Earlier in the year, we sent out a call for support for our COVID-19 appeal. We are pleased to say that in total, our supporters helped us raise £330,000 for the research fund and £100,000 for the emergency student hardship fund. Read on to find out how this generous support has made a difference…

I cannot stress how grateful I am, this money will make so much difference to my situation. - Recipient of the COVID-19 Student Hardship Fund

When lockdown restrictions were put in place earlier this year a number of our students faced a sudden loss of income, leaving them anxious about how they could continue their studies or even just pay for basic necessities like food and rent. The Fund has been vital in helping our students overcome these financial challenges.

During the pandemic, we have had students coming to us for support who have lost their job as a result of lockdown restrictions and closures of places like shops, pubs and restaurants. Some had had a family member they relied upon for support lose their income, or had to move accommodation to keep themselves or members of their families safe. This dedicated emergency fund has truly made a difference to these students, not only alleviating their current financial worries but also having a lasting impact on their lives by enabling them to complete their course. - Jane Amos, Head of Student Services

The lockdown restrictions also meant that we had to transition our learning and teaching online and close most of our campus facilities in order to keep our staff and students safe.

For some of our students without personal computing equipment, and who previously relied on the library to complete online elements of their course, this meant no longer having access to the equipment and resources necessary to engage with their studies. However, thanks to the support of our donors through the Emergency Student Hardship Fund, we were able to provide these students with vital computer equipment in order to continue their course online.

 

Thank you so much for your help and making this process as easy as possible. - Recipient of the COVID-19 Student Hardship Fund

Not only did our donors come together to support our students, they played a critical role in enabling experts at UEA to carry out vital research to support local and national efforts to tackle the pandemic. 

During the early stages of the pandemic, researchers at UEA played a key role in carrying out testing for COVID-19. Dr Stuart Rushworth, group leader for molecular haematology research at Norwich Medical School, was one such researcher who developed a novel PCR test to help the NHS cope with increasing demand for COVID-19 screening.

Dr Rushworth also developed an additional test to detect replication of the virus from throat swabs – an indication of whether a patient is infectious or not.

We wanted to develop a test that could show whether or not a person is still infectious – in order to ease the impacts of a second wave and help people return to work sooner. - Dr Stuart Rushworth

The study is now under review for publication, and could prove crucial over the next few years until the recently announced vaccine is fully rolled out.

We are very grateful for the charitable support we received from Norwich Consolidated Charities, The Geoffrey Watling Charity and an anonymous donor, which made this project possible. Thanks to their generous philanthropy, the new test is now available as an open-source method for scientists around the UK to replicate. - Dr Stuart Rushworth

Thanks to further philanthropic support, Prof Bill Fraser and his research team at UEA were able to purchase a high volume pipettor, which allowed them to scale up antibody testing capacity by a factor of three. The machine has also enabled the team to increase output of other vital tests required by the NHS.

We really are very grateful for the philanthropic support, which was raised in under three weeks. It's fantastic! - Professor Bill Fraser

With the recent introduction of vaccines for COVID-19, the team are now exploring antibody production and the protection vaccines offer: answering vital questions like how many vaccinations will be required and at what intervals.

Supporters were also crucial to the success of the Norwich Testing Initiative pilot study. The study saw more than 3,000 tests carried out from around 800 Norwich Research Park staff and students, and helped create and refine the processes needed to deliver a programme of regular community testing. This was subsequently rolled out to students and staff across the whole of UEA when they returned at the end of September and has caught around 70% of positive cases at the University – ultimately helping to flatten the curve across Norwich.

I would like to thank all of our supporters again for the incredible work they have made possible. It will have a lasting impact not only for UEA, but for our local community and communities across the UK. - David Ellis, Director of Development at UEA
 

You can find out more about our COVID-19 Appeal here or make a donation today.