By
13th May 2020

College car park facilities at Preston College and Hopwood Hall College have been converted into temporary coronavirus testing facilities.

At Preston College the drive-in facility, operated independently of the college, will initially provide testing for NHS frontline staff in the form of self-administered and administered tests. Preston’s College Principal and Chief Executive Officer Dr Lis Smith, said:

“We are extremely proud to provide the additional use of one of our car parks as a testing centre at this crucial time. When our staff and learners temporarily moved to home and online working, we decided to offer whatever help we could to the NHS, providing full access to parking spaces for local hospital staff and visitors. Whilst our contribution to the wider NHS efforts is relatively small, we feel it is important to help our community in any way that we can.”

Whilst at Hopwood Hall College, the car park testing centre built with portacabins and marquee-style tents, is set up to conduct around 40 tests per day on an appointment basis for NHS and health and social care staff.

Other colleges such as London South East College are supporting their local ambulance service by authorising its Bromley campus car park to be used to park extra fleet capacity that is required during the COVID-19 pandemic. The College has also set up FE Foodbank Friday Campaign which aims to raise £20,000 so that the local food bank can continue to operate despite social distancing taking place across the country. A number of other colleges have now joined the FE Foodbank Friday initiative, each college has set up its own virtual giving page to support local communities during and indeed beyond, the Coronavirus crisis.

There are many other colleges who are collaborating with their local communities and NHS organisations such as Lancaster & Morecambe College who are working with Lancaster City Council and Eggcup to produce and distribute food parcels to vulnerable families and individuals across their district. Another example is South Devon College who are working with their local NHS Digital Transformation Team to produce 3D printed face shields for NHS frontline staff at Torbay Hospital.

Everyone in the sector should feel proud of the role colleges are playing through this crisis!