AUDE Covid Heroes banner

The ‘unsung’ heroes keeping University of Leeds on track during the pandemic

November 2021

The work of colleagues across the Facilities Directorate during the pandemic has been extraordinary.

Together we’ve ensured the smooth running of our facilities and services, enabling the University to play a vital role in the national response to an unprecedented situation. With eighteen months having now passed since the pandemic began, we want to look back at what we’ve achieved as a team…

AUDE Covid Heroes

The Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) has launched a ‘Covid Heroes’ campaign to pay recognition to the ‘unsung’ workforce that helped universities stay open during the pandemic. We are extremely proud and want to recognise the immense personal efforts of the teams across the Facilities Directorate at the University of Leeds.

On behalf of AUDE, our Vice-Chancellor, our Trustees, our Directors and our academic communities, we would like to say the most enormous thanks to everyone involved.

Steve Gilley, Director of Estates and Facilities commented:

“When the pandemic hit, we were faced with a range of professional and personal challenges. I’m really proud of the way that the teams across the Facilities Directorate stepped up to support the University community throughout the pandemic, helping to keep everyone safe. It truly was a fantastic team effort, and my sincere thanks go out to all who helped to make this happen.”

This month, we will be sharing the stories of teams in the Facilities Directorate who have gone the extra mile during the pandemic in their efforts to keep our University on track. Despite the challenges, our teams remained flexible, professional, hard-working, and determined. They are the unsung heroes of the University of Leeds.

More information on the AUDE Covid Heroes campaign.

Meet our Covid Heroes…

Reopening of campus

one way signage and demonstration in edward boyle library

The reopening of campus during the summer of 2020 saw a phenomenal team effort across services in the Facilities Directorate to re-open our campus buildings, an integral part of the overall University re-entry process and above all, to ensure we continued to maintain safe environments for our staff and students.

  • Estates Maintenance teams ensured all building utilities such as water hygiene testing and alarm testing was all compliant and operationally safe.
  • The Handy Gang team fitted over 2000 hand sanitiser dispensers across different locations on campus.
  • Estates Capital Development utilised their skills to draw up plans to indicate the approach required internally for social distancing (one-way systems, access to floors, kitchens, toilets, maximum capacities of teaching spaces, offices, etc.) with signage and hygiene point locations.
  • The Creative team (within the FD Marketing, Sales and Communications team) designed a cohesive signage style to give staff and students returning back to campus all the information they needed in order to keep themselves and others safe. This was regularly updated throughout the pandemic as new situations or rules arose. The team then worked with PCB to ensure that these signs could be printed, this included over 100,000 pieces of covid signage – from posters to large banners.
  • Mechanical and Electrical Engineers worked with other Estates colleagues and University of Leeds academic and SAGE expert Professor Cath Noakes to ensure that building ventilation and electrical systems were fully serviced and operationally ready for the start of the academic year.
  • The Estates Project Management office team meticulously managed the processes and procedures involved in successfully re-opening the buildings.
  • FD Procurement teams sourced all of the critical health and safety equipment
  • Health and Safety were heavily involved in making the buildings Covid secure, through identifying all health and safety requirements and implementing the newly designed social distancing signage for each building.
  • Cleaning Services ensured all re-opened areas were thoroughly cleaned ready for occupation in a Covid secure environment, delivering an enhanced cleaning regime and keeping the sanitiser points maintained.
  • The Facilities Managers coordinated activities with the Faculties and supported the Covid re-entry response.
  • Security Services reviewed access arrangements for all buildings prior to opening to ensure any new arrangements were safe and secure.
  • The Facilities Support Team and Estates planning and information teams worked to prepare the teaching space to ensure it was Covid ready prior to opening which included the removal of furniture from over 160 rooms throughout the campus. Locking and access arrangements for all the buildings that were opened were reviewed and reconfigured.
  • Colleagues from across the service worked at record speed to build and open the two NHS projects on campus, the NHS Testing Centre at the Gryphon Sports Centre and subsequently the Vaccine Centre at The Edge.

It truly was a fantastic team effort and our thanks go out to all who helped make this happen.