By Kiara Davies
Students from various colleges at Durham University have been recruited to help deliver hot food and goods to those in self-isolation.
Palatinate understands that several Colleges, including St Cuthbert’s, St Mary’s, and University College have utilised their toastie bar staff and/or college bar staff to undertake the paid role.
A member of University College’s bar staff told Palatinate: “We’ve been assured that delivering these meals will not lead to us having contact with isolating households. The initiative has gone down fairly well, as it offers some income when the future of the bar is not certain.”
Meanwhile, students at St Chad’s College received an email from the Principal, Dr Margaret Masson, asking for help to deliver food from the canteen to the five households (out of a total of 17) that are currently isolating. Volunteering students will be paid according to the national living wage.
On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this week, Jeremy Cook, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience), apologised on behalf of the University for some students’ experiences of catering in isolation.
In an email to students, Mr Cook said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and the communities of which we are part has been our top priority throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and remains so.
“We have worked tirelessly to achieve as safe and successful a start to the new academic year as possible, including introducing a wide range of measures to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading and developing a comprehensive Outbreak Response Plan, which sets out how we would work with partners to respond to different possible scenarios and which has been approved by Durham County Council’s Public Health Team and the Department for Education.
“We are working very closely with partners including Durham County Council’s Public Health Team to ensure our planning is co-ordinated and we are in very regular contact with our students, staff and the local community to share the latest information and receive feedback. “
In a statement to Palatinate, Saskia Wootton-Cane, President of St Cuthbert’s Society JCR and Chair of the JCR Presidents’ Committee, voiced the Committee’s “questions regarding both the lack of oversight that led to the u- turn on food boxes, the fact that students delivering food was not planned earlier, and the reasons why colleges find themselves increasingly overstretched in meeting the demands set by the University”.
This follows the email sent this week to students instructing livers-in at St Mary’s and Collingwood Colleges not to leave campus for seven days. Approximately 50 students in each college have tested positive for Covid-19.
Image: Kiara Davies