Meet our Covid-19 Marshalls and testing centre colleagues

Find out how colleagues are helping to keep our students and staff safe on campus.

Our Covid-19 Marshalls

To support student compliance with our Covid-19 safety measures, we have a team of Covid-19 Marshalls working on campus. They provide a visible presence on campus, acting as ambassadors for the University on Covid safety measures, including social distancing and the wearing of face coverings. They are working in key buildings across campus, and in study spaces including Western Bank Library and the Information Commons, from Monday to Saturday.

Thanks to Reuben Grocock and colleagues for putting together this video to show what a typical day as a Covid Marshall looks like:

 Reuben said: “Normally I work in the Students’ Union as a security steward. At the moment I'm working as a Covid Marshall, along with 12 of my colleagues.

"The University has asked us to help it provide safe study areas during the pandemic. This involves checking that everybody using the areas is wearing a correctly fitted face covering and maintaining a 2 metre separation.

"A typical day is split into a morning and afternoon shift, with each shift involving a round trip, visiting the nine study areas, twice. The study areas are spread out over the campus, starting at Inox Dine and finishing in the Sir Robert Hadfield building, so it involves quite a lot of walking, with each trip covering around 10 kilometres.

"Initially, this was quite tiring, particularly if you'd signed up to the whole day. Eventually though, the walking got easier and those who are a slave to their Fitbits were positively ecstatic. The rest of us researched blister remedies.

"It's very important for the University to provide what study facilities it can during these difficult times and all of my colleagues agree that we're very pleased to be playing a part in making these spaces safe for everyone to use.”

Alex O’Brien, Associate Director of Social Enterprise at the Students’ Union, shares a message of thanks with colleagues:

“We'd like to thank the Union security team for stepping in and working with the University to provide Covid Marshalls for study spaces. The Covid Marshalls have played an essential role in keeping study spaces safe and provided a great opportunity for Union staff to see the wider campus.”

Our Covid-19 Testing Centre colleagues

We know from colleagues’ experiences of using our Covid-19 Testing Centre that getting tested is quick and easy, thanks to the efforts of staff working behind the scenes to ensure a friendly and smooth-running process.

Testing Centre Manager Martin Hague shares a message of thanks to all colleagues involved:

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the staff that have worked at the Octagon Test Centre over the past few months for the dedication, commitment and professionalism that you have demonstrated, which has been critical to the running of the centre.

“From day one, you quickly came together as a team carrying out the various different roles and have continued to work extremely well to give the best possible experience, and to create a clean and safe environment for all of the staff and students that come to the centre.

“We regularly receive comments from staff and students alike saying how friendly all of the test centre staff are and how smoothly it all runs. This is down to each and every one of you, so once again, thank you for your outstanding efforts and contribution to the establishment and continued success of this important facility.”

Here, some of our testing centre colleagues share what it’s like to be part of the testing effort on campus:

Josh Mears is a full-time postgraduate student, studying Environmental Change and International Development. He has been working in the Covid-19 Testing Centre since it opened in 2020.

What attracted you to the role?
Like a lot of people, I found that my finances have been negatively impacted throughout Covid. It was a really good option in terms of picking up some work where I could be flexible around my studies and also it was really important to me to be doing something productive in that time, in terms of contributing my bit and being able to help out from what I was doing outside of academia.

A typical day in the role

Inevitably it varies depending on which role you're doing, however, it's always interesting and there is always quite a bit to do. Although, it comes and goes in terms of busyness, it's one of those roles where you're always on your feet, and you certainly feel like you've put a shift in at the end of it. The roles themselves vary between allocating booths, cleaning and making sure the areas are sterile for each person coming through, and recording the results, which is one of my primary roles where I send out the texts and categorise the results. One of the other common roles is administering the tests in each of the booths.

How does it feel to be part of the testing effort on campus?

