The unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation and the unfolding humanitarian crisis that is escalating in the wider region are deeply distressing. On the 2 March 2022 I joined students and staff at the University of Bath in a two hour vigil to come together to show our solidarity for Ukraine’s independence, and the safety and democracy of sovereign countries in the region.

Our thoughts are with all those in Ukraine in danger, those facing grave uncertainty, and with those who have been so suddenly displaced. We are aware that there are many who have loved ones at a distance, who are fearful, in grief, or facing various forms of hardship.

Some are members of this University, and they have been foremost in our minds; we have been seeking to support them since before Christmas 2021. We are identifying areas of support needed by affected staff and students, including support for financial hardship and welfare. We are also working with Universities UK member universities and the UK Government to ensure timely advice and support for students and staff currently in Ukraine and Russia, and other affected regions.

Our thoughts are also with those Russian citizens around the world, again including some in this University, who are finding themselves potentially in very difficult situations and also suffering. We will also do all we can to support them. We recognise that these dreadful events are also impacting many others, in adjoining countries, and further afield, including members of our own community.

We will seek to do all we can, recognising our aspiration for the University to be an inclusive community, where the unique value of each individual is recognised as we build a community of trust and care by treating each other with respect.

The test of any community is not only when things are going well but also when they are difficult. I would like to pay tribute to students and colleagues who so quickly have been reaching out to support those who are suffering, be it by caring, by giving advice, or by helping practically. I am very grateful for the speed with which our student services and ahs have reached out to offer wellbeing support, to make available the use of hardship funds and to explore options for providing special accommodation should this be required. I am pleased that we are encouraging charitable support and I am sure that we will be seeking to build on this and adapt as events unfold.

I recognise the great efforts being made across all areas of our University in the midst of this crisis. I hope that these, along with a commitment to understanding, truth and care, will be the attributes that continue to be at the heart of the University as we move ahead, hoping and praying that peace and restoration somehow will come quickly in this desperate time.