Information for students: Xmas in Reading, Brexit, new courses in Jan and start of Spring term

Dear colleagues

To keep you in the loop on what information students are being provided with, see below:

We have just published a refresh of the top level of Essentials with the aim of highlighting the most immediately important information for students over the next few weeks (Big thanks to colleagues in Student Comms for whipping this up!).

Top line:

  • Christmas at the University of Reading (Suite of pages, with staying on campus/travel advice/support, etc) – new
  • Returning to campus in 2021 (Plans for teaching, testing, etc) – the ‘life on campus’ section
  • Starting a new course in 2021 – Welcome and enrolment information extensively updated

Second line:

  • Brexit guidance – extensively updated
  • Get Together Apart – events, new section including events in reading over the Closure period
  • COVID-19 testing and symptoms info page

Each of these are being promoted in various ways – all the usual channels, plus our new Instagram page, featuring in email communications, and with the support of MCE, RUSU and other social media pages. In addition, last week’s end of term Student Services Newsletter highlighted much of this information in an email direct to students inboxes.

We have asked students who are staying in Reading over the closure period to let us know so that we can highlight specific information to them this week and early next before we close on the 22nd. If you know of students who are staying do please encourage them to sign up to this so we can keep them informed. Please also highlight the RUSU Community facebook group which students can use to connect with each other.

For students staying in halls over the Closure period, we are relaxing the current ‘no visitor’ policy in line with the government’s Christmas bubbles arrangements (i.e. for the 5 day period only), in order that students can invite friends from other flats etc to their halls. Students are being informed of this via UPP shortly.

All Student Support Services are available to students until 1pm on Monday 21st Dec and will re-open on Monday 4th January regardless of the arrangements for staggered return to face-to-face teaching. Although most buildings are now restricted to card entry Carrington remains open so that students can access both Student Services Reception and the Wellbeing, Welfare and Disability teams if required. During the closure period UPP and Halls Welfare Teams (Wardens & Hall mentors) and Security will continue to operate the normal out of hours arrangements.

Do let me know if you have any questions that are not answered by all of the above information

Best wishes


End of face-to-face teaching, student travel window and other updates re spring term

Dear all

I am a bit behind with keeping you all up-to-date. I know you will all have read the information that was sent to all staff last week re the end of face-to-face teaching and asymptomatic testing, but just to remind you can read exactly what students have been told on the Essentials – University Updates page in the message on ‘Christmas break and travel’. In addition a further communication went to international students yesterday. This further clarifies specifics questions relevant to international travel and indeed arrival into the UK (as there is a steady trickle still arriving). There is also a new section on Essentials called ‘end of term and Christmas advice’.

Further information will be disseminated later this week re rapid asymptomatic testing on campus. I believe the plan is to begin testing on the 1st Dec and we will be launching a booking system later this week. Students will be sent a further message with the details. You may get questions from international students re testing for travel – this is covered in the message to international students. Students are being asked to take a test before they leave reading but ultimately this is voluntary. There is nothing the University or government can do to enforce students (or anyone else for that matter) to take a test. In reality we have very little idea of how many will choose to do so, but we are hopefully that most students will do the right thing.

How these decisions impact Student Services

Face to face teaching will conclude at the end of the 9th Dec, but term will continue until the end of 11th Dec. Some teams will already be busy re-arranging things for those last 2 days of term. The number of students on campus will fall rapidly from the 3rd of Dec, and I actually expect we will start to see a drop off from next Monday. However numbers of campus does not necessarily equate directly with our workloads these days so as usual we will continue to work as normal up until the closure period which begins on Tue 22nd Dec. The vast majority of our activity is happening virtually at the moment with most staff working from home most of the time. Whatever your current mode of working is now will continue until the end of the 21st Dec, except for the Support Centre front desks. Across the University most building will become card access only from the end of the 9th Dec, however I have requested that JJT, EM and Agric stay open until 5pm on the 11th (ie. The end of term) and then revert to card access only, there will therefore be no need to staff the Support Centre front desks. I haven’t bottomed out the requirements at LR and Fox Hill yet, so TBC. The Carrington Building will remain open access and the Student Services Reception will remain operational until 1pm on Mon 21st Dec.

