Site Assistant at Selly Oak Village, shares his experience over the last 3 years.
• What do you like about your job?
Meeting and getting to know students; it’s great to be able to meet new people each year, build up a rapport and help them in, what is for most, their first year living away from home. I also enjoy learning about different cultures as Jarratt Hall has a lot of international students, plus my manager is great!
• Are there any things you don’t like about your job?
Having to deal with students who don’t think of others and smoke in areas they shouldn’t, leave a mess in the kitchen and forget that others live with them that may be shy and don’t want to speak out. I also don’t like it when students blatantly flout serious rules and bully other students – this is very rare but does happen.
• How was lockdown?
I liked it because I had time to go for walks and enjoy open spaces as there were fewer people around. I loved coming to work and seeing people again but missed not having a full staff team on-site. I really missed the team comradery.
• What does the future hold for you?
I want to be here until I retire. I love working at Jarratt and the team are great – I get along with them so well. I also love being outdoors, especially in the rain! I love the job as it’s different day-to-day so I am happy to carry on until I can’t.
It has been wonderful to see so many of you back on campus. As government restrictions have eased, I’ve enjoyed meeting people face to face for the first time and welcoming furloughed staff back to the team. I know that we’re all looking forward to working together in person again and seeing the buzz return to campus as more people get out and about to enjoy the spring sunshine.
Understandably, many of you may still be anxious about returning to work. Your safety is paramount and we’re working hard to safeguard your wellbeing by making campus as COVID-secure as possible. Please do speak to your line manager if you have any concerns.
I recognise that the last few weeks have been particularly difficult for those involved in the service reviews. I understand this is a worrying time. Please be assured ideas and suggestions to proposals are welcomed and will be given due consideration. With your help, I am sure we can further enhance the services we offer to students, staff and other key stakeholders.
With the vaccine rollout progressing well, preparations now turn to the new academic year and how we best adapt to the ever-evolving way we operate. This newsletter will highlight some of the initiatives that will ensure 2021/22 is a positive year for all. Certainly, as one of the few institutions able to show students around our campus safely, and even offer graduation ceremonies for final year students, our reputation as one of the best universities in the UK will only be further enhanced.
Once again, thank you for all your efforts and I do hope to bump into you on campus soon. Please do stop me to say ‘hello’.
Simon Bray, Director of Campus Services
Spring into Summer
Last month, staff from across the University and the Guild have come together to bring Spring into Summer to life – an exciting season of street food and outdoor activities, based at University Square.
Each week, until the end of the semester, students can journey around the world via our many food stalls, enjoy giant garden games on the Green Heart or relax with yoga, baking and crafting sessions. Students will also have the chance to try their hand at mini-golf and table tennis and participate in sports activities with UB Sport.
Alongside in-person events, we will also be running virtual activities to give students who have yet to return to campus the best student experience possible. As restrictions ease further, we will be adding new offers to the schedule to enhance student life both off- and on-campus.
UB Sport and Fitness
Sport Facilities Re-open
Sport & Fitness and Tiverton Gym have opened their doors once again.
To celebrate, Sport and Fitness kicked off their first week with 70 children on intensive swimming lessons and 222 people taking part in outdoor fitness classes, including Tai Chi on the hockey pitches (pictured).
24 sports clubs returned to training under the ‘Test to Play’ initiative, with nearly 1,000 students attending and logging negative flow tests for the University’s tracing system.
To top the week off, over 100 new members joined the club, whilst existing members rushed to kick-start their exercise routines.
Experience the Great Outdoors at the Raymond Priestley Centre
With the weather getting warmer, and bank holidays and half terms on the horizon, now’s the perfect time to embrace the great outdoors at the University’s outdoor education centre in the Lake District.
Perched on the picturesque banks of Coniston Water, the Raymond Priestley Centre is open for bookings for households and, from 17th May, will be open for two families to stay together. From here, you can explore the stunning Lake District from your doorstep.
Whether you choose to mountain hike or take a boat out on the lake, the centre offers a break from the city’s hustle and bustle and is perfectly placed for you to enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside.
With self-catered accommodation starting from £500 for 6-12 people (4 nights), the centre offers excellent value for money for adventures in one of the most sought-after locations in the Lakes.
Ready to explore? Click here to get in touch with the team and book your getaway.
Keeping You Safe
From enhanced cleaning schedules to social distancing, a variety of measures have been put into place to enable you to work with confidence. You can find out more about these via the ‘Return to Campus’ Canvas course, which all staff should complete before returning to campus.
The University also continues to offer free, rapid asymptomatic testing for staff and students. You can book a test in the Great Hall (open Monday and Thursday) via the intranet or take advantage of our walk-in centre in the Duck and Scholar. This centre is open Tuesday and Friday from 11:00am to 6:45pm (closed 2:00-2:45pm).
To ensure staff can access asymptomatic test as easily as possible, we are looking to provide home testing kits to staff, free of charge (interest permitting). If you would like home testing kits to be made available from campus, please express your interest online via a short survey.
Celebrating the Business and Operations Team
Mjriam Ganci, from the Starbucks Muirhead Tower team, has successfully completed the Starbucks Coffee Master Programme, a scheme that trains employees to be the best of the best.
As a certified Starbucks Coffee Master, Mjriam is now an official expert in all things coffee. She will be wearing her esteemed black apron with pride.
Achievement has also been high in the Costa University Centre team.
Following on from great feedback from a senior manager from Costa HQ, Alfredo Sanchez-Vaquez, Store Manager, has been formally recognised for his excellent customer service.
On 23rd March, Alfredo was presented with a coveted Bronze Flying Bean badge for his exceptional service and received a ‘Grazie Card’ – a personalised thank you from the Costa brand – commending him for the kindness and generosity he’s shown to his customers.
For Red Nose Day 2021, staff across our food and drink outlets put the ‘fun’ in fundraising by donning an array of fancy dress, from red deely boppers to superhero capes. Across campus and The Vale, the team served gluten-free cupcakes and jammy shortbread cookies all in the name of charity; 10% of the sales of each item were donated to Red Nose Day.
Sustainability on Campus
Campus’ New Community Compost Project
The volunteer-run community garden ‘Grow with Joe’ continues to add to the Green Heart’s eco credentials.
In March, Campus Services partnered with the Conservation Volunteers at the Guild to purchase two insulated compost bins for the garden, as well as a clean receiver station for food waste. The garden’s new clean and efficient composting system will turn food scraps from staff and students into a high-quality growing medium to cultivate organic produce.
