An open letter: Radbrook Community Centre COVID-19 cover-up

7 December 2021

Note: This incident took place before Omicron, when the deadlier Delta variant was prevalent.

Dear employees, volunteers, centre users, committee members (trustees), and everyone else associated with Radbrook community centre,

“Protecting people and safeguarding responsibilities should be a governance priority for all charities. It is a fundamental part of operating as a charity for the public benefit.”

Recently, an employee at the centre tested positive for COVID-19, but fearing people might stop coming to the centre, the manager chose to keep it secret. The centre is regularly used by all ages – babies, toddlers, teens, pregnant women through to high-risk people over 70 years old. None of them were aware that an infected employee had been working in the centre. Their lives were put at risk. I was working at the centre at the time of the incident and am publicising it here as I believe it is in the public interest to do so.

“Anyone can get sick with COVID-19 and become seriously ill or die at any age.”

On Wednesday, 27/Oct/21, the manager called me to say an employee had tested positive for COVID-19 and asked if I could cover for them, as they would be self-isolating for 10 days. I agreed. The infected employee was working in the centre the day before and the day before that, so would of come into contact with some of the centre’s users while infectious, including those at high-risk.

I was given no help or support by the manager even though, as an employer, he was legally obliged to do so. He did not recommend that I take a test, wear PPE, clean the centre or anything else. I was left to fend for myself. Fearing for my own safety and that of my family, I decided to do my own lateral flow test. Fortunately, it was negative. On my next visit to the centre, an hour or so later, I wiped down all the door handles, light switches, levers, knobs and a bunch of other things with disinfectant wipes. The next group of users, a pilates group, were arriving a few hours later. I informed the manager, bookings secretary and one committee member what I had done.

“The manager wanted to keep it quiet in case people stopped coming to the centre.”

The following day I was anxious whether I should get a PCR test to confirm my negative lateral flow test. I waited to hear from the manager whether or not the infected employee’s PCR test was positive. The call did not come, so at 3.30pm, I called him. Yes, the PCR was positive! Given the seriousness of the issue, I believe he should of called me as soon as he knew. I asked the manager what I should tell users of the centre. He told me not to say anything otherwise people might stop coming to the centre. In other words, the centre’s income would be impacted. The manager put me in a very difficult position.

The manager, bookings secretary and one committee member knew about the outbreak.”

The centre carried on operating as normal, none of its users aware that an infected employee had been working in the centre just a few days before. No risk assessment was carried out. No extra cleaning. Nothing. Eventually, the employee returned to work. The incident was not mentioned again, even at the subsequent committee meeting, which I attended, committee members were not informed.

“In my opinion, the manager put people’s lives at risk.”

Management should of contacted the local health protection team to report this outbreak. They should also of contacted the Self-Isolation Service Hub so that anyone who had been in the centre could be contacted via NHS Test and Trace. There is a Test and Trace QR code on the notice board in the lobby for people to scan as they enter. I know because I put it there. Centre users would of been checking in with the Test and Trace app on their phones with the expectation they’d be contacted if someone with COVID-19 had been in the centre. Due to the manager’s failure to alert the Self-Isolation Service Hub, they were not contacted. They were duped into believing the centre was following Government guidelines and taking reasonable steps to protect them.

Management failings:

  • Failure to support employees such as myself, breaking the law
  • Failure to inform centre users, including those at high-risk (over 70s)
  • Failure to clean or disinfect the centre
  • Failure to carry out a risk assessment
  • Failure to plan for such an incident
  • Failure to inform the local health protection team
  • Failure to contact the Self-Isolation Service Hub for NHS Test and Trace
  • Failure to inform the association’s committee members
  • Failure to address the outbreak at the subsequent committee meeting

In my opinion, the manager’s response was wrong-headed, negligent and reprehensible. Money was put before health and safety, people’s lives. The management had a legal obligation to protect the centre’s employees and users, but failed.

“The manager failed in his duty to safeguard people associated with the community centre.”

The management committee needs to take immediate and robust action to prevent this kind of incident from happening again. It needs to comply with the government’s COVID-secure workplace safety guidelines, produce risk assessments and proper control measures, and take a long hard look at its management, decision making, openness and accountability. The committee’s trustees have a legal and moral duty to protect and safeguard employees, volunteers, centre users, committee members, and everyone else associated with Radbrook Community Centre. In this case, they failed miserably.

Yours Sincerely,

Paul Findon (ex-volunteer, ex-employee, whistleblower)

Affected centre users

Groups that would of been in contact with the infected employee in the preceeding days:

  • Sunday, 24/Oct/21: private hire (children’s party)
  • Monday, 25/Oct/21: Monday Club, Kid’s Self Defence, Bridge Club
  • Tuesday, 26/Oct/21: Gentle Yoga, Line Dancing, Music group, Dance Fitness
  • Wednesday, 27/Oct/21: Positive COVID-19 test.

Charity Commission

Radbrook community centre is run by Radbrook community association, a registered charity, number 1075696. You can learn more about this association here.


  • 15/Dec/21: Received an email from the manager saying he had read this letter and was taking ‘appropriate action’ and requested that I remove it with ‘immediate effect.’

Copyright 2021 Paul Findon.

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