The University reopens on Mon 4th Jan when we will revert immediately to the current level of face-to-face provision.

Student Support 9th Dec – 4th Jan

The Student Support and Welfare sub group of the Major Recovery Team has been stood up again (chaired by myself and Matt White – Campus commerce) and we are fairly far advanced in our planning to ensure any students who do need to stay on campus over Christmas have access to appropriate support and that those who arrive over the closure period can access what they need too. This is particularly important given the end of the Brexit Transition period falls on the 31st Dec and some EU students may want/need to arrive in the UK for the Spring term before that date. Katie Robertson and Matt Daley ably assisted by Debbie Hobbs are also working with several other teams across the university to reinstate a mini ‘enrolment’ period for any new students arriving for the Spring term. All in all we are working to ensure all of the following areas are covered from the 9th Dec through to the 4th Jan:

  • Arrival into halls over the closure period
  • Enrolment processes for Jan starters and for autumn starters newly arriving for Jan
  • Pre-arrival communications re what to do and what to expect on arrival
  • Catering availability over the closure period, including a fully catered package that students can buy into on a weekly basis over the vacation period, free bookable Christmas lunch and working with Catering re a surprise Christmas treats bag for any students here on Christmas day
  • Welfare Support arrangements via the halls welfare team, UPP Halls Hotline and Security who will be on-call 24×7 throughout
  • Entertainment – a difficult area under the likely ongoing restrictions – focus on virtual events via the Halls at Home programme and the new Get Together Diary including Chill & Chat. Do let the Student Comms team know if you are aware of events/opportunities that should be added to this
  • Christmas on campus Network – a mechanism to allow students who are staying in Reading to connect with each other over the period (in development)
  • Keeping healthy – we have launched the ‘Couch to Christmas challenge’ for students (and staff!) to keep active and healthy in these times of restrictions leading up to and over Christmas

Looking ahead

The Spring term will look very like the autumn term – teaching and student support will continue to be blended. We hope that more students will be joining us on campus in January but we will need to wait to see if this materialises. I see the government said yesterday that those who can work from home should continue to do so until April so this strongly suggests we will be continuing our current arrangements. On Thursday we will all discover what tiers we will emerge from the lockdown in. Numbers are comparative low in Reading so I would say it is most likely we will emerge in tier1 or 2 but assuming that the exceptions remain in place for education I cannot (at the moment) see that this will mean any change to our current working arrangements. If we are in tier 2 it will mean that some aspects of the University may have to continue restrictions to their operations e.g. cafes, but in reality due to the very low footfall in our catering outlets the university has already planned to cut back the number of outlets that will be open anyway. Regardless of tiers post 2nd Dec Sportspark and University bars will remain closed until after Christmas. This is an important part of the strategy to encourage students to leave the University during the student travel window.

The government is saying that it is working with Universities re the return of students in January, however we have not yet heard anything specific on this. We are therefore keeping a watching brief in case we need to do anything specific to respond. This is also the case with issues such as vaccination programmes, mass asymptomatic testing, testing for arrivals into the UK, shortening isolation times etc, but none of this is certain at the moment. As and when they become clearer I will let you know about any impacts.

As always do let me know if you have any questions that I haven’t addressed here that you and you colleagues are concerned about.

Best wishes


Student Services Update: Looking after ourselves

Dear Student Services Colleagues

So, we have reached the end of week 6 and heading into the second half of term. This can be a tough stretch of the year at the best of times and I know that many of us feel like we have been on this treadmill for too long now. So I wanted to highlight a few things.

  1. As I said in my last update please do plan your annual leave and any toil that you have accrued at the beginning of the year. Many of us carried over additional leave from last year, so if you are feeling that treadmill fatigue do plan how you can use your leave to give yourself some respite. Normally we discourage staff from taking leave during term time but we need to take a more nuanced view of this this year. So please do talk to your line manager about what would work for you and for your team.
  2. Do have a look at the many resources available on the HR wellbeing site. There is some really good advice about looking after yourself. You don’t need to be in crisis to benefit from this guidance, in fact it is much better to use it to avoid getting into a situation where you are struggling.
  3. In relation to COVID specific wellbeing – there are a range of resources on the HR wellbeing site that are specifically relevant to COVID related issues.

