A support team at Wrexham Glyndwr University have stepped up their work to ensure students who are on the NHS frontline are given the help they need to continue their studies.

The team – who work in Wrexham Glyndwr University’s award-winning Inclusion Services department – have continued to provide a wide range of support to students remotely after Glyndwr closed its campuses last month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

These remote services have seen a steady demand from students who use the services which the Inclusion Team usually offer in face-to-face, one to one appointments.

These appointments enable the team to offer help a wide range of learning needs – including specialist support for students with learning differences, such as dyslexia. As part of their work, advisors help students to develop strategies to suit their learning style and to develop their own independent learning.

In the past few weeks, the team noticed an increase in demand for online appointments – as well as additional demands on healthcare workers as the country faces the challenges of dealing with coronavirus.

These meant that students who had roles in healthcare could have faced difficulties in accessing student support services to help their studies.

Two members of support staff – Carol Thomas and Fiona Falkingham – decided to offer a dedicated slot during the Easter Bank Holiday weekend for students who are also healthcare workers, enabling them to receive the help they needed.

Carol said: “As tutors in Inclusion Services our work is highly individualised to the specific needs of the student.

“We provide specialist academic study support to students who have specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, and also support to students with mental health conditions which impact on their working memory – or their ability to access learning.

“Students are allocated one or two hours of support per week – but we know that specialist tutor availability is limited and the Easter period is particularly busy each year.

“Students have to book these slots one or two weeks in advance and this was proving difficult for some of our NHS students who were working additional hours or being moved to longer shift patterns.

“We decided to set up a dedicated day for these students, and were pleased to hear how helpful they had found the sessions – and how they had helped them to complete essential pieces of study over Easter.”

Students from across North and Mid Wales who use Glyndwr’s support services have thanked the team for their work.

Deborah Evans, a Parkinson’s Disease Nurse in Newtown, Powys, said: “I would just like to say how useful it was to have a support session on Good Friday as an NHS worker.

“I feel it is good to have consistency of support at a very busy time, especially as I am being redeployed. This puts an extra burden on the dissertation process for me, but Carol remains key in my dissertation journey, for which I am ever so grateful.”

Aimee Roberts, who is in her final year of an Occupational Therapy degree at Glyndwr, said: “I would like to thank the team – even in this current situation and at this busy time, they acknowledged and understood the importance of our being fast tracked as students to our trained positions – and ensured that their consistency of support continued over the Bank Holiday.

“Occupational Therapists are facing a growing workload and greater demands on our time right now, and the team’s support has proved invaluable for me and my fellow students as we balance work and study.”

And student nurse Natasha Chesworth added: “I just wanted to say how grateful I am to Carol for giving up her Good Friday to help student nurses and other healthcare professionals with their academic work.

“I am under a lot of stress at the moment to finish my last academic assignment before I qualify and begin working as part of the front line workforce. I am now able to continue studying over the weekend as my deadline is next Friday.

“Carol is an absolute credit to the team and I can’t thank her enough for the support she’s given me throughout my degree.”

Inclusion Manager, Sarah Roberts, said: “Providing student support is at the heart of what my team do here at Glyndwr – and it is one of the reasons our university has been rated the most inclusive in the country in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide for two years running.

“Knowing that you have staff who will give up their Easter break to ensure students working in key roles can get the help they need to complete their studies is humbling.

“I’d like to thank Carol and Fiona for the dedication they have shown to our students, as well as the other specialist tutors, needs assessors, and our specialist mentor, Assistive Technology Trainer, Inclusion Student Advisor, and Learning Support Assistants who are all working one to one with students remotely to support them with their studies at the moment.

“I’d also like to thank our students for the work they are doing helping to provide healthcare at this critical time.”