The sea of daily death tolls and avalanches of new case statistics seems almost impossible to avoid at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic. As our hope of returning to normality in the next few months shrinks along with our motivation for the upcoming Trinity term, it is becoming increasingly important to recognise the glimmers of positivity where we can find it.
The university’s and individual colleges’ action should be highlighted as commendable examples of how we are better together in our fight against COVID-19 (together at the socially acceptable distance of 2 metres, of course). The university’s recent press release outlines their increasing involvement in supporting the vulnerable in Oxford, donating £10,000 of funding in its partnership with the Oxford Hub and Oxfordshire Community Foundation.
Oxford Hub, a student-led charity pledging to deliver social action programmes in pre-Coronavirus times, are helping those self-isolating by delivering shopping and medicines as well as providing a point of support and contact through phone check-ins.
The Bod’s Conservation and Collection Care team assembled to donate boxes of nitrile gloves, disposable aprons, sleeve protections, and antibacterial wipes, usually used when working with chemicals and hazardous substances, to the new Locality Response Centres set up by the Oxford City Council.
They were followed by other Gardens, Libraries, and Museums across the university as the Ashmolean Museum, History of Science Museum, and Museum of Natural History too delivered nitrile and latex gloves, as well as disposable face masks and aprons to the COVID-19 logistics warehouse in Deptford. The press release also reported that many colleges have also contributed PPE to John Radcliffe Hospital.
Individual colleges are also doing their bit. Most notably, Pembroke College started providing three meals a day on April 4th for the rough sleepers filling the 121 beds opened up to those most at risk across the city. In a press release on April 9th, the Oxford City Council disclosed that 63 of these were provided by the YHA hostel with the Saïd Business School providing 12, and University College an additional six. Although these numbers are somewhat underwhelming, colleges are also planning on offering accommodation to NHS staff and the University itself is also said to be offering accommodation for police officers with vulnerable families.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson commented that “the partnership between the University, Oxford Hub and OCF will support the most vulnerable and help get aid to where it is needed most locally. We will continue to look for new ways to help the community and make sure that we face this crisis together.”
Trinity term is going to be difficult; either because of our yearning for the summer days with our friends we have lost or because of our lives back home and fears associated with living through a pandemic. At a time when we seem to be drowning in negative news and the disappointing reality of the next few months, it is news like this – positive news and actions – which will act as our life-line until this is all over.