Community at the heart of University's response to pandemic

A year ago the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, while tomorrow - a national day of reflectionwill take place one-year-on from the first lockdown. Here, we reflect on the ways the University of Hull has stepped up since the start of the pandemic.

A strong sense of community and a drive to make a contribution to the national response to COVID-19 has resulted in many incredible achievements at the University of Hull.

A commitment to supporting the NHS and driving advances in healthcare, including running international clinical trials for COVID-19 treatments, has resulted in many staff and students stepping up to join the UK’s fight against the virus.

Teams across the University have also worked extremely hard to adapt learning, teaching and research activities for the online environment, while the staff at the University’s on-campus mass testing centre have played a significant part in keeping staff and students safe.

Professor Susan Lea, Vice-Chancellor at the University, has paid tribute to all students and staff who at the pandemic’s onset moved rapidly to a predominantly online environment, and followed COVID-19 guidance, keeping COVID numbers low on campus throughout.

Vice Chancellor Susan Lea
Professor Susan Lea, Vice-Chancellor at the University

Professor Lea recognised the “courage, fortitude and resilience” of staff and students, as well as giving thanks for everyone’s “compassion, kindness and care”.

The pandemic has brought out yet further the community that is the University of Hull: A concern for one another, a sense of kindness and a strong desire to do our best whatever the circumstances.

Professor Susan Lea

COVID 19 testing
The on-campus mass testing centre is helping keep the University community safe

Highlights of the University’s contribution to fight against COVID-19

  • At the start of the pandemic, a team of engineers at the University produced face shields which were donated to the NHS and healthcare workers. A crowdfunding campaign which reached £80,000 supported the team's efforts.

  • The University provided vital training for former NHS staff who re-joined the workforce to help fight COVID-19. From resuscitation to infection prevention and control, colleagues in the Faculty of Health Sciences led training through online video conferencing platforms.

  • Hundreds of medics, healthcare students, and University staff have stepped up to care for patients in the past year – boosting the NHS workforce to support the nation's fight against COVID-19.

  • The University has actively supported our community in the national effort, with staff leading vaccination training for those volunteers who are supporting the mass vaccination programme.

  • Students have come together to help the community in many ways during the pandemic, from raising vital funds through the Movember campaign, to supporting the region's foodbanks.

  • More than 100 internships have been created across the University – to support 2019 and 2020 graduates during the pandemic.

  • Mass testing – the on-campus mass testing centre is helping keep the University community safe by providing twice-weekly, routine, testing for staff and students on campus.

  • The University’s experts have made an impact both regionally and nationally during the pandemic, with their insights helping to debunk myths and answer some of the biggest questions around the virus and vaccines.


Dr Cheryl Walter, University Virologist

These are just some of the highlights, many of which have also been shared in a recent Universities UK campaign #We AreTogether – to recognise the contribution made by universities in the past year.

Staff and students who would like to share or recognise others can do so by sending details to pr@hull.ac.uk.


‘It’s been really rewarding and nice to get out of the house’


Dr Barbara Guinn, a Reader in Biomedical Science at the University of Hull, is one of the many staff and students who have volunteered their time during the pandemic to help others. Dr Guinn is a volunteer vaccinator based at Hull City Hall.

Barbara Guinn - 1900x800
Dr Barbara Guinn

“I signed up as one of the 30,000 volunteers the government asked St John’s Ambulance to train to support the NHS in the vaccination programme.

“I did hours of online training and then a one-day face to face training to become a Covid vaccinator. I learnt everything from how to vaccinate a citizen through to how to treat a faint.

“The training was thorough and I had to learn about cold storage of the vaccines and the differences between the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccinations.

“I did my first session on Sunday 7 March. We are asked to do two eight-hour shifts per month and I was based at Hull City Hall.

It’s been really rewarding and nice to get out of the house and chat to people. Everyone I met was friendly and so pleased they had received their vaccination.

Dr Barbara Guinn

“For some it was quite momentous as the first step back to ‘normality’ and for some they haven’t really chatted to anyone in months so it was an important outing. I am really enjoying my new role and looking forward to my next session on Sunday afternoon.”

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