We are proud of the contribution that University of Hull staff, students and alumni are making at this time of crisis. We have University of Hull trained nurses, carers and doctors fighting the pandemic at the frontline in hospitals and care homes across the region and wider. Staff at the University are involved in the training of returning NHS workers, and in the running of the Yorkshire Nightingale Hospital. One of our graduates, Professor Sarah Gilbert, is currently leading the team at Oxford University working on a vaccine, and another, Ben Morrin, has taken on a senior role at the London Nightingale Hospital. Furthermore, over 1,000 alumni, staff, students and friends of the University have contributed over £30,000 to help a team of staff in the Faculty of Science and Engineering produce face shields to protect workers in hospitals and care homes.
We asked alumni to share their stories of how their working life has changed, and how they are helping in the fight against COVID-19, and we wanted to share Kenny Barker’s (Marketing, 2016) story.
“I spent a short time living in Hull when I was younger and had some family and friends still around, HUBS looked like a good business school, so it seemed like the obvious choice! I loved it; I feel like Hull sometimes gets a bad reputation – unfairly so i think. The people absolutely make it.”
After graduating in 2016 with a First Class Honours Degree, Kenny continued in the line of work that he had been doing whilst a student: working in hospitality. He went from working behind a bar part-time, to managing a night club in London. Finally he decided that he wanted to do something that would help him to progress, learn new skills and see the world. That was when he took up an opportunity at professional services firm Ernst and Young (EY) working in Assurance and Analytics.
When the pandemic hit, and EY were engaged in helping to set up a field hospital in Manchester, Kenny knew that he wanted to be involved. When the opportunity came to take on a role that would help him apply his logistical and analytical skills at one of the Nightingale Hospitals, helping to make a contribution to the nation’s fightback against the pandemic, Kenny didn’t hesitate.
“I received notification of the opportunity and put my name forward straight away. My role was working alongside various NHS teams and other partners and stakeholders to prepare for the hospital to open.
“What really struck me was how everyone was able to really pull together as a team in a really fast-moving situation. Every day I found myself meeting a number of people who like myself hadn’t really done something like it before, and conversely I also met some really interesting people who had a wealth of experience in that area. It was a great thing to be involved with, every day was different.”
Kenny’s work may be behind the scenes, but that doesn’t make it any less essential. He’s cleaning and analysing the data in ways that can provide useful and actionable insights for those at the front line. And by looking at the data he can help identify, and avoid, potential problems and stumbling blocks down the line.
“Luckily we’re at a point at the moment where it seems like the NHS hasn’t been overwhelmed by the pandemic and the London Nightingale hospital is now on standby. I think that shows how much of a success the response to COVID-19 so far has been in reducing the spread, and the preparedness of the NHS in having these hospitals ready, is part of that response.
“I personally think there will be some long-lasting changes to both work and society in general as a result of what’s happened this year. Career wise, I think this could affect ways of working for a lot of people, perhaps with a bit more freedom of movement – I think a lot of businesses may now feel comfortable that they can in good confidence give employees a greater level of independence. In terms of everyday living, I’m sure it will get back to normal eventually. I’m really looking forward to seeing family and friends again!”