With a significant majority of us continuing to work from home and the clocks going back last weekend, it is important that we all take the time to focus on our wellbeing. This time of year can be challenging and we all need to look out for and support each other as we head towards the end of 2020 and on into 2021.
A range of support for mental health and wellbeing is available on the Wellbeing & Working from Home Hub and we all know the benefits of taking breaks and getting out into the fresh air for some exercise. I encourage you to do so and to consider what you can do to ensure your own and others’ positive mental health in the weeks and months ahead.
As a socially progressive University, mental health and wellbeing sits at the heart of what we do and is fundamental to our ability to thrive today and successfully deliver our future Vision for 2025. The implementation of a Workplace Mental Health Action Plan is core to our Thrive@Strathclyde initiative – the holistic and collaborative framework to enhance the health and wellbeing of the whole University community of students, staff and visitors.
The Action Plan’s aim is to provide the environment where staff feel confident to talk about their mental health and know that there is support in place to help them. Your ideas will play an important role in informing its future development.
With everyone’s wellbeing in mind, I have consulted with the Executive Team and decided to extend the Christmas break by giving staff an additional three rest and recuperation days over Christmas and New Year to allow everyone to focus on family and loved ones. The University break will now begin at 5pm on Friday 18 December and run until Tuesday 5 January.
The Scottish Government Protection Levels – a new five-level system designed to help tackle the spread of the virus – is due to be introduced next week and we continue to put the health and safety of our students and staff first in all of our decisions. We will work together to address how the Levels will impact our Strathclyde community as they are applied.
You will also be aware of ongoing national discussions on arrangements for Christmas. We continue to contribute to these discussions at the Scotland and UK levels and welcomed the commitment of the Scottish Government to ensuring that students can go home in December. Other welcome news is that in the last seven days, only two students on campus have tested positive. In the same period, there have been no on-campus cases reported among staff.
In June, I was pleased to launch the Strathclyde Innovation Forum as a way of enhancing our approach to innovation for the benefit of the whole University Community. The Innovation Forum supports team-innovation and also periodically calls for staff ideas on a Grand Challenge – a question or issue facing the University which staff innovation can solve.
I am now asking for your support for our Second Grand Challenge, which relates to Supporting Vision 2025 delivery in a changed world. This Second Challenge seeks your ideas on a number of questions relating to our current Strategic Plan 2020-2025; we want you to help inform our thinking and prioritisation as we move forward to deliver Vision 2025.
The University Court will hold its annual Strategy Session at the end of November and we would be delighted to be able to share broad, innovative ideas from the Strathclyde community at that meeting, so please do use this opportunity to inform our thinking.
Given our continued focus on mental health, I am also keen to use the Innovation Forum to draw together your views on how we can further support staff and student mental health and wellbeing. Again, I would encourage you to submit your ideas through the Strathclyde Innovation Forum Website.
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of taking part in the virtual ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of construction of the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC) near Glasgow Airport. This is a great example of the highly-successful model we’ve developed for working with business, industry and the public sector to make a positive impact on society and the economy. It was also an example of a remote event generating real excitement, enthusiasm and anticipation.
The vision for this pioneering centre grew from the success of our Centre for Crystallisation and Continuous Manufacturing (CMAC), and I am delighted to see it becoming a reality.
The MMIC also complements our new Health & Care Futures at Strathclyde, which will focus on future medicines as part of its remit to help tackle global health challenges, and the Digital Health and Care Innovation Centre, which is hosted at Strathclyde and helps support transformational collaboration between universities and businesses.
I look forward to hearing your Grand Challenge ideas in the coming weeks. Meantime, please make the most of the continuing Meeting Free Friday and enjoy your weekend.