AUDE campaign celebrates Covid response of estates and facilities teams

The #AUDECovidHeroes campaign highlights the hard work and dedication of teams that helped universities avoid a single day of closure since March 2020

The Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) has launched a “Covid heroes” campaign to pay recognition to the “unsung” staff that helped universities stay open during the pandemic.

The campaign has secured the backing of several university leaders who paid tribute to the staff that acted as a “bedrock” to the university and displayed a commendable “spirit of volunteerism”.

AUDE is the membership body of university estates and facilities teams. It has released several campaign films made at De Montfort, the LSE, Lancaster, Northampton and Strathclyde.

The #AUDECovidHeroes campaign draws attention to estates teams that kept facilities open and safe for crucial research to continue. It also highlights that staff at several universities kept accommodation open for local NHS and care staff unable to return home during the pandemic. Facilities teams ensured food parcels and supplies reached those students self-isolating.

AUDE campaign calls for recognition for Covid response of estates and facilities teams 1
One university security manager said his team are – in many cases – the first port of call for distressed staff and students

“At the start of the crisis, we said very clearly that there are two priorities for this year. One is to keep everyone safe and, second, to deliver the best educational experience we can for our students. The estates team bore the brunt of keeping everyone safe,” said Minouche Shafik, director of the London School of Economics and Political Science. “There was an incredible spirit of volunteerism. And everybody helped each other. We achieved huge things with that spirit. They were the constant. They were the ones who kept universities open and functioning. And we all owe them a huge debt.”

The video made at the University of Northampton showed how staff offered accommodation to people fleeing domestic abuse during the pandemic. The video made at De Monfort University highlights the work of cleaning staff that helped maintain one of the country’s pioneering lateral flow testing facilities.

Prof Andy Schofield, the vice-chancellor of Lancaster University, said: “Our research has been vital for the UK’s response to the pandemic. And our estates teams have been critical in making [our universities] a safe place. They are the bedrock of pretty much everything that takes place. So many examples, from so many different people, of people going above and beyond. I would just like to thank everybody for all that they’ve done.”

“Student welfare is a big part of what we do. Out of normal working hours, the security team are basically the team that the students turn to if they have any problems. I was proud of the team. I was proud of how everyone pulled together,” said Anthony Emmess, security operations manager at Lancaster University.

AUDE campaign calls for recognition for Covid response of estates and facilities teams
Some cleaners at De Montford University volunteered to clean at their local NHS hospital during the first lockdown.

Stella Matko, director of estates at the University of Strathclyde, said: “The workload increased exponentially. There was a huge team effort by everybody in estates services. And I’m really proud of the way they all rallied. And every single one of them quite frankly deserves a commendation for the really hard work and effort they put into pulling together a really massive team effort.”

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