A Year at St. Helena- Update from Dr Paula Holt MBE, Destination Chesterfield Board Member
The following blog has been written by Destination Chesterfield board member, Dr Paula Holt MBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Health, Psychology and Social Care at the University of Derby.
Dr Holt covers the progress made this year at Chesterfield’s St. Helena University of Derby Campus, along with the challenges faced by the University throughout the Covid-19 pandemic…
2020 started like any other year at the University of Derby’s St Helena Campus in Chesterfield. Our September cohort of Nursing students had settled in, we were preparing to welcome a new cohort in March, our calendar of business events kicked off, and our business incubation tenants returned after the Christmas break. But life and study changed dramatically in March, when the government announced a UK-wide lockdown due to Coronavirus.
Staff and students adapted quickly to new ways of working as teaching moved to online delivery, and later to a blended approach with a mixture of on-campus and remote learning.
Around 500 of our nursing students from the University’s College of Health, Psychology and Social Care have supported frontline workers in local hospitals and other care settings. The University has provided a range of support to the NHS, local councils, organisations and communities, including the loan of a digital mobile x-ray machine to Chesterfield Royal Hospital, iPads to help patients keep in touch with their families while in hospital and extensive donations of PPE when supply was low.
As we approach the end of the year, we also move towards the completion of the D2N2 Local Growth Fund (LGF) project to develop the Chesterfield University Campus, which we started back in November 2015. The £3.48 million investment from the LGF, plus investment from the University, has allowed us to deliver higher level skills opportunities for school leavers and adult learners, many of which are the first in their family to go to university, and support the economic growth and resilience of businesses in Chesterfield.
I am delighted that, six months before the deadline, we have hit all LGF output targets set for project, including learner numbers, short courses completed, job creation, knowledge transfer partnerships, and refurbished learning space. This is testament to the hard work of our teaching staff, commercial team and strategic partners, including Destination Chesterfield, Chesterfield Borough Council, Chesterfield Royal Hospital, and Derbyshire Voluntary Action.
CommUNIty Chesterfield, a National Lottery funded project putting the ‘UNI’ into the community, has supported residents, the voluntary sector and students through this challenging period. We have missed not having face to face contact with the community on campus, however we have been reaching out in various ways, such as student placements, virtual shared learning sessions and community led initiatives.
As a University, we take our civic role seriously, and I am immensely proud of the work our staff and students have been doing during the pandemic. As we look ahead to 2021 we will embrace the new ‘normal’, learning from the creativity and innovation this strange period has manifested, and we will continue to support the Chesterfield community and businesses through, and beyond, these challenging times.
The University of Derby supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 180 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.