Helping people get through it

Learn how we are supporting the wider community.


Latest initiatives 

Face shields produced for local healthcare professionals

Date: 11 November 2020

Discovering the need for additional PPE, Aston University along with local school Turves Green Boys’ teamed up to produce face shields for Birmingham and Midlands Eye Centre (BMEC). The face shields were made through the use of 3D printing by a team lead by Dr Antonio Fratini, Head of Biomedical Engineering.

"This is our small contribution to the community and a thank you to professionals on the front line.” says Dr Antonio Fratini.

The face shields will be used by nursing, optometry and other ophthalmic allied healthcare professions, as well as BMEC medical staff working on wards, clinics and emergency departments.

Read more in the Heartbeat magazine (page 21)

What will Higher Education look like post pandemic?

Date: 9 November 2020

Dr Carl Senior (Psychology) has led a team of academics to produce a manifesto for the delivery of Higher Education in the post pandemic landscape. Read his WonkHE blog.

Read more

VR training lab for university students

Date: 9 November 2020

Professor Ivan Wall, Dr Petra Hanga and Rachel Caves have been awarded a grant from Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund. The grant is part of £134M government investment to support green and innovative companies and projects in the wake of Covid19 disruption. Working with two local immersive technology companies, FourPlus and Holosphere, the project will advance the creation of a VR training lab for university life science students.

SME podcast: Angel investors help SMEs plan to double in size, despite COVID-19

Date: 26 August 2020

Angel investors have helped a Midlands component company’s plans to double in size in the next couple of years, despite the economic challenges caused by COVID-19.

Composite Braiding, based in Derby, specialises in manufacturing lower cost, lightweight components that can replace the likes of steel. Steve Barbour, the company’s managing director, attracted the funding after attending a Minerva Birmingham PitchUp event created and delivered by the Centre for Growth at Aston Business School, Bizzlnn at the University of Birmingham and Minerva at the University of Warwick Science Park. Over the last five years, more than 125 entrepreneurs have presented to directly to the angel investors and secured over £3m of funding from the event.

Read more

Industry partnership fast-tracks COVID-19-beating sanitisers

Date: 24 August 2020

A partnership between Aston University scientists and industry partners has led to the rapid launch of a range of alcohol-free sanitiser products to combat COVID-19.

Midlands-based EcoMotive has been able to develop its Hygiene Pro range of long-lasting hand, surface and vehicle sanitisers with help from Aston University’s Smarterials programme.

Read more

COVID-19 drive-through testing centre

Date: 21 August 2020

We’ve been working closely with the Birmingham public health team to coordinate efforts to control the spread of the virus since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of this partnership approach, we’ve now agreed to the use of car park 7 as a COVID-19 drive-through testing centre from Monday 24 August.

The role of Health Psychology in tackling COVID-19

Date: 5 August 2020

With doctors, nurses and other frontline health workers working tirelessly to care for patients, health care systems operating under immense strains and Governments facing unprecedented health, economic and social challenges, the battle against COVID-19 is being fought on many fronts.

Here we explore the key supporting role health psychology is playing in the fight against COVID-19, from being used to help understand and shape people’s behaviours to enhancing health care systems and interventions.

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Small businesses hit by COVID-19 pandemic to access support through government partnership with Aston Business School

Date: 3 August 2020

Aston Business School is working with the Small Business Charter to deliver a specialised government funded programme for leaders of small businesses to survive and thrive in the coming months and post coronavirus. This new scheme comes as part of a £20million package the government are providing to help small businesses in the long term.

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COVID-19 and gambling addiction: why it’s time to act now to reduce gambling-related harms

Date: 30 July 2020

Professor Richard Tunney, Head of Department of Psychology, discusses the consumer behavioural changes that COVID-19 has had on the gambling industry.

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How can SMEs innovate their way out of the crisis?

Date: 26 May 2020

All businesses will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some sectors may benefit financially, while others will suffer huge losses. Those countries with more service-oriented economies, like the UK, will be more negatively affected and will suffer larger negative employment effects. The UK economy was not in great shape coming into the COVID-19 crisis, after experiencing years’ of little growth and investment, due to the uncertainty of Brexit.

