NTU staff & students join together to help combat COVID-19

NTU staff & students join together to help combat COVID-19

 June 09, 2020

Colleagues and students at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) in the UK are doing what they can to help with the national effort in combating COVID-19 – through research, volunteering, making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and much more.

“We have several other initiatives in discussion, including the creation of a programme of online activity led by our staff and students to engage with residents of care homes.

Universities will play a crucial role in helping the nation through this crisis and we at NTU will continue to do all we can to support those that need us,” says Deputy Vice-Chancellor - Research, Professor Nigel Wright.

Here’s a round-up of some of NTU's activity during the pandemic.

Supplying machines to support testing

NTU Emma Storey

NTU Technical Specialist Emma Storey prepares one of NTU’s PCR machines for delivery.

One of NTU’s earliest initiatives during the pandemic saw the university partner with the University of Nottingham to supply 16 machines to support the national COVID-19 testing programme following a request from the Prime Minister. The machines were collected by the British Army and taken to a national testing centre in Milton Keynes. The machines use a technique called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to test for a range of viruses, have a total value of £1 million and can together perform an estimated 20,000 tests a day.

Providing cabinets for the safety of scientists

Subsequently, and with the University of Nottingham, NTU provided essential safety cabinets, known as Category 2 Cell Culture Cabinets. These offer a highly controlled environment to protect scientists, supporting them to carry out tests for COVID-19 in a safe way. 

The 27 cabinets, collected by the British Armed Forces, needed five 7.5 tonne trucks to move them all. The cabinets had to undergo a rigorous cleaning process, made possible by teams of technicians and clinical staff, before being made available to help with the national fight against the virus.

Making and supplying PPE for the NHS

NTU Personal Protective Equipment

NTU has also been collecting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from across the university and providing this to the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group for distribution across health and social care facilities.

Colleagues across several schools are using 3D printing capability to produce the components for face masks. NTU has worked with external partners to ensure that these are certified for use in clinical and social care situations, and are now able to increase production.

NTU Hannah Bond - fashion design studies

NTU Fashion Design student Hannah Bond making NHS scrub hats.

Students have been involved in the University’s PPE efforts, for example Fashion Design student Hannah Bond has been busy making scrub hats for NHS workers.

Providing fresh food to a local food bank

Through NTU’s links to Nottingham City Council, the university also provided fresh food from its vertical farming to local food bank Tracy's Street Kitchen. 

NTU farm crops

A member of NTU’s research team harvests crops ready for collection.

Professor Chungui Lu and colleagues at NTU’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences run two vertical farms which use a variety of innovative and automated feeding and environmental control systems to create strong growing conditions all year round.

Professor Chungui Lu said: “These vertical farms have been created to help the world tackle situations which threaten global food security, so it is only fitting that we use our crops to help society in a time of crisis. In this instance we were very happy to give the food to a local group working hard to support homeless people in Nottinghamshire.”

Founder of Tracy’s Street Kitchen, Tracy Dickinson, added: “We’re currently putting together care packages and we’ve already used some of the produce in dishes like curry and sausage and mash. Nothing will go to waste. My message is for people to stay strong and be positive, and a big thank you to everyone who is supporting us.”

Professor helps lead frontline study

NTU Helen Shipton

Meanwhile, Director of the Centre for People, Work and Organisational Practice, Professor Helen Shipton, has helped lead a study revealing the divide between office and frontline workers in feeling able to speak up about their concerns during COVID-19.

Helen and her colleagues found that people who work in operational roles – including manufacturing and construction – were less likely to have access to channels which allow them to speak up about issues. The study highlights the importance of effective dialogue between line managers and employees during this time of risk and change. 

“The pandemic has created a number of issues that employees in the past may not have felt comfortable talking to their employer about, such as their personal life, family, finance and health circumstances. Workers are differentially impacted by shutdown, including their psychological and emotional wellbeing, and cannot just expect to go back to normal without being able to raise concerns about their workplace being COVID-secure,” says Helen.

“If the organisation or particular department has had poor levels of employee voice before the crisis these problems cannot be fixed overnight, particularly in command and control cultures, but it is possible to encourage active listening and start to form a culture of collaboration.”

Ongoing and continued efforts from NTU

The above examples are just some of the many ways that NTU staff and students are joining the national effort to combat COVID-19.

There are many further individuals lending a helping hand, including NTU Forensic Science student Harriet who is currently on her placement year at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue. Her job is to attend fire investigations and assist in establishing the cause and origin of a fire. She’s also volunteering as part of COVID-19 efforts.

NTU fire volunteerNTU Forensic Science student Harriet is lending a hand at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue.

A further NTU student, Mackenzie Johnson, President of the NTU Netball Club, has been supporting the police as a volunteer response officer during COVID-19 where she accompanies a regular officer to respond to 999 calls. 

Mackenzie Johnson NTU

Mackenzie Johnson, President of the NTU Netball Club, is supporting the police during COVID-19.

Work at NTU and support important issues

NTU encourages its staff and students to integrate projects helping their communities into their professional and personal lives. The University’s employees should be proud of their work during this time of global crisis.

If helping at times of need is one of your priorities, search and apply for a job at NTU today.


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