Minister visits Northern Ireland’s first community based Assisted Testing Site

Date published: 11 June 2021

Rapid COVID-19 Testing for those without symptoms will play a key role in helping us to recover from the pandemic, Health Minister Robin Swann has said.

Minister Swann - Lateral Flow Test

The Minister was speaking during a visit to the ARC Healthy Living Centre in Irvinestown, Northern Ireland’s first community based Assisted Testing Site.

The site has been established as part of the NI SMART asymptomatic testing expansion programme and will provide testing for staff and volunteers at ARC Healthy Living Centre, as well as for a range of other businesses, organisations and key groups in the local area.

During his visit, the Minister was also able to avail of the opportunity to be tested.

Praising the work of the ARC Centre the Minister said: “Community based testing will play a key role in supporting those who require rapid testing but cannot access this through their workplace or place of education.

“They will also play a key role in supporting the testing requirements for people attending events and support interventions with groups who are considered to be more at risk of COVID-19. For example in areas with a low level of vaccine uptake where there have been outbreaks.

“I would like to commend the leadership and initiative shown by ARC Healthy Living Centre in establishing this centre.”

Jenny Irvine, CEO of ARC Healthy Living Centre said: “As a large employer in the area, we felt it important to lead by example in implementing regular testing for employees and volunteers. This proves a degree of reassurance to staff with public facing roles for their families, our service users and all those with whom we engage. We also want this testing facility to be a community asset, enabling other businesses, organisations and individuals to access to rapid COVID testing free of charge.”

Launched in March 2021, the NI SMART Asymptomatic Testing Programme is currently seeking to roll out rapid testing to anyone who is unable to work from home.

The workforce testing programme has seen strong interest from businesses in the public, private and third sector across Northern Ireland, with over 650 expressions of interest from organisations representing almost 90,000 employees.

In addition, small businesses or organisations with 10 or less employees and people who work from home but are coming into contact with people outside of their household or COVID bubble in the course of their business have a number of options to access rapid LFD tests. These include:


  • Community based assisted testing site (ATS)
  • Community based collection site
  • Home delivery of tests

Notes to editors: 

  1. The ARC Healthy Living Centre is a multi-functional, charitable organisation delivering health and social care over an extensive rural geography. Their primary focus is reducing health inequality, working to the Marmot principles. ARC employs in excess of 60 people across a range of health and social care services.
  2. In addition to the ATS that ARC have set up, they are also establishing a Collect service for all of their staff based at other locations across the County, who would otherwise be unable to access the ATS. To ensure that staff are carrying out the tests properly, they are sending staff from the ATS to provide training and support to those staff.
  3. The ATS operated by ARC is available to anyone in the community who wishes to access testing, the service is being promoted to small businesses or organisations who have employees or volunteers who cannot work from home, and who are unable to access workforce testing.
  4. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email:
  5. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt.
  6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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