A new lateral flow Covid-19 testing centre funded by central government, will open at The Old Fire Station in Gipton next month. The centre will be based within meeting room spaces normally hired out to the community and other organisations and will provide tests on a daily basis to invited professional groups. It will be operated by Leeds City Council.

The testing centre is one of many support initiatives the community hub has provided since the start of the pandemic. The Old Fire Station and its partners have been instrumental in providing urgent resources to local people including food parcels, activity packs and hot meals.

Funded by Leeds Community Foundation through money donated by the Heselden family’s ‘Jimbo’s Fund’, The Old Fire Station is a beacon of positive change for local communities, home to third sector collaboration and joint working, and a vital resource for a huge range of people and small organisations.

Further applications are now underway for funding to support long term local initiatives which will help to build skills and resilience in the community. Kate Hainsworth, CEO at Leeds Community Foundation, said: “There is no denying that times have been really tough and Leeds, like every other city, has had to grapple with the impact of the Covid-19.

“As soon as our cafe, nursery and room hire temporarily closed down, our team worked closely and collaboratively with the six, charities and third sector organisations, for the whom The Old Fire Station is home, to deliver a huge range of new activities and initiatives, quickly and effectively adapting to become a response leader in East Leeds.”

Kate added: “Not to be thwarted by the threats of the pandemic, attention turned immediately towards how, through partnership and lateral thinking, the spaces could be repurposed to support the crisis response. Working with Leeds County Council, Leeds Community Foundation, The National Lottery Community Fund and in partnership with local organisations we have been instrumental in providing urgent resources to local people to address food poverty, health inequality, isolation and exclusion.

“It’s testament to the nature of our model and our amazing team and occupiers, that we have not just survived, but continued to meet the changing needs of our local community. We are very excited about our privileged position in East Leeds, and our ongoing role in making Leeds a city of opportunity for all.”

The Old Fire Station provides a high-quality environment for third sector organisations, Space2, Zest, Healthwatch, SLATE, GIPSIL and People in Action. Flexible room hire, a community cafe and Leeds Cookery School are also thriving here.