Author Archives: Wendy Raeside

Students on campus

Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) Annual Report 2018/19

Our annual Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) report, showcasing the excellent work across the University to promote and embed equality and inclusivity, is now available on the HR webpages.

The 2018/19 report goes beyond the fulfilment of our statutory duties for equality reporting and is a testament to Kent’s commitment to being in the vanguard of organisations that view equality as not simply a matter of institutional fairness and access but a key component of a fair and just society.

We believe that all staff and students have a role to play in improving equality and removing barriers to inclusivity. Our aim is to provide experiences in the work and education space that will inspire and empower them to be a part of a changed world.

Find out more about our strategic aims, some of the EDI challenges over the past year and how we’re responding to them, by linking to the online annual report now.

Learning & Organisational Development Team

Kent Logo

New coronavirus FAQs on annual leave and sick pay

In response to Covid-19 and our new working arrangements, adjustments have been made to policies covering  annual leave and additional sick pay. FAQs on these changes are now available on our staff coronavirus webpages.

Annual leave

Our Executive Group and JSNCC have agreed some principles for interim annual leave arrangements during 2020.  These are aimed at ensuring staff continue to take annual leave wherever possible to promote wellbeing and to avoid staff losing untaken leave at the end of the year:

  • Staff are encouraged to still take annual leave during the current period of disruption, even if they are at home.
  • Staff wishing to cancel booked leave should immediately re-book it on confirmation that their request has been authorised.
  • KVSS applications, where approved, will be conditional on all outstanding leave (pro-rata) being taken prior to the last day of service.
  • For those staff with an additional work burden due to Covid-19 or maintaining essential operations on campus, we will increase the carry forward above 5 days, in line with the amended Working Time Directive.
  • There will be no change to the current policy of not ‘buying out’ untaken leave at the end of the year, and that any untaken leave, over and above what can be carried forward will be lost. 

Additional sick pay

The NHS has advised hospitals to suspend all non-emergency elective procedures for an undetermined period, possibly for a number of months, because of the surge in coronavirus patients.

To ensure staff already in receipt of long-term sick pay are not disadvantaged by the NHS delay, the University plans to maintain the current level of sick pay (either full pay or half-pay) for an initial period of up to three months, pending receipt of a (new) treatment date.  These arrangements will be reviewed after three months if the NHS continues to defer treatments or if delays are experienced due to a high backlog of deferred treatments.

If you have any questions on these new arrangements, email the HR Operations Team hropsteam@kent.ac.uk.

Other new FAQs

Other new FAQs on our staff coronavirus webpages include the University’s approach to the Government’s Staff Retention Scheme.

New resource pack for working at home

The University’s priority at all times is the health, safety and wellbeing of its staff and students.

To help us all adjust to our new working environment, the HR Department have put together a new resource pack, with contributions from the Directors of Division and our Staff and TU Representatives. The ‘COPE Framework’ aims to help staff and their managers find ways to adjust to our new working environment.

The new resource pack and a one-page summary are available now on our Staff Guide.

The framework includes practical guidance to help us put in place working arrangements that, while recognising the stress of the situation we are currently in, relieve any unnecessary workload-related pressures.

The framework is based on four key principles – how best to:

  • Collaborate, work together and support each other
  • Organise and prioritise workload, to relieve unnecessary workload-related pressure
  • Prepare for ongoing uncertainty and minimise any challenges and difficulties further down the line
  • Enable ourselves to restore emotional resources and stay well over the time to come.

The pack is designed to complement all the support already available across the University, from departments such as Occupational Health, IS and Kent Sport.

While it does not claim to have all the answers, its guidance on remote working, communication, the role of line managers and flagging of additional resources (including our Employee Assistance Programme) should help relieve some of the pressures colleagues are under. It also paves the way for colleagues to put together their own COPE Framework, reflecting their own particular circumstances, with the support of their manager.

Take a look and have a chat with your manager about ways you might be able to improve your current working environment.

Geoff Wilcox

Staff Profile: Geoff Wilcox (Kent Hospitality)

What’s your role at the University and how long have you worked here?
I joined the University in 2002 as Bar Supervisor in Mungo’s (Eliot College). I’m currently Food & Beverage Manager for Rutherford Dining Hall, which involves supervising a catering team in one of Kent’s last traditional dining halls – but with a modern twist including a wok bar!

My team of about 30 are multi-talented and can turn their hand to anything from day-to-day cafeteria food to a staff BBQ for hundreds.

How has your role changed as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak?
Rutherford is the only venue on Canterbury campus still offering a catering service – the only other place to buy food is the Co-Op shop. So, we are rotating around 100 staff from different catering venues on shifts – usually around one per week – to help us provide cooked food for around 700 students who are still on campus.