It feels really productive to be part of the testing effort. It feels like we're making a difference in terms of allowing students to be consistently part of their practical courses as well as keeping the safety of the staff in check, and it's nice to see a considerable difference, we have seen a pretty progressive drop off in levels of positive results. It's nice to feel a part of something that clearly is making a positive difference to the University.

Any advice for anyone who hasn't had an asymptomatic test before?

Anyone who hasn't had a test yet I would encourage to just come and get it done, it's one of those things where if you put it off you're bound to feel a little more nervous but once you've done a couple it really doesn't feel like a big deal, I think most of us here are quite used to them. It makes it so much easier in terms of not feeling guilty about going into the University and meeting other people outside as well. All the tips are here, everyone walking around is really helpful and friendly and they will happily talk you through any concerns you might have to get those tests done as well.

Lucy Farmer is a Business Developer in Print and Design Solutions and she now also works as a Centre Supervisor at our Covid-19 Testing Centre.

Lucy Farmer wears a face covering inside our testing centre

What attracted you to volunteer/work at the covid testing centre?

Since March 2020 I've been lucky enough to be kept busy at my normal role in Print and Design Solutions, but like many other people I felt that there must be more I could do to help with the current situation. When I heard that the testing centre was opening in December I applied for all of the roles, then when Martin got in touch about the Centre Supervisor role, I jumped at the chance!

How would you describe a typical day at the testing centre?

I'm one of two supervisors, so myself and Emma (the other supervisor) job share, which means we still do half of our week in our normal roles. A typical day is always busy and no two days are ever the same. At the start of each day we assign staff to each role and test all staff before we open, we also check bookings that have come in over night to see if we need to bring more staff in for the centre to run efficiently. Once everyone is in place and the doors open my role is to oversee everything and ensure the smooth running of the centre throughout the day. This can include being in a bay and testing students and staff, monitoring levels of equipment and PPE, helping people through the registration process, and dealing with the inevitable issues that crop up when running such an important and large scale facility.

How does it feel to be a part of the testing effort?

It feels very rewarding to be working towards keeping our students, staff and the people of Sheffield safe. At times it can be challenging as it is a fast paced environment and things are constantly changing, but that's what I really like about working here. We have a great team and everyone works really hard together to ensure that the service runs efficiently and the testing is done properly. At the end of each day we all feel proud to have tested so many people, which is making a significant impact on things returning to normal for us all!

What would you say to anyone who is nervous about getting a test for the first time?

Please don't be nervous or embarrassed about the testing process. The first time that you do the test it will feel slightly uncomfortable, but that's all. We are here to help you every step of the way, all of the staff are really friendly and have been trained to support and encourage you, so if you need help with anything, just ask!

Anything else you would like to tell us?

I feel very fortunate for the opportunity to work here, I've learnt such a lot from this experience, and I am very grateful for the support that I have received from everyone at the test centre, and my colleagues at Print and Design and EFM.

Natalia Webb is a second year Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy student, here she shares her experience of working as a Sample Processor in our Covid-19 Testing Centre.

What attracted you to the role?

I wanted to come work at the testing centre just to be a part of keeping staff and students safe on a daily basis.

What does a typical day in the role look like?

A typical day is getting here quite early. So we start at 7.45am and we’re ready to test students and staff at 8am. We do roughly between 50 to 75 tests per person, per day, which is good. We’re welcomed as soon as we get here. People know where we need to go. It’s very organised. It’s very swift. We’re given name badges, and bags to put our belongings in to keep everyone safe. We have washing facilities and everything is in a nice flow.

How does it feel to be part of the testing effort on campus?

I feel very grateful for the opportunity and being able to offer my skills and time to make sure that every position is filled and that we meet the needs of fellow staff and students.

Any advice for anyone who hasn’t had an asymptomatic test before?

It’s really good and it’s a very simple process. It’s very organised, you come in, you register, you move onto the next station, step by step. Each section you go to, you’ll be informed of what’s needed. There’s always, I would say friendly faces, but we’ve all got masks on, so you might recognise the eyes!