Sodexo: Our Hidden Heroes Supporting With Covid-19 Testing Centres  

June 3, 2020

Our Sports & Leisure team, led by divisional managing director, Steve Hawkins and account director, Anthony Boyton has joined forces with our Healthcare and Government & Agencies businesses’ segments to help set up and mobilise Covid-19 testing centres across the region. By working together our teams have managed to set up each centre to be fully mobilised within two to three days.


As a strategic partner to the Department for Health and Social Care, Sodexo has been working with Boots and Deloitte to set up the drive-through testing centres for NHS and other key workers.

Sodexo is currently involved in 10 Covid-19 testing centres across the UK and Ireland region. The centres are providing vital testing on an appointment-only basis for self-isolating NHS and key workers, or symptomatic members of their family. Individual NHS Trusts are selecting and contacting their workers to arrange appointments.

Sodexo’s involvement in the testing centres includes:

  • Infrastructure build
  • Estates management
  • Security and traffic management
  • Cleaning
  • Resourcing and Testing – in partnership with Boots and other agencies
  • Supply Chain
  • Waste management

Sodexo’s team at each test centre includes many colleagues from sites which have closed and who are being redeployed to help support the nationwide Covid-19 effort.

At one of the first testing centres to be opened at IKEA Wembley, our Sports & Leisure business took the lead with support from its Peyton & Byrne teams in London, and the Sodexo Universities team at Richmond University Kensington Campus.

Rubia and Carlos

Two cleaners Carlos and Rubina (pictured right) from the University joined the team at the centre to help keep the cafeterias, offices, and collection booths clean and sanitised. Speaking about redeploying to a virus testing centre, Carlos said: “The process of redeploying was very smooth. I’ve met lots of new people and have faced new challenges.”

Rubina commented: “We know that our service plays an important role in preventing the spread of the virus.”

Working at the newly established Covid-19 testing centre is a complete change from their usual roles on the University campus. Carlos added: “This is different to the work I’m used to – because of the risk of contamination. Initially I had no idea what we would accomplish, and when I found out I was very happy to be able to be part of it.”

Rubina’s advice for others who are being redeployed is to “go into it with an open mind and with the desire to make a difference.”

Andrew Barber only joined Sodexo in January 2020, as hospitality manager at the Signet Library in Edinburgh, so when the venue closed due to the pandemic Andrew welcomed the redeployment opportunity to help at Glasgow Airport’s testing centre.

Andrew Barder

Andrew (in the image above) said: “It’s been great to get out and do something worthwhile for the greater cause, learning new things, meeting colleagues from venues across Scotland and being part of the wider Sodexo group.I’m supporting the Glasgow Airport testing centre within the Information and Labelling Hub, dealing with the spreadsheets we’re getting sent through from the government on who has to be tested each day, checking all of their personal details are correct when they arrive and assigning them with different barcodes which then go on to their test samples so it can then be correlated when their results come back from the lab.”

In addition to the many valued colleagues who are being redeployed to help at the testing centres our health and safety teams are also giving up their time to help provide valuable training as each centre opens.

Again, our sports & leisure led in all aspects of the health and safety (HSEQ) elements required for each centre. Emma Semmens, Laura Steel and Alan McCormick set up the systems and processes and internal governance required for each site and worked closely with our supply management team to ensure correct PPE was available at each site.

Michal Bak

Above: Redeployed employee Michal Bak

As sites were mobilised our HSEQ teams from our various businesses have stepped in to provide on-site teams with an overview of the health and safety compliance required and to ensure the teams had the right equipment, training, and set-up to carry out their roles – including PPE, cleaning products and procedures, traffic management and signage. This included Joanna Powaga, Christian Reynolds and Andrea Mitchell, all from our Government & Agencies Integrator team who worked over the Easter weekend to help with the opening of two of the testing centres.

On average Sodexo has between 30 and 50 people working at each centre every day and to date over 250,000 items of PPE and cleaning materials have been supplied to the testing centre teams.

Sean Haley, regional chair, Sodexo UK & Ireland said: I am immensely proud of how our teams and the wider industry have come together to share our expertise and work in partnership with the NHS to fight the threat posed by Covid-19. It has never been more apparent that our business lives and breathes its values.

Children from the local communities where the testing centres are located are helping to boost spirits of NHS workers who are arriving to be tested by decorating the entrances with thank you messages and pictures of rainbows.

thank yous

Jason Harvey

Jason Harvey (pictured above), Sodexo’s catering services director for Blackburn Rovers has redeployed to support the Covid-19 testing centre at Manchester Airport, he said: “As our key workers arrive at and leave the testing centres they can see walls covered in messages saying thank you to them and pictures of rainbows which children have drawn, which our staff help stick up. We’ve also contacted Royal Mail who, for the whole of Greater Manchester, have agreed to collect all kids’ posters, laminate them and deliver them to the Manchester Airport site.”