Conservation volunteers with Jade Willets, Environmental Officer
Green Impact continues to grow from strength to strength on campus. Since the launch of the Green Impact 2021 programme, 26 teams from across the University have pledged to work more sustainably. 5 of these are from Campus Services and include Business and Operations, Conferences and events, Sport and Fitness, Staff House Savers and Team Terrace Huts.
As part of the programme, teams are equipped with toolkits tailored to their area of work to help them implement environmentally and socially sustainable practices into their day-to-day activities.
Environmental Services are hosting a virtual coffee morning via Teams for all Green Impact staff on Tuesday 11th May at 10:30am. A Campus Services working group has also been established for participants to share best practice and discuss their progress. For further details, please contact Jade Willets at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sustainability Branding and Communications
Did you know that there’s a branded toolkit for sustainability-related projects? An exciting part of this is the ‘Sustainability
The stamp is an important way to communicate that S&SR are at the core of what the University does and the decisions it makes. Therefore, staff are encouraged to use it wherever it’s appropriate. at Heart’ stamp, which can be used to proudly showcase projects, initiatives and products that align with the University’s sustainability and social agenda (S&SR) strategy.
The heart stamp has already been added to vehicles in the electric fleet and it is hoped that we’ll be seeing it much more around campus in the coming months.
For any marketing materials you require, featuring the sustainability stamp or otherwise, please contact Campus Services Marketing at email@example.com.
The University is working towards net-zero carbon emissions, with support from technology company Siemens. People, processes and technology are essential to achieving this goal, which is why all staff are encouraged to share their experience in an energy survey.
Your feedback will help the University better understand current energy usage behaviours and practices across campus and inform our future sustainability plans. To thank you for your time, you will be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 ethical superstore voucher.
Your 2022 Commonwealth Games Update
Next year, our campus will be the official host venue for hockey and squash and the training venue for athletics and swimming. It will also be home to the largest of three Athlete Villages, which will host around 3,000 athletes and technical officials.
To ensure that that the University adopts an integrated and joined-up approach to its involvement with the Games, Campus Services has welcomed Tom Clift to the team as its Commonwealth Games Venue Operations Project Manager.
Tom will manage the operational and logistical commitments the University will deliver for the duration of the Games, and work to minimise any disruptions caused to the University’s business as usual operations.
Tom has attended or been a part of the last four Olympic and three Commonwealth Games and has previously worked as a Games delivery partner, administrator, ambassador and volunteer.
Hosting the Commonwealth Games is a once in a generation opportunity for Birmingham and the West Midlands to showcase what we can offer to a global audience. The Games has the potential to enrich the lives of everyone living in the region through the cultural, educational and economic opportunities it will provide, benefitting the city/region long after the baton’s been proudly passed on to the next host city.
Work at The Exchange, the University’s new exhibition space and events venue, continues at pace. The contractors are making excellent progress on-site in preparation for a full handover at the end of July. Campus Services will then prepare the venue in time for its launch in September.
The opening of The Exchange marks a new chapter for the University as Matt Knight, Venue Manager, can attest: “this is a hugely exciting time for Campus Services, and the wider University, as we prepare to mobilise our new city centre venue and increase our visibility in the heart of our city”.
You can find out more about The Exchange here or take a look around the venue with a virtual tour.
Worklink for Campus Services’ Managers
Worklink offers a range of services for hiring managers across the University, including tailored advice, end-to-end recruitment campaigns, processing new casual work requests and more.
As part of a recent service review, Worklink has launched a monthly newsletter for hiring managers to support them in casual resourcing needs.
To keep up to date with the latest news, you can sign up to the team’s mailing list via the online Worklink portal.
University Nurseries – Spaces Available
The University of Birmingham has 3 award-winning day nurseries – The Elms, The Oaks and The Maples – located close to the Edgbaston and Selly Oak campuses. An ideal childcare solution for University staff, the nurseries provide high-quality education and care for children between 6 weeks and 4 years old, in settings that allow little ones to flourish.
There are spaces currently available across all 3 nurseries for under 3s, with bookings now taking place for September 2021. There is also some availability for the 3-4 age group; however, spaces are limited. To find out more, visit the nurseries’ website or contact the following people:
- The Elms Nursery: Selina Hunt, 0121 414 8118
- The Oaks Nursery: Emily Grainger, 0121 414 7999
- The Maples: Heather Bench, 0121 415 9222
Edgbaston Park Hotel Re-opens
The hotel has stayed open to support key workers and NHS staff over the past year; however, with lockdown restrictions easing, the hotel intends to be fully open for overnight stays, meetings and dining by June this year.
On 12th April, the hotel opened its doors for outdoor dining and launched a brand-new terrace space and menu in celebration. With an array of tempting tapas, the new Terrace Tapas Menu is ideal for enjoying in the sunshine. Why not take a break and try it for yourself? The Terrace opens at noon every day for alfresco dining.
The next phase of reopening is to come on 17th May, with indoor dining in the hotel’s lounge and bar. Lunch will be served from noon, and dinner from 6pm, every day. The hotel expects to open fully from 21st June when restrictions on the numbers of people allowed to attend weddings and other events are relaxed.
The hotel has put several safety measures in place to ensure that people can dine, stay and meet with confidence.
For bookings, please visit the Edgbaston Park Hotel website here or call the team on 0121 414 8888.
Pritchatts Park Redevelopment (DBFO)
As part of the University’s ambitious Birmingham 2026 plan, in 2018 planning was sought for the development of new student accommodation and car parking facilities at Pritchatts Park village. To secure investment for such a project, the University determined that a DBFO – design, build, finance and operate – structure was ideal and, following a tendering process, ENGIE-Equitix Consortium has been appointed as the preferred partner.
Equitix is a prominent UK infrastructure investor and developer, whilst ENGIE is a leading energy and servicing specialist, with a focus on sustainability. Together, in partnership with the University, they will turn Pritchatts Park into a state-of-the-art, low carbon campus.
The current Pritchatts Park car park will be knocked down to make room for 496 new, highly energy-efficient student homes, which will be built in a modern townhouse model, and a 482-space multi-storey car park. 734 existing rooms will also be refurbished to elevate them to modern standards.
The redevelopment has been planned carefully with sustainability, student experience and the local area in mind. The village’s townhouses will complement the buildings and infrastructure of the existing area and the entire scheme will be powered and heated completely by electricity – 100% of which will come from renewable energy sources. The new car park, available to staff and students, will also boast 24 EV charging points.
