One hundred rooms in the University’s student accommodation at 33 Colston Street will be occupied by NHS workers and volunteers. Just moments from the Bristol Royal Infirmary, the accommodation will be used by recently qualified doctors from the University of Bristol’s Medical School, as well as third- and fourth-year medical students who have stepped up to volunteer for the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rooms will be available to them, at a subsidised cost, for as long as they need.

In a letter to tenants at the end of March, the University’s Accommodation Office asked students to offer their rooms as part of the scheme, while current residents were asked to move to nearby accommodation. The majority of students have been overwhelmingly supportive, and the University has begun helping them move and store their items safely.

Ellie Todd, an undergraduate in Childhood Studies, was one of the current residents who moved out to make way for NHS staff. She also left some items – such as toiletries and food – behind for the new NHS residents to use.

Ellie said: “Given the scale of the pandemic, I think it’s easy for many of us to feel helpless. When we were asked by the University to make way for NHS staff, I was only too happy to agree, and I know a lot of my fellow residents felt the same.”

Giving accommodation to NHS staff is one of the many ways the University’s students and staff are helping the local, national and international community in the fight against Coronavirus.

Adam Perriman's Group in the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine produced 10 litres of hand sanitiser, which they donated to charities CLIC Sargent and St Mungo’s.

The University has also made two of its biggest car parks available to NHS staff at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, and has donated personal protective equipment, such as suits, goggles, gloves and masks to the South Western Ambulance Service and NHS workers.

Over at the University’s Veterinary School, staff are part of a nationwide effort with The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to provide ventilators and other equipment for the NHS. So far, the School has donated PPE and lists of equipment – including ventilators and lab testing kits – that can be used by medical and scientific professionals treating and testing for COVID-19 across the country.

Clinical Teaching Fellows at South Bristol Academy, affiliated with the University’s Medical School, have been coordinating interactive simulation training sessions to help staff and students heading to the frontline of the NHS deal with seriously ill patients. So far, the sessions – which have moved from initial face-to-face sessions to virtual training – have now trained over 120 people in less than a week, with more sessions planned in the coming weeks.

Sarah Purdy, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience, said: “While we find ourselves in exceptionally difficult circumstances, we’ve been blown away by the response of our students and staff, who are working so hard to make a difference to others.

“As an NHS worker myself, it’s incredibly touching to see how our student community has stepped up to give their rooms to my colleagues, who are at the epicentre of the pandemic.”

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