CiC – Managing anxiety over return to workplace during COVID-19

CiC – Guidance on living with those who may be vulnerable to COVID-19

CiC Return to work during Covid

CiC- Mental Health During Covid-19

CiC Social Anxiety after Lockdown

CiC – Coping with Panic Attacks

CiC – Stress & Anxiety

CiC – Dealing with Uncertainty

CiC – Face your Fears

4. If you do need to self-isolate you should follow the guidance below

Please inform your line manager and they will report this using the appropriate online form. If you have had a positive test either the Covid case management team will be in touch or your line manager will be asked to liaise re close contacts in the workplace. If you are self-isolating but are sufficiently well and can work from home, then you should continue to do so. Just remember to keep in regular contact with your line manager, especially if your situation changes. If you are too unwell to work, you will need to complete the NHS self-isolation note and should follow our standard sickness reporting procedure. Please ensure you keep your manager informed.  If you are a line manager, further guidance is available in the ‘Guidance for Managers’ section.

5. Finally, the introduction of the new temporary lockdown may not have significantly changed a lot of things for some people as we are still working in the same way as last week, Children are still going to School etc. However, I do recognise that it will represent an important change for some of us, especially if you are in the Extremely Clinically Vulnerable category. So, although Student Services will, for now, carry on working in the same mode as we have been, if you have a personal situation that you feel makes you more vulnerable over the coming four weeks (or you are in the extremely clinically vulnerable group), do please talk to your line manager so that we can consider how you can be supported.

A remarkably short update from me!!

Best wishes


National lockdown – Student Services

Dear Colleagues

You will have received the Communications message: covid update from Parveen and Paul   over the weekend, but I wanted to follow up with what I hope are some further reassuring words.

Although we await official guidance from the Department for Education, MRT met this morning and UEB are meeting shortly and it looks to me like very little will change for teams within Student Services. While the University remains open and students are encouraged to be here we will need to maintain a staff presence for most if not all teams that are currently present on campus. We already have only a very limited number of people in offices at one time.

All Universities up and down the country are discussing their balance between face-to-face and online teaching for the rest of the term, and given that the picture at Reading and nationally is that students are very much appreciating their f2f teaching and that university teaching has not been found to be a context for virus transmission it seems highly likely that we will be doing all we can to maintain the current balance.

You will have seen that the University has launched a Covid Support Line to deal with queries from staff, students, parents and the public. The plan is for this Support line to be the front line in dealing with queries and any specialist queries will be referenced to other teams as needed (e.g. HR, SCs, International Advisory, Covid Support & Behaviour, Welfare, Halls etc etc.).

I expect there will be some changes on campus. Any of you who are members of the Sportspark will probably already have head from them as sport will be hard hit by this lockdown, and the number of catering outlets on campus will likely reduce and will only be open for takeaways.

You will receive much more detail in the next few days and confirmation (or otherwise) of what I have outlined above, but I just wanted to give you a bit of an insight for now.

Do let me know if you have any very specific questions about your team or about specific activities scheduled between now and the end of term that may be impacted.

Best wishes


Phase 2 proposals – feedback session, Wednesday 04 November, 13:00

PLEASE READ Sustainable Future for Our University – Participant Pack – October 2020 before the session.

Dear all

As promised this is an invitation to participate in a Student Services feedback session on the University’s phase 2 proposals.

Please read the above documentation before the session on Wednesday 04 November, 13:00 – 14:00.

Please use the link below to attend the session on MS Teams.



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Join on your computer or mobile app

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+44 20 3443 6294,,568946429#   United Kingdom, London

Phone Conference ID: 568 946 429#

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Student Services Inclusive Practice Group

Circle of people icons

Anne-Marie Henderson (Director of Student Success and Engagement) and Kassie Stringer (Digital Communications) are looking to set up an inclusive practice group within Student Services.  This group is open to all staff in Student Services, is voluntary and a place where we can:

  • Share good practice and ideas to ensure Student Services is truly inclusive
  • Learn from each other and discuss difficulties and potential solutions

We haven’t decided on a firm name but we have set up a teams channel and will host regular workshop sessions. We want this to develop depending on needs so the intention is to be very flexible and informal.