Innovation around business models will be crucial during the crisis and more importantly in the recovery phase as many hibernating small businesses seek to re-boot their business. The Centre for Growth at Aston University has been working with a number of small businesses who have been thriving in the current crisis.

Read more

Aston Students’ Union opens doors to food distribution centre providing vital support to those in need

Date: 26 May 2020

Our Student Union opened its doors to a food distribution service providing vital supplies to communities in need across Birmingham during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The service, coordinated by The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS), along with The Real Junk Food Project and supported by food charity FareShare and Birmingham City Council, was until recently operating from Ladywood Community Centre.

When the country first went into lockdown, Aston University started a volunteer support group to help students living in accommodation in the city, in particular those from overseas who might not have known how to reach out for help if they needed it.

As the number of volunteers grew, the group realised it could help on a much wider scale, so offered its services out through a number of COVID-19 Facebook groups in Birmingham. When The Active Wellbeing Society got in touch, the University agreed to offer space in its students’ union building as a new location for the distribution centre.

Read more

Pathway to Healthcare student volunteers at local hospital

Date: 4 May 2020

Manjeevan Singh, a year 12 student on his first year of the Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare Programme at Aston University, has been volunteering at his local hospital as an emergency COVID-19 volunteer throughout lockdown.
Manjeevan said: “This opportunity has been a great experience for me…I’d like to thank the Pathway to Healthcare team for delivering such informative and interactive events which have consolidated my passion to study medicine”.

Read more on The NHS trust monthly news report

Helping to tackle tech poverty in Birmingham

Date: 30 April 2020

We’re supporting the Computers for Children campaign to tackle tech poverty in Birmingham. The campaign will purchase computers for children in the city who would otherwise be left without equipment to complete schoolwork during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Titan Partnership CEO, Carolyn Chapman-Lees, said:

"The Coronavirus crisis is causing unprecedented challenges for our schools and highlighting the invisible barrier to learning and attainment caused by tech poverty. As a charity, we work to transform the lives of young people, unlock their potential and raise their aspirations.

However, these children are currently unable to access the online resources being used by schools to maintain an appropriate level of learning during this crisis.

Schools are not only facing an unprecedented demand to engage students through online learning but also the added pressure of ensuring that their students can access these resources".

Read more

Donating food supplies to the Real Junk Food Project

Date: 7 April 2020

Following the closure of the University, all food items that would have gone to waste were donated to the Real Junk Food Project which provides food for vulnerable people and food banks.

Keep fit from your living room with ‘My Virtual Gym’

Date: 6 April 2020

Sport Aston has created ‘My Virtual Gym’ to help people keep active and look after their mental health and wellbeing during lockdown. With over 100 Les Mills on-demand fitness classes to choose from, there is a great variety to get involved and stay fit. For further motivational boost, you can also pick up your home workout plan.

Providing hotel rooms and car parking for key workers

Date: 6 April 2020

Conference Aston (our on-site hotel) have made 50 hotel rooms available free of charge for NHS key workers who have family members that are in 'at-risk groups' or self-isolating for COVID-19 related reasons. 

We produced and distributed WHO hand sanitiser for the city’s key workers

Date: 30 March 2020

A team from Life and Health Sciences has produced World Health Organisation (WHO) hand sanitiser for distribution to students, Aston University colleagues and key workers across the city, as part of its ongoing community efforts through the coronavirus outbreak.

Donating PPE and medical supplies to the NHS

Date: 30 March 2020

Jiteen Ahmed, Technical Services Manager, led a team from across Life and Health Sciences to collate and deliver the equipment to the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospitals.

“Donating PPE to our NHS friends and colleagues has been my volunteering highlight. I was a patient of the Children’s Hospital as a child and the Women’s Hospital have provided so much support to my wife and me, so being able to give something back meant a lot.” Jiteen Ahmed, Technical Services Manager, Aston University.

Read the Technicians make it happen blog post.