Work will commence this summer to ensure that the new car park and the first of the townhouse builds will be ready for handover to Campus Services by September 2022. The project is on course to be completed by August 2023.
There are two new faces within the Campus Services senior management team – Andy Allford, Director of Sport and Fiona Wilkie, Director of Business and Operations.
Andy has a strong track record of working across the sporting industry, working within both performance and commercial roles.
He spent seven years at the University of Hertfordshire, where he was Head of Health, Fitness and Performance and was part of the team that relocated the sports services to a purpose-built Hertfordshire Sports village.
Andy then spent 6 years in performance sport working for the English Institute of Sport, holding lead roles for the Paralympic Association and also for Badminton culminating in the position of Olympic Team Leader for London 2012.
He then moved to King’s College London to set up the King’s Sport division with a remit to increase the student engagement, whilst balancing the commercial aspects.
Andy started in post as Director of Sport at UoB in January. He is excited to be leading the team across all facets of sport from Participation, through to elite Performance, stating that “Birmingham seems to have sport as part of its DNA”. He will also bring his wealth of experience and knowledge to help in the delivery of the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
Fiona Wilkie has been appointed to the position of Director of Business and Operation, becoming the newest member of the Campus Services senior management team. Fiona will be a familiar face to some colleagues, as she has been working with the hospitality team in a consultative role, up until her permanent appointment on 1st February 2021.
Fiona previously worked as the Director of Business Management and Support within the Campus Division of the University of Bristol. She was appointed to shape and execute strategy, providing direction for the Business Management and Support functions. Before this, she was the Deputy Director of Residential and Hospitality Service with responsibility for a diverse portfolio of professional services teams.
Whilst at the University of Bristol, Fiona worked as a residential Warden for over 15 years; and has a genuine passion for student wellbeing and community. She has also delivered sessions as a visiting lecturer on the specialist subject of Organisational Behaviour for undergraduates and on executive management courses.
The newly formed Business and Operations division within Campus Services are made up of the hospitality and retail teams. Fiona will use her wealth of knowledge and extensive experience to lead these areas of the Campus Services portfolio, and is very excited to shape the new strategic direction going forward. Fiona is also keen to build on the areas of student engagement and wellbeing at the university.
We would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Shaun Fletcher, the new University of Birmingham Police Officer.
Shaun has been a Police Office for 19 years, mainly serving within Birmingham city centre on the frontline. He has also assisted with Crime Prevention initiatives throughout the region.
He is looking forward to using his experience to contribute to university life; increasing students’ awareness of safety and supporting staff across campus. His work will link closely with colleagues in Security Services and with the local Neighbourhood teams, providing intelligence-led, pro-active support to the university community.
Shaun will be based in the Police and Partnership Hub, in University Centre (near Spar).
Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre
The hotel held its annual (virtual) award ceremony in early January, to acknowledge staff successes and celebrate achievements of the last 12 months.
Awards were presented for Employee of the Year, Manager of the Year, Department of the Year and Unsung Hero of the Year.
There were also four awards presented to staff or teams who best demonstrated the hotel’s values – working together, caring, improving and excelling.
Supporting our students
Over 700 students remained in accommodation over the Christmas period. The accommodation team made regular contact with residents to ensure they were ok, given the limitations on mixing and social activities.
On Christmas Day, members of the hospitality team served lunch to nearly 200 students. Whilst the Government restrictions meant that we could only offer a takeaway food option, Christmas spirit was in large supply from the team, and the students greatly appreciated our efforts.
Since Christmas we have been offering students “lockdown lunches” every Wednesday. These complementary takeaway lunches have proved to be a brilliant way for members of Campus Services to check on the wellbeing of our students; giving them some additional support during these challenging times.
We also continue to support students with the provision of self-isolation grocery boxes. These are distributed to students, who find themselves having to isolate due to the virus; and contain complementary, essential food items to tide them over until larger online food deliveries arrive.
The inaugural UoBe Festival took place last month. Delivered by the University and the Guild of Students, this was originally planned to be a face to face experience, following the semester one assessment period. Due to the ongoing restrictions caused by the pandemic, the entire festival moved online with virtual activities developed across five key themes – Community, Varsity, Skills, Social and Wellbeing.
There was a diverse range of events, activities and talks; with something for everyone whatever their interests. Some highlights included digital graffiti, the Vice-Chancellor's Challenge, cookery classes led by Dr Rupy Aujla, plus some high-profile speakers such as Clarke Carlisle (ex-professional footballer) talking about mental health, and Emmanuel Asuquo (TV financial advisor) explaining how to master your finances.
The Sport & Fitness team led the Varsity strand of the festival. Participants were challenged to undertake a virtual race from Birmingham UK, to Birmingham, Alabama, USA, by logging their kilometres through walking, running or cycling in the local area. Students and staff represented their colleges, with EPS storming ahead to win the race by travelling 3815km in total.
The Bramall technical team supported in the delivery of the virtual events for UoBe Festival – including the production of these stunning live projections on to the side of the Old Joe clock tower on behalf of the Student Services team, on what was a very cold and snowy evening.
Experience some of the festival content
Home Workout Hub Returns for Lockdown 3.0
The Home Workout Hub offers a range of free pre-recorded and live virtual classes for members of Sport & Fitness, students and staff who want to keep active at home during lockdown. Over 2,500 people have joined so far and the student recruitment team are even using the platform to showcase how we engage with students remotely.
The Hub provides a variety of our members’ favourite fitness classes, from Body Pump to Yoga, as on-demand videos on Vimeo, and a timetable of weekly live classes on Zoom.
If you would like to make use of the Home Workout Hub, sign up using the web form, to receive links to the videos and live classes.
Elite Athlete Training During Lockdown 3.0
Fifty-three athletes have been classified as ‘elite’ by their national governing bodies and have been cleared to use the University’s performance facilities, as per the current government regulations.
These elite athletes are supported by Performance Centre practitioners and coaches, and are allowed to use the University’s athletics track, squash courts, performance gym and physiology lab. Amongst the athletes are world-class netballer Fran Williams, bronze medallist at the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup, and squash player Joel Makin, who is currently ranked number 9 in the world.
University train station development
The arrival of the Commonwealth Games in 2022 will be matched with a major upgrade to the University station.
Transport for West Midlands is leading a consortium including the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City Council, Network Rail, West Midlands Trains and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP to fund the £56 million project, which will see the redevelopment and expansion of the station.
