City hospitality bosses put skills to use while furloughed at Covid testing centre

Bosses of the city’s hospitality and leisure venues have been putting their skills to use while being furloughed as they take up roles at a Covid testing centre.

Terence Carvalho, general manager at Becketts Southsea and James Batney, manager at Portsmouth City Council’s D-Day Story museum, has taken up roles at the asymptomatic test site in Portsmouth.

Terence is now employed as a team manager at the site – which recently moved from Portsmouth Guildhall to Somerstown Central in Winston Churchill Avenue – while James has been redeployed in the role of site manager.

The pair join around 30 other staff members, including a large pool of students from various hospitality and leisure venues across the city who have also taken up roles at the site.

Terence says the transferrable skills both he and James use in their usual managerial positions have enabled them to excel in their new roles, allowing them to give people who visit a great service.

He said: ‘Our jobs are about giving people confidence in the great service being provided to help detect those who’ve caught coronavirus but who show no symptoms. Being able to organise groups of people and to ensure things run smoothly is key, and like the industry, we’re from, the site operates seven days a week. At the test centre, it’s no different and working in hospitality and leisure has given us the perfect skills to transfer into this job. Things run in a similar way, and my experience really lends itself to the job.

‘While I can’t wait to reopen and get back to doing what I love at Becketts, it’s been great to put my skills to the test and to give something back to the community. It feels good to be doing something positive to help with my time helping my city, rather than just sitting at home.’ 

Terence is currently combining his job at the test site with his job of reopening Becketts for Monday, May 17.

James has also found his skills have been put to good use and said: ‘I’m used to looking after lots of people at a very busy venue and this is essentially the same. It’s about making sure things run as smoothly as possible and that people are at ease, looked after and leave happy.’

The pair are responsible for staff welfare, ensuring the site is up and running each day, all resources are available on time, ensuring the tests are accurate and that the site remains covid-safe at all times. 

Once the restaurant is re-open, all of Beckett’s staff will be tested for Covid weekly, and Terence is urging others in the city to do the same.

He said: ‘I’d really encourage other hospitality businesses to get their staff tested regularly. It’s easy to do and could potentially help to limit the spread, which will not only protect people but protect businesses too by ensuring they stay open and fully-staffed. We need to be doing all we can now to prevent another wave and make sure we can stay open for good.’