Imperial College London

Gratitude pours in for Imperial staff and students during COVID-19


Queen's Tower against a blue sky

Staff and students at Imperial College London have said a special thank you to colleagues and classmates during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Over 30 people have submitted thank you notes for colleagues and teams across the College via the Imperial People campaign since we put the call out on Wednesday 18 March.   

During an extraordinary time for Imperial, the UK, and the world, we spoke to some of the Imperial community members who have been recognised for going the extra mile.  

Betul Ilbilgi Yildiz, Research Postgraduate, Bioengineering 

“I'd like to thank Betul from my research group, who brought me many packs of pasta, oil and tomato sauce as I am recovering from COVID-19 and had run out of pasta! I am Italian and the lack of pasta was getting me down! Thank you so so so much Betul!” Sophie Morse, Research Postgraduate, Bioengineering

“I learned that Sophie was sick and was asking about whether pasta was still available in the shops,” Betul explains. “I kept this in mind and found some rare (!) packets of pasta, sauce and oils during a shopping trip with my husband. Sophie is Italian, so I knew she would need lots of pasta to keep her going! 

“I delivered the food to her house and messaged her to pick it up from her door. I could tell she was very happy and hadn’t expected my little delivery! I just wanted to cheer her up.”  

Betul says it’s more important than ever to help those around us. “We shouldn’t be selfish during this time and we need to support one another in any way we can. Everyone wants to be safe, but people out there need our help so we need to be more considerate.”  

Post Room team  

“The guys in the Post Room have remained on site ensuring that important mail can still be received and redistributed where necessary. They are such a key part of the College community and are doing a sterling job. Thank you!” Lizzie Huckle, Head of International Student Support

Speaking on behalf of his team, Alan Halford, Postal Officer, said: “We still have post coming in for staff across the College, and we’re still handling lots of recorded deliveries and couriers. While the overall amount of mail has decreased, we’re finding that people’s postal orders from three or four weeks ago are still arriving.” 

Alan says that the team are storing mail as best as they can, but also delivering to people’s desks where possible. “We need to avoid stockpiling so we are continuing to deliver mail to people’s desks as normal, so that when people return back to the office, their post is waiting for them. We’re just happy to be able to go in and provide our usual service to keep the College running as best as we can.” 

Dan Faehndrich, Undergraduate, Faculty of Medicine 

“Dan has been helping out his peers who are unable to leave the house/are no able to be in the country by driving around hospital sites in London to drop off locker keys and collect their deposits. He's also helped a student who can't return to the UK to ensure their belongings can be moved out of their property and be stored safely. Heart-warming acts of selflessness to support his peers during this uncertain time!” Laura Regan, Senior Student Services Administrator, Education Office

 Dan said: “A lot of Medicine students have lockers and access cards which require a £20 deposit. I was heading off to return my own locker keys and access card and thought that others might be in a similar situation. I was able to help over 35 students get their money back. £20 can seem very little to some, but for students, this can help to feed you for the week when you’re on a budget! Overall, I was able to get around £500 worth of deposit money returned to students after I heard that a lockdown was imminent.” 

Dan, who is a fifth year Medicine student, is currently volunteering at Northwick Park Hospital for three days a week to support NHS staff tackling the pandemic. “I feel privileged to be helping the NHS,” he says. “Even doing odd jobs like bringing doctors and nurses a pack of wipes, noting observations or taking blood samples is helping, and I am just glad to help relieve the pressure on our healthcare system during this time. 

“If you know someone who is older or vulnerable, please check in on them. Elderly people especially can start to feel isolated and sometimes all it takes is a phone call to make a difference. Also, stay home!”  

Department of Chemistry staff including Euan Doidge, Amelia Barron, Don Craig, Rob Law, Oscar Ces and Charlotte Sutherell 

“Thank you to staff in the Chemistry department and particularly the senior team for their hard work during these crazy times. They have been in constant communication with the student body from the very beginning and have made this stressful time just that bit easier and more manageable. Thank you for going above and beyond to help and calm us all!” Francesa Wittman, Undergraduate, Chemistry
Amelia Barron
Amelia Barron

“We’ve been making sure that students feel supported and that their voices are heard,” Amelia Barron, Student Experience Officer, says. The team have been focusing on how to help students transition from face-to-face to remote teaching and have spoken to academic and wellbeing reps to put in place appropriate pastoral care.  

She added: “We have organised additional personal tutor meetings for our students to ensure they have someone to check in with, and year group meetings and a Q&A session to make sure communication has remained open and transparent.”  

In addition, the team have produced a questionnaire to help plan exams and teaching, asking students to share their situation in terms of equipment and perceptions of exams, and anything else that has been affecting them. With approximately 550 students in the Department of Chemistry, Amelia says that over 480 students have responded to the questionnaire. 

Andrew Roberts, Security Officer 

“Thank you so much for continuing to provide the exceptional security service you do for students, even in these most challenging of times when staff at the Union, including myself, are fortunate enough to be able to work from home. The support you are offering to both students and staff such as myself is appreciated every single working day, and I cannot thank you enough.” Ciaran Thomas, Receptionist, Imperial College Union

Andrew has been looking out for the remaining students on campus at Beit Hall. He said: “We may still have some students left here until the end of term in June, and if they need any help at all, I just try and assist them where I can. 

“Being on campus now does feel weird… it’s a bit of a ghost town at the moment as there aren’t many students or staff in our buildings. I’m helping by doing small tasks, such as making sure any of the students’ mail is kept safe or forwarded to their home addresses and making sure their belongings are safely with a storage company.  

“We all want this to end, it’s a horrible time for everyone and we’re just trying to keep things in motion. I’ve been helping out here since the lockdown happened and I’ll continue helping where I can.” 

Imperial College School of Medicine (ICSM) Music Society 

“ICSM Music Society has been the best support system I have ever experienced! A big thank you to everyone on the society for all the Zoom meetings, tutorials, and genuinely friendly banter to keep each other sane, on track, and feeling as part of the Imperial community even while at home.” Varja Cuculovic, Undergraduate, Faculty of Medicine

Emily Ching, Chair of ICSM Music Society, says she is proud of the way that students have helped each other during this time, through keeping in touch with one another, holding meditation and yoga sessions online, scheduling in fun remote activities like Netflix parties (they’ve been watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race together) and hosting virtual pub quizzes. 

young musicians with instruments in a church
The music society at a performance

She said: “In some ways, we’re all supporting one another so much more and it has brought everyone together. I wasn’t expecting us to hold as many remote activities as we have, and I think everyone is grateful to have this little community at this chaotic time. We’ve found different ways to bond and realised that it’s not just music that we are bound by, which is really nice.” 

Thank you notes submitted as part of the Imperial People thank you campaign will be shared on social media and internally in the coming weeks. If you would like to submit a thank you note, please visit the Imperial People webpage.  


Martha Salhotra

Martha Salhotra
Communications and Public Affairs

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