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NEWCASTLE CATHEDRAL
A BEACON OF LIGHT

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Opening times

  • Saturdays and Sundays
    8am-5pm
  • Mondays to Fridays
    8am-6pm
  • Café 16
    Mon-Sat 10am-4pm
  • FREE ENTRY

The Lantern in Action: 2024 so far

Published July 2024

Earlier this month, we bid farewell (but not goodbye!) to Reverend Jon Canessa, who has made an enormous impact on the life of the Cathedral. As our Lantern Initiative Lead, he has developed projects that bring light to the lives of people facing dark or difficult times. We are delighted Jon will continue leading the Cathedral’s Recovery Church. This group offers a ‘brave space’ for individuals to share openly and honestly about life and recovery.

In this article, he summarises some recent and ongoing projects of the Lantern Initiative…

January – Speaking Up Together Heritage Project launches

Speaking Up Together is a self-advocacy group run by and for adults with learning disabilities living in Gateshead and South Tyneside. The group began visiting the Cathedral in 2022, and last year, they successfully secured a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to create and deliver a programme centred on the Cathedral’s historical, cultural, and architectural features.

The café ceiling, stained glass windows, the Lantern Tower, and the unique ‘Vampire Rabbit’ overlooking our churchyard have all inspired the group’s monthly educational and craft sessions held at the Cathedral. These sessions, planned and delivered by the group, are open to anyone with a disability. An exhibition showcasing the group’s work is scheduled for Easter 2025 at the Cathedral.

February – Liver Health workshop

Research indicates that individuals experiencing homelessness and those in active drug and alcohol addiction can find it hard to access liver health treatment. Researchers from Southampton University, who are looking at how peers could help improve this, hosted a one-day event for over 60 people with lived experience. Together, they worked in partnership with the research team to review the evidence collected from other communities in England and to help shape the next phase of the research.

February – The Honest Truth event

Over 100 attendees, many with lived experience of addiction, gathered at Café 16 in the Cathedral recovery to host recovery and rehab providers, practitioners and local civic leaders. Several people shared their experiences of how services designed to support them had responded unhelpfully when they were struggling. Stories highlighting stigma and shame associated with addiction feature in a powerful film that is now being used to train professionals so they can better support, and not punish, individuals when they are being honest about their recovery.

May – The Eight Words: Malcolm Guite and Tim Boniface Jazz Band

Poet Malcolm Guite and jazz musician Tim Boniface visited to present a talk and perform the jazz suite ‘The Eight Words’, inspired by the Eight Sayings of Jesus from St John’s Passion. We were delighted that Malcolm, an internationally renowned poet, felt inspired to write about his experience of the Cathedral as a place of sanctuary for his regular ‘Poet’s Corner’ article in the Church Times.

May – Northumbria University Performance

First-year Northumbria University BA(Hons) students from Northumbria University presented a