Alongside additional passenger capacity, the project will deliver a larger, modern station and enhanced facilities including more lifts, a ticket office, shop and public toilets, helping to give competitors and sports fans an experience to remember.
Virtual Museum of Printing
In October 2020 the Printing Historical Society (PHS) Committee approved a proposal, presented by the National Printing Heritage Committee (NPHC), for a web-based ‘virtual’ British Printing Museum.
The concept, which has been developed by Lee Hale, from Winterbourne House and Garden, is entirely new. The site will be a platform for print historians, practitioners and heritage professionals across the nation to contribute data, images, video and narrative relating to their collections. Visitors will engage not just with one virtual museum, but with a range of physical collections from all over the country, many of which would otherwise be inaccessible.
The objective of the museum will be to bring “as much of the nation’s printing-historical resources as possible together on one virtual collective museum site”. It will also allow for improved connections, knowledge transfer and potential training opportunities.
The site will be developed and managed by the Museums Steering Group, of which Lee is the Chair. Plans are now underway for the build of the website and the collation of site contributors, donors and sponsors.
The University has signed off rent rebates until 12 April, for those students who have not been allowed to return to their student accommodation. This has meant that the team have been extremely busy, responding to student emails, rent rebate queries and questions.
The Vale continues to be popular with students, staff and local residents as a place to go for daily exercise, with beautiful scenery and wildlife.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Scheme 2021 - 2024
The promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion is central to the mission and vision of the University of Birmingham.
On our founding in 1900 as the UK’s frst civic university, our core commitment was to accept women and people of all religious backgrounds as equal members of the University community. Today, addressing inequalities and promoting greater understanding and inclusion continues to be one of the key challenges that we face as part of a global society.
As a higher education institution, our role in society is to increase understanding. This takes place through our research and teaching and by enabling all our students to develop the skills they need as citizens in a global society. A diversity of perspectives and lived experiences is essential to underpinning the exchange of ideas, innovation and debate that is at the heart of our academic mission.
Campus services is committed to playing its part within this EDI scheme. Its aims are:
- Being proactive in celebrating and harnessing our diversity
- Listening to our students and staff and taking action to address the structural barriers within the University that can prevent groups from fulfilling their potential
- Taking steps to foster an organisational culture where equality, diversity and inclusion are embedded at all levels
- Recognising that understanding equality, diversity and inclusion issues is a key competency for our staff and students and has a substantial impact on individual interactions and experiences.
Monica Guise is the Campus Services lead on the EDI scheme.
Last month was ‘Time to Talk’ day, which aimed tochange the way we think about mental health problems.
From virtual coffee mornings to a quick message or chat with a colleague, Time to Talk encouraged us all to take some time to reach out to one another and have a non-work-related conversation.
We wanted to take this opportunity to remind staff of some of the sources of support available at what remains a challenging time for us all.
- At the end of last year, Workplace Wellbeing launched the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). The EAP is a confidential employee designed programme to help you deal with personal and professional problems that could be affecting your home life or work life, health and general wellbeing.
- The wellbeing employee hub draws together all wellbeing initiatives that are taking place across the University.
- Staff networks provide a forum for staff from particular groups to discuss challenges that they are facing and offer peer support.
Closing Loops at the University of Birmingham
The University of Birmingham are sector-leaders in waste and resource management and are proud to have implemented their “zero waste to landfill” policy for over a decade. Following this success, the University is transitioning from a linear system, to a more circular model of resource management.
The University has had a particular focus on repurposing redundant items of furniture and lab equipment, adopting a standardised approach to furniture procurement and raising awareness across staff of the services available to reduce impacts, minimise costs and generate an income for teams.
Warp-It is an online platform which enables staff, to redistribute and reuse surplus items internally or, since 2020, with partner organisations (including local charities and schools), giving them a new life rather than just throwing them away. Since the scheme’s launch in 2018, the University has saved 34 tonnes of CO2, planted the equivalent of 46 trees and saved over £78,000 in disposal and related costs.
The University’s programme for recovery, repair and resale of technical equipment is delivered through an alumni founded company, UniGreenScheme. Since its pilot in 2016, the team has collected over 5,600 pieces of lab equipment with a total weight of in excess of 140 tonnes, generating £100,635 of funds for the teams involved. Without UniGreenScheme, all of this unwanted equipment would have ended up in waste disposal or recycling
Circularity is facilitated by standardisation allowing for greater reuse potential. With this and opportunities for non-pay efficiencies in mind, the University has created a new furniture supply contract with Elite Furniture. The high-quality products are sustainably sourced, with considerations for recycled content, reduced packaging and durability. The level of consistency achieved across the institution allows for items to be exchanged via Warp-It more easily.
Although redundant furniture and lab equipment have long been considered a disposal problem, they are now valued as a resource. Redistributing the equipment has led to less cluttered and more efficient facilities. Whilst there are barriers to selling and exchanging, they can be overcome through engagement, and reap substantial benefits for the institution.
As part of the Worklink service review project, a number of changes were launched on 1 September 2020. The service returned to its original purpose as a student casual work agency, and non-student casual work was transferred to HR Operations. As well as re-focusing the service, a range of service enhancements were launched including improved processes, updated guidance and a new Worklink portal.
Following Autumn term 2020, the Worklink team are currently undertaking a review of all changes implemented in September 2020 in collaboration with HR Operations, and are in the process of implementing further business enhancements.
A Hiring Manager feedback group has been established to inform this review, and further volunteers are invited to register through our portal. For further information on Worklink, please visit our webpages.
Worklink (in collaboration with HR) and Accommodation have been selected for a Chatbot pilot on behalf of the University of Birmingham. Work on the project will be developed over the coming weeks.
The gardens at Winterbourne remain open during this period of national restriction and UoB staff are entitled to free entry on production of their staff ID card.
This year, Winterbourne House and Garden took over responsibility for the University Herbarium, a collection of endangered plant specimens dating from the early 1800s to the mid-20th century. The correspondence associated with this collection tells an important story about early plant collecting, and thanks to an intern recruited through the College of Arts and Law Experience Arts Scheme, we have been able to explore that story in depth. Work is now underway on an exhibition.
If you’re starting to think about Christmas gifts – look no further. Winterbourne gift memberships start at just £32 a year and include unlimited access, two seasonal Members Magazines plus 10% off plant sales. Visit https://www.winterbourne.org.uk/support-us/membership/ to find out more.
At the start of November, the catering team took time to deliver approximately £5,000 worth of food stock to a local food bank in Northfield.
