SEE US IN A NEW LIGHT
Business As Unusual
Kate Sussams, the Cathedral’s Director of Operations, writes…
Such a lot has happened in the last month since the Dean took the decision to close the Cathedral. It was the right decision to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors and we were fortunate to be able to respond quickly to the unfolding national situation. However, the last four weeks have seen many changes.
The main impact has been on our rhythms of worship. Without our amazing building to welcome people into, we were going to have to think creatively about responding to this challenge. We were never going to shut up shop, we’ve just moved our shop online. All the clergy have been brilliant in adapting to the new situation, led by Canon Clare’s fabulous mix of creativity and technological know-how. Morning prayer and daily reflections are now held online and we are welcoming not just faithful friends, but newcomers from far and wide are logging in and being part of our expanding online congregation. Easter was always going to be a challenge but a combination of national, Diocesan and Cathedral worship was able to bring people together. We are hoping to continue our Sunday morning worship together online as much as we can.
Our builders (Historic Property Restoration) have tried to continue as best they can. In fact, they are probably getting on a bit quicker with some things like the asbestos strip-out without the building being open, so that’s one consolation for us. However, their programme will no doubt be affected by lack of supplies and sub-contractors, so we are working closely with them to try and minimise any longer-term impact on the overall project.
Of course, although the Cathedral may be physically closed, it still needs looking after. Two of the vergers team have been ‘furloughed’ as part of the government’s Job Retention Scheme, but we still have one person in daily to provide security support for the builders as well as to undertake essential maintenance and daily checks (things like windows and water pipes still need keeping an eye on as unnoticed damage may create a real problem). We have essential maintenance contracts which also need to be factored in. Our insurers, Ecclesiastical, have been fabulous in providing guidance and support for this situation.
We took an early decision to put the Music Department (including the Lay Clerks) on the Job Retention Scheme. This means roles (plus salaries) are secured and gives us some realistic breathing space to begin to weave a course through this very strange landscape of our future.
There is a small team – most of us working from home – who take care of the day-to-day business: paying staff and invoices, communicating with the Church Commissioners, sending regular e-newsletters, all the project work being carried out, online meetings with the Design Team, weekly online staff meetings, working with the Cathedral Fabric Advisory Committee for all the permissions we need for the project, re-forecasting our annual budget, sending out emails and postal mailings to the congregation… just some of the jobs we’ve been doing in the past few weeks.
Whilst working from home has its advantages (more lie-ins, no commuting, better breakfasts!), hand on heart I can tell you we all miss being back ‘at work’; back with our colleagues and friends, back with our fabulous volunteers and congregation, and back worshipping in the Cathedral. Stay safe everyone. Much love from us all at the Cathedral.