The first session  will be held on Tuesday 03 November, 11:00 – 12:00 and will cover: Social Mobility at the University of Reading: access, attainment and continuation gaps.

We hope to see many of you there but if you can’t make it please join the Teams channel where we will share good practice and information about upcoming events and resources.

If you are interested in hosting a session please get in touch, we really want  this network to be for everyone.

Many thanks,

Anne-Marie and Kassie

Anne-Marie Henderson

Director of Student Success & Engagement, University of Reading

Staff Update: October 2020

Dear Student Service colleagues,

It’s a long time since I have been able to sit down and compile an update for you all – It feels like it has been all hands to the pump for a long time now. However, we have together achieved a MASSIVE amount – some of which I attempt to capture below, but first there are some important things I need to flag for ACTION:

  1. In recognition of everyone’s hard work getting this term underway the VC has announced two additional Christmas Closure days (22nd and 23rd Dec) . ACTION: If you have booked these days as part of your annual leave allowance do now cancel them.
  2. Annual leave carry over – As an exceptional arrangement for this year we are permitted to carry over a total of 10 days of leave if you have been unable to use them in 2019/20. HR are currently working to manually add these to our holiday balances, so they should show up soon on ESS. ACTION:  please please plan now for how you are going to use your leave. I am asking all Team leads to be pro-active in planning leave across their team. I am very keen to make sure everyone can take their full leave allowance but it will take some managing so please help your team leads/line managers to facilitate this by being pro-active about planning now.
  3. Christmas lunch – This will be a challenge this year as I don’t think any of us are clear what restrictions will be in place. I suspect a whole group Christmas lunch will be out of the question but hopefully, you will have some ideas. So to give you the basics to work from I will endorse up to 2hrs to be taken off work to do whatever your team wants as a pre-Christmas celebration. This may for example be 2 hrs in addition to your normal lunch in the middle of the day or if it suits the team better you may finish work 2 hours early on a particular day for a late afternoon activity. ACTION: get your creative brains working on what your team could do.

Student Services Inclusive Practice Network

Anne-Marie Henderson and Kassie Stringer (Student Success & Engagement Team) are establishing this network to promote inclusive ways of working and to share good practice amongst the professional teams within Student Services. The intention is that this should develop depending on needs so the intention is to be very flexible and informal. A teams channel has been established and the network will host regular workshop sessions.  The first session  will be held on Tuesday 03 November, 11:00 – 12:00 and will cover: Social Mobility at the University of Reading: access, attainment and continuation gaps.  We hope to see many of you there but if you can’t make it please join the Teams channel where we will share good practice and information about upcoming events and resources.  If you are interested in hosting a session please get in touch, we really want this network to be for everyone.

Heads up on equipment

In March when we all started to work from home many of us took various pieces of equipment home to allow us to fulfil our roles. Many of us continue to work from home some or all of the time so that is equipment is still needed off campus. We do however need to collect information on where everything is, so in November we will be asked you to log this information. Further guidance will be provided then.

University strategy phase 2 proposals – feedback session

Many of you will have attended the VC’s Talk a few weeks ago where Professor Mark Fellows outlined the proposals for how the University needed to change in order to restore financial sustainability. I have been asked to run a feedback session to collect your views on these proposals so that the views of a wide range of staff can inform these proposals before they are finalised. I will hold this session at 11am on Mon 2nd Nov. I will send around the documents summarising the proposals and the calendar invitation shortly.

New Permanent Covid Testing Centre on Campus

After a lot of hard work with many different organisations over the last 2 months, a permanent testing centre opened at the London Road Campus over the weekend. It is NOT a drop in centre, appointments do need to be made, but this will add huge capacity to testing in the Reading area. I believe they have capacity to do over 1,000 tests every day and the centre will be open between 8am and 8pm. It is open to the public and University staff and students.

