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Community organisations invited to distribute Lateral Flow tests in Sheffield

To reach the communities most affected by Covid, Sheffield City Council is asking community, voluntary and faith groups for help.

A person using a lateral flow test
Annie Spratt

Organisations in Sheffield are invited to take part in a council scheme to distribute Lateral Flow Tests to the people they work with. This will play an important role within a wider arrangement across the city to make sure everybody who needs to access immediate Covid testing can do so.

With infection numbers rising, the fight against Covid is not yet won and every person in Sheffield needs to be part of preventing further spread of the disease.

One in three people infected with Covid do not show any symptoms but can still pass it on, so the virus can spread when you least expect it. Others feel unwell but not with the typical symptoms of a cough, temperature, and loss of taste and smell, so do not suspect that they have Covid, mistaking it for a cold or a stomach bug. Even vaccinated people, who do get a lot of protection against contracting Covid, are not 100% guaranteed to be clear of the illness and can even still pass it on, though they are less likely to than their non-vaccinated peers.

Using regular Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs), we can all contribute to reducing the spread of Covid around Sheffield. LFDs involve a swab in the nose, or in the nose and throat, that detects an antigen that our bodies only produce if we are infected with Covid-19. Results are visible very quickly on a device that looks a bit like a pregnancy test. Reports of how accurate these tests are vary from around 80% to 99.9% but it is generally agreed that the more infected somebody is, the more likely the test is to be effective.

A positive lateral flow test
John Cameron

Mark Swancott, Asymptomatic Testing Lead Co-ordinator of the Covid Response Hub at Sheffield City Council, told Now Then that asking community groups to help to distribute LFDs is part of a move dedicated to making sure that the tests reach groups of people who have been disproportionately affected by the Covid pandemic.

If there are groups like voluntary, community sector and faith groups, food banks, or anything like that - people who are working in their communities - we can supply them with a certain amount of tests to give out to their residents or to their service users.


If people email us and say, 'We've got a lunch club or we've got a food bank and we could really do with 100 boxes to distribute to residents', then we can organise that.

For anybody who works with the public, such as taxi drivers, supermarket workers or delivery drivers, and anybody with children in school, regular testing is particularly important and LFDs are an ideal way to do this several times a week. Improving access to these tests can ensure that people who have been infected can self-isolate and reduce the risk of passing it on.

Community groups being able to provide LFDs to the people they work with is particularly important for communities that are digitally excluded or who struggle to travel, whether due to inaccessibility or lack of public transport or their own car. Accessing their local food bank or community group can now become a way to access asymptomatic Covid testing.

This Community Connect scheme will complement other city initiatives such as the community bus, which also goes to areas where communities are particularly vulnerable to the virus.

Swancott explained that the council “found out from the community bus and supporting the vaccination pop-up that if you take things into people's communities, they're willing to engage with you, and they really want the information and they're interested in testing and vaccination. But if it’s outside of their area and maybe they've got to travel there and they don't have a car or they’ve got mobility issues, then it puts people off. So if we can distribute tests to groups that are working in communities, then that's a good way for us, as a council, to get to the people who really need the support because obviously a lot of the time, faith groups, community groups and the voluntary sector are working really well at a really local level.”

If you are a voluntary, community or faith group with service users or clients who could benefit from easier access to Lateral Flow tests in Sheffield, email communitytesting@sheffield.gov.uk

Find more information on Covid testing in Sheffield here.

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