During half term, The Oaks Day Nursery also supported Northfield Food Service, providing lunch and tea meals to support their school meals campaign. The team also collected food for both Northfield and Quinton food banks for their Harvest Collection, filling two shopping trolleys of food and easy meals.
The campus will welcome athletes and spectators during the 2022 Commonwealth Games, from 28 July to 8 August 2022. The hockey and squash competitions will take place in Sport & Fitness and on the outdoor pitches, and The Vale will be used as the main athlete village, hosting over 2,800 guests.
The University was also recently announced as an official partner of Birmingham 2022, creating opportunities for volunteering for staff and students. You can keep up to date on the latest news via a dedicated intranet page.
Security Services took part in Welcome Week this year, offering Crime Prevention tips and free D-locks to the students.
Bike theft remains the focus of crime in the area at the moment, so if you’re still cycling to campus make sure you register your bike with the Bike Register.
In the mean time the security team have been busy patrolling campus and ensuring that visitors, staff and students embrace our new COVID secure culture; working with colleagues from Student Services and Community Wardens to provide a safe student experience during this difficult time.
Security Services will continue to offer 24h a day support throughout national restrictions, Christmas and beyond.
During the second period of national restrictions, Sport & Fitness launched a Home Workout Hub for members to access previously-recorded classes and workouts. So far, there’s been a great uptake with over 1000 members accessing the exclusive footage.
During this last term, the team have supported students with 775 complimentary self-isolation grocery boxes. These food boxes have been delivered to students who have either reported symptoms of Covid-19 or have had to self-isolate due to a house mate reporting symptoms.
Staff from Catering, Accommodation, Events and Sport have gone above and beyond in their delivery of multiple daily food packages, wellbeing support and a Canvas-based Home Workout Hub, accessible for students who have had to self-isolate in accommodation. The innovative and pioneering spirit of the teams to get these projects designed, executed and delivered has been inspiring.
The Elms and Oaks Day Nurseries have both achieved the Platinum Just Quality Accreditation this month; an award-winning programme which helps nurseries to demonstrate, through evaluation and reflection, the positive impact they make on children’s lives.
The Elms Day Nursery has also been shortlisted in the Initiatives - Team Development Award category of the Nursery World Awards, which will take place in February; and the Mapleshas achieved the award of an Attachment and Trauma school, meaning they are able to better support children who have experienced trauma, toxic stress and attachment difficulties, who will have more emotional and mental health needs.
Keeping the seasonal spirit alive, Winterbourne donated almost 100 pumpkins to the Oaks Day Nursery and the children had a fabulous week of pumpkin trails.
Opening in September 2021, The Exchange – the University’s new city centre venue – will bring together the city of Birmingham to shape ideas and solutions that will make our cities and regions better places in which to live, work and learn.
There will be an all-staff briefing on 3 December at 11am, where you will be able to see a virtual tour of the redevelopment of the former municipal bank in Centenary Square and learn how The Exchange will use the University’s research and teaching to create a place of curiosity, celebration, collaboration and change. Keep an eye on your emails for registration details.
University train station
The proposed new University train station will provide flagship facilities to accommodate future rail passenger growth and act as a fitting gateway to the world class hospitals and University campus.
Including a new station building, toilets and shop, the redevelopment will be able to host over 7 million passengers a year, compared to the current 500,000 capacity in the existing station that dates from 1978. Construction is set to commence in the New Year.
Cycle to work scheme
The new Cycle-to-Work scheme opened in October 2020 offering members of staff a new bike and equipment worth up to £3000, and the opportunity to make large tax and NI savings via a salary sacrifice.
Find out how the scheme works, eligibility criteria, and how to order on the HR intranet. All ordering, whether from your local bike shop or direct from Cycle Solutions, the scheme provider, is done via the university’s dedicated landing page.
Ceri Griffin, our Cycle Solutions account manager, can support with any questions you may have - contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voluntary Leavers Scheme (VLS)
This year has been unlike any other, and one of the results of these changes has been the introduction of the Voluntary Leavers Scheme. This scheme will see a number of our valued and dedicated colleagues finishing their time with us towards the end of this year. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have applied for the scheme, for their ongoing support and commitment to their roles with us. We wish you all the best with your future plans.
Campus Services staff should continue to undertake a number of mandatory training courses, to ensure that we are up to date with the basic health and safety knowledge and processes at the University. Including courses such as GDPR and IT security, all courses are available on Canvas – you just need your University login and password to access.
We are pleased to be shortlisted at the CUBO Awards 2020 in the Best Campus Experience category. The award winners will be announced on Thursday 3rd December as part of the Winter Conference.
The Edgbaston Park Hotel was also a finalist in the recent Conference & Hospitality Show Awards for Independent Hotel of the Year.
Congratulations to everyone involved.
The Conference & events team have launched a series of virtual and hybrid event packages, which mean that they can continue to support customers with meetings and events, despite the ongoing national restrictions. You can find out more via this short film.
Thanks to Stewart Turner from the catering team, for the following Christmas themed recipes.
Roasted butternut squash soup
Flavoured with pancetta and parmesan
- 1.6 kg butternut squash
- 20ml olive oil
- 50g butter
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1g ground nutmeg
- 1g ground ginger
- 2 springs thyme
- 940ml vegetable stock, hot
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 40g toasted pumpkin seeds
- 20g chopped flat leaf parsley
Finely grate onto a non-stick tray and bake in the oven at 200 degrees until golden, remove from the oven and allow to cool, then using a spatula scrape from the tray breaking into shards.
On a lined baking tray place 2 thinly sliced pancetta and cover with parchment paper and another baking tray so the slices are completely flat. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees until the pancetta is crispy, around 15-20 mins. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on kitchen roll. Once cool break up into shards.
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
- Slice the ends off the butternut squash. With a flat surface on the bulb end, stand the butternut squash on end and carefully slice it in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove the seeds.
- Transfer the butternut squash to a baking tray cut side up, coat with oil and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 60 minutes, whilst this is in the oven carry on with the following steps.
- In a hot pan melt the butter. Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic cook until softened and lightly coloured, stirring occasionally. Add the spices and cook for a further minute.
- Add the vegetable stock and simmer until all the vegetables are soft.
- Remove the butternut squash from the oven. Once it is cool enough to handle, use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh and add to the rest of the ingredients.
- Transfer to a blender keeping back some of the stock. Blend until smooth; add more of the remaining stock until you achieve your desired consistency.
- Taste the soup and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with pumpkin seeds, parsley, crispy pancetta and parmesan.
