Lockdown: Two Weeks In

Aimee Latham works hard at Social Bite

A little over two weeks since West Lothian College suspended all face-to-face teaching and the government set a nationwide lockdown, support staff, lecturers and students have all put a tremendous amount of effort to ensure studies continue with as little disruption as possible, all while still finding time to support their community.

From repurposing nearly 100 college laptops to distribute to students to help them work at home to working 15 hour days to ensure homeless people aren’t going without a meal our staff and students have stepped up to the plate to make things a little easier on everyone.

Supporting their community

Many people are facing a significantly more difficult time than others due to the disruption coronavirus has caused and to help those in need of it, staff and students at West Lothian College have been doing their part.

Employer Engagement Officer Elaine Campbell has signed up for community groups in her hometown of Linlithgow. She has been doing community outreach there helping vulnerable groups to access essentials or just have a chat on the phone.

Elaine has also signed up with the Red Cross and Volunteer Scotland as well as donating £2,000, through her charity the PJ Foundation, to support families who have children in hospital due to covid-19. She has also given out essentials packs with food and activities to help their stay be that little bit easier.

Recognising the need for supplies in the front line services the college estates team have donated over 100 face masks, 1,000 pairs of disposable gloves and 8 pairs of brand new safety goggles in West Lothian.

And last but not least, working through these difficult times to help the homeless get a meal Professional Cookery student Aimee Latham has been putting her skills to good use 7am to 10pm at Social Bite.

Supporting our students

Staff worked tirelessly in the last few weeks to ensure that students weren’t left without key support during a crucial period. Lecturers and support staff are working from home throughout the closure and are available to all students through email, social media, and phone calls.

To help support the mental health and well-being of our students, the college has joined the Big White Wall, a support service for students that provides 24/7 mental health support and guidance with a group of expert trained professionals.

West Lothian College Principal Jackie Galbraith said: “We are doing everything we can to help our students through this challenging time. We’ve tried to eliminate stress related to financial worries by continuing to pay bursaries and childcare.

“Our dedicated student support staff are available by phone and email to provide personalised help for students in need. For students experiencing anxiety, made worse by isolation, Big White Wall is a supportive online community that can help.”

We’ve had some great feedback from students as well:

Teaching online

The college’s top priority is making sure students have access to their course materials and their lecturers online. College IT staff repurposed nearly 100 college laptops and distributed them to students who don’t have a computer at home, helping to ensure that no student was disadvantaged and unable to complete their work.

Lecturers have worked hard to get lessons online through uploading coursework, answering questions by email, or even live-streaming lectures.

Julie Brechin, one of our Childhood Practice lecturers, has been staying connected with live lectures: “I’ve just finished a 40-minute interactive live feed with my Pathways to Working with Children and Young People class. They had been sent the PowerPoint presentation prior to the feed and they then interacted through the message system which I responded to live. Now they have a video to watch on YouTube and a poster to make. The feedback from students was very positive, and they felt that they were involved in the learning process.”

And Chef lecturer, Andy McDougall has been posting tutorials online for his students, some of which you can see here in our videos section! He said: “I have been filming cookery demonstrations from home for students, building on the learning that has taken place in the kitchens, to aid students with their progression and enhance their skills. I’m then available for any questions or further discussions with all students.”

Student Support worker and lecturer Matt Farnham has also put together this handy guide for working from home: mattfarnham.wordpress.com/2020/03/27/working-from-home-a-quick-guide/.

Here are some other useful links if you want to volunteer or need some support yourself:

www.bigwhitewall.com 

www.readyscotland.org/get-involved/volunteering/

https://www.west-lothian.ac.uk/help-advice/

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