Supporting key workers

Today, 1 May, is International Workers Day. As many of us will be, I’m thinking about the thousands of people across the country who are key workers – risking their own safety on the front lines of the Covid-19 crisis every day.  

Earlier this week saw one minute’s silence observed across the country to remember the key workers who have tragically died from coronavirus, a sobering total of more than 100 NHS and care staff, 27 bus drivers and many other front-line staff.

They are the doctors, nurses, cleaners and porters keeping the NHS going. They’re the carers looking after older and disabled people in homes across the country. They are keeping us stocked with food and essential supplies and keeping essential workers moving. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

There is one important question we must all ask today: how can we work together to protect and support the key workers keeping us safe during this pandemic? It’s clear there are things we can all do, whoever we are and wherever we work.

I’ve been impressed by the work that staff in universities up and down the country are doing to fight the virus and support key workers. There are teams working towards a vaccine. Teams providing resources including much-needed PPE to front line staff. And there’s also an important role that universities are playing in providing practical and longer-term psychological support to key workers and their families. There is great potential for the university sector to make a difference to the people putting their lives on the line for us, and we’re seeing it in action.

I’ve also been delighted to see the way staff at Goldsmiths have stepped up to support our key workers. Teams in our Art, Design, and Computing departments have joined together to design and produce thousands of reusable visors for NHS staff in local hospitals, with computing academics also joining a national initiative to 3D print PPE in their own homes. Our staff are using virtual reality tools to help us learn more about the Covid-19 virus. And they’re showing their support for key workers with gestures like this one from some of our Security staff. All of this while coping with the personal and professional impacts of the pandemic.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all staff at Goldsmiths for the role they are playing during this truly exceptional period, especially the small number of colleagues still working on the Goldsmiths campus. We are doing everything we can to keep them safe as they look after our remaining students in halls and keep our campus secure during the lockdown. I’m incredibly grateful for the important work they are doing.

Read more about Goldsmiths’ Covid-19 response here.