Professor Jane Robinson, Dean of Engagement and Place, Newcastle University, UK, shares details of the University’s response to supporting wider community in COVID-19 effort.
These are unprecedented times, for Newcastle and for the world. In the space of a few short weeks, people’s lives have been turned upside down in a way that none of us could have foreseen.
It would be an understatement to say that I have been overwhelmed by the resolute response of colleagues, students and our community friends in the face of the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus outbreak.
Working with our partners, we have developed a Covid-19 Civic Response project to coordinate and maximise the contribution we can make as a University to the wider community, locally, nationally and internationally.
At Newcastle University, we are connecting research excellence in different disciplines to tackle Covid-19 and respond to this major global challenge. Our work helps connect creative discovery with impact for economic and societal benefit, from working with partners to help develop new therapies for the virus to understanding its longer term social and economic impacts.
At a very practical level, we are helping to scale up and speed up diagnostic tests, donating state-of-the-art equipment to the national effort and working with industry and health partners to provide urgently needed protective equipment. Academics in our School of Computing have worked with the voluntary sector and Newcastle City Council to build an on-line platform to connect volunteers to 60,000 vulnerable people living in the city.
Our students are also playing their part – for example setting up the North East group of Medical Students Helping Hands that is providing practical help with childcare, shopping, and in some cases animal care, for our overstretched health workers and NEST (North East Solidarity Together) working to support vulnerable refugee and asylum seeker families.
As a civic university, we are deeply committed to doing all we can to support both the immediate efforts to combat Covid-19, but also to work with our partners to understand and mitigate the longer term impacts.