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COVID-19 testing programme launches in Lewisham

COVID-19 testing programme launches in Lewisham with the aim to make regular testing available to anyone in the local community.
  • Two Evelyn Community Store volunteers holding a rapid test kit looking at the camera. They are wearing masks and green aprons.Government-backed rapid testing programme at theEvelyn Community Centre in Deptford helps communities stay safe.
  • Partnership between the Evelyn Community Centre, run by Lewisham Homes, Lewisham Council and the UK Health Security Agency is helping to protect people most at risk to coronavirus.
  • COVID-19 home test kits will be available to residents on the Evelyn estate and across Deptford until the end of August. Offering free and easily accessible, twice weekly testing to local communities will help encourage those who may not understand the benefits of regular testing.

Lewisham’s Evelyn Community Centre is part of a unique pilot project in Deptford, working in partnership with the UK Health Security Agency and Lewisham Council, to make regular testing available to anyone in the local community.

Regular delivery of over 400 home test kits to community hubs such as the 2000 Community Action Centre on the Pepys Estate enables distribution to estate residents and local groups such as the Vietnamese Women’s Group. Translated resources will be available to help those for whom English is not their first language and literature provided to support all residents in the area.

Several food banks across the borough including Evelyn Community Store – run by residents, for residents – receive regular deliveries of home test kits to hand out with grocery deliveries. Volunteers working hard to tackle food poverty in the borough have helped ensure rapid testing reaches everyone who accesses the store.

The programme introducing a community-based self-test collection point, allows local people to pick up rapid tests close to home, receive advice and guidance in a safe space and feel comfortable to ask questions of people they trust.

Around one in three people who are infected with COVID-19 have no symptoms, so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Everyone without symptoms should get a rapid test twice a week to help stop the spread of COVID-19, even if you’ve already had the vaccination.

Each positive result from a rapid test is one that would not have been found otherwise, helping break chains of transmission in our communities and workplaces and protecting those at highest risk. These tests will help keep communities safe and businesses open, children in school and allow people to visit their loved ones safely.

Rapid testing using lateral flow tests can return results within 30 minutes and can provide the community with reassurance that they are not infectious or enabling them to isolate immediately if they were to test positive. 

Health Minister Lord Bethell said:

“We have already come so far since launching a national testing programme at an unprecedented pace to combat COVID-19 and we encourage everyone in local communities to take up the offer of free testing so we can quickly squash any outbreaks. 

“Testing is vital to the health and protection of our family, friends and community, as it allows cases to be caught early before they spread, and I am delighted that the Government-backed rapid testing programme at the Evelyn Community Centre in Lewisham is working with us to help target the virus locally and keep people

''Twice-weekly testing, alongside vaccine rollout, is critical in helping to suppress and control the spread of new variants of this dreadful disease.”  

Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency Jenny Harries said

“The innovation and evolution of NHS Test and Trace continues to improve our detection of positive cases and I am incredibly proud of the speed at which we have been able to roll out these initiatives in local communities to protect more people even more quickly. This is a national effort and partnerships like this locally are instrumental in our response to this virus.

“Around one in three people with COVID-19 do not display symptoms, meaning you can infect others unknowingly. This rapid testing programme with the Evelyn Community Centre in Lewisham is one of many that will help find and isolate asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 as we return to a more normal way of life.”

Dr Catherine Mbema, Director for Public Health at Lewisham said:

“Lewisham has a strong sense of community and we know just important to work with grassroots organisations and local groups to help encourage everyone to regularly get a rapid test. Our team has spoken to thousands of local people as they hand out home test kits at pop-up events in shopping centres, community events and at walk-in vaccination clinics on housing estates.

'' We're hugely grateful not only the volunteers at the 2000 Community Action Group and the Evelyn Community Store, but everyone from the Pepys estate, who is helping to spread the word of why it's so important to get a rapid test regularly to protect our communities''.

 Keith Walton, Chair of Evelyn Tenants and Residents’ Association who coordinates the programme said:

“Through the collaboration with Lewisham Council we have been able to offer test kits to local people who might not understand how important it is to continue to test even once you’ve had the vaccine.''

“We have the trust of the community at the food store and with Lewisham’s Mayoresses supporting the campaign, this has gone a long way to reducing barriers to accessing rapid test kits.”

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