Acts of kindness: Durham community pulls together despite national lockdown

By and

As Durham University prepares its response to the national lockdown and the future looks increasingly uncertain, students, staff and alumni are pulling together to support national charity efforts, and one another.

Virtual college communities

JCRs and college communities are recreating the collegiate atmosphere online. Both St Cuthbert’s Society and St Mary’s College JCRs have created ‘simultaneous TV watching’ groups on Facebook, in which members can post a film or television programme that they plan to watch, then create group chats or Netflix parties so that students can send messages to each other as they watch from home. St Cuthbert’s is also running thrice-weekly virtual pub-quizzes, and plans to host an unofficial Eurovision party.

Hild Bede SRC has created a group for students to post “quizzes, sporcle challenges, simultaneously watch TV/Netflix/films, tasks and the like to keep the Hild Bede community alive”. 

Grey College JCR has created a series of Facebook pages, Grey to Z, where students can share cooking ideas, anonymous confessions, live stream exercise classes and book recommendations.

Sports fundraisers

Across the country, a popular way to utilise the daily hour of exercise has been sports fundraisers, most commonly in the form of running challenges. Palatinate last week reported on Team Durham’s efforts to raise money for NHS Charities Together. Anna King, incoming Women’s Captain of DU Lawn Tennis Club said: “we wanted to use this as a chance to unite together as a club and do something to help out in this situation at the same time.” DULTC achieved their aim to run a collective 1,000km, and raised £1,527 in the process. Their fundraising page can be found here.

Durham University Netball Club organised DUNC’s Big Run, which started on 20th April, setting their teams the challenge to run the distance from Land’s End to John O’Groats (1,407km) between them within a week. They completed the distance in six days and have well exceeded their original target of £500. A total of £3,100 has been raised so far.

Anna Hunt, Club Captain, said “I had noticed that a lot of the girls were starting to run as their lockdown exercise for the day and I wanted to set an achievable, yet stretching goal which would be something to aim for. With us not going back to Durham this term, and missing out on celebrations such as our AGM and End of Season Dinner, this was a nice chance to do something final as one whole club and has personally been a very rewarding end to my three years, I am so proud of the teamwork shown by the girls!”. You can donate to DUNC’s Big Run here.

Grey College’s fundraiser, Greyt Race, is the latest effort to raise money for people affected by Covid-19. The aim is to run a collective 1,000 km, between 27th April and 3rd May. Grey College Running Club President came up with the idea after realising “more people seem to be running than ever. Hearing about Captain and his fundraising exploits got me thinking about how Grey College Running Club could perhaps do a fundraiser. I was keen to raise money for a group that is affected by the virus, but not publicised very much.” The money will be donated to the Albert Kennedy Trust, which supports homeless people from the LGBTQ+ community, who are likely to be disproportionately affected by Covid-19. You can donate to Greyt Race here.

Academic support

Student Reeya Gdh created a Facebook group called ‘Billy B 2.0 (Durham Academic Resource Finder)’ in response to Durham University’s libraries closing on Tuesday 17th March. Members of the group are able to post the name of a book or resource they are looking for, ‘and hopefully someone will have the book and be able to send you pictures’.

Durham University Student Volunteering and Outreach have successfully moved their volunteer tutoring programme online. This has provided much needed reassurance to local school students and their parents, who were suddenly faced with the prospect of months of home-schooling.

Durham MLaC alumni, Bethany Fleming and Jade Felber, plan to teach Spanish lessons every Thursday at 6pm on Instagram (@jadefelber). Felber said “We wanted to do something to help the community at this tough time. Spanish lessons offer people a chance to improve their skills, bolster their CV or learn something new.”

Supporting the NHS

Durham University’s departments of Geography, Archaeology, Earth Sciences, Biology, Chemistry and Engineering donated 20,000 gloves from aprons, masks and other PPE to the University Hospital of North Durham.

In addition, technicians from the Engineering department have been making visors and face mask parts for NHS care workers – working shifts and social distancing, of course – and this week celebrated reaching a total of 1,000 visors.

Image: Durham University

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