Frontline Heroes 2022


Sodexo Covid-19 testing centres frontline teams

Sponsored by: 14forty

Frontline Heroes 2022

Sodexo – the largest provider of COVID-19 testing centres and mobile testing units in the UK prior to the end of free testing – has won the Frontline Heroes Award for the impact it has had on its social environment.

The outsourced service provider operated the units on behalf of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), with services ranging from COVID-19 testing centre management to asymptomatic on-site testing.

Results gleaned

Sodexo’s frontline heroes played a vital role in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infections; its frontline heroes at testing centres across the UK demonstrated extraordinary service excellence and social value. Surveys taken by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showed the team’s average customer satisfaction rating across all its designated sites across England, Wales and Scotland for the duration scored 88%.

Test units were also set up on-site at some internationally high-profile events, from the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the United Nations COP26 Conference and the G7 Summit in Cornwall.

Management of these sites required dedication from team members who also displayed innovation, coming up with ideas about how to improve service on-site. For example, Kayley Davies, who worked at a local test site in Bolton, suggested two solutions to help people who are profoundly deaf to use the test sites.

  1. Her first initiative involved creating a series of laminated signs for test centres with specific messages to help people getting tests alongside the development of a live sign language interpreting service.
  2. The second plan involved those who needed to dial up using the signing service on their own mobile phone, providing the option to sign ‘down the line’ to a real person who could answer any questions or get across any point relevant to their testing needs. The interpreter would then relay the question or request to a test centre worker on the ground who was able to help.

The team showed innovation with colleagues coming up with fundraising ideas to support local communities. For example:

  • Elaine Whittington at the Blackburn drive-through site raised over £1,300 for a local charity through raffles and games with the team on-site
  • Jack Turnbull, the site leader for Rochdale RTS, and his girlfriend Lucy Roberts, raised £1,025 for Salford Foodbank just before Christmas to help those in need.

Best practice learning point

Many of Sodexo’s people worked during the peaks of the Kent, Delta and Omicron COVID-19 variants in 2021, testing about 13.8 million people – more than a fifth of Great Britain’s population.

Due to demand and necessity, those working on the frontline in the test centres had been redeployed from other parts of the company, demonstrating their ability to adapt their skills to a test centre environment. This ability to adapt and apply themselves in new situations has been a significant learning experience.

Key quote

‘Our frontline heroes have quite literally been heroes in some circumstances. Roland Wilkinson, who worked at the drive-through in Welwyn Garden City, saved a four-month-old baby who had a seizure at the site. She swiftly removed the child from a car to make sure he was breathing and conscious before the paramedics arrived.’