We’ll be a greener and cleaner College Group post-pandemic

One of the striking things about the lockdown period, apart from the magnificent Spring we have been blessed with, is the many things we used to do in daily life that would have had a negative impact on the environment, that we have proven we can do in cleaner and more efficient ways.

The adaptation to using Zoom or having meetings on Microsoft Teams has been a smooth one, and it has brought with it environmental benefits – no travelling across the county, or country, from meeting to meeting. It has also meant a reduction on printing as departments across College have adjusted to the digital sphere, and I have now gone almost three months without printing a document.

Outside of work, I, like many others, have reconnected with nature through walking and cycling, and with World Environment Day on the horizon next Friday, the future of how we operate as a College Group is something that is on my mind.

I recently attended a meeting of the college’s Sustainability Group and I’m delighted that there are some very passionate environmental champions within it. I know last summer, in part as a result of attending Glastonbury, I returned to College with a climate changing fervour. I feel that we have a role to create good citizens, and that means encouraging our young people to care about the planet.

The virus has probably done more to support that cause than anything we could possibly have anticipated. It will be interesting to see how much of our new, more sustainable, behaviour under lockdown can be translated to what happens next, but my fervour to see a greener operating College Group has returned, and I’m encouraging colleagues to preserve the best practices when returning to normal in order to reduce our waste and environmental impact.

During lockdown, we have agreed that as a College Group we will no longer be purchasing any single use plastic bottles of water or other drinks. We will invest in providing additional water refilling stations for our students and staff, and this is essential progress and an overdue step forward.

Additionally, at our Nelson and Accrington campuses, we are undertaking development of wild flower meadows. Students will be involved in creating and maintaining these spaces to encourage wildlife and improve our environmental contribution. We are also considering the procurement of organic cotton clothing for student polo shirts and hoodies to reduce our environmental impact.

I feel re-energised to demand that we consider our sustainability credentials alongside the many challenges we face, and to consider the impact of the decisions we make going forward.

For now, continue to stay safe. Until next month, Amanda.

College life in lockdown

Since my last column, we all find ourselves in unprecedented times, facing challenges that we never planned for, and finding solutions we didn’t think we were capable of in such a short time. I am incredibly proud of the way the College has taken to its new virtual world. Credit has to be given to all staff for their flexibility, innovation and creative approaches to online teaching. 

My thanks also must go to our students, who continue to engage with learning despite the worries surrounding them. As well as those learning from home, right now, we have approximately 150 Apprentices working in care home settings Lancashire-wide, and we are enormously proud of the commitment and dedication they are showing to their future, developing skills and rising to the biggest challenge to face our nation since wartime. 

Many of our other students are taking part in virtual lessons – particularly important for those continuing with us next year – and this year’s leavers, despite their study being abruptly completed, are in touch, as we support them with their next steps after leaving us. Every year we see students progressing to some of the top universities across the country, progressing into employment aligned to their career aims, and taking on Apprenticeships, and while for many students the experience will be different this year, we are doing everything we can to ensure they are presented with the same opportunities.

On the topic of alumni, I have also read with admiration about some of our former Health and Social Work Professions students, who right now are using those skills they started developing at College to save lives on the front line. They truly are our heroes.

Of huge importance to us right now is making sure those young people leaving school and heading to college are being well supported and making important and informed decisions about their future studies. We very much remain ‘open’, taking applications, conducting telephone interviews, and supporting our applicants and feeder schools to prepare them for College life as best we can, through regular communication. We are also looking at delivering a virtual New Student Day – more details of which will be shared soon. If you require any information on applying to College, please contact our Admissions Team by emailing admissions@nelson.ac.uk or contacting 01282 440272.

Lastly from me, we are continuing to ensure there are learning opportunities for those looking to develop skills from home and improve their health and wellbeing during this time. For our adult learners, this includes a Business HNC, which can be started immediately – there’s 50% off until September – and a wide range of programmes across Lancashire Adult Learning, more details of which can be found in the accompanying news article.

For now, continue to stay safe. We are all in this together. Until next time, Amanda.