Supporting our community

Last updated 10th July 2020

Read how our staff and students are supporting our local communities in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Lifting spirits with art at Bedford Hospital

Bedford College students have been supporting NHS staff and patients at Bedford Hospital by creating beautiful art to uplift their spirits. 

Degree-level learning HND Art images were produced by the students in response to a commission from Bedford Hospital. 

The artwork should have been installed in various rooms' in the hospital but the pandemic halted the plans. 

So as students need to show engagement with an audience they have  posted their final pieces on Instagram. 

Please take a look and like their instagram pages: @bedford_college_hnd_wellness

Stars support college students

26th May 2020

Students at The Bedford College Group have been sent inspirational messages from celebrities encouraging them to keep working hard during the lockdown.

From TOWIE’s Gemma Collins, to Australian “Neighbours” star Alan Fletcher, Queen Bee of Goggle Box Sandra Martin, to paralympic swimmer Jack Bridge and drag queen Davina de Campo, the stars have been posting special videos on the Students Union Instagram page @live_bcgsu

The connections were made by the Group’s Student Services team who have been maintaining links with students throughout the campus closures. 

“Even though our students are not here in class, we have been staying in touch, supporting and advising them about what will be happening here at The Bedford College Group,” said Will Sparrow of Student Services.

Questions range from issues on progression from their course to another within the Group, UCAS application / clearing advice, SFE applications, bursary and other financial support packages or general careers advice.

The trained careers team are still offering the much needed 1:1 support via ‘Skype for Business’, emails, and online careers sessions, some outside normal working hours, to support learners.

In addition Student Services are in regular touch with students to support their welfare.

Naj Mistry speaks for the team when he says: “We have made changes to support students who may have experienced changes in their home or financial circumstances during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and are now wondering what the future holds for them. But rest assured we are all here to help.”

Those who would like to sign up from September to The Bedford College Group at Bedfordshire or Northamptonshire can enjoy similar support with some exciting new access activities via www.bedford.ac.uk or  tresham.ac.uk

Stay at Home Art

(30th April 2020)

Bedford College BA Graphic Design student Hannah Underwood has launched an exciting project to occupy young people with art activities during these difficult times. And in just two weeks more than 1,000 have downloaded her work.

She is working alongside 20 creatives, including others on her degree course at the riverside South Bank Arts Centre campus, to produce printable worksheets that can encourage children to enjoy Stay at Home art.

Visit www.instagram.com/hjucreative/ to find out how you can access these fantastic materials and please do share with your family and friends.

Hannah, aged 21 of Barton le Clay, has completed an HNC and HND in Graphics and is now doing her “top up” to a full BA degree.

She said: “I can imagine art lessons are being neglected as parents are focusing on subjects like maths in their efforts to ‘home school’ but we all know that all learning is enhanced by creative thinking. I think parents might appreciate the opportunity to revisit their creative skills too.”

Hannah added: “My current plans are to continue to expand my client base over the summer period (freelancing) until I find the right job opportunity. Then moving into employment to gain as much industry knowledge and experience as possible because my future aspiration is to eventually start my own creative company/agency.”

Jeffrey Tribe, Advanced Practitioner at Bedford College said: “Hannah is a determined, talented and thoughtful student and this initiative is a true reflection of her caring character. Please pass on this link to all of your friends and family.”

#EveryDayHeroes

(30th April 2020)

Two Bedford College IT lecturers have proven to have hidden talents which are being put to good use to help others in the current Covid-19 crisis.

Tariq Hussain has been re-training to be a volunteer in quarantine funeral arrangements in his home town of Leicester. The role, which covers all faiths, builds up on community work which Tariq has undertaken previously in the Queen’s Park mosque in Bedford.

“The difference now is in the limitations placed upon all families, for instance the next of kin is only allowed to invite perhaps four others to attend the funeral. This causes considerable emotional distress at what is already a difficult time, regardless of your faith,” explains Tariq.

Helping the bereaved through this new Covid process, which wipes aside many cultural or religious practices, has required extra training by Tariq. He has been working in his spare hours and will be helping full-time during his pre-planned holiday over Easter.

