Nexus building

Facilities Directorate Staff Bulletin – December 2020

2020 has certainly been a year like no other and one we will not forget in a hurry! I would like to personally acknowledge the huge amount of work that has happened across all areas of the FD since the start of the pandemic, more recently with the build and operation of the Asymptomatic Testing Centres and of course, the many colleagues who will be working over the Christmas period. With the roll out of the vaccines now underway, we are hoping for a brighter 2021 and a return to some normality by the Spring.
Thank you again to all colleagues for your hard work, commitment, and positivity this year and I wish you all a very well-deserved and restful Christmas break.

Dennis Hopper
Director of Campus Developments, Facilities Directorate

Updates from across the FD

Estates Operations

Festive cheer arrived on campus when Christmas trees were installed earlier this month. This year the Grounds and Gardens team delivered trees to Devonshire Hall, LUU, The Refectory, Bright Beginnings, The FD and Nexus as well as installing the main external tree at Beech Grove Plaza. Whilst many students and staff are not on campus, the ever-popular trees have been enjoyed from those working/studying remotely. We shared photos and posts across our FD and University social media channels which all received fantastic engagement, in particular a post on Instagram showing the Christmas tree being installed attracted 6,100+ likes and over 150 people tagged their friends to celebrate Christmas on campus!

The team were also involved in installing equipment to the Parkinson Building to support the city-wide Light Night project. Read more about the initiative here. The Energy Team shared the annual University–wide shut down message. This is an important message for all staff who are currently on campus and can play a key role in helping to reduce electricity consumption during the shutdown period.

Estates Office Team

Over the last few months, the Car Parking team have introduced the Interim Permit for staff and have managed the parking requirements necessary for the on-campus vaccine trial and asymptomatic testing centres. The Helpdesk team have continued to support the Maintenance team with inputting and updating work orders. This has ensured we maintain a high level of service to our campus clients.
Office Support have been integral to the success of “collection visits” for large numbers of staff who needed to collect items from their onsite workspace to help them set up effectively at home. The team is also playing a large role in helping to manage the approved staff list which details staff that have the authority to come onto campus.

Estates Capital Development

Some of our major construction and refurbishment projects continue to make good progress on site. Construction will complete on the Sir William Henry Bragg Building in February, followed by a six-month equipment migration period. Refurbishment work at the Faculty of Biological Sciences is also due to complete in February 2021. For more updates on these projects visit: 

Project Management Office

The Team have been putting plans in place to deliver the Estates improvement and quality programme, this will be a service-wide initiative to improve all processes. The team continue to support Service teams to progress specific projects too.


Colleagues in Finance have been supporting the year end accounts process by responding to external audit queries. The team have continued to focus on making sure the FD remains agile and financial resources are available especially during this pandemic period. They have been tracking and reporting on all expenditure required to operate the campus in a Covid secure way.Currently, colleagues are involved in supporting a grant bid offered by the Office of Students. If successful, this grant will provide additional money to cover capital costs incurred by having an increased number of students on our high-cost courses such as Medicine. This is a result of the University offering more places than normal following this year’s A-level results. In January new rules associated with Brexit will come into force, the team are working closely with Procurement to look at short- and medium-term cost impacts as a result of Brexit.

Congratulations go to Robert Dewar, the Head of Finance who has been appointed on to the Board of the University of Leeds Pensions & Annuity Scheme (PAS) as a corporate trustee. The PAS scheme is one of the pension schemes run by the University.

Marketing, Sales and Communication

This year’s Christmas at Leeds programme has been finalised and the FD Marketing, Sales and Communications Team have worked closely with the International and Student Experience teams to promote it widely. Many students will be in Leeds during the University holidays and this year more than ever, it’s been a key priority to inform them about the wide range of events and activities which they can get involved during this festive period.
The team have continued to support the wider FD with communications needs, ranging from devising the key messaging for The Edge reopening, providing end of term guidance and information to students in our residences and supporting students with the travel window.

PCB update

Throughout the pandemic Print and Mailing operations have maintained a daily presence on campus. They have ensured the smooth running of Covid specific projects as well as delivering on large scale University initiatives. In response to Covid 19, the team were pivotal to the social distancing signage process required to re-open campus buildings. They were well placed to produce the numerous resources required and developed new ways of working to ensure quick turnaround of signage orders. As part of this process the team launched an online shop to enable colleagues across the University to order all signage and other materials. The online shop displayed 389 products for staff to assist them to safely re-open their buildings. In just under four months the team processed 2632 online orders and printed 89,826 items.

