A SWINDON company played a small but vital role in tackling the coronavirus pandemic by recruiting thousands of people to work at government-organised testing sites around the country.

Corporate security firm SSGC provided a small amount of security for clients Serco and Sodexo, who then gave them a larger role at the facilities after being impressed by the team's efforts.

They combed through 22,000 applications then retrained and deployed 8,000 military veterans and hospitality staff to Covid-19 test centres - 5,000 of them are still working there today.

In an exclusive chat with the Adver, SSGC managing director David Stubbs looked back on his busiest year and revealed how the team took on their biggest project.

He said: "We quickly showed we could mobilise people quicker than some of their other traditional support companies they would use for labour, so they extended their agreement with us and we grew all year.

"It’s beyond belief that we’ve been able to mobilise the amount of service personnel that we have. The team have performed incredibly. It has been a difficult year, personally and professionally, but they were just thinking about getting the job done.

“We’ve had to learn how to do Covid-19 tests. The whole world didn’t know anything about it and we’d been one of the first companies to get that whole process done, both self and assisted testing and now the lateral flow tests.

"We’ve had to come up with new training packages for people who are not used to that environment. We streamlined our recruitment process by 60 per cent so everything up to the interview stage could be done by the applicant without us needing to run through it all with them."

First founded in 2014, the company had doubled in size and turned over £7.2 million in 2019 then grew by a whopping 1,500 per cent thanks to its pandemic-related work and now expects this year's turnover to be around £104 million.

Though the end of the pandemic is potentially in sight, the team shows no sign of slowing down and the full extent of their effort in helping out during this historic health crisis has not fully sunk in yet.

Mr Stubbs added: "In truth, we’re not sure what happens next. We've played a small but important part of the program but that wow moment has not happened yet because we’re still active and operational so there’s been no time to reflect on it all.

"Testing is still required, we’re testing in schools as they prepare to come back, and are offering testing facilities to large organisations at distribution centres and manufacturing centres.

“Although everything seems to be calming down, it’s not really hit us yet so we are still trying to stay on the government programme and move our testing into new areas as the UK opens back up and we make sure we can continue to deliver what we’ve learned in the last 12 months.

“We’re changing what we do to suit the different environments in which we’ll be active over the next, who knows, three to 12 months. None are in Swindon and Wiltshire at the moment, though we are going to do a local campaign.

"If any Swindon business looking at testing would like to see if we can help, please email me sales@ssg-net.com."

SSGC is a signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant and won the Fire and Security Excellence Awards' Security Partnering Initiative of the Year for its work with Serco, one of the companies managing centres on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care.