Students at Sheffield Hallam University who have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis are to receive £93,784 of further support and recognition courtesy of Santander Universities.

Santander, through Santander Universities, is both repurposing and providing additional funding to ensure immediate support to alleviate health and educational challenges caused by the current Covid-19 crisis. The funding has been directed towards various student initiatives – including over £40,000 to support internships for current students; £36,000 to enhance Hallam’s coronavirus emergency appeal; and £13,000 to fund Thank You packages for the final-year nursing and midwifery students who volunteered to join the NHS workforce in April.

The SME Impact Fund sees £44,500 of funding allocated to support internships for the duration of the pandemic and its immediate aftermath, to allow students the opportunity to offer their skills to local businesses that are pivoting to survive the crisis. Twenty-six remote roles have been joint funded with regional employers to create meaningful work experience opportunities. The positions are currently being advertised to current students.

Santander Universities is also funding Thank You packages for nursing and midwifery students who have volunteered to support the NHS Covid-19 frontline. As one of the biggest providers of healthcare training in the UK, Hallam led the way in encouraging its final-year nursing students to volunteer to join the NHS during the early days on the pandemic. The Thank You packages are being developed in partnership with BearHugs, a local start-up that has previously worked with Hallam’s Design Futures team to develop innovative packaging for the business.

The contribution also boosts Sheffield Hallam’s coronavirus emergency appeal, providing bursaries with a minimum value of £500 to students who are facing significant barriers – including family estrangement, caring responsibilities and ill health – to ensure their studies can continue. The funding has also provided laptops to students with no access to technology to allow them to complete coursework, and hardship bursaries have been distributed to cover qualifying students’ bills and living costs following any loss of income.

Sheffield Hallam Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Chris Husbands, said: “We hugely value our partnership with Santander Universities. Their support has already made a significant impact on our students. This additional funding and repurposing of support at what is undoubtedly a very challenging time for our students is generous and very welcome.”

Matt Hutnell, Director at Santander Universities, said: “Santander is committed to supporting higher education as well as local communities across the UK so we’re pleased that our funding is able to be redirected to where it is most needed at this critical time. Universities, such as Sheffield Hallam University, are doing some fantastic work to contribute to the UK’s effort to combat the outbreak of COVID-19, so we’re delighted to collaborate with our university partners in a way which increases their response effort and look forward to continuing  to work with them on supporting both students and the broader higher education community with further initiatives over the coming months.”

Sheffield Hallam has been a Santander Universities partner since 2017 and has received £215,284 over the last three years to support education, entrepreneurship and employability programmes for students at Hallam.

Faye Savory, Founder of BearHugs, said: “At the very start of my journey with BearHugs, I was lucky enough to have our signature ‘hug’ gift boxes designed with the support of Design Futures at Sheffield Hallam University and Santander Universities. It feels really special, a few years down the line, to be asked to be involved in the Thank You packages initiative. We’re over the moon to be helping to send ‘hug in a box’ gifts to nursing and midwifery students and we hope that this brilliant project helps show the deserving recipients just how appreciated they are.”