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Helping Hands
OU UCU Academic Services Newsletter, Edition 1, April 2020
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MK picket line in Feburary 2020 (wheres my hat?)


Welcome to the 1st edition of Helping Hands.

I'm David and I am your UCU Academic Services representative. I am based in Milton Keynes, but work closely with Brendan, Elaine and Philip in our regional and national offices.

When considering starting an Academic Services UCU newsletter a few weeks ago, I never thought I would be writing the 1st edition amidst a UK lockdown and we would all be working from home. What strange times.

During this extraordinary period please be assured OU UCU is here for you. We have been actively raising academic related issues  (e.g. clarification on pandemic contingency leave, raising health and safety issues, ensuring flexibility in annual leave) and working with management to ensure everyone is supported as much as possible during this difficult situation.

There are some simple ways you can help members and non members alike:

  1. Sharing this email with non members in Academic Services to highlight the learning and well-being resources that are included.
  2. Regularly talking with your colleagues instead of via email
  3. Attend informal drop in or branch meetings to keep up to date with OU developments
  4. Letting OU UCU know of any changes in your unit. 
  5. Follow our branch on Facebook and Twitter

Through helping each other we can ensure everyone in Academic Services across the nations is supported and that each individual works in a positive environment.

Stay safe


    During our transition to homeworking, the OU has shared a wide range of advice about how to best work from home and ways to protect your mental and physical health. You can be forgiven if you have been overwhelmed with the sheer amount and sometimes found it confusing.

    The infographic above and links below provide you with some key guidance and support available from UCU, the OU and beyond which relate to Covid-19 and homeworking.

    If you have trouble viewing the infographic it can be found here

    UCU Covid-19 Advice and Information

    Striking the right balance

    Recommendations on how to achieve work/life balance from UCU

    OU Remote Working Toolkits

    Homeworking guidance from the OU including details of My Learning Centre courses to support the transition to homeworking. 

    Employee Assistance Programme

    OU offers an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) providing support on a wide range of topics. It is available to all staff and their immediate family, free of charge.

    OU Unions YouTube Channel

    We have created a new YouTube channel with the UNISON branch - if members have videos that they could share with us, please send a link to

    Drop-in sessions

    OU UCU are currently holding informal drop in meetings every week additional to normal scheduled meetings.

    Meetings are on Adobe Connect on Tuesday evenings at 6pm and via Skype on Friday afternoons at 1pm.  


    CoronaContract Campaign

    Its clear that Covid-19 will impact us both personally and professionally in various ways for many years to come.

    The CoronaContract campaign has been started to "exert pressure on our universities, unions, and the wider public in order to secure our livelihoods during this crisis and beyond".

    To sign the CoronaContract petition and to learn more, click here.

    UCU Open University

    OU, Branch

    Wilson 015, Block C

    Walton Hall

    Milton Keynes

    01908 6(53069) or Deb Shann on Skype for Business,

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