Meanwhile Paul Mensah’s skills as a former support worker ensured he was among the first to be selected from the 750,000 who signed up to be NHS volunteers.

Paul, who lives in Bedford, is part of the GoodSAM programme and is now helping people who need medication collecting and advising on prescriptions they have been given. It can also involve talking with those who are suffering mental health problems during the lockdown, where his former training becomes especially helpful.

Paul joined Bedford College as an IT Foundation Degree student, completed his degree at the University of Bedfordshire and eventually came back to the College as a staff member.

The Computing team at Bedford College are keeping busy whilst working from home with many of them helping neighbours, volunteering, shopping and even gardening for those in the community.

Paula Hobday, Head of Computing, said: “I really do have a great team. We are very proud of them.”

Motorsport Students keep ‘on track’ in lock-down
(30th April 2020)

Students at the National College for Motorsport (NC4M) have been keeping themselves ‘on track’ during lock-down by taking part in virtual racing.

Students Ben Burgess and Jack Alldis and Motorsport Apprentice Bradley Sheppard took part in the national competition which was organised by Alpha Live and Motorsport UK. During the heats and final the students drove round a graphic depiction of three kart tracks around the country.

Michelle Doran, Motorsport Liaison Officer at the NC4M has been keeping touch with students during lockdown:

“As all kart competitions have ceased for the time-being, many drivers are missing their favourite sport. Alpha Live and Motorsport UK joined forces to create a virtual competition for them which our students have enjoyed.

“Whilst our facilities at Silverstone are closed we are still in contact with students online and keeping them up-to-date with the latest news and plans for the future,” said Michelle.

The National College for Motorsport is a division of The Bedford College Group and offers specialist motorsport training from their purpose-built facilities at Silverstone.
In January 2018, the NC4M were awarded the Motorsport Industry Association ‘Service to Industry Award’ for exceptional performance in training and guiding young people into race mechanics apprenticeships.
For more details of the courses of offer at NC4M go to www.nc4m.ac.uk

70 countries sign up to Northants meditation classes

(30th April 2020)

Long-serving Tresham College Associate Lecturer Sharon Key has followers around the globe since opening up one of her online meditation courses free of charge.

The IT trainer, who developed into a mindfulness and meditation teacher, decided to make her meditation course open to all during the current Covid-19 crisis and now more than 600 have signed up from around the world.

Sharon turned to mindfulness and meditation as a way of coping when life in the fast-lane of IT training began to take its toll about five years ago. When she soon found she had a rare form of cancer in her lungs, followed then by skin cancer, mindfulness and meditation helped her cope with the life challenging situation.

“I then thought to myself that as a teacher I could apply my skills to making mindfulness and meditation accessible for others and now I have corporate and council clients across Northamptonshire,” said Sharon.

At Tresham College, Sharon, aged 51 a lifelong local of Kettering, supports those on the pre-employment training preparing people for work. She trains them both in basic IT and wellbeing to help them cope with anxiety around interviews or joining a new environment.

“I have offered the course to colleagues and their families at the College, as well as the world at large. We are all facing challenges during this difficult time and I hope my courses can help.”

In addition to the free course, there are more advanced paid-for courses for those who want to immerse themselves more deeply in mindfulness and mediation.

Visit Sharon’s website www.justpause.co.uk or Facebook page @JustPause.co.uk for more information.

We’re here for the region

(27th April 2020)

As the spotlight has moved on to care homes and other agencies which need protective wear and equipment to keep staff safe (PPE), Bedford College has donated 1,000s of items.

Collected from various departments, Bedford College shared 1,200 aprons and 7,400 pairs of gloves between Autism Bedfordshire and FirstCare of St John’s Street, Bedford.

The equipment was collected by Ellie Flynn, Executive Assistant at the College and from the Estates team from engineering, hair & beauty, sciences and Access to HE departments.

This is the latest collection of materials donated by The Bedford College Group. Earlier 1,000s of items were given to Kettering General Hospital which had been gathered across the Tresham College campuses in Northamptonshire.

