A new community Covid-19 testing programme has launched in Deptford. 

The aim of the pilot project, to run until August in the Evelyn Community Centre, is to demonstrate the effectiveness of increased testing in the community by making test kits more accessible via a local hub. 

The scheme aims to quickly identify cases to stop the spread in communities, while also providing testing for under-represented groups and those disproportionately affected by the disease.  

The project was brought about through a partnership with the council and the UK Health Security Agency.  

It 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. 

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. 

Around one in three people who are infected with Covid-19 have no symptoms, so could be spreading the disease without knowing it.   

Lateral flow tests can return results within 30 minutes.  

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 to 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 and 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.”