Students swap studies for key worker roles

Brave students are putting the skills they have learnt at New College Durham to good use as they take on key worker roles during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nine Access to Higher Education students are working on the front line before beginning university courses in September. Shannon White is currently employed as a domiciliary carer while waiting to start her paramedic training. Her role involves working in the community in the Spennymoor area. Each day, she visits and supports more than 15 people with a range of needs.

Shannon said: “My days are long, but very bright, visiting such a strong set of people who keep pushing on everyday regardless of Covid-19. I am liaising with doctors, district nurses and other medical professionals to ensure my service users are safe and have the correct resources they need to keep safe and healthy. I love my job and will fight as long as I can to save our NHS and community!” 

Robert Brookesbank, Alana Loftus-Thompson, Darcy Golightly and Mandy Rhodes have also taken on the difficult task of combining demanding jobs as healthcare assistants while completing their Access to Higher Education studies online. The quartet are welcoming the opportunity to help out during this difficult time, often working double shifts in their jobs.

Students Clair Ward and Andreea Dieac are also employed as healthcare assistants while Emily Brown is working as a pharmacy technician and Jane Pendleton has taken on a role in the NHS.

Judith Booth a lecturer at New College, said: “We are extremely proud of all our fantastic Access to HE students who are working on the front line, keeping us all safe. They are all doing so well in their roles especially given the current situation. They all have places to start university training in September and I’m sure they will have amazing careers in health ahead of them.”

Many of the College’s apprentices are continuing to work through the crisis. Pamela Ramshaw, a Level 3 Health & Social Care apprentice, is employed at St Aiden’s Care Home, Framwellgate Moor.

She said: “Working in care at this time is extremely challenging and scary. However, our team is working extra hard to make sure everyone is safe and well cared for. Morale is good and we have never worked so well as a team.”

Curriculum Manager Claire Kelly commented:

We have apprenticesworking in several industries. Our teaching assistants and childcare apprentices are on a rota in schools for key worker children, our Level 2 and 3 Fire Safety and Operational Fire Fighter apprentices are all working, our health care workers are still on the front line in care settings and GP practices and our dental nurses are working on rota’s where dental practices are open for emergencies. They are all doing an amazing job in challenging circumstances and we are honoured to have them representing New College Durham in the community.”