COVID-19: Gower College Swansea meeting immediate needs and embedding long-term opportunities

COVID-19: Our members taking responsible business action

Business in the Community (BITC) Cymru member Gower College Swansea has demonstrated an innovative and holistic approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ever since coronavirus struck South Wales, the college has brought its teams together and considered the resources it can offer. It has made a difference to the lives of its employees and students. Additionally, it has reached out to support key workers and the communities they serve.

Responding to the crisis

Gower College Swansea has worked across all departments to make essential supplies available for charities, community groups, and hospitals. From donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) to unused food, the college has worked to get supplies to people.

To distribute its support, the college built strong relationships with hospitals in and around Swansea. It has worked with St Stephen’s Church in Port Tennant and the LifePoint Church, located close to the city centre.

Building on its expertise in delivering learning experiences for students, Gower College Swansea has adapted its teaching programmes. These are funded through the Welsh Government’s Skills Development Fund. This helps those on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis. As well as supporting people enrolled on courses, the college has worked with the Swansea Bay University Health Board. In doing so it has helped nurses and other frontline staff manage needs.

Ruth Gates, Learning and Development Project Manager at Swansea Bay University Health Board, says: “The quick response, from a wide range of staff and tutors at Gower College Swansea, has enabled us to increase the delivery of manual handling programmes for new staff and upskill existing staff to fulfil new roles.

“The college’s health and social care staff are also working closely with our nurse education team to help facilitate the large numbers of clinical induction training programmes needed. They are actively involved in the roll-out of the new digital patient care assistant induction, in partnership with Health Education Improvement Wales (HEIW).”

Building local capacity

The college has continued in its commitment to building local capacity for the longer-term. Working with partners, the college leads on the Better Jobs, Better Futures programme, supporting people to find employment.

Despite testing economic circumstances, Gower College Swansea matches people with jobs, some involved in local responses to the pandemic. Ruth says the partnership between the college and the Swansea Bay University Health Board helps “with the recruitment of new staff into different roles needed to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak”.

“Many of their clients have been referred and been successful in gaining temporary posts with us,” she adds.

“We are incredibly proud of how our staff have adjusted to remote working so quickly”

Sarah King, Director of HR at Gower College Swansea

Paul Kift, Director of Skills and Business Development at the College, says: “The college prides itself on being at the very heart of our communities. As the NHS is clearly at the forefront of fighting this challenge, we wanted to provide them with whatever help we could.

“The response from my colleagues, who have volunteered to support those on the front line, has been both remarkable and humbling – as are the efforts of those we are helping.”

Paul spoke to BITC on an episode of The Lens Bitesize in June.

Supporting employees

Gower College Swansea has demonstrated its responsible business credentials, not only in its support for people and communities, but also in the way it supports employees to look after their wellbeing.

The college has brought staff together (adhering to social distancing) to clap for carers and key workers, and reflect on the efforts of people saving lives. The college commits to supporting staff volunteers.

To help employees adjust to remote working, the college’s human resources and wellbeing team has developed support resources. This includes webinars, telephone counselling, fitness activities including online yoga, and a weekly quiz, all provided free of charge. These have been popular, with employees improving their physical, mental, and emotional flexibility and resilience.

Sarah King, Director of HR at the college, says: “We are incredibly proud of how our staff have adjusted to remote working so quickly and we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to support them during these difficult times.”

Gower College Swansea is a runner up in the Responsible Business Awards Wales Wellbeing Category in 2019. It has displayed its responsible business credentials before and during the lockdown. If your business can support communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the National Business Response Network website.

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