Getting through this together

With the entire world facing an unprecedented health crisis, Oxford Brookes alumni are sharing their stories of getting through this together.

Oxford Brookes alumni getting through this together

All our individual circumstances are different. Here are a few different perspectives on getting through the Covid-19 crisis from Oxford Brookes alumni.


  • Anthony Gilbert

    Anthony Gilbert '10

    "I saw the first patient come in and the last one go out. My role was delivering Intensive Care Physio – assessing and treating patients on ventilators.

    "When patients became well enough to come off the ventilators, we had to work with them so they were able to sit up in bed and we would help them get back on their feet. So I was seeing patients when they very sick and on a ventilator, right through to them walking again."

    Lockdown tip: “If you’re not having to go to work as normal then it’s an opportunity to discover new walks, runs or bike rides. Or to try out a new hobby that keeps you active.”

    Read more from Anthony about working at the London Nightingale Hospital »

  • Rachel Bamber

    Rachel Bamber '94

    “I’ve coached clients and delivered training using telephone, online video / audio technology for over 16 years and regularly support (and challenge!) corporate executives to be more effective in leading and managing remote, global teams. It is good to be able to support leaders adapt to virtual working – and still achieve brain-friendly peak performance during Lockdown – and of course, navigate new ways of working for the future.

    "I am supporting clients in a voluntary capacity who otherwise would not be offered coaching or have been adversely financially impacted by the current world situation. Too many people suffer in silence and do not ask for help, so whether it is being an objective sounding board or discussing ideas and possible decisions, I am glad to help people move forward from being stuck and not feeling good and of course, hold them accountable for the actions that they set. This is proving beneficial for the small business owners who drive our economy as they appreciate the massive extra encouragement amidst the uncertainty.”

    Lockdown tips: "Enjoy the opportunity to discover what is essential for your feelings of success, happiness and fulfilment as it may not be what you think. After all, the pandemic has indicated that optimum health is the most important resource! Go at your own pace and avoid comparisons with others about what you think you 'should' be doing during Lockdown: no two brains are alike. Remember to break for your brain too."

    Read why this is important on Rachel's website »

  • Su Chantry in Level 2 PPE

    Su Chantry

    “I’m on a rapid response team at the John Radcliffe and am allocated a ward just an hour before my shift. Basically I just go where I’m needed. So one day I might be on A&E or the Cardiac Care ward where it’s very task-orientated roles, and the next I’m on a general ward doing patient care and supporting other staff.

    “I knew I needed to support the Covid response in whatever way I could. The racing team at Williams were all furloughed so this was a chance to make use of my clinical skills in a positive way.”

    Read more about how Su swapped Formula 1 for NHS nursing »

  • Joe Parton

    Joe Parton '14

    "Today I delivered my 300th food package since volunteering with my local food bank in April, after losing my job due to Covid-19.

    "I’ve been amazed at the devotion of Oxford Hub, and several other charities across the city, to serve the most vulnerable members of our community, and I’m grateful to have been able to play a small part in their response to this pandemic."

  • Benita Mayhead

    Benita Mayhead '19

    “I had this compelling feeling of the need to do something to help. I was so moved by the sense of community and people rallying – trying to give what they can in whatever way. So I asked myself, ‘what can I do?’

    “I have my professional skills and network. And I have energy and passion. So if I put all those thing together then we can create an offer to help SMEs as I felt they would be most impacted by loss of business as the fallout of what is really the world stopping.”

    Lockdown tip: “Connecting with others is really important. If you are feeling isolated, do reach out and talk in whatever way feels okay. And if you see someone else who seems quiet – do take the time to contact them.”

    Read more about Benita's Coaching Through Covid-19 initiative »

  • Kieron Salter

    Kieron Salter '93

    "Within KW Special Projects we have been utilising our Additive Manufacturing capabilities to provide manufacturing capability for PPE, also for rapid product development and prototyping of Covid-19 testing swabs and a project we are involved in as a joint venture developing a new PPE solution, Respolab. This includes a new valve-less FP3 respirator integrated as either a full face shield or half mask option.

