Manchester Social Responsibility University news

A year of lockdowns; a year of achievements and kindness

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The 17th March marked one year since on campus teaching was suspended and non-essential facilities on campus were closed. A whole year of unprecedented change and uncertainty but also a year of amazing strength, kindness and incredible support for each other and our communities.  And so, it feels like a good time to reflect on this. 

The University community came together to raise over £1million for the University’s emergency hardship fund and tried to keep boredom at bay with the lockdown lectures, giving insight into what inspired some of our most celebrated experts to help change the world.

And, in a year like no other, you, our students, rose to the many challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. You supported the NHS, our community and each other and here are just some of the incredible stories we know about:

Meet the army of student volunteers helping our NHS heroes
Within weeks of the declaration of the pandemic, more than 450 medical and social care students across Manchester stepped forward to support NHS workers while they tackled the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sewing scrubs for the NHS: MEng student Olivia-Faye Dickinson
When the campus closed for non-essential activity last year, Olivia, a third-year Materials Science and Engineering with Textile Technology MEng student returned to her summer job in Lichfield, working as a seamstress to sew scrubs at home. 

Helping to feed local communities and reducing food waste in lockdown
Early on in the first lockdown PhD student Mathieu Augustin realised there would be an increase in food waste across the city as the hospitality industry was forced to close. He helped to reduce food waste by providing meals and food products to people in Manchester during lockdown.

Research students and staff recognised for their contribution to the national testing programme
Dozens of University of Manchester staff and postgraduate research students across the campus offered up their expertise and services to the Lighthouse Labs project. The Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab is one of several government super-labs across the UK, which forms the Lighthouse Lab network: the largest diagnostics network in UK history.

Students working for the Tutor Trust help to educate school children during lockdown to minimise disadvantage
Tutor Trust, an award-winning Manchester charity which provides professional tuition, has a strong track record in giving school children from low income families in the region a boost through extra educational support.  Students from the University make up 70% of those who work as Tutor Trust tutors in Manchester.

During the pandemic, the Tutor Trust quickly adapted to provide online sessions and  is playing  an instrumental role in the shaping and delivery of the UK government’s £350 million National Tutoring Programme (NTP), part of a government ‘catch-up’ plan for schools hit by COVID-19 lockdown measures.

And finally, friends Jordan Pacho and Uthman Hamid were recently featured on ITV news, talking about their new-found love of houseplants and how it has helped with their wellbeing during the pandemic, and how they’re sharing this to try and help others.

Without a doubt, this is just the tip of the iceberg; there will be so many of you that have helped, shared and cared for others during the pandemic, whether for your friends, family or as part of a bigger community or national effort. If you or someone you know has a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you at

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