Home Christmas and New Year in Knowsley SMART testing secures jobs for a further three months

SMART testing secures jobs for a further three months

by Guy Murphy

Knowsley has received a jobs boost thanks to the three-month extension of SMART testing in the borough. Over 200 local residents are currently employed through the testing programme, many of whom lost their jobs earlier the COVID-19 pandemic.

SMART testing in Knowsley was launched on 8 December 2020 and in just over three months, more than 100,000 tests have been conducted. Of those, just over 2,000 (2.2%) of tests have been positive.

SMART testing is for people who do not display COVID symptoms (asymptomatic), so that importantly, if they test positive, they can then self isolate and stop the further spread of the virus.

Back in December, Knowsley Council recruited over 150 Multi-Skilled Operatives on a short-term contract until the end of March to staff the initial three sites at Volair leisure centres in Halewood, Huyton and Kirkby – in just a matter of days!

Currently, there are 220 temporary members of staff working across seven SMART testing sites in the Borough (further sites include Knowsley Village Hall, Prescot One Stop Shop, St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School and the For Housing Office in Stockbridge Village).

Knowsley Council has today confirmed that the SMART testing sites will remain in the Borough until June. This is positive news for the staff who have secured a further three months of employment.

Cllr Tony Brennan, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said “This is great news for our SMART testing staff. I know this year has been extremely difficulty with many facing job losses and or being placed on furlough due to the pandemic. Securing their employment for a further three months is great news which I know they will all welcome.”

Other asymptomatic testing options are also now available. Firstly, many employers now offer on-site testing within the workplace. Testing is also available for people living in households with children (at nursery, school or college) or households where a person works with children – further details are available here. In addition, testing has been offered to secondary school children with the first three tests being undertaken in school and home testing kits then issued to continue with regular testing at home.

We are also working on a ‘Community Collect’ testing model where testing kits can be collected from town centre locations across the Borough. Further details will be announced once the locations have been confirmed. In addition, the Council will hope to retain some of the temporary Multi-Skilled Operatives to staff these ‘Community Collect’ sites.

Until June, residents can still access the seven SMART testing sites – details can be found here.

Cllr Sean Donnelly, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said “Regular testing is essential in our plans to reduce transmission within our communities and to get back to normality soon. I’m delighted with the uptake we have had for testing in the Borough and I’m also delighted that we have been able to secure employment for longer for our residents. SMART testing has been a great success.”