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Update from Jayne Hindle, Head of School Operations

27 Jan 2021

SALC PS Staff Newsletter 2021

Dear colleagues

I am delighted to introduce you to our first PS newsletter of 2021 and hope that you all contribute in some way to this new initiative over the coming months.

This idea has arisen from several of the informal discussions that we have had as PS colleagues over the last year of lockdown, and was a key outcome of the PS workshop we held in September last year. I hope that it will be a space where we can share our news and achievements and keep in touch. Celebrating our successes is particularly valuable at this time and I encourage you to share your achievements with colleagues.

Contributions to our Newsletter

All contributions are welcome – especially new content and ideas for improving and broadening the reach so do get in touch with me at one of my HoSO drop-ins, or contact Shekina Popper, marketing and communications officer for SALC. The newsletter will be published every two months. Please send your contributions for the next newsletter in March to salcnews@manchester.ac.uk by 19 March 2021.

HoSO drop-in dates

  • Thursday 11 February 10am to 2pm
  • Wednesday 3 March 9am to 11am
  • Monday 15 March 2pm to 4pm
  • Tuesday 23 March 10am to 12pm

Wellbeing, Learning and Development and Ways of Working

So, let’s get started…

Please write in and let us know how 2021 has started for you.  You will recall in my Christmas update that I suggested you all think about your own Learning and Development and personal objectives for the year. I encourage you to visit the Staff Learning and Development pages and sign up for one of the many offerings – keep an eye on the website as new courses and workshops appear regularly. 

During lockdown I have attended and enjoyed three workshops myself and enjoyed the lively breakout sessions with other colleagues across the University. I also contributed to and co-lead a wellbeing workshop in September last year with the University’s Wellbeing and Engagement Manager Gemma Dale as part of our work on the staff survey/What Works initiative.

At this time, your wellbeing and good health is more important than ever and there is a wealth of information and hints and tips available here:  https://www.staffnet.manchester.ac.uk/wellbeing/.

It is great to see so many of you joining me in the SALC steps challenge - thanks to Rachael and Anne-Marie for getting this started. I am sure, like me, you are looking forward to drier weather so we can spend more time outdoors. I have found the icy fresh air really invigorating but have had to tread cautiously with slippy roads – once the daffodils and crocuses start to appear we will know spring is here.

Take some time to plan your work and annual leave over the coming months. We all know how challenging it was to fit in our leave last year and although we are still busy and there are new tasks and different ways of working, it is important we take some time out to plan our leave in consultation with our line managers.

You will recall that Hannah Rundle, our DoFO, circulated the Faculty Leadership’s working principles last year, which some of you may have lost sight of with all the activities of the last few months. Here is a reminder of the suggestions for you and your teams to adopt during the working day.  This does not, of course, mean that those of you with caring responsibilities or other needs can’t continue to work flexibly, this is a guideline to help you take regular breaks and plan your working day.  The week of 15 February is a 'meeting light week' so I encourage you all to hold only essential meetings during this time.

View the principles of working for supporting staff wellbeing

My personal reflections on slow living

I hope that over the coming months you will share with us some of your reflections and suggestions on what I am referring to as `slow living’.  If a year ago, someone had told me that I would be confined to my own home and local neighbourhood for a year, I would have recoiled. Many of you will know of my love for travel and in 2019 I was lucky enough to work with the University’s International Office and make two trips to the USA for international student recruitment.  I went to New Orleans, Florida and New York and Boston and got to know colleagues from a range of other Universities in the UK.  I was also lucky to have several holidays and I spent part of that summer in Hong Kong. Like many of you I also had lots of short breaks and travelled around the UK visiting friends. You will also recall our wonderful away day activities on Lake Windermere, and I am hoping that it won’t be long before we can build on that experience and undertake some more team building in the outdoors. 

All of that travel, of course, came to an abrupt end. Apart from going to campus once a week during the autumn, I haven’t stepped out of my local area since last March. I have however discovered the unexpected fun and joys of a much simpler and slower life. I have had time to breathe on my many walks and have discovered the wonderful countryside on my doorstep.  I haven’t missed the daily commute, traffic jams and standing up on trains, and the queues to get out of the carpark (some of you will remember Cecil Street delays!). I have streamlined my day and cut back on all the social events I used to go to, I have rediscovered cooking and baking.   

I bought a new pair of walking boots and am enjoying unstructured walks. Sometimes I only set out to do a circuit of a couple of local roads but I end up wandering off in all directions and standing and watching the sheep in the field, or looking in shop windows, or just letting my thoughts drift off into a kind of a haze.  I have also learnt to live a little more ‘in the moment’ and try to bring myself into the present as much as I can.  For those of you who I have talked to about meditation and mindfulness and who practise this, yoga and other relaxing pastimes, you will know where I am coming from.

I have also started to break down tasks into smaller units and this has worked for me, and seems to make things more manageable and less onerous. I have learnt, like all of you, new ways of working, and new ways of keeping in touch with each other and our teams.  We all need a sense of achievement at this challenging time, and by doing this it helps motivate me and breaks the routine.  Whilst structure is important, I find that doing things differently can provide new perspectives and energy.

One other suggestion for our Newsletter is that we share with each other the books we have enjoyed and the television programmes we have lost ourselves in.  My most recent escapism is a great watch - Lupin on Netflix – a fast and fun five-part series with the French actor Omar Sy who plays Assane Diop, a master of deception with a big heart.  I also heard from some of you of several book recommendations - and I know several colleagues have already read Bernadine Evaristo, if you haven’t already, do turn the pages of Girl, Woman, Other.

I am sure, like me, you will enjoy the different contributions to this newsletter and thank you to all of you have taken the time to contribute. I am really looking forward to hearing all your news and I hope this small insight into how I spent the last months of lockdown will encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas with us.

And finally but most importantly, thank you for all your continued hard work and support to colleagues and students alike.  You have all been inspirational in so many ways during this really challenging time and as PS team we have so much to be proud of and so much more to achieve over the coming months.

With very best wishes,

Jayne