Rosie Ochs preparing food in Rutherford

Rosie Ochs, from Mungo’s, preparing food in Rutherford

 

I’m still trying to lead from the front – I like being hands-on – but also doing a fair chunk of my work from home. I’m one of four food and beverage managers on campus so we take it in turns to lead the team, and work closely with other members of the Kent Hospitality management team.

How easy was it to adapt to the new way of working?
When we first found out about the new social distancing measures – on 20 March – I came back to work that Friday evening and literally helped adapt things overnight. Over the following week, we condensed all our stock – donating food items that were nearer their shelf date to local food banks – and moved everything over to Rutherford.

Rutherford Dining Hall was the obvious choice to stay open – it’s the largest catering space on campus so it’s been easier to put in place a safe-distancing policy. We ask students – usually around 100 per day – to wait in marked out spaces (at most three at one time) and then serve their food in a Bag It box with pre-packed cutlery. Payment is also contactless, so the only thing they have to touch is the takeaway drinks fridge, which we clean on a regular basis.

Rutherford Dining Hall

The new-look Rutherford Dining Hall

 

What’s worked well?
To my team’s immense credit, most of those who were able to were keen to get back to work and their attitude has been “let’s just do it”. Our team atmosphere is better than it has ever been – in my view, they’re all champions!

What’s proved more tricky?
It’s taken a bit of work to sort out communications across the catering team – especially as colleagues have varying access to technology. To ensure everyone’s connected and up to date with both our team and University news, I use a mixture of What’s App and texts. And I’ve made sure that all members of my team have access to and are using their Kent emails.

What’s the atmosphere like on campus?
It’s pleasant, but very quiet! It’s just us, the Security team and a few contractors. You see some unusual sights – the other day, I saw two students in their dressing gowns working in the computer room, at a safe distance of course!

What’s been the response from your customers?
Most of our students seem to be really happy with what we were doing. For many, it offers a welcome bit of normality in the present time.

Our catering service is usually term-based so we’re keen to let all students still on campus know that we remain open. There’s no commercial aspect to what we’re doing – we’re just keen to keep students fed in a safe environment.

We have had to limit what we do a little – the wok bar has stopped unfortunately – but we’re still able to source fresh local vegetables from a local farm and offer a full menu, including meat, fish and vegetable options, every day from 12-6pm.

Mike Sault

Mike Sault, from Sibson Cafe, prepares a Bag-It order

 

Overall, are you happy with what you’ve achieved so far?
Very much so. I am enormously proud of my team – many of them are volunteering to do extra days! I am also proud that we are still able to provide an essential service – after all, for many of our students this is their home.

Philippe De Wilde

Research and Innovation update

The Government has postponed the submission date for the Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF) to allow universities to support research into clinical and health-related fields.  While the new date has yet to be announced, it is likely that this will be in the not too distant future.

As a result, the University has paused all internal REF deadlines and will announce a revised deadline once the situation is clearer. Research Services will continue to support those who wish to continue with their REF preparations.  Work is also underway to adapt the Knowledge Exchange Framework submission.

It is worth remembering that the REF and KEF are only indicators of research and innovation. The main challenge is to keep research and innovation going in these difficult times and I know that many of you are currently juggling childcare and other domestic responsibilities with your work commitments. For those that are able to find the time, I would also remind you that gaining external funding for our research is still of paramount importance for the institution, and again, central support remains available for those wishing to apply for external funding.

I am keen to speak with you to hear how you are coping, and how the University can help. In 2015 I visited 650 academics, researchers and research professional staff for 20 minutes each.

I am keen to speak with all of those who are submitting to the REF and with those who are working to support them on this. From mid-April onwards, I will be setting up 10-minute ‘Teams’ meetings with each of you. It will be good to talk with you although I am fully expecting to also meet many pets, young children and others who are currently at home with you!

Philippe De Wilde | Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation

Food cupboard

Kent Hospitality donates stock to local food bank

Kent Hospitality has donated over 500 items to Dover Foodbank amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

With only one of its ten catering outlets currently open on the Canterbury campus, Kent Hospitality decided to donate their surplus stock to Dover Foodbank to ensure the supplies went to those in need.

The team donated items including canned drinks, crisps, flapjacks and toilet rolls –all of which were gratefully received by the food bank volunteers during this current shortage.

Food banks across the county are still relying on donations from their local community. If you want to find out how you can also support them in this time of need visit the Trussell Trust website.

Tedx at Medway campus

TEDx success thanks to The Student Projects Grant Scheme

Thanks to funding from The Student Projects Grant Scheme, a large number of Medway students got to experience a TEDx event at the Deep End on the Medway Campus. Organised by Kent student, Phoebe Thompson the event featured a series of inspirational speakers and films which tackle current topics.

