Community testing in Redcar and Cleveland

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, working with South Tees public health team, set up a rapid testing centre at a community hub to engage people from a local neighbourhood.

This is part of a series of case-studies published on 15 January 2021.  

  • Community testing facility run in a local neighbourhood for a week
  • Council worked in partnership with local charity, which help engender trust in the service
  • Around 400 people came forward for testing over five days

What was done?

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, working with South Tees public health team, set up a rapid testing centre at a community hub to engage people from a local neighbourhood.  

The testing facility was open for a week during which close to 400 people came forward for testing. It was run as a drop-in service from Monday to Friday in the week before Christmas. 

The community hub that was used was in Grangetown and the testing was run in partnership with a local charity, Frog (Future Regeneration of Grangetown), which was set up by local councillor Lynn Pallister. 

Assistant Director of Public Health Fran Anderson said: “The local population would not necessarily normally engage with government-run testing so we saw it as an opportunity to provide access for people who may have been reluctant to come forward. 

“I was amazed by the response. Beforehand I thought I would be happy if we got 50 a day, but the public really responded well. 

We had people of all ages coming forward. People have wanted to get tested so they could see elderly relatives or because they had caring responsibilities. 

“We were careful to warn them that a negative test did not guarantee they may not be positive in a few days time. We did not want people to become complacent so we advised people to continue to adhere to the guidance”

“A total of three people tested positive and had no symptoms so they were advised to isolate and book a PCR test.”

Lessons learned 

The value of partnering with a community organisation was very clear, said Ms Anderson. 

“The charity and Lynn promoted it on social media and spoke to the local residents about the testing beforehand. We also sent leaflets around, but it was clear it was the fact that a trusted, known community group were involved. 

“Then as the week went on, word-of-mouth was crucial. But without the involvement of the hub and its volunteers we would never had had the impact we did.” 

Ms Anderson said preparation of the site was also crucial. The hub has a large function room that can hold 250 people. Two reception areas were set up and three long tables with screened off booths where testing operatives sat. 

Behind them was a team in charge of recording the test results on the national system and they would then forward a text with the result.

“We started setting it up the week before and on the first day we did not open until midday so we could run through how everything worked. We wanted it to be as smooth as possible. We had 16 to 18 staff working at all times – and we needed that.” 

Next steps 

South Tees would like to offer rapid testing to more communities in the new year. 

Ms Anderson said: “The learning has been invaluable. We are certainly interested in using the principles we have established and apply them elsewhere in the area. 

“We used a variety of staff. Some community development workers, health improvement workers, key workers and public health staff.”