How do you know what students have been told?

Since the beginning of term we have been sending weekly Covid updates to students, most of the time I manage to send you a copy but just a reminder that as we have been doing since the beginning of the pandemic all central student communications that are sent as available on the Essentials ‘University Updates’ page, so you can easily check what is the latest students have been told.

What does Tier 2 (High alert level) mean for Student Services?

Some of you may be starting to think about what is means for you and your team if Reading moves into Tier 2 or beyond. The University will shortly be publishing what this means across all of our activities in a document that looks quite like the ‘Roadmap’ that was created to chart the ‘return to campus’. In terms of Student Services, I wanted to share the summary that I have provided (student support) and the broader office based working summary with you ahead of its publication. I don’t think you will find it surprising. I will be discussing the detail shortly with the Student Services Senior Management team so if you have any feedback on this do please bring it to the attention of your line manager so they can feed it through for discussion. In terms of office based working I don’t envisage that we can really reduce any further from our current position if we move into tier 2, without triggering action that is actually more suited to tier 3, so I don’t envisage much if any change.

Table of tiers - for full details please read Paddy's original email






Some of our fantastic achievements recently

  •  Firstly, we have actually managed to start the year and move to a blended approach of delivering the vast majority of our services – this was no mean achievement and I remain very impressed by the fantastic work everyone did over the summer in planning how to do all of this.
  • Timetabling – Devising the teaching timetable for this term was of course one of the fundamental milestones that needed to be achieved in order to start the year. The Timetabling & room bookings team did a phenomenal job in delivering the Autumn term timetable in the face of ever shifting requirements and expectations. Just to give you an idea of scale of work, this involved scheduling a staggering 17,000 on campus events and 11,000 virtual events. The team are now starting to work on the Spring term timetable.
  • Enrolment of students is always a very big task in any year, but this year was almost of the scale of achievements, requiring intensive collaborative work across several teams inside and outside of student services (SIS Team, International Student Advisory, DTS, Campus Cards, Admissions, Applicant Engagement, Student Comms, Welcome Week). Vanessa and Nat (SIS Team) rebuilt the RISIS systems for enrolling new students to accommodate enrolment at a distance setup several reports that allows us to monitor what was happening during a very uncertain time. The Interantional Student Advisory team and the Student Financial Support team stepped up to monitor and progress enrolment of distance students and Katie Robertson took on oversight on the ground of the whole operation which in itself has still not yet completed (HBS students still enrolling). In addition Debbie Hobbs has been managing the enrolment (or I should actually say non-enrolment) of returning students. Due to the hardwork and expertise of these many people we have now succeeded in enrolling around 15,000 students, almost 2,000 of which are studying at a distance.
  • Welcome Week & Student Communications – Welcome Week underwent an entire over haul over the summer which was a hugely challenging task for Kate Booth and Anne-Marie Henderson, but the whole Student Success and Engagement team really pulled together to achieve the massive changes needed. Student Comms is a fundamental part of pre-arrival and welcome week and the Student Services Student Comms team worked tirelessly on this, while also balancing the relentless requirements to add to and rejig the wealth of info on Essentials in relation to Autumn 2020, Exams, resits, CIPs, safety Nets etc etc. And believe it or not the team were also working on migrating the whole of Essentials to a New CMS platform and ensuring that the content complying with the new EU legislation around accessibility which came into force.
  • Module selection is another one of those mammoth tasks even in a normal year. Over the last 2 or 3 years we have been getting better and better at this with more and more students being able to make all their selections online without significant staff interventions, and this year – despite the additional challenges 94% of students selected their full set of modules by the end of week3, thanks to the hard work and excellent preparations of a range of staff across the programme admin teams, student communications and Schools.
  • September Exam Results – Last Friday we were able to publish results for around 800 students who took assessment in September. As in July this was again a huge feat of collaborative achievement with the Exams team, Support Centres and SIS Team working hand in glove to ensure results were published on time despite the complexities of so many different programme regulations and covid related amendments to those regulation. Unfortunately though the story doesn’t end here as the Support Centres are processing all of the extenuating circs requests post the results publication and there is still substantial work to be undertaken to ensure that any students who have a right to resit are recorded as such for their next attempt in summer 2021.
  • Attendance Management Project – In preparation for this Ac year we changed the focus of this project in order to provide some very practical tools for staff in different roles to be able to assess the engagement of students in their learning. This required the small project team to change direction very quickly and once they had the necessary approvals for this they have begun to do fantastic work in terms of delivering on this. The first plank of the plan was to deliver the ‘blackboard login report’ which has allowed staff to quickly and easily identify students who have no logged into Blackboard. Given the fundamental importance of Blackboard for delivering teaching this year not logging in is a very strong indicator that all is not well with a student. This report has been very well received by academic colleagues and others.