You can see a film about the event on YouTube.

The Student Projects Grants Scheme is funded by the Kent Opportunity Fund, established to increase opportunities for students at Kent, today and in the future. The Student Projects Grant Scheme allows donations given by alumni and friends of the University to reach as many students as possible by enabling groups of students to bid for funds to run their own projects.

To find out more, please email giving@kent.ac.uk

Man and a woman holding hands

Helping out in your community

Helping and supporting others is essential in times of crisis. NCVO, which champions the voluntary sector and volunteering, has some good suggestions on ways you can get involved with your community during the coronavirus outbreak:

Look out for your neighbours

The simplest thing everyone can do right now is look out for their neighbours and offer help with shopping and other errands.

It’s not just about neighbours who are self-isolating or vulnerable. Other people in the community who might also appreciate help are:

  • stretched medical staff and volunteers
  • staff and volunteers in key worker roles
  • supermarket workers
  • delivery drivers.

Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint – your help will be even more crucial in a few weeks’ time. For now, the best thing to do is to check in on neighbours.

Stay safe when supporting others

  1. Keep washing your hands often for 20 seconds.
  2. Stay at least two metres away from people you’re helping.
  3. If you’re helping someone with very serious issues – don’t be afraid to flag with appropriate statutory services.
  4. Support family, friends and neighbours by phone or video call.
  5. Offer to run errands for people but stay outside of people’s homes.
  6. Let family and friends know what you’re doing.
  7. Don’t take on too much – it’s often better not to offer at all than to let someone down.

Volunteer with organisations providing support

Charities are working with the government and local authorities to create ways for people to get involved.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • If you don’t have a particular charity in your local area, contact your local Volunteer CentreCVS or visit the Do-it website.
  • You can sign up to NHS Volunteer Responders who are supporting the NHS during the covid-19 outbreak.. Once you’ve registered and checks are complete – you’ll be provided a log-in to the GoodSAM Responder app.

Other ways to help charities

Supporting charities including as a volunteer or trustee would be incredibly valuable to help keep their work going.

Getting involved locally

Why not check your local council’s webpages? Kent County Council’s website has a ‘How Can I Help?’ section with a handy list of local authorities in Kent and links to the sort of volunteering support they’re after. And you can register to help in and around Medway on the Medway Voluntary Action website.

Laptop, cup of tea, open book and a fruite pastry all on a made bed, with a nightstand next to it.

How to self-isolate

Self-isolating and social distancing means non-essential contact with other people. To achieve this, you need to work at home wherever possible, avoid all unnecessary travel and avoid public gatherings.

Self-isolating and social distancing can feel lonely and lead to anxiety, depression and make you feel demotivated. So we have put together some tips for you on how to make the most of the situation.

Write a to-do list

You will find a to-do list keeps you on-track and motivated. Also it’s an amazing feeling when you tick off things on the list. The best thing to do is to write the list the day before or first thing in the morning.

Take regular breaks

Regardless of your workload, please remember to take regular breaks especially to have lunch or dinner. This is vital to keep you refreshed and your energy levels up.

Stay in touch

You might not be able to physically meet people but you can stay in touch thanks to the wonders of technology. Skype, Zoom and Facetime friends and family and chat via Whatsapp with fellow staff. Remember that plenty of support is also available to you – you can talk to your line manager, get support from our Occupational Health team, or access expert help with both workplace and personal issues via our Employee Assistance Programme.

Eat healthily

This might be a bit of an ask considering what is going on in the shops but you can still eat healthily by using staple ingredients such a fruit, veg, milk, rice and potatoes. You can look up recipes online.

Exercise

While you are at home, it is essential to keep fit and you can do this by following exercises on YouTube or use fitness DVDs.

Binge on Netflix and box sets

What better way to end the day than by binging on a box set or watching a TV series or film on Netflix? The platform has launched a new facility called Netflix Party where you can chat with your friends while watching the same film or TV show at the same time.

Overall, stay safe and make the most of this time. And remember that you are not alone.

Guide to online teaching and learning  

As we all adjust to working off-campus, a new guide has been published to help academic colleagues deliver teaching and assessments online. 

The Online teaching and learning: guidance for staff includes: 

  • A checklist for module convenors to complete 
  • Tips on using Moodle to deliver your teaching 
  • Using Office 365 Microsoft Teams to interact online with your students 
  • Accessing our Library’s digital resources 
  • Ensuring your online teaching and assessments are accessible to all 
  • What technology you will need  

The guide also links to University guidance on working and studying from home/off-campus,and support available for online learning, teaching and assessment. 

The guide has been compiled by colleagues in Information Services and our Unit for the Enhancement of Learning. 

Find out more by clicking on the guide now.