The team worked closely to support the University IT Team and assisted in distributing 1482 laptops and associated peripherals to staff and students’ homes. The team provided an essential digitisation service to scan various University essential/critical mail for individuals to receive digitally. As an example, approximately 500 invoices are digitised weekly, so colleagues can ensure payments are maintained to our suppliers. The team managed the role of a goods inwards service for the entire campus from end of March until the beginning of September. Over 2000 items were received, stored or delivered liaising with Purchasing so they were able to undertake goods receipting to ensure payments were maintained.

As part of the accelerated digital strategy to transform the analogue copy room to a digital data communication centre, the team have worked in partnership with the Student Education Service, Study Abroad Office, Admissions and the Programmes and Assessment (Events) Teams. With the Study Abroad Office the team combined data from two systems to produce three items of communication, one printed and two electronic in a seamless automated workflow. This enabled the delivery of over 1500 Study Abroad transcripts to 1300+ students and 350 partner institutions across the world. The Admission Team presented different challenges. Data was received from multiple admissions managers, then on an agreed schedule process a digital and printed copy of offer letters were produced. This is an automated process to ingest the data, produce a PDF copy for the admission manager and process the print run overnight without user intervention. Currently 4500 letters have been processed to contribute to achieving next year’s student intake target. This process will continue with more to follow over the coming months.

The Programmes and Assessment (Events) Team asked the team to produce 9000 graduation certificates along with personalised letters and a suitable mailing product to enable all students who graduated in the summer to receive their certificates via post. With the December graduation nearly upon us the team are working closely with both the Programmes and Assessment (Events) and Alumni and Development Teams to process 6,000 data files and over nine pieces of artwork into a single student transaction for onward mailing.

Health and Safety

Now that many of our buildings have been safely re-opened and are Covid secure, the team have been making Covid compliant visits across buildings on campus including teaching and social spaces to check all social distancing signage is still correctly in place and that Covid secure guidelines are being followed. In addition to this the team continue to provide health and safety support to the two NHS projects on campus, the vaccine centre at The Edge and the NHS testing centre at the Gryphon Sports Centre.


The Sustainability team communicated guidance to students on the rules around the travel window and new Tier restrictions following the month-long lockdown. To support students who wanted to travel during the holidays the team worked with local and national transport operators such as National Express and LNER. This work ensured safe, flexible and affordable public transport options for students and included free cancellations and date changes.

Ahead of students leaving Leeds during the holidays the Sustainability team led on a foodbank collection initiative with LUU. With help from Residential Services this allowed students to drop off their unwanted food and other essential items in their halls of residence or in LUU which was then donated to foodbanks and people in need across the city.


Great Food at Leeds have continued to provide a hot and cold food service across café outlets and several cafés have been acting as study spaces to give students that much-needed change of scenery to work and enjoy a cup of coffee and a snack. As well as this, The Refectory team ensured that nutritious food and essentials continued to be hand-delivered to students self-isolating in halls on campus.

In support of the Christmas at Leeds programme, keep your eyes peeled for the “Baking the most of Christmas” recipes from Senior Chef, Lisa Hall, who will be sharing her recipe ideas using leftovers and simple ingredients that can be found in your cupboard! Also, there will be a live festive food demonstration in partnership with LUBS to tune in to.


The University Conference team are continuing to provide support to the International Student Office when they welcome approximately 2000 international students to campus in January. The Conference Office will continue to provide a welcome helpdesk, self-isolation support and coordination of transport from Leeds Bradford and Manchester Airports for new and returning students. The conference registration platform is being used to manage the bookings of transport and self-isolation food boxes. The team are working closely with LUU and link to Leeds ambassadors to provide a warm friendly welcome. The Conference team are working closely with International Medieval Congress colleagues and other departments including the Business School Language Centre and Psychology to assist with the transition from physical to virtual events. The MeetinLeeds team are supporting the meeting room requirements for business-critical work.