    "We have gone from idea to 3rd stage product prototype in less than 4 weeks and expect to get to full certification and large scale production soon."

    Read more about how Kieron is supporting the Covid-19 response »

  • Mussadiq Nawaz

    Mussadiq Nawaz '08

    "Covid-19 is a serious issue and it is affecting people either mentally or physically at larger or smaller scale. Having a small family and being under the lockdown, Covid-19 is not affecting me directly in a physical manner.

    "I am one of the key workers in this situation and that help me to be more strong to help others during this difficult period."

    Lockdown tip: "My favourite quote is 'a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.'"

  • Monika Zemla

    Monika Zemla '14

    "We are all, as a team, now working from home. It has been relatively easy for me personally to adapt to the new circumstances because the workload never eased on the development of the Harwell Campus. Thus not really feeling the lockdown. However, as the days go by, it is increasingly more difficult to thrive without the human interaction, however good the technology is.

    "I am though keeping very excited for the future of the Harwell Campus, and particularly feeling that I am contributing to the greater good by staying at home and by taking part in managing the development of the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre."

    Lockdown tip: "I recommend planning for and staying consistent and committed to your personal goals. Now is a good time to attend this webinar you always wanted, read the book you always wanted, work on your physical condition. If there is no webinar that you wanted to attend, suggest to someone for it to happen.

    "Find the balance between work and life. Make the best of now."

  • Eva Akuffo Addy

    Eva Akuffo Addy '08

    "I work with Ghana Health Service at Ejisu Kumasi, we were running low on face masks and other PPEs so I discussed with my sister who is a fashion designer. She made a nose mask with local fabric for our personal use.

    "The masks were tested and approved. I gave some out at the hospital where I work, the demand went up so we decided to produce and distribute for free. Within 12 days, we had distributed 600 pieces of face masks to health workers, security personnel, market women and others for free.

    "We are still producing them and just started on producing face shields for health workers."

  • Susan Johnston and colleagues

    Susan Johnston '13

    "The studies I was working on have been put on hold so that we can all switch to CV19 research. We’re all professionals doing our best in a difficult situation. There are four different CV19 studies being done, and I'm working on three of them."

    Read about Adult Nursing alumna, Susan's role in Covid-19 research »

  • Veronika Schopfer

    Veronika Schröpfer ’14

    “I am working in Brussels for the Architects' Council of Europe as Head of EU Research Projects.

    “The European Commission has launched a call to all participants in their research projects, whatever subjects they are working on, searching for ways on the funded research and development could be used to support the health sector. As a result I launched a call to all European architects..."

    Read how Veronika is asking architects to help »

  • Hamza

    Hamza Saleem Virk '17

    "I was working on a foreign project in Dhaka, and had to travel back to be with family in Pakistan. Thank God I reached home in time before flights got cancelled.

    "I am volunteering for Corona Virus Hackathon 2020: generating ideas for a better and safe future. We are working on a resilient, flexible, and localized manufacturing and supply chain. The aim is to achieve a humancentric, repeatable and scaleable service, model and infrastructure."

    Lockdown tip: "Stay home, stay safe!"

    View Hamza's Hackathon team's proposal for local manufacturing hubs »

  • Samantha Fletcher

    Samantha Fletcher '18

    "I'm British but currently in lockdown in Paris. Personally, it has been a big change for me as I've recently moved in with my partner. We've gone from a long-distance relationship to being around each other 24/7. It's a challenge especially when we're both used to having our own time.

    "I work for Eurostar International and my work has been diverted to help the connect centre answer customer enquiries via email. This is both challenging and rewarding depending on the customer and situation. You empathise with them whilst balancing the needs of the company."

