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 - 4 March 2021
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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
Want to share your own news story?
We’d love to include stories from across the whole of Campus Services. If you’d like to let us know about a delivery of PPE or food you’ve been involved in, a new way you’ve been supporting students on campus or a creative team activity you’ve set up while WFH, upload a short description and any photos you have to the Campus Services newsletter section on the page below, and we’ll do our best to include it.
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