Homeless and vulnerable people across county to benefit from new Covid-19 pilot scheme

A pilot to improve access to Covid-19 tests for the vulnerable and the homeless in Cambridegshire has been rolled out across ...

A pilot to improve access to Covid-19 tests for the vulnerable and the homeless in Cambridegshire has been rolled out across the county. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A pilot to improve access to Covid-19 tests for the vulnerable and the homeless has been rolled out across Cambridgeshire.

The testing pilot began earlier this month and will help those who may have difficulty accessing the national test and trace testing centres.

One key benefit will be that staff of public services in the county who work with homeless people will now be able to bring a test to those who report symptoms.

A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council said: “To help reduce the spread of coronavirus, it is vital that everyone has access to Covid-19 tests.

“People in vulnerable groups, like homeless people, may not have the same access to national provision for Covid-19 testing as others.


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“This could be due to issues including lack of access to technology, no permanent residence and no access to vehicles.

“Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council’s public health team is working with organisations who have relationships with vulnerable individuals and groups to take forward a pilot scheme run by the Department of Health and Social Care to support the most vulnerable gain better access to testing.”

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The spokseperson added: “The pilot does not involve setting up large testing facilities or testing en masse, but instead carries out tests in an opportunistic way for people who are already using services delivered by local authorities.

“For example, staff who work with homeless people will now be able to bring a test to anyone who reports symptoms. The homeless person will do the test themselves.

“The staff member will then be able share the results of the test with them directly and help to support them should they test positive.

“The test results will be fed back into the national system, in the same way that tests sent through the ‘Test and Trace’ system are.”

Cambridge City Council’s strategic director, Suzanne Hemingway, said that the programme for tests for the homeless in Cambridge is “small-scale” but forms part of wider work by the county’s public health team to manage the outbreak.

In addition to pre-existing accommodation for the homeless, emergency accommodation has been provided throughout the pandemic.

Cambridge City Council has rented a building previously used as student accommodation to provide longer-term accommodation to people who were being temporarily housed in hotels earlier in the outbreak, with greater support and services available on site.

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