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Staff and students volunteer to protect their communities

Staff and students from Queen Mary have stepped up to volunteer in efforts to support and protect their communities during the Covid-19 crisis.

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An aerial image of the Queen Mary campus and local community
An aerial image of the Queen Mary campus and local community

Queen Mary retains a deep and enduring engagement with the local community, and the incredible response of staff and students has embodied this commitment. Here we take a look at some of the ways Queen Mary people have selflessly given their time to help within their own communities.

Joe Sampson – Student Recruitment and Widening Participation Manager

Joe has been volunteering with his local council in Lewisham, helping to pack food parcels for the vulnerable in his community. He is also hoping to be able to use his experience in outreach and widening participation to support his local virtual school throughout the outbreak.

I’m volunteering because I was keen to make sure I was playing a part in supporting the local community through this time. It has also been a great reason to get out of the house and help people in need.

My typical day consists of a couple of hours of packing and sorting through donations from individuals and business and putting together food parcels for people across our community.

It’s been great to get involved. Everyone here has really pulled together, and I’ve met people from all over the local area. While volunteering we are always following strict social distancing rules, and we are regularly washing our hands, wearing gloves and aprons, and our food packing stations are set a minimum of 2 metres apart from one another.

Unfortunately our food banks are finding it increasingly difficult to get a hold of items such as UHT milk, and tinned meat, fish and vegetables. I would urge people that the most important thing you can do to help, is to not stockpile. Make sure you only purchase essential items you need, don’t bulk buy unnecessarily, and be mindful of the vulnerable in our community.

If you can volunteer, then please do. There are so many people in our communities who need us now more than ever. Community groups and councils will be grateful for any support you are able to offer.

Harriet Louden - 4th year medical student

Harriet works at her local hospital in Hampshire as a healthcare assistant on maternity and has been picking up more shifts to help out. She is also working at a local GP and volunteering in the local community doing food shops and getting prescriptions.

I’m volunteering because I have a responsibility as someone who is low risk, and willing and able to help.

Working in hospital, I act as a runner in theatre for the labour ward, assist midwives in their duties, including deliveries, and on postnatal, supporting mothers in their health, as well as their babies, for example through breastfeeding assistance and advice.

The main challenge so far has been anticipatory worry. Staff numbers are not yet unmanageable, however many workers are vulnerable themselves, or live with others who may be. Patients are in a similar position, with only a few confirmed cases, but high levels of anxiety and concern, as well as confusion over some of the advice, particularly regarding those who are at risk.

I was approached by a GP to help out at her practice and part of my role there is helping to do admin work as many of the staff are high risk and may need to isolate. It’s not something I've done before but I’ve been quite quick to pick up. 

I can triage patients filing for electronic telephone consultations, from those that are displaying potentially harmful symptoms, including those outlined as being related to COVID by the NHS, and those patients who have less physical complaints but are struggling to manage their mental health and wellbeing, and those that are asking questions that could be redirected.

The experience has highlighted the broad scope of general practice, for example the challenges they are facing to meet the needs of those outside of hospital, with COVID positive and negative patients, both during and in the aftermath of this crisis.

I would absolutely recommend volunteering. There is so much scope to help, whether you use your clinical knowledge or not.

We have a responsibility as young, fit people, who are able to help, to do so. It is so encouraging to see people pulling together towards a common goal, and as students we should do our part.

Pitch in and play their part

These are only a few of the many things people from across the Queen Mary University of London community are doing to pitch in and play their part.

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