Norfolk turkey and red wine casserole
Norfolk turkey braised in red wine, roasted shallot, carrot and sprouts with buttery mashed potato.
- 500g floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper or Desiree
- 75g butter, cut into cubes
- 75ml milk or double cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 700g Diced Norfolk turkey (leg and breast)
- 1 bottle red wine
- 500ml fresh chicken stock
- 15 round shallots, peeled
- 15 fresh sprouts, cut in half
- 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
- 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- Thyme leaves
- Black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- Butter, for frying
- 150g Pancetta, cut into thickly diced cubes
- 15 large button mushrooms, cut in half
- 100g plain flour, seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Pre heat an oven to 180oc
- Bake the potatoes until soft
- In a pan bring the milk or double cream to the boil and remove from the heat
- Carefully remove from the oven and split in half
- Scoop out the potato, put through a potato ricer into a bowl (or use a masher if you don’t have a ricer)
- Add the butter to the potato and gently fold the butter into the potato
- Slowly fold in the warm milk or double cream until desired consistency
- Adjust seasoning to taste
- Dip the turkey into the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.
- Heat a large pan or flameproof casserole and add a knob of butter and brown the turkey pieces on all sides. Remove the turkey and set aside.
- Add the pancetta and lightly brown then remove it from the pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, keeping them separate cook the mushrooms, sprouts and shallots for a few minutes until they colour then remove them from the pan and set aside.
- Turn down the heat add the garlic gloves and gently soften.
- Return the turkey, pancetta, mushrooms and shallots to the pan.
- Add the carrot and celery along with the thyme and bay leaf.
- Pour in the red wine and simmer until reduced by half.
- Add the chicken stock and simmer with a lid on for one hour.
- Add the sprouts to the pan.
- Let the casserole rest for about 15 minutes then add the parsley.
- Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Serve with buttery mashed potato.
Spiced rum and honey glazed clementine milk tart with ginger shortcrust pastry
For the filling
- 9 large organic egg yolks
- 75g caster sugar
- 500 ml whipping cream
- 25ml spiced rum
- 1 whole nutmeg, for grating
For the sweet shortcrust pastry
- 230g plain white flour, sifted with a pinch of salt
- 150g softened unsalted butter, diced
- 75g icing sugar
- 10g ground ginger
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 1 medium organic egg beaten with 1 medium organic egg yolk
- Plus: 2 medium organic egg yolks, lightly beaten, to glaze
For the garnish
- 4 clementines, peeled and sliced
- 20g clear honey
For the pastry
- On a clean work surface, add the flour, icing sugar, ginger and orange zest and form a well in the middle.
- Add the beaten egg and butter to the well and combine together until it looks like scrambled egg.
- Using a pallet knife gently chop the flour and butter together until start to form a dough.
- Gently shape it into a ball, flattening slightly, then wrap tightly in clingfilm, and refrigerate for 2 hours before using. The pastry is very fragile, and handles best when well chilled.
- Heat the oven to 170⁰ C fan (190⁰ C/gas 5).
- Line a large roasting tray with non-stick baking parchment. Place a buttered 18 x 3.5cm pastry ring (or loose-bottomed tart tin) in the centre.
- Roll out the pastry about 3mm thick; use to line the ring, letting the surplus hang over the top. Chill for another half an hour.
- Cover the pastry with 4 layers of clingfilm in a crisscross about twice the length of the pastry. Pour in rice making sure that the rice is at the edge of the pastry, fold over the excess cling film to enclose the rice.
- Bake the pastry case blind for 15 -20 minutes until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove the paper and rice, and brush the inside of the party case with the egg yolks. Return to the oven to bake for 5 minutes. Leave to cool.
For the filling
- Turn the oven down to 130⁰ C fan (150⁰ C/gas 2).
- Next, make the filling. Put the egg yolks and sugar into a bowl whisk to combine.
- Pour in the cream, mix well and then strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a heavy pan. Warm over a low heat to blood temperature (37⁰ C), stirring all the time. Put in a jug.
- Put the cooled pastry case, still in the ring, on the parchment-lined tray, on the middle shelf in the oven. Slowly and carefully, pour in the custard, filling the case as full as you can - right to the very top.
- Grate nutmeg liberally all over, to cover the custard completely.
- Bake the tart for 45-50 minutes until the custard looks set but not firm - it should have a slight, even quiver across the top when you gently shake the roasting pan.
- Leave to cool to room temperature.
- Place the sliced clementine on an oven tray.
- Gently warm the honey and coat the sliced clementine.
- Using a blow torch or very hot grill scorch the clementine.
- Carefully trim the excess pastry and remove the ring.
- Cut into neat wedges with a sharp knife; serve with honey-glazed clementine slices.
A message from Simon
Security and is heavily involved in the reopening of campus, making sure that we can all return to spaces in a safe and secure way.
More and more of the cleaning team have returned to campus and are working hard to prepare buildings for reopening. As each member of cleaning services returns to work, they have been undergoing detailed training, to ensure that they are up to speed on all the latest cleaning practices and best practice.
Post, Portering and Transport
The post team have continued to work through the pandemic, to take delivery of all the letters and parcels for campus. The photos show just how much there is to be distributed, once everyone returns on to campus!
Congratulations go to Jade Willetts, who has been shortlisted in the category of Rising Star in the Materials Recycling World National Recycling Awards, which take place in London in December. This is a prestigious national award and recognises the hard work that Jade has undertaken in this area. Many congratulations.
Whilst the nurseries have continued to care for key worker’s children throughout lockdown, they were only operating out of the Elms Hub. On 29th June, all three nurseries reopened and are now caring for 150 children. The staff have enjoyed welcoming the children back and the children have been very pleased to see their friends again.
Winterbourne House and Garden
Winterbourne opened for staff, students and members to visit the gardens only, on Monday 6th July. On the first day of opening, there were 100 visitors returning to the botanic gardens! The team are hoping that the sunshine returns and that even more visitors can enjoy some fresh air and relaxation, in this tranquil setting.
The Student Accommodation team are now returning to full strength on-site to complete check outs and flat clearances for undergraduate students. So far nearly 4,500 students have departed, with 700 postgraduates expected to stay for the summer.
The teams on-site have been delivering birthday cards and chocolates to students who have had their birthdays during lockdown. They have also been busy ensuring compliance with water hygiene protocols – with a phenomenal 4,000 water outlets now being flushed every week.
It is hoped that the Sports Centre will be able to reopen soon. Until then the instructors continue to offer virtual classes across the week. We hope you have enjoyed some of these classes.