    Lockdown tips: "Don't let others pressure you into being productive during isolation - choose a pace that suits you. I'm trying to concentrate on myself, family, food and fitness."

  • Marielle Suddarth

    Marielle Suddarth '09

    “By profession I am a Functional Movement Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach, as well as a Ballroom and Latin dance instructor, and I started my own business last fall. Because all of my coaching was in-person, in the gym, and in the dance studio, my income has been drastically reduced."

    Lockdown tips: "Stay active in whatever capacity you are able to and pair that with self-compassion and compassion for others."

    Read how Marielle has rapidly adapted her business »

  • Annie Lock

    Annie Lock '15

    "I am a teacher and the school I work at has been open during this time and we’ve had about 30 children in. My boyfriend and I had corona virus a few weeks ago but we are much better now!

    "The teachers grouped together and made a lip sync video for the children to keep them smiling from home."

    Watch the video »

  • Işık Tlabar

    Işık Tlabar '15

    "I run my own business of offering transformational coaching sessions and teaching breathwork. My coaching sessions are held online so thankfully there hasn’t been much affect on that side. However I had to find a solution to continue offering breathwork classes and workshops. Now I hold online dance workshops and breathwork journeys via Zoom. They’re pretty fun, lifts people’s spirit and creates connection between people from all around the world."

    Lockdown tips: "Focusing on self care and wellbeing is very important. Creating a day to day structure to stay inspired and connected. I’d also recommend to use this time to go inward and explore your passions and what you love."

    Find out more on Işık's Instagram @isiktlabar »

  • Sarah Komugisha

    Sarah Komugisha

    "Thank you for the opportunity to share with you my experience in Uganda about COVID 19. We have been ordered to work from home and take the preventive measures like washing hands all the time with soap and water or use sanitizers, avoid touching our eyes, nose and mouth. The social life has been affected a lot because people here are used to greeting in the hand which is no more, enjoying life in the bars, dancing halls but it has all come to pass.

    "At first my husband and I tried to do the shopping to store enough food for the family but it's now finished yet no car is allowed to move, today we decided to walk to the food store buy more food and we carried the food on our heads, very tired though managed to get home safe. Surely life has become difficult, movement is not easy and many people have no food for eating because they are no longer working but we still thank God for keeping us safe ans we are hoping to control it."

    Lockdown tip: "Stay home and stay safe."

  • Faisal Butt

    Faisal Butt '12

    “First, all movements restricted living abroad away from family. Second, way of working changed to WFH. Third, no balance in family life and work life, feel 24 hours at work.

    “Fourth, less salary and more work load due to other employees terminations and forced leaves. Fifth, fear everywhere with everyone. Sixth, social life diminished. Seventh, future is unclear and plannings are short terms and very optimistic.”

    Lockdown tip: “Be calm, be united, be strong, follow the health care instructions, maintain social distances but keep connecting, be prepared for upcoming financial crisis, start saving and less spendings. World is good to change, be ready for changes.“

  • Julia Atkinson

    Julia Atkinson '92

    "I'm working with Oxford Hospitals Charity, baking treats with edible printed logos which say 'thank you NHS' and supporting The Porch in doing takeaway bags for the homeless and vulnerable."

    Read more of Julia's story »

  • Saad Bin Aziz

    Saad Bin Aziz '16

    "We work in the education industry. We have our own publishing house and a few school campuses as family business.

    "Every thing here in Pakistan is closed, means all our businesses are closed means no income but salaries and other utilise remain and must be paid. Thus, a cash shortfall!"

    Lockdown tip: "Stop all unimportant payments and save money!"

  • Marci Sandels

    Marci Sandels

    "I am a key NHS worker, keeping the John Radcliffe functioning by maintaining the computer messaging service and am working in the office as well as at home, using technology to work with my team."

    Lockdown tip: "Follow the Government guidelines."

  • OBREMS

    OBREMS

    Read lockdown stories from members of the Oxford Brookes Real Estate Management Society (OBREMS).