Need to know – 30 March

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Here are the top updates from across the University. 

1. Upcoming Staff Town Hall

All staff are invited to attend an online information and Q&A session with the Principal and Senior Leadership Team on 22 April 2021 from 9.30 to 11am. Updates will be provided on the remainder of this academic year and the key areas of focus for 2021/22, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions. You can find out more and sign up on the staff news website.

2.University confirms its commitment to researchers 

A two-year action plan has been developed to embed the principles of the Researcher Development Concordat, improve Edinburgh’s research environment and culture and support researcher careers.

The plan includes ways to develop support; resources and information for researchers and managers of researchers; and actions on improving recognition for research staff at the University. You can read the Concordat Action Plan on the University website.

3. More study space opening

More study spaces will be opening over the next few weeks in response to the easing of restrictions and in anticipation of strong student demand during the forthcoming revision and exam period. Beginning with Murchison House on 6 April, more than 500 additional spaces will be available by 26 April. More details are available on the University website.

Planning for the next academic year

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The Adaptation and Renewal Team (ART) was formed early in 2020 to shape the University’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. As thoughts turn to September and the 2021/22 academic year ahead Barry Neilson, Director of Strategic Change, explains how the University’s approach will develop.

In December 2020 the University Executive approved a recommendation to stand down the Adaptation and Renewal Team. This is not because we think the response to the pandemic is over but to revert key decision making to existing established mechanisms.

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Meet our new Chancellor’s Fellows

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In this new miniseries, we celebrate the recent appointment of 40 of the University’s most promising early career researchers as Chancellor’s Fellows. This issue, we’re taking the opportunity to meet a few of the Fellows from the College of Science & Engineering.

Dr Andrew Schurer, Dr Joanna Sadler and Dr Lucia Bandiera talk about what inspired their work, the research community at Edinburgh and what the Chancellor’s Fellowship means to them.

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Getting a little respite

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There’s a long weekend ahead for all staff thanks to the University’s respite days on Good Friday and Easter Monday. This is expected to coincide with the transition from the current Stay at Home order to Stay Local on 2 April, giving everyone a little more freedom to move around while remaining within their own local authority area.

If you’re hoping to go for a change of scenery and somewhere a little different to relax, exercise, or just get a breath of fresh air, bulletin has you covered. We asked a handful of contributors to suggest their favourite, perhaps lesser known but no less highly recommended, outdoor spots and greenspaces.

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It can be paralysing at times: living with depression

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Our health and wellbeing should always a priority – and this has been made even more important due to the impact of Covid-19. It’s important for you to feel confident to talk about your mental health and wellbeing and know what support is available.

In this issue, Melanie Peak, People and Money Systems Trainer in the Service Excellence Programme, shares her experience with depression, and the ways she’s found to keep it at bay in difficult times.

I have suffered with depression since the age of eight. To be honest, I can’t remember what it was like to not have it. To not have to analyse each bad day and wonder if it is the start of another downhill cycle. To not have it always lurking in the shadows behind me. To not fear whether I will have the strength to cope with it this time.

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Our hedgehog friendly campus

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Improving biodiversity is a key part of the University’s commitment to social responsibility and sustainability in the Strategy 2030. The Social Responsibility and Sustainability (SRS) and Estates Landscaping teams team are leading on a host of projects to protect and improve the biodiversity around Edinburgh.

One such project is the Hedgehog Friendly campus which has attracted staff and students alike. This February, the University was awarded a silver accreditation as a Hedgehog Friendly Campus. The project also helped to secure the Campus of the Future Award at the annual Green Gown Awards in recognition of its innovative work to improve biodiversity and climate adaptation, both on its campuses and in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council. Here the SRS team share a bit more about the project.

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One regret, one hope with Tommy J Curry

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In this series, Professor Mona Siddiqui, Assistant Principal Religion and Society, chats to members of our community to find out more about them. Each fortnight she’ll be asking, what is the one regret that has shaped their past, and what is their one hope for the future.

This week Mona’s guest is Tommy J Curry, Professor of Philosophy and Personal Chair of Africana Philosophy and Black Male Studies.

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A beginner’s guide to lockdown meditation 

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This week our Mindfulness Chaplain Kitty Wheater shares some practical tips on how to meditate and how it can help during difficult times.

People tell me that this third lockdown has been the worst. Even though it’s spring, and even though we’re getting vaccinated, and even though there are dates for unlocking, we are worn down. At a certain point, the knowledge that things are moving just feels abstract. We’ve heard this before, we think, and there’s still much further to go.

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Sustainability Awards 2021

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Social Responsibility and Sustainability’s annual Sustainability Awards celebration takes place on 1 April. The event will celebrate and recognise the efforts of staff and students who have made a positive difference in the university community, in their local communities or globally in a socially responsible or sustainable way.

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Celebrating our colleagues – 30 March

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Each fortnight bulletin highlights and celebrates the latest prizes awarded to our fellow staff members. Congratulations to all involved.

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Bootcamps are back

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With the changing of restrictions in Scotland, Peffermill and Easter Bush bootcamps have started again.

The sessions are a mixture of circuit training, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), sport style drills and bodyweight exercises. Instructors from Sport & Exercise will be there to guide and help you through the sessions, whatever your ability.

Although the first programme is fully booked, the sessions starting on 12 April at Easter Bush and 14 April at Peffermill are now available to book onto for both members and non-members.

You can book and find out more on the Sport & Exercise website.

Need to know – 16 March

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Here are the top updates from across the University. 

1. The national day of reflection – 23 March 2021

Next week on 23 March, one year on from the start of the first lockdown, there will be a national minute’s silence at midday to remember all those who have lost their lives since the beginning of the pandemic. At 8pm there will also be a national doorstep vigil where people are encouraged to light up their doorsteps, and public buildings and monuments will also be lit up.

We would encourage you all to join in this moment of reflection, and please feel able to take the minute to reflect, and if possible, delay meetings and teaching by a minute.

2. Staff volunteers for paired activities project

During last year’s winter break, more than 400 members of staff volunteered their time to take part in paired activities with students, with the aim of helping students in Edinburgh to feel supported and part of a community.

Following the success of this project, the University has decided to expand the project for the rest of the academic year.

To support this, the Student Wellbeing team is looking for staff who are willing to volunteer their time to take part in paired activities over the coming months. Volunteers will be asked to commit one or two hours a week to meet with a student in Edinburgh for an activity such as a walk, run or cycle.

We know that staff will have their own challenges and commitments this year, but those who can spare some time can sign up using the online availability form.

3. Staff Covid-19 FAQs updated

Colleagues in HR have reviewed our Staff Covid-19 webpages and updated them with the latest information and guidance, including the extension to the furlough scheme, taking time off work for vaccination appointments and encouragement to take annual leave. Find the latest information on the Coronavirus webpages.

Hybrid Teaching Exchange update

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The Hybrid Teaching Exchange is where colleagues can share work in progress, learning, insights, ideas, plans and resources to support hybrid teaching. The project team’s March digest is aimed at addressing the University community’s current challenges and concerns and provides links to advice and support for staff.

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