The fund was established in Spring 2020 to provide mutual aid to precarious staff at Goldsmiths whose employment has been cut during Covid-19 and who may be further impacted by strike deductions during our current industrial action. Applications to the fund are made through this form.
The fund has been generously backed by over 230 individuals and groups. Backers from Goldsmiths include many of our members giving one off or regular donations, THANKYOU! Backers from far and wide include UCU branches in Liverpool, Sussex, RCA, Jo Grady and the Social Change Nest. The fund has so far raised almost £13,000 and supported 28 of our colleagues in need through this difficult time, dispersing mutual aid support of over £8,000. Recipients have been supported with an average of £300, based on their application and an assessment of need by a small panel of GUCU members.
Some anonymised testimonies are included below to share the reality of casualisation at Goldsmiths and the impact of SMT’s choices on precarious colleagues during the pandemic. Please read and share and consider donating to this fund to continue supporting those precarious colleagues in need through the current industrial action.
- “I have lost my Goldsmiths part-time FTC salary. I have also lost all of my other academic employment, including a zero hours contract and earlier offer at two other universities. I have also lost work outside of HE. I have limited capacity for alternative work: I have a registered disability. The strict shielding this necessitates removes the possibility of my returning to the shop work between academic years as I have done in the past, and as I would otherwise do after this lay-off. The college’s late closure of campus [in 2020] meant I missed the opportunity to return to family in a way that was safe for them and me. Upon the college's instruction to all staff with underlying conditions, which confirmed that I would be required to teach f2f, I stayed in London. Subsequently, I have been solo shielding with no outside space.
- “I have taught an intensive summer course at Goldsmiths for visiting students for the past few years. This was cancelled last summer due to travel restrictions, and the broader concerns around the health crisis. I was compensated a small amount for the prep work I put in, but ultimately lost the remaining fee I am paid, which has accounted for the entirety of my summer wages since I started teaching the course.
- “My AL contract has not been renewed, and like many others I had been heavily relying on that income for the next academic year in order to see me through my PhD, and the hope of finding other work is now of course out of the window as well. I'm suffering considerably from mental health issues that have been greatly exacerbated by lockdown and by the precarity of my working situation precipitated by Goldsmiths' response to the covid19 crisis - non-renewal of contracts, lack of furlough etc..
- “My teaching hours for 2021 have been reduced down to a quarter of what they were in 2020 due to Goldsmiths’ response to the Covid crisis. Some of this work will not continue next year and some of it is going to be absorbed by full time permanent members of staff.
- “I have been working as a GTT and AL for four years now. During this period I have been on 9 different temporary contracts. Many planned projects for my other jobs have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis and as it stands there is no guarantee I will be offered any gigs after summer. I am used to not being able to plan my life due to highly flexible working conditions but given the damage caused by the pandemic I fear my precarity will worsen, up to the point I will not be able to pay the rent. As many others, I’m trying to juggle money, plans and anxieties across a couple of countries and lives. All this has put me in a difficult situation. My work and studies are undertaken with limited resources, both in terms of time and finances. It is for this reason I apply for the hardship fund.
- "Since COVID-19, I have lost both my Associate Lecturer contracts at two universities and one FE college. This is compounded by: a long term health condition that I live with, which is exacerbated by stress; the emotional effect of shielding; and, the fact that my entire sector, most often taught to international students - has been affected by international student movement coming to an almost complete halt. There are currently very few vacancies in this area.
- "My partner is pregnant and cannot work as many hours in her job, as she has underlying health conditions and is at risk from Covid-19. The jobs I can apply for are therefore also limited in that direct contact with the public in customer facing roles would place her and the baby at risk. We have rent and bills that need paying towards the middle of next month.
- "My teaching contract at Goldsmiths ended in May 2020. I was also supposed to work helping the Student Administration team during the exams period and admissions in the Summer. This was an additional income that I relied on in order to survive the summer months during which we have no substantial income from teaching. This leaves me in a very precarious and stressful position because I am losing even the small income that I was relying on. I have recently finished my PhD and with the current landscape in Higher Education it feels more difficult than even to even secure an hourly-paid position. The contribution from the Mutual Aid Hardship will be a significant help covering some of my rent during this very challenging time.
- "My AL contract came to an end at the end of March 2020, and my other job that I do during summer months to make money and to fund my PhD tuition fees was not permitted due to the pandemic. I was informed by my DBM that my AL contract will not be renewed in the next academic year. My partner was also made redundant at the start of the pandemic, so we are left to survive on Universal Credit payments as the only source of household income. Unfortunately, the UC payments are not even enough to cover our compulsory household bills, so every passing month we have to chip away at our modest savings basically to afford some groceries, which leaves us rather anxious as our saving will run out soon. We are also looking after my partner's parents, who due to their age and existing health conditions are in the coronavirus risk group. I find Goldsmiths’ decision not to support precarious staff in any meaningful way during the pandemic disheartening, and I supported the wildcat assessments boycott in my Department, although I have been personally pressured by the HoD to upload my marks on the VLE or face losing the pay. We would be extremely thankful for any amount of support, it will all go towards necessary living costs.
- "Due to the refusal of Goldsmiths to furlough casualised staff members in 2020, the announcement of the hiring freeze and the generalised crisis in the HE sector, I feel very uncertain in terms of how the next months and years will look like in terms of employment and financial security.
- "So far, I lost £2000 due to the cancellation of two of my short courses. This is a significant amount for my yearly income, which I top up with several teaching jobs. I now only work 2 hours per week. My partner, who works in theatre, is suffering quite severely due to the loss of her career. I am struggling to pay my PHD fees.
- "My contract as an AL was not renewed. I am an international PhD student relying on a single scholarship at the moment that was also reduced due to the outbreak. Currently, I can pay my rent but only left with less than £200 for food per month. Since my visa only allows me to work part time, it’s been hard to find any additional work to help my situation.
- "As a Goldsmiths Short Course Lecturer I received a letter in March 2020 indicating that due to Covid 19 my courses would not run over Summer term 2020. I lost approximately £2000. I did not receive any financial compensation for the Summer Courses despite requesting furlough or financial clarity. Communication was unanswered. In August I received an email indicating that the same 2 courses would equally not be running over the Autumn term due to Covid. No Financial compensation offered or discussed regarding a further loss of £2000. Total salary lost £4,000. I have a dependent daughter who is studying that I need to support regarding general maintenance and Uni fees. I have applied to Universal Credit which is a minimal amount and barely covers daily living/bills. Unable to find alternative work during lockdown. This situation has been enormously stressful and I am hugely disappointed in the non communicative response Goldsmiths has adopted to support staff. I have contacted ACAS for further advice.
- "I have lost a potential teaching position at Goldsmiths due to the crisis. My previous contract was fixed-term (1 year), and I've been waiting to hear if it will be renewed; however, I've lost hope at this stage as it seems highly unlikely. Others in my household have also lost their jobs due to the crisis.