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How University staff delivered care for students with Covid-19

01 December 2022

This year, University of Canterbury (UC) staff volunteers made welfare calls, distributed care packs and delivered groceries to students isolating with Covid-19 in a project that was recognised with one of UC’s new values award this week.


Vice Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey presenting George Haswell with UC’s Ngā Uara | Our Values Award 2022, in the category Manaakitanga.

Led by Covid-19 Welfare Managers George Haswell and Katie Mills, the team of volunteers provided essential provisions and wellbeing support to students with Covid-19 to ensure they could rest, recover and get back into the swing of university life.

SDG-3-news-2023-uc.jpeg Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3: Good Health and Wellbeing

Haswell and Mills won UC’s Ngā Uara | Our Values Award 2022, in the category Manaakitanga, for their extensive mahi for the student community. Under their leadership and guidance, the team made regular welfare phone calls to see how students were doing and checked they had everything they needed for the next few days. It was also an opportunity for the team to find out if any students needed medical attention. The volunteers arranged urgent grocery deliveries to students who were isolating and unable to go out for supplies. Along with fresh, nutritional produce, the volunteers included sweet treats like biscuits and ice blocks. These care packages were gratefully received by isolating students, with one saying they’d “never had so much fruit and veg in the house!”

Haswell and Mills ensured volunteers had the latest contact information for welfare calls, identified those most in need and worked closely with Accommodation Services to support students in residential halls. As well as keeping volunteers up to date with the latest government guidance on self-isolating and testing requirements.

While Haswell and Mills were busy coordinating efforts behind the scenes, they also joined in making welfare calls and in-person deliveries, including two surprise birthday cakes for students who were unable to celebrate with family and friends.

Haswell and Mills’ work began during the national Omicron outbreak in February 2022 and continued through into winter. “It was a big six months, but working on the Covid-19 welfare project was a real privilege,” Haswell says.

“As UC alumni, the opportunity for us to give back to our student community in this way was really rewarding. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the large group of UC staff who stepped up in a voluntary capacity and supported our students by making phone calls to those who were isolating with Covid-19 in what was one of the biggest displays of manaakitanga that I have seen in my time here as both a student and a staff member.”

Mills says “feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive. Sometimes they were surprised the University was calling to see how they were. While it wasn’t the start of the year many were expecting, they really appreciated all the help on offer. For many it was their first time away from home, so it was really important for the University to support those students and create a sense of belonging.”

Haswell adds, “I found the work really rewarding, I was really happy to help out. Each welfare call was different to the next. You could go from someone who was feeling fine, to someone who was quite poorly on the next one. It was all about ensuring that person got the right support they needed at the time.”

George Haswell, Tim Rowe and Katie MIlls Covid-19 Welfare Manager George Haswell, Wellbeing Coordinator Tim Rowe and Covid-19 Welfare Manager Katie Mills with care packs for UC students.
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