With COVID-19 keeping us all indoors, it is important to keep looking for the silver lining. Charities all over the world are adapting their practice and coming up with creative solutions to follow their missions as best they can. Here at Student Hubs, we have been adapting and using our values to keep spirits high and continue to support university students and staff to become socially active citizens for life. Look at just a few ways we have been using our values when working from home.
Winchester Dancethon 2020
At Winchester Hub, we had scheduled a danceathon fundraising event, where University of Winchester students would dance from 9am – 9pm to raise money and awareness of our student-led Youth Theatre and increase access to the arts. Rather than cancel the event, our student committee chose to be bold and move the event online, calling for individuals to record themselves dancing, upload it with the #hubdance and donate to our cause! We raised over £400, and brought some smiles to all staying indoors!
“Recording a video of myself dancing was really scary! I’m usually more comfortable being behind the camera, but being the first to post a video for our online Dance-A-Thon was a good feeling. Seeing other people joining in and having fun was worth that little bit of self-consciousness! Getting outside your comfort zone and doing something bold for a good cause is always worth it, in my experience.” – Summer, Winchester Hub Communications Co-ordinator
Social Innovation Programme
Kingston Hub were wrapping up their Social Innovation Programme (SIP), a six-week programme where students work in teams to research and find innovative solutions to real-world challenges that charities are currently facing. Usually, we have a showcase at the end of the programme where students present their findings to other teams and their community partners. This could no longer happen, however, Annie, our Kingston Hub Programmes Manager, decided to be ambitious and host 10 zoom meetings to ensure their work could be celebrated accordingly. That’s 62 students, at least 10 community partners, 2 interns and the Kingston Hub team!
Isobel sat in on the Heritage to Health teams presentation and said it “was incredible!! [I have] never seen such a happy community partner and everyone was thanking everyone and crying and smiles and unicorns and rainbows”. Being ambitious in our work ensures our students and our community receive the positivity and growth they need to tackle social issues, even whilst we are staying at home.
Social Impact Awards
Cambridge Hub is continuing to celebrate its students’ inspirational achievements through the Vice Chancellor’s Social Impact Awards. These are presented every year to students who show exceptional commitment to positive social change in Cambridge and provide a great opportunity to recognise the hard work students put into making a difference. Plans are being put in place to carry out this event remotely next month.
Pets, pets and more pets
Another way we are trying to stay motivated whilst working from home is to continue to share updates about life at home, specifically our pets! Student Hubs has continuously boosted my mood through images of each of our pets, ranging from new puppies to cats that want you to pay attention to them and not anything else. Having these small puppy breaks allows me to be more motivated to come back online and work, remaining connected with our colleagues.
One challenge we were facing is how to maintain long-term relationships with our young people, especially in our programmes that involved physical activity. Bristol and Southampton Hub are currently planning alternative delivery for their programmes Branch Up and Branch Up Active. These days train volunteers to support children to try new activities, boost their confidence and self-esteem, and create a supportive relationship with a role model adult. Three activity day packs are currently being created to support these young people in isolation, including a Pirate Adventure pack! We are also encouraging the children to write down their thoughts and feelings through a journal, where we are giving them prompts each week to help keep them occupied while at home.
At Winchester Hub, we have been exploring opportunities to continue to tackle social isolation. We are currently encouraging volunteers to write letters to the elderly residents of care homes, such as Sunrise of Winchester, and organising phone befriending services with St Johns Winchester and Winchester Live at Home scheme. In an uncertain time, it is really important that we keep our community connections strong and adapt the ways we work to have a positive impact! Similar activities are happening in Bristol Hub and Southampton Hub in our attempts to reduce social isolation in the older community.
As a staff team who are based in a variety of locations around the UK, we are used to communicating virtually more than others. What many of us are missing however is the social nature of our work; meaningful, face to face interactions with our teams, volunteers and local communities. Here are some of the things we have been doing this week to keep chatting and collaborating:
Many of our staff are used to being out and about delivering workshops and training sessions, there are rarely times when we are looking at a computer for the majority of the week – except for now. Because of this, our Southampton Hub Manager Sophie has introduced daily energisers every weekday to take us away from our screens, try something new or enjoy a classic icebreaker. On Monday we drew portraits of each other.
‘It is really easy to fall into the trap of ‘knowing’ your colleagues based on their job roles however this space has allowed us to see each other as experts in other fields as well as being an opportunity to learn and share.’ – Sophie Ford, Southampton Hub Manager
Every Friday our staff come together for an hour to share their past work such as dissertations and thesis or interesting articles/podcasts that they have engaged with. So far we have heard from:
- Catherine What kinds of rights should prostitutes be afforded and how should they be protected in the context of a state system?
- Annie Make shit together; the case for collaborative experimentation in learning.
- Pippa The legal basis for the use of emergency powers in the US during the great depression and WW2.
- Sophie In what ways can stories of border crossing in applied theatre practices support UK secondary students to identify issues of identity and belonging?
Our values drive our work and endeavour to make us stronger whilst we engage students to become socially active citizens for life. Let us know how you are using our values, or alternative ways that your own organisation are using values similarly!