Celebrating our key workers

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As we slowly begin to emerge from the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems fitting to, once more, celebrate and thank our colleagues who continued to come into work.

To celebrate these key workers in University teams across the country the Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) is running a campaign throughout November to showcase these unsung heroes.

Here, bulletin shares, and thanks, members of our own community.

We set up testing centres for our students prior to the Christmas break, in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University. We were also able to process students from Queen Margaret University, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh College and a local dance academy. Pictured are Gillian Scott, Aislinn Wood and Gordon MacDougall who are all Project Managers.

At the start of lockdown, staff from Estates, Accommodation Catering and Events (ACE), the Students’ Association and Schools, formed a group who carried out ongoing checks in all our 550 buildings. Pictured is Duncan Ainslie, Compliance Inspection and Testing Operative.

We had an extensive programme in order to reopen buildings safely for Semester One 2020/21. The 16 week exercise was delivered on time ensuring all buildings were compliant with social distancing and cleaning and sanitisation requirements. Pictured are Wendy Dickson and Jackie Davis, Cleaners at Easter Bush.

Accommodation, Catering and Events (ACE) prepared and delivered meals every day for essential workers who were still working on site. Pictured is Sarah Thomson, Catering Manager.

Normal cleaning protocols and working environments went through many changes over the course of the pandemic. Domestic Teams in student accommodation worked to reduce anxiety for students at a difficult time as well as providing extensive cleaning throughout the Estate. Pictured is Helen Reid, Domestic Team Leader in Chancellors Court.

The Waste team spent a month building and installing 110 bike racks come rain, hail or shine, on top of their daily jobs. As a result of their hard work, cycle parking across the University increased in time for the 2020/21 academic year. Pictured is George Darge, Waste and Furniture Assistant.

Our Furniture warehouse was turned into ‘Signage HQ’ with staff redeployed to help design and distribute signage for the whole University. More than 70 Covid related signs were designed, and we distributed 125,000+ floor and wall stickers and 36,000+ posters. Pictured are Gillian Scott, Project Manager and Becky Coull, Management Assistant to the Director of Estates Operations.

Around 4,500 students were living on the University estate and it was essential to continue to care and support them throughout. While operations were adjusted, certain core services and facilities could only be carried out on-site. The ACE Community Support Team continued to support students that remained in our buildings through delivery of meals and regular contact for those in isolation, as well as being the front line in ensuring our buildings remained safe and operational. Pictured is Derek Liddel, Community Support Officer.

Once restrictions allowed, some of our staff were able to return to campus, offering a friendly face and welcoming service. Pictured are Tam Preston, Senior Janitor with David Strachan, Ela Nowak and Alex Rae who are all Servitors.

Whilst a large number of Cleaners and Servitors were put on furlough, some remained on campus to assist with buildings open for essential reasons such as the Vet School, student accommodation and many of the University’s research labs. Pictured is Michelle Thomson, Cleaning Supervisor.

Loneliness and isolation are common for students in a normal year, however lockdown exacerbated this. The Residence Life team ran running social events to help build a sense of community, providing great opportunities for students to meet and make new friends despite restrictions. Pictured is Aaron Kelly, Assistant Residence Life Coordinator and a live-in Warden.

Throughout the pandemic, the Security Team ensured our estates were secure. Pictured is Akhil Handa, Security Officer.

You can read previous features on our frontline workers on the Bulletin website:

Our staff on the ground.

Our essential workers – Cameron McHenry.

You can see more on the University Estates Twitter account.

Photography: Mark K Jackson Photography

All applicable Covid-19 guidance was followed at the time of photography.