Tuesday 2 June 2020

All staff email

Our continued sense of community

Dear colleagues

As the new Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Partnerships and Engagement at the University, I am proud to have joined an institution where we so strongly advocate our civic role and responsibilities and promote public good as the heart of our mission.

These are turbulent times and it is therefore all the more important to ensure we keep sight of our vision and principles; it is our shared sense of purpose that will guide us through these challenges and enable us to make our greatest contribution to improving society.

This is the UK's National Volunteering Week and I want to draw your attention to a raft of new initiatives and events that, in my view, exemplify our sense of community, and offer opportunities for us to build on the already inspirational work that we have all been engaged in as a result of the pandemic.

As we continue this work, I invite all of you to help us by becoming ambassadors for all of these projects and to help champion and support how York is working together to make a genuine impact.

Time to volunteer

I am delighted to announce that the University is launching its new COVID-19 staff volunteering scheme. This new scheme enables each member of staff to take up to two days paid leave to volunteer to support community resilience, rebuilding and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

We are asking staff to work with their line managers to discuss possible options and I hope as many of you as possible are able to contribute. The scheme will run until the end of September 2020, and anyone wishing to volunteer can register their interest through our Civic Mission pages.

Here, you will find more information and a link to our expression of interest form. We are particularly encouraging volunteering through York Cares, our partner organisation for employee volunteering, which is well connected to many different initiatives in our local area helping tackle York’s community needs at this time. Let us know how you’d like to help and we will aim to match you to a project where you can make a difference.

As part of this scheme, we are also offering staff the opportunity to also take two days of unpaid leave to support volunteering. My message is simple: any time you can give - whether that’s a couple of hours or something more substantial - will be valued and appreciated, and will really demonstrate how committed the University is to playing our part in the wellbeing and strength of our society’s recovery.

York Festival of Ideas - Engaging new Audiences and Exploring the Roadmap for Recovery: York in a post-Covid world

The York Festival of Ideas is one of the key ways that we engage new and diverse audiences in the importance and relevance of ideas, education and research by delivering a programme of events, in collaboration with city and national partners, for free.

The pandemic has meant that the Festival has had to transition to a virtual festival for this year and begins this evening (Tuesday 2 June). The launch event, in partnership with Make It York, will run from 7pm to 8.30pm, and will feature our VC, Charlie Jeffery, alongside experts from York, Copenhagen, Christchurch, New Zealand and London. The panel will explore how we can create creative and innovative partnerships and examine the potential for universities to drive economic and societal recovery.

The programme contains more than 60 free events over the next 13 days. Other speakers include Professor Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, anti-austerity campaigner, Sir Michael Marmot, journalists Polly Toynbee, Iain Dale, and Tim Dowling, Tate Modern Director Frances Morris, composers Anna Phoebe and Nitin Sawhney. Please join us - and take a look at some of the other fantastic events at www.yorkfestivalofideas.com where you can sign up for tickets.

York Opportunity Scholarship

Every year we see demand for the York Opportunity Scholarship grow. The impact of the pandemic means we are expecting to see that demand grow like never before. This week, we are launching a new campaign to raise additional funds to help students from less advantaged backgrounds access the opportunity of an education at York.

We know many of our staff support our scholarships campaign and we are enormously grateful. We also invite you to help us by inviting everyone to share this campaign with their networks, so that, together, we can reach as many people as possible to raise funds to help talented students realise their ambitions.

For many students from under-represented backgrounds, applying to university can be an incredibly daunting decision. We need, right now, to urgently unlock opportunities to allow us to welcome those students to York.

From Wednesday this week, you can follow and share the campaign’s progress on the dedicated scholarships website and with #YorkOpportunityScholarship.

Support Mental Health: Keep on walking

Mental Health is a significant societal challenge for all of us - and the pandemic is likely to have exacerbated the scale of that challenge. The Great York Walk will again raise funds for Mentally Fit York and we urge as many of you as possible to support this fund.

The Mentally Fit York fund is used to improve mental health and wellbeing in many forms, reaching out from the University to the city's communities and beyond. Thanks to our incredible walkers in previous campaigns, funding is now already in place to support a range of mental health initiatives and is supporting the latest groundbreaking mental health research. We want to go even further.

However the coronavirus pandemic has meant that we have had to adapt our plans to hold a second Great York Walk, and so our plans have changed and we are intent on delivering The Short Walk. We are encouraging all of our walkers to take on this adapted challenge to help us raise funds and create a Mentally Fit York. Over the next 7, 14 or 25 days, we invite everyone to consider joining in and walking 25 miles, in short bursts, and help us make a difference.

Thank you for all the hard work, passion and commitment that have made these and many other volunteering initiatives possible. I hope as many of you as possible will join us at an event or help champion these opportunities. I very much appreciate your support in helping York’s mission to be a University for public good.

Best wishes


Professor Kiran Trehan

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Partnerships and Engagement