Rapid Covid-19 testing has been made available to some of the most vulnerable people in Wolverhampton thanks to a partnership between the City of Wolverhampton Council, NHS Test and Trace and local support providers.

People who are either homeless or struggling with drug or alcohol addiction are at particularly high risk of harm from Covid-19 and so a pilot project has been held to enable them to get tested for the virus.

The council worked with NHS Test and Trace and local providers P3, Recovery Near You and Good Shepherd Services to establish on-site rapid testing for service users, as well as staff and volunteers.

Councillor Ian Brookfield, Leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, said: "We are committed to supporting everyone through the pandemic, particularly our most vulnerable citizens.

"We've already made rapid Covid-19 testing available to anyone without symptoms of the virus and to our city’s critical workers, and we’re delighted to be able to work with P3, Recovery Near You and Good Shepherd Services to ensure that we are able to reach out to the people they work with.

"Rapid testing is important as it means we can quickly detect coronavirus in people without symptoms, protect people who have the virus and prevent its onward transmission to others."

Louise Owen-McGee of P3, which supports homeless people, said: "People with no home or living in communal settings such as hostels or shared accommodation are at high risk of harm from Covid-19 and poor health in general.

"We were pleased to be able to work with the council and NHS Test and Trace to deliver rapid testing and to know that everyone at the service, including our staff team, tested negative has given us a great sense of reassurance. Receiving the results so quickly also ensured that people were not left feeling worried or apprehensive."

Helen Kilgallon from substance misuse service Recovery Near You said: "We work with some very vulnerable and disadvantaged service users, many with serious health conditions. 

“Being a part of this pilot meant we could encourage our service users to be tested in an environment they trust and among staff they have a good relationship with, and we had a really high engagement with those who came to be tested."

Tom Hayden from Good Shepherd Services added: "We know how many people in Wolverhampton have been affected by the pandemic and how important it is to try and reduce the spread of infections.

"Some of our service users might not feel comfortable accessing existing test sites so we were pleased to link up with our partners at the council and NHS Test and Trace to carry out this pilot.

"Once they realised the importance of being tested, many were happy to take part, and it also gave us the opportunity to provide them with more information about Covid-19 and its associated risks.

"We are keen to support any initiatives which can help all of us break transmission of the virus and hopefully move back to as normal as possible over the coming months."

Regular testing will continue to be offered to service users through the three organisations in the coming weeks.

The council’s broad approach to testing has seen rapid tests being made available in the heart of communities at the Civic Centre, Pendeford Library, Bilston Community Centre, the Jamia Masjid Bilal mosque, St Joseph's Church and The Hub at Ashmore Park. Priority slots have been made available for ‘critical workers’ to support local business. Testing has also been taking place at schools and the city also has a ‘blue light’ hub offering testing for frontline police and fire service staff.

For full details of rapid testing in Wolverhampton, please visit Coronavirus Testing.    

Please note, rapid testing is not available to people who have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, or to anyone with symptoms of Covid-19, which include a fever, a new continuous cough or a change to the sense of taste or smell. They should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test by visiting GOV.UK or calling 119.

Latest figures show there were 213.5 new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the 7 days to 12 February. That means 562 people in the city tested positive for the virus in that 7 day period – though the true number of new cases will likely be considerably higher.

The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages. Information about the vaccine can be found at Covid-19 Vaccine. Further details of the lockdown restrictions currently in place, and the answers to frequently asked questions, are available at COVID Alert