Volunteers are being urged to help play a vital part in the fight against Covid-19 after three lateral flow testing sites opened in Hull.
Lateral flow testing is a simple and rapid way to test people who do not have Covid-19 symptoms, known as asymptomatic, but may still unknowingly spread the virus.
Experts say approximately one in three people with Covid-19 do not display symptoms and this fast form of testing is critical to enable key workers to continue in their essential roles.
The new sites, operated by Hull City Council, are exclusively for local workers who are unable do their jobs from home and, with test results provided in 30 minutes, the process is paving the way to identifying positive cases and helping to tackle hidden transmission sooner.
The lateral flow testing sites are at Endeavour Learning and Skills Centre in Beverley Road, Ennerdale Leisure Centre in Sutton Road, and Woodford Leisure Centre in Holderness Road, and volunteers are needed to help all visits run as smoothly as possible.
Working alongside council staff, volunteers will help people arriving for tests feel welcome and supported throughout the process, help them to register for tests on a mobile device and upload test results, help prepare test samples for analysis and results, and encourage social distancing and hand sanitising.
The drive for volunteers is being led by Hull City Council and HEY Smile Foundation, a charity which has played a major part in the community response to the pandemic in Hull and East Riding.
Andy Barber, the charity’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said: “We’re delighted we can help recruit and train volunteers for the new lateral flow testing sites in Hull.
“More than 900 people have signed up to volunteer across Hull and the East Riding to play their part in meeting and greeting those either arriving for the vaccine or a lateral flow test.
“The focus is now specifically on Hull as the new lateral flow sites continue to see and test as many people as possible and we hope more come forward to help build on the success to date.”
Once potential volunteers have registered their interest, they will be prompted to complete an initial 30-minute online training session, as well as a further mandatory certificated 1.5-hour online training module. Successful volunteers will also watch a site induction video before they can book their shifts.
Councillor Gwen Lunn, Portfolio Holder for Adult Services at Hull City Council, said: “As we expand our testing facilities, we’re delighted to be able to offer this testing to organisations with key and critical workers who can’t work from home.
“We’re pleased to be working with HEY Smile Foundation and thank them, as well as all the heroic volunteers, for playing such a crucial part in protecting the city and residents against the virus.”
Before every shift, volunteers will have a lateral flow test to ensure they do not have Covid-19, ensuring everyone involved remains as safe as possible. Volunteers are needed every day and are asked to complete as little as one shift per week.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and a high visibility vest will also be issued to every volunteer, tea, coffee and water will be provided, and travel and car parking expenses will be paid.
Hairdresser Lisa Chambers, from Holderness, is currently unable to work due to lockdown restrictions and voluntarily helped residents with shopping and prescription deliveries last year. She has also given her time to meet and greet residents at various vaccination hubs across the East Riding and is now preparing to volunteer at the lateral flow testing sites in Hull.
Lisa said: “I’ve been a Street Angel volunteer in Hull for three-and-a-half years, which involves helping and supporting people enjoying the nightlife in the city centre when we’re not in lockdown, so I’m used to volunteering.
“My experience of volunteering at the vaccination hubs has been great and I’m looking forward to helping at the lateral flow testing sites too. I encourage anyone who has time on their hands to be proactive and contribute to the national effort.
“Volunteering is great for your mental health and wellbeing. I can’t work at the moment and it’s much better to have structure in your week.”
For more information about volunteering and what the role involves, visit https://vcse.uk/hub/Volunteer-Your-Way/550/Hull-Lateral-Flow-Testing-Volunteers/451
To register your interest in becoming a volunteer, visit www.bit.ly/volunteer-your-way
[Sarah Shepherdson – Smile Foundation]