Said Ian Pryce CBE CEO and Principal of The Bedford College Group: “These donations are just part of the many contributions made by our staff and students to the wider community in the South East region during this pandemic.

“Our staff are here by phone and online for our existing students who are in lock-down at home and worried about their futures, we are here for those who believe they will need the support of the college to train, or re-train for employment later on.

“Some things may be very different in the academic year 2020/21 but rest assured, we will continue to educate, train and be there for everyone who wants to get on by coming to our excellent colleges.

“Our Business Development team are also keeping in contact with the 1,000s of employers we deal with in normal times, to make sure we know exactly what their changing needs will be for 2020/21.”

The Bedford College Group is the largest provider of local community work-related training, apprentices and education in the South East Midlands.

The Group includes Bedford College, Shuttleworth College, The Bedford Sixth Form in Bedfordshire, and Tresham College and its three campuses across Northants. In addition it has range of vocational training centres across both counties.

PPE Delivered to Kettering General Hospital and Northamptonshire Care Homes 

(17th April 2020)

The Bedford College Group is utilising the technical expertise of its tutors and donating professional equipment to support hospitals and care homes in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire.

At Tresham College Kettering computing lecturers Gareth Evans and Joseph Mahase have created more than 50 PPE masks via 3-D printing equipment used for training students during term times (Photo). These are being prepared to the national standards of the www.3dcrowd.uk and shared via the NHS.

In addition PPE has this week (16th April) been delivered in response to a request from Kettering General Hospital. This consisted of:

45 x disposable aprons/ overalls
62 boxes x 100 gloves (total of 6,200 pairs)
35 x protective glasses
2 x boxes of 50 face masks (total of 100)
5 x pair of goggles

These donations included those from Northamptonshire Science, Hair & Beauty, Motor Vehicle and Engineering departments. Leanne Sperling, Estates and Facilities Team Leader coordinated the PPE from Kettering and Corby campuses. Photo shows Laurence Shone from Estates team delivering to Kettering General Hospital.

Last week the Northamptonshire construction department staff dropped off 60 sets of masks and safety glasses from their stores which were delivered to care homes in Northamptonshire:
- Heather Holmes Care Home, Desborough, NN14 2QA.
- Wicksteed Court Care Home, Kettering, NN15 7PH.

Behind the Covid Headlines:

So many staff and students are “doing their bit” helping friends and neighbours. Just a few here to show what lovely people we have at The Bedford College Group.

Computing Bedford - in addition to Tariq Hussain and Paul Mensah, featured for their work respectively as a funerals volunteer and GoodSAM helper, the rest of the top team have been doing their bit:

Daniel Hulatt has been shopping for elderly neighbours and he has cooked for them, leaving a meal on their doorstep.

Mark Downing was stuck in Poland but was helping out his neighbours there.

Christian Nunez-Fuentes is part of a neighbour “watch” where they are helping each other, keeping in contact more often, and particularly helping the elderly.

Mahomed Habbib has prepared meals and done the gardening for elderly neighbours.

Dawn Fitt reports that her Engineering Apprentices have signed up to work in their local communities delivering aid/care packages to vulnerable people.

Kathryne Perry, Performing Arts & Production Arts Lecturer has volunteered to be an ‘NHS volunteer responder’.

Ellie Flynn, Executive Assistant at Bedford is a volunteer for Bedford Council as a ‘befriender’ where she was paired up with a 75 year old lady called Sheila. I have been making calls to her most days to check she is OK and giving her emotional support. She does not have any immediate family locally. I organised a food parcel to be delivered to her as she was concerned about going out to the shops.

Nicola Beacon, Lecturer in Business has two immediate neighbours who are both elderly and have frail health, both she and her husband routinely check on them as helped with food shopping for them. “My parents are 80 and 90, they live a few miles away from us and we do their weekly food shop.

Charles Whewell is volunteering as an emergency shopper for the isolated and elderly through ‘Serve’ in Rushden, Northants. “I’ve found myself being very conscious to chat positively on the phone, knowing I’ve been the only person that some of those I’m helping will have chatted to on several weeks.”