Sport and Physical Activity

The Edge has been supporting the NHS Trust though the provision of the Halls 1a and 1b for a vaccine trial centre, initially for six weeks but then extended to 18 December.  The feedback from the NHS has been great, stating that the set up at the Edge has been excellent in supporting the delivery of the vaccine trials.  Our student body and our colleagues in LUU have been patient and supportive of the use of the Edge for NHS purposes and SPA staff are appreciative of their understanding.  The Gryphon has been closed since the beginning of the academic year, being a suitable location for a Testing Centre to support our wider community and it is anticipated this space will be closed for the foreseeable future. 

The Edge, whilst opening and closing during the lockdown periods has had to be incredibly reactive to change during the pandemic.  The latest use being for the Asymptomatic (lateral flow) Testing for Students to allow them to return home safety for Christmas. Despite its closure during the second national lockdown period, colleagues worked hard to provide an array of popular online fitness classes, from Les Mills workouts to Edge instructor filmed classes, for all members. The daily classes gave members engaging fitness routines which they could easily perform at home. 

The University’s capital group has confirmed its support for the continuation of the Parklife Scheme which has re-commenced with the support of our colleagues in Capital Development. 

In Autumn 2021, our sports venues have been selected to host extended training camps for both England and Canada Women’s National Rugby League Teams, ahead of their games which will take place in Leeds. Congratulations go to Head of SPA, Suzanne Glavin, who took part in the virtual Nations Tour for Rugby League World Cup 2021. 

Residential Services

It’s been a busy few week across Residential Services the whole team has been working hard to ensure that students have a good experience, whether they’re headed home or staying on in Leeds. Staff have been working closely with partners such as the International Student Office, Great Food at Leeds and Leeds University Union to ensure there’s plenty for residents to get involved with and lots of support available.

Whilst traditional activities like the annual Devonshire Hall Christmas fundraiser can’t go ahead this year, work is underway to run equivalent events virtually with more details coming out closer to the time. The Christmas tree decorating competition is still happening – so keep an eye out if you’re visiting one of the halls!

Security Services

The team are working to help departments across the University plan for upcoming events in 2021.Security Services are saying goodbye to two long-serving members of the team – Shift Manager Jon Turner recently retired after 34 years of service, and Security Officer Stuart Lawrence will be retiring on Christmas Eve. A fond farewell to both, thank you for all your hard work and dedication!

Cleaning Services

As the year end approaches Cleaning Services are ready for a well-earned rest! The team was amongst the first group of staff back on campus after lockdown and have been working under demanding conditions to support a Covid secure working environment for everyone ever since, being customer-facing in often challenging situations. It cannot be underestimated what an asset the cleaning team has been to the University during this pandemic. Team members work early mornings and late evenings, and heavily rely on public transport to commute to and from work. The dedication and commitment of the whole team is very much appreciated.
In the new year there will be some changes to the structure of the department. The Cleansing team will move to become part of the Grounds and Gardens team. Within Cleaning Services there will be a waste and environmental team who will focus on all the waste streams on campus, as well as support the department with delivery of cleaning and sanitising supplies across the University.

This year has seen the introduction of an interim Cleaning Services Service Level Agreement and enhanced cleaning frequencies, including additional daytime housekeeping sanitising teams. In 2021 the team will continue to support the University in providing a Covid secure environment. However, the aim is to look forward to the ‘new normal’ and plan the longer-term future of the department and what its roles and responsibilities need to be.

Winter Flu Vaccine

Winter flu virus season is here and we’re encouraging and supporting all colleagues to get vaccinated. If you’re not eligible for a free NHS flu jab, you can still protect yourself by booking a private flu jab and the University will reimburse you up to £14.

EU Settlement Scheme deadline

The UK is leaving the European Union on Thursday 31 December and, if you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who lives in the UK, you and your family must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, if you haven’t already done so. The scheme is part of UK law and will mean you can continue living and working in the UK, as well as accessing benefits and public services like the NHS. This applies even if you were born in the UK (but you’re not a British citizen) or you have been here for many years and/or you have a Permanent Residence document. The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021.

One-to-one immigration solicitor appointments

International staff can book a free and confidential 30-minute appointment with an immigration specialist from Freeths Solicitors on Friday 27 November or Thursday 21 January 2021. Sessions take place on Microsoft Teams or over the phone and provide an opportunity to discuss anything relating to visas, Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship issues. Please note appointment availability may be limited.

Explore LinkedIn Learning and look after your wellbeing

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