An update from Jonathan Phillips (BSc 1994), your Alumni Association Chair

As we look back on the maelstrom of 2020 and the continued impact of COVID-19, I hope you will take some solace in the way in which your University has been weathering this storm and continuing to be excellent in all its endeavours.

While face-to-face interaction among our alumni community has been severely limited, the number of ways in which we’ve been working together has actually expanded. We have more alumni volunteers than ever before, with a 30% increase on last year. Thanks to all of you who have been (at a social distance or via digital means) supporting the student experience and employability, helping potential students, and building our alumni communities and networks through our various volunteering programmes. In such a time of chaos and anxiety it has been more important than ever for students to know that alumni are there for them, whether through mentoring, careers advice, or a friendly contact on our Bristol Connects platform. You as alumni are important advocates for Bristol, playing a key role in expanding our profile and reputation, which has been crucial during these challenging times. Many of you will have supported our Bristol Volunteers team in the Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO), who have held six Bristol Connects Live career support talks online, and they have been a lifeline for our new graduates as they struggle to get to grips with what the pandemic means for the job market. A total of 21 alumni volunteers from around the world shared their career stories and, on average, 150 global students and recent graduates attended each one.

The Committee has also been involved in our new Digital Events programme, where many of you will have joined us for a series of exciting online talks and meetings. The Events Team in DARO swung into action very early on in the pandemic, switching rapidly to online platforms, to ensure continued delivery of excellent events to you all. The Committee has been supporting them – and you – whether through hosting, speaking or attending. To date we have run 20 online events with over 2,000 alumni attending, which is incredible. It’s great to see you so engaged with Bristol – at last count we had alumni join us from over 70 countries around the globe.

And on that note, please do mark your diaries for our inaugural digital Alumni Festival, which takes place throughout the month of May 2021 and will be an even greater bonanza of intellectual stimulation from the great minds at Bristol. More information will be forthcoming soon – do make sure we have your most up-to-date contact details. It’s easy to let us know of any changes via the Bristol Connects platform.

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