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Durham University

Organisation Development


The act of GIVING to others can make us feel good. Carrying out acts of kindness, whether small or large, can increase happiness, life satisfaction and our general sense of wellbeing.

GIVING is more than just sharing material things with others. It’s about cultivating a spirit of generosity and actively supporting others. The acts of GIVING to others, receiving and being aware of acts of kindness, even indirectly, give us a sense of purpose and self-worth, builds connections with other and promotes empathy and teamwork.

To GIVE could be small acts of kindness towards other people, or larger ones like volunteering in your local community.

“I have already been hugely impressed and humbled by the actions of our staff volunteering within the communities, for the NHS and within the University itself. It says something about the type of people we are and the organisation that we work for that has engendered such an outpouring of support. I would encourage everyone to continue this great work but also take time & use the resources available to ensure your own wellbeing, as we will be in this for the long run.”

Dr Andrew Cattermole, Senior Manager, Staff Volunteering and Community Outreach Health & Safety Lead

Got 5 minutes?

  1. Being aware of what, how and why to Self-Isolate is probably the single most important thing you can do to GIVE at this time.

    Government guidance is being updated all the time but self-isolation helps stop coronavirus spreading.

    Do not leave your home if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or live with someone who does.

    This is called self-isolation. If you are self-isolating, you must:

    • Not leave your home for any reason, other than to exercise once a day – but stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people
    • Not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
    • Not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home.

    Further NHS guidance can be found here.

  2. GIVING of time to our family can come in many shapes and sizes, as a family visit the digital SUMMER IN THE CITY (SITC), Durham’s art, music and theatre festival. This is a collaboration between Durham University and Durham County Council, using a new online platform to present a programme of cultural and creative events throughout June for everyone to enjoy from home.

  3. Complimenting or expressing gratitude to someone in your team who has helped you can be a simple and quick way to GIVE, as the former Chancellor Bill Bryson used to say in his congregation speech “always say thank-you.”

  4. It’s a challenging time for everyone at the moment as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds. Food banks are grassroots community organisations, aimed at supporting people who cannot afford the essentials in life. Foodbanks rely on your goodwill and support.

    Donate food directly to your local foodbank, find your nearest one here or donate at a collection point in the supermarkets.

  5. Interact with the ‘Help Us Help You Microsoft Team. This is a Durham University wide community where you can communicate messages and contribute to specific channels. You have the ability to add, like and interact with posts. Channels available are:

    Common room - share your stories and experiences in much the same way as you would over coffee or in the office kitchen. This is a safe space for chat and to support each other.

    Digital remote working - share technical questions, hacks and provide technical support for each other. CIS will also use to update play a role in helping people staying connected.

    Supporting Research - specifically for our research staff. You can share best practice and resources, as well as swap notes on what’s working for you. A Research Methods Cafe run in collaboration with Advanced Research Computing (ARC) takes place every Wednesday 10:30 - 12:00, graduate students and staff are welcome to discuss research methods for new or ongoing research projects

    Supporting Teaching and Learning - specifically for our teaching staff to share their experiences of working with students and teaching remotely. You can share best practice and resources, as well as swap notes on what’s working for you.

    Wellbeing and Working Differently - share content here about mental and physical health and wellbeing and balancing work and family life, as well as links to government and Public Health England information.

Got more than 5 minutes?

  1. The Counselling Service is a team of trained and experienced practitioners that help manage and support people across the Durham University community. Access to self-help and staff support information is available on their web pages, with additional support also being availabe online via SilverCloud. Please contact the Occupational Health Services for access details.

  2. Be kind to one another, each and every one of us is being affected in some way by the situation we find ourselves in. All of us will have some form of caring responsibility be it towards ourselves, our immediate family, friends and members of our household. Make sure you give yourself time and time to others to deal with the challenges that we are now presented with, ensuring you get a good work and home balance. Team Durham holiday camps are posting tips to entertain children who might be at home including online tutoring on their Facebook page.

  3. Checking in with your friends and colleagues is something that we can all do during this time, whether we have line management responsibility or not. There are many colleagues who live alone and the simple action of regularly speaking to someone on video or over the phone should not be under estimated. If you would often bump into someone on campus, why not send them a quick message about keeping in touch more regularly in a virtual way.

    Maybe even perform a random act of kindness for a colleague, it could really make someone’s day!

  4. Our Staff Volunteering and Outreach (SVO) team have a website and Facebook pages that carry relevant opportunities (Facebook daily updates) and Durham County Council have a Community Volunteer Scheme.

    Local groups e.g. County Durham Mutual Aid is a Facebook based group dealing with very local needs and issues (and has a SVO member as an Administrator).

    Also, other voluntary needs are still ongoing, people should still think about donating blood and helping out at food banks as best as they can.

    If people feel the desire to make financial donations County Durham Community Foundation also has a Covid-19 Response Fund. There are some useful links to websites below:

    Staff Volunteering Facebook Page

    Staff Volunteering web page

    DCC Volunteering Hub

    NHS Volunteers

    County Durham Mutual Aid

    Give Blood


    County Durham Community Foundation Covid-19 Response Fund

  5. Join the online coaching and mentoring scheme and give colleagues some of your time to support their personal development and yours. Link for Professional Services Staff, Link for Academic Staff.

Are there any other ways you have found to Help Others at Durham?

If so, please access the CIS Help us Help You Team. In this Team there is a Wellbeing and Working Differently channel – colleagues can share content about mental and physical health, wellbeing and balancing work and family life. All users can add, like and interact with posts.