From 20th July, the mobile jiffy van will return to campus, offering cold drinks, sandwiches, salads and snacks to those staff who have returned to work. For more information about the route they will be taking each day, please visit www.birmingham.ac.uk/foodanddrink
The team are also working on a new “Click and Collect” service, which will be rolled out across 13 different catering outlets in September. This will allow staff and students to pre-order food and drinks, which can then be collected at an allocated time, thereby avoiding the need for queues.
Edgbaston Park Hotel
The hotel welcomed back its first guests on Saturday 4th July, after many weeks accommodating key workers, who were working at the local hospitals. A total of 43 rooms were booked on Saturday night and 28 rooms on Sunday night, and it is hoped that these numbers will increase as time goes by. The hotel has also received a large number of wedding enquiries during lockdown, from couples looking to tie the knot during 2021.
Conferences & events
Needless to say many events have been postponed this autumn but we are looking forward to an extremely busy year with events in the new year. There are many exciting projects underway and the team is really looking forward to welcoming conferences back on campus when lockdown has been eased.
Last but not least...
Support services like IT, H&S and marketing don’t often get a specific mention, but these teams are also working hard to support the different functions of campus services, especially as teams reopen again. Thank you to everyone involved.
A message from Simon
The pool as you’ve never seen it before
The Sport & Fitness team have been carrying out weekly maintenance and testing. Last week, however, they embarked on some essential pool work too.
This included lifting the floor of the pool to keep the water warm and stop the development of bacteria. Here’s Lucy standing on it!
The team also worked on strengthening the boom for new lane fixtures, meaning new lane configurations will be available to members when the pool reopens. It’s all part of their ongoing work to make sure the whole of Sport & Fitness is ready to reopen without delay, as soon as it’s appropriate to do so.
Thank you, team!
Conferences & events keep delivering
Events may have been cancelled on campus until 1 September, but the Conferences & events team have been looking to the future. The team have successfully postponed many planned events, securing important income for the University.
They’ve also brought in lots of exciting new events, including:
- Digital Health Conference July 2021 – planned to take place in Warwick this summer, and now being held with us next year
- BISS July 2021 and July 2022 – residential course
- World Blind and Visually Impaired Games August 2023 – creating a complete Games Village for around 1500 athletes over 6 to 10 days for this major international event
Meanwhile, the team have been collaborating with colleagues to develop options for virtual and hybrid conferencing, and making plans for socially-distanced venues.
Accommodation team stay busy
Although many of the Accommodation Services staff are working from home, lots of us are still here to look after the students still in residence.
Claire’s working at the Vale reception, answering lots of calls from parents and students who are at home, and handling phone and email enquiries from students on campus.
Claire’s Netflix rec: Afterlife series 1 and 2 – ‘very funny but with a sad side to it’.
Sheila’s working at Jarratt Hall. Here she’s litter picking: no matter what’s going on in the outside world, we always want to keep the students’ living space clean and keep standards high.
Sheila’s lockdown hope: to get back to normal before her Amazon shopping gets out of control and she orders a hot tub.
This is Melodie at Pritchatts Park. Organising the store cupboard is one of those things she never has time to do – until now.
Melodie’s wish: to get back to playing Ultimate Frisbee. ‘It’s like American Football but with a Frisbee. Google it!’
Nurseries celebrate VE Day
Our nurseries teams continue to provide care for key workers’ children at The Elms Hub, with teams working through closed days and Bank Holidays.
They celebrated the early May VE Day holiday with lots of red, white and blue crafts, and a picnic in the sunshine!
Families at home also joined in with their own picnics.
The Elms Hub children have also created this cheerful rainbow of support for our NHS, which has been put up on campus by the maintenance team.
Starbucks’ Mermaids cookie makes a splash
Before restricted operations came into force, individually-decorated Mermaids cookies were available to buy at both Starbucks stores at the University of Birmingham as part of their #whatsyourname campaign.
The charity Mermaids provides vital support services to the transgender community and their families, and has seen a 600% increase in demand for its helpline service in the past five years. Starbucks aimed to raise at least £100,000 for the Mermaids helpline, with 50p donated from the sale of every special-edition Mermaid cookie.
On campus, we sold 218 of the cookies. This meant a donation of £109, which Mermaids were delighted to receive.
Garden tips from Winterbourne
Are you spending more time in your garden thanks to lockdown?
Why not get the advice of Winterbourne’s professional gardening team? Join the weekly Ask a Gardener chat on Twitter and Facebook to get bespoke advice. Or subscribe to the newsletter for regular tips on what garden jobs to do at this time of year, direct to your inbox.
Staying safe online
An increasing number of spam and fraudulent emails are being sent in the UK, exploiting the pandemic to scam individuals and businesses. Visit the National Cyber Security Centre for advice to help protect businesses and keep families secure online.
We are staying together by meeting online instead. However, some have experienced unwanted guests joining in and causing disruption on sites like Zoom.
Read the step-by-step security guidance for online meetings - PDF (1.73MB)
Unfortunately, hate crimes still occur during times like these. If you experience a hate crime, online or in person, then please report it to West Midlands Police as soon as possible.
Our young people are also spending a lot more time online during the lockdown. Find advice online about what to look out for to protect them from extreme ideas, or read this parents’ guide.
Parents’ guide to identifying extremism - PDF (659KB)
The view from campus
One positive side effect of restricted operations: wildlife! This is particularly noticeable at night, when a cohort of badgers emerge and roam fearlessly through the streets.
There have also been sightings of foxes, badgers, voles and squirrels whilst Security carry out their night-time patrolling routine.
In the daytime sunshine, campus continues to look beautiful, with spring flowers everywhere.
Tales from home
Those of you who are working from home with families are tackling the challenges of childcare and homeschooling alongside your work – and we know it’s not easy. If you’re struggling to make things work, please do contact your manager, or get in touch with the Wellbeing Services team.
On a happier note, many of you are enjoying some fun activities with your little ones, especially during the Easter break. Helen Jones from Accommodation Services always bakes her dad a birthday cake. Though this one had to be delivered on the doorstep with singing through the window, Flossie definitely enjoyed helping out.
Now everyone’s used to it, teams are getting creative with their video conferencing. Worklink held a Skype team celebration before the Easter break, including a quiz, to acknowledge their huge effort to meet deadlines.
At Edgbaston Park Hotel, the team marked the Easter break with a ‘holiday’ Zoom meeting.