  • Hardship application process now online – The Student Financial Support Team have worked quickly and efficiently with the SIS Team over the last few months to move the hardship application process. This is a notoriously paper heavy process, which of course has become even more difficult to manage than normal when working from home. The online process will not only allow the team to work more efficiently but it will mean that students will have their applications concerned more much quickly. This is something that we have been wanted to do for several years so it is wonderful that we have been able to be agile enough to realise its greater importance in the current environment and to be able to move it up the agenda to achieve what will be a lasting ‘win’
  • Disability Registration process now online – following extensive work over the last academic year between the Disability Advisory Team and the SIS Team we were able to launch the online registration process for DAS. As with the hardship application process, registering a disability is also traditionally a very paper heavy process. And again similar to the hardship applications, the fact that this can now be done online with not only relieve some of the administrative burden but it should mean that students reasonable adjustments can be identified a bit more quickly and put in place.
  • Systems development work – In six out of the seven big achievements listed above, the work of the SIS Team has been fundamental in the success of each, but almost unbelievably in addition, the SIS Team have also managed to carry on with many of the development projects scheduled to be done last year. The work achieved includes: Moving exam reports from Access to RISIS, Immigration compliance developments, Review of the disability MS reports, Module selection enhancements, Integrations necessary for the implementation of the student app, UoRM applications processing enhancements, ECFs process for Greenlands-based programmes, ACMO fee waiver for late arrival in UPP Halls, Clearing enhancements, School reports on numbers of enrolled students on campus/distance etc.
  • Careers – the Autumn term is traditionally a very busy term for the Careers Service and Autumn 2020 is not different. The team have already run two extremely successful virtual Careers Fairs (CareersFest in week 1 and the biggest fair of the year ‘Careers and Placement Fair’ in week 3). Both were a lot more effort for staff to put together and instead of being a half day and full day event respectively they were actually run over 2 days and 5 days. Although it was a lot more difficult to attract employers to the fairs given the economic climate engagement from students was very strong indeed. For example during CareersFest the team ran 17 x 1hr webinars which were attended by over 1,500 students attending. What a way to start the term!
  • Student Welfare and Discipline –  this year, more than ever, these two aspects go hand and hand. The Student Welfare Team and the Halls Welfare Teams have really stepped into the breach since the start of term. Before term started we established a small sub team called the Covid Support and Behaviour team to be the first response to the many Covid related queries and grumbles from students about other students, working closely with the wardens, UPP, Unite Students, our local community engagement team and the Dean of Discipline. As it turned out this team ended up having to take on almost 3 weeks worth of undertaking contact tracing when it became apparent that NHS test & Trace were not, after all, happy to undertake contact tracing within the University. Thankfully this work has now passed to the new covid case management team who have just completed their first full week of work so the CSBT team, along with the student welfare team and the Warden can now return to their primary role of provided good support and guidance for students particularly when they are in self-isolation whether in Halls or living in the local community. On Friday we had around 45 active positive student cases, with slightly more in the local community than in halls. And around 300 students isolating in Halls, but spread across about 10 different halls. The wardens and the welfare team are being allocated to each positive case household in order to ensure they have everything they need to complete their self-isolation successfully. This includes access to food. And just to reassure you – UoR students in isolation are being supplied with very high quality food through our amazing Catering team who have worked their socks off. Catered students are received a weekly delivery of fresh fruit and veg (including pineapples last week!), they had custom made gingerbread men last week and this week they will be receiving pumpkins for carving and making pumpkin pie! (I’m promised a photo of a lorry load of pumkins …)
  • Counselling & Wellbeing – Amidst all of the struggle to keep our heads above water over the last 8 months, the Counselling and Wellbeing Team have had the foresight to take a giant step back and review their, if you like, ‘service model’ recognising that it was most likely that the service would be under more pressure than ever before. They have therefore introduced a new way of working which tries to, much more quickly, and ideally in the very first appointment,  identify the specific and immediate issue for the student and equip them with tools to address this, with a follow up a few weeks later to check how things are going. This approach comes about as result of feedback from students, i.e. the most important things for them is to be seen quickly, and also as a means of managing the every increasing demands on the Service. Feedback from students has been very positive so far – they very much like the practical approach, and waiting lists are lower than usually at this time of year.

