Staff volunteers needed for student support roles

October 7th, 2020

The impact of COVID-19 has meant the start of term has been very challenging. The University is currently handling a large number of enquiries from our students as they commence their studies, adapt to living in a new city and settle into their halls of residence. We are also getting enquiries from parents – some who are incredibly anxious. Students are telling us they are not sure where to go and colleagues in schools may similarly be concerned about how best to provide support and advice.     

Students are not sure where to seek support or have a question answered, so we are urgently looking for staff to volunteer to help with two key initiatives as detailed below. Please consider whether you could fill one of these roles and help support our students through this difficult and confusing time.  

Volunteers for virtual contact centre 
A virtual contact centre has been set up to provide telephone and online support to students and parents who have questions regarding COVID-19. The virtual contact centre is expected to run at full operation for the next three to four weeks and will be open seven days a week.  

We are seeking a significant number of Contact Centre Advisors (approximately 90 per day) to respond to queries and concerns, listening, remaining calm and being empathetic towards students and parents who have got in touch. We also have a small number of Contact Centre Management roles (two or three per shift) to be filled by staff have a good grasp of the issues that students and parents face. These roles require colleagues to be willing to act as a point of escalation and will be able to offer support and reassurance as required.  

We need staff that can volunteer some of their time for either a four-hour morning, afternoon or early-evening shift, several times a week. The role will involve you answering enquiries using Skype for Business on your laptop (note this is a virtual service and you do not need to change the location of where you are working).   

Everyone helping will attend a one-hour online training session and will be equipped with a range of frequently asked questions to help you answer enquiries. Queries that cannot be answered in this way will be logged and escalated for a response.  

If you have any questions about volunteering in the virtual contact centre please email      

Volunteers to help in student halls 
We also need friendly volunteers to be physically based in student halls, either on a reception desk or within a central foyer. These colleagues will provide a visible point of contact, offering basic information and reassurance to students.    

You will be provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and will not be required to go near areas where students are isolating. Volunteering opportunities are available at evenings and weekends (approximately 15 volunteers per shift).   

Volunteers will attend a short training session and will have access to a range of frequently asked questions in order to help answer enquiries. Where questions cannot be answered in this way students will be pointed to alternative sources of support and advice. These roles in halls will be offered for four weeks.  

If you have any questions about volunteering in student halls please email Sally King.

How can I become a volunteer?  
Excellent communication and customer service skills are essential for these volunteering opportunities along with a desire to support our students during this difficult time. If you are volunteering during your normal working day, this work will be undertaken instead of your usual work. Should you be volunteering in the evening or during the weekend, you can agree time off in lieu with your line manager.   

If you would like to volunteer, please ask your line manager for approval first. If your request is approved, please complete the staff volunteering form as soon as you can.  

Your normal daily work will be deprioritised to enable you to volunteer in these roles. You must agree this with your line manager before volunteering. Line managers have been asked to support their staff in volunteering wherever possible as these roles are vital in supporting students.    

Thank you for playing a key part in offering vital support to our students at this critical time.   

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October 8th, 2020 at 9:27 pm

Mark Farries

I am a honorary professor in the materials and manufacturing department. I am willing to volunteer, please let me know if I can help.

October 9th, 2020 at 10:41 am

Cyrus M

Hi Mark, thanks for getting in touch. If you fill in this form, someone should get back to you with more information. Thanks.

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