Others are finding ways to support vulnerable people in their local community, using their contacts from work. Karen Parkes from Catering and her daughter have arranged for campus catering supplier Bidfood to deliver to their home, and distributed food packages around her neighbourhood.
She’s also been knitting up these ear savers to make wearing PPE more comfortable.
Check out the WeAreUoB staff Facebook group for more examples, and patterns if you’d like to join in!
Staying active with UoB Sport & Fitness
The swimming pool may be unusually peaceful for this time of year, but the Sport & Fitness team have been hard at work creating a virtual experience for staff, students and the local community.
The Virtual Sport & Fitness Club group shared 18 classes – a mixture of live and pre-recorded – over the Easter closed period, with over 400 people ‘attending’ the live classes, and pre-recorded classes totting up an impressive 7000 views! 11 instructors worked to get these classes set up. Head of Athletics Luke Gunn also ran a circuits class which was viewed 1500 times, and Gym Supervisor Chris Shorey did three ‘DIY’ videos for people to create their own equipment – including a kettlebell!
Sunday 26 April was the intended date of the London Marathon. The #TwoPointSixChallenge was created to help raise money for UK charities who will lose around £4billion in income as a result of Covid-19. The team lent their support with outdoor activities, and the special 26-minute Grit and Pilates classes were watched by an amazing 1000 people.
The Performance team continue to support students on the scholarship programme virtually: 75% of these scholars are now engaging with a Facebook group, packed with useful and informative posts to keep them connected during lockdown. Reception’s live chat and membership queries by email remain busy, and the team have replied to over 1500 member enquiries.
Spring on campus
If you’re missing campus, you might enjoy these pictures from Martin Hewitt-Moran from the Bramall team. It’s definitely a lot quieter than usual!
Students in action
Students who have been leaving accommodation have been generously donating to a food bank operation, run by University of Birmingham student volunteers.
Jarratt Hall was commandeered as a storage unit once the food bank outgrew the houses of the students involved, and the Catering team joined in the donations from campus stores. Now the food bank has outgrown Jarratt Hall, too, and has moved to a local church.
Well done to the students who have donated, and especially the volunteers who are doing an amazing job supporting Selly Oak residents in need.
How are you managing Ramadan this year? Whether you’re working from home or on campus, it’s inevitably a challenge this year without the usual opportunities to gather together.
To help out our isolated students on campus, we asked Graphic Designer Naz from Campus Services Marketing to share her experience of fasting alone. We thought you might find her tips useful too – especially if you’re not able to be with all your family at the moment.
“I can relate to feeling lonely when you’re the only one fasting. I lived in Brussels for a year, and fasting during my year away was so hard. It’s not the same situation, but this is what I did or tried to do in general:
- Don’t skip suhoor (pre-dawn meal) It’s super easy to just not eat, especially when you have nobody to wake you or if you can’t be bothered. Setting many alarms helps!
- Eat high fibre, wholewheat, or oats for suhoor They’ll help keep you going.
- Iftar over Facetime, Skype, Zoom or similar
- Drink lots of water and lay off the caffeine
- Eat as much fruit as you can at iftar
- Prep your food It’s easy to not eat as much as you should when you don’t have anyone to make it for you, or if you don’t have the energy to, but prepping your food gives you something to do and also makes you miss home a little less. See if you can make the same thing they’re eating at home. I used to facetime my mom whilst I cooked along with her.
- Keep fried, high fat, sugary foods to a minimum Though it all tastes good when you have it, it’ll actually make your fast the next day a lot harder.
- Keep to your usual routine as much as you can
Hopefully this helps!”
Please use Zoom, Facetime etc to virtually attend congregational prayers, and to meet virtually with friends and family outside your household for iftar.
Visit London’s central mosque online for more advice and useful information.
The teams that make up Campus Services keep the University running, all year round.
Now that we are on restricted campus operations, that hasn’t changed. Staff across Accommodation, Cleaning, Security, Catering, Edgbaston Park Hotel and Nurseries continue supporting the University’s students and academics on site, while others continue their roles at home.
Here’s a round up of the latest stories from campus.
At the Vale Village, the accommodation services and sites teams are still hard at work. With a small but important number of students still in residence, they’re providing regular welfare checks – supported by our wonderful cleaning teams – and delivering food to students who are self-isolating. The Costcutter supermarket team are also still working to keep everyone safely supplied with essentials.
Security are still here 24/7, keeping the estate and all remaining staff and students safe from harm. They’ve got some extra help, too: meet Max. (Can we keep him when all this is over, please?)
Catering have been out and about to support the local community and our NHS heroes. They’ve been donating food supplies from the stores, delivering them directly to the QE hospital, and to the Selly Oak foodbank which has been set up by students. They’ve also delivered food, drinks and snacks to homeless charities in the city centre and around Birmingham.
The Elms Day Nursery has stayed open to care for the children of essential key workers. They’ve been busy enjoying the spring sunshine in the garden. To support all their families at home, the nurseries teams are writing personal letters to children, hosting story time on Youtube, and sharing their artwork to lift all our spirits. Look for #rainbowsfromhome on Facebook.
UBSport are helping us all stay active at home, thanks to Virtual Sport & Fitness on Facebook. The team have been sharing their expertise with virtual classes, challenges and workout ideas, from live Body Attack (with 67 attendees!) and circuits to nutritional advice, personalised cycling workouts and a psychologist’s review. The group already has nearly 2000 members and is open to all – join today.
Winterbourne House and Garden is closed. However, like other botanic gardens around the country, a skeleton staff of gardeners are visiting (one person, once a day) to keep this important collection alive. The Winterbourne team are also offering brilliant remote support for anyone using this opportunity to get out into their gardens, by answering questions and offering advice. Join in ‘Ask a Gardener’ on Twitter or Facebook.
Cleaning staff are still working hard to keep any open buildings clean and safe, both for staff to work in, and for students and staff who live here.
Edgbaston Park Hotel has remained open solely to house NHS staff who have come to support the efforts against the virus.
Those of you who are working from home are also ensuring that essential tasks can continue, supporting students, and maintaining services across the board. Worklink have processed over 300 requisitions in 2 weeks to ensure casual staff are paid, including for cancelled work. The Conferences and events team are hard at work designing solutions for remote conferencing, working closely with the Bramall audio-visual team.
Thank you to Campus Services staff from the Director
Thank you all.
In this extraordinary time, you are doing extraordinary things. Please take time over this Easter break to rest and I do hope it will not be long before we can meet, face to face.
Director of Campus Services
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