So, as I said above, together we have achieved a MASSIVE amount over the last few months and I’m very proud to be able to say that I am the Director of such a fabulous Student Services.

I’ll leave you with the wonderful news that Beth Blewitt had her baby boy (Arthur) last Wednesday. Mother and baby doing well!  Isn’t he just totally adorable!

Portrait of Baby Arthur - Beth Blewitt's newborn.

Wishing you a healthy and happy Christmas and 2020

The festive season is largely a time for joy, celebrations, indulging, relaxing and time spent with loved ones. It can be fun, full and busy.  But even the biggest Christmas fans amongst us recognise that it does come with pressures. At this time of year with planning, financial pressures, family gatherings, shopping, preparation and all that comes with Christmas holidays, it is very easy to forget about your self-care.  It can also be a challenging time for some people who may be lonely or who find the pressures conflicting and/or overwhelming.

A reminder therefore about our Employee Assistance Programme – a free, confidential, 24/7 accessible service offering information, support and, if needed, counselling.  If you find Christmas difficult and either need a little support or want to talk to someone, you can use the Confidential Care service.  If you want advice about managing finances or debt, or just some information about local facilities to help with things like sourcing family care (and much more), then all of this can be sourced through calling the service.

Alternatively there is the Well Online web portal (username – UoRlogin, password – wellbeing) that offers a variety of free information and support – from work and home life to money and legal matters.  You can find information about health, nutrition, dealing with stress, general wellbeing as well as so much more to ensure you have the self-care you need for the festive season.

With all the many festivities, taking care of yourself can often come second – therefore make sure you remember yourself and take some time out for you, whether this is finding a quiet space, going for a walk, meditation or whatever brings you peace, build some time in for yourself to relax and recharge.  With this in mind and of course for the New Year’s most common resolution of getting healthier (in mind as well as body) – don’t forget about the SportsPark and its newly discounted staff rates.

Wishing you a healthy and happy Christmas and New Year.


Welcome to our new Muslim Chaplian

The University is pleased to announce the appointment of its first Muslim Chaplain, Javed Kachhalia.

Javed has been appointed in a part-time role (approximately 7 hours per week) to provide faith-based guidance and pastoral care to students and staff across the university, particularly of course our many Muslim colleagues and students.

If you would like to get in touch with Javed, his email address is:

Find out more  on the staff portal.

Looking after our minds

From the age we learn to walk and talk, we are told about the importance of looking after our bodies – why not our minds?

Society is now better at encouraging people to seek help if they are struggling with mental health issues, however many of us only think to look after their mental health when we feel at crisis point.

There are several ways that we can support our minds in our everyday lives – just as we would look out for our bodies.

It was World Mental Health Day yesterday, but rather than make a bit fuss about it yesterday and then revert to ‘normal’ I plan to regularly post a signpost to some wellbeing guidance/thoughts/insights.

This aims for it to become ‘normal’ that we pro-actively take care of our minds. For today I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to look at this guidance on minding your mind . I have taken it from the really helpful advice on the ‘Employee Assistance Programme – Confidential Care’ website where they have a wide range of guidance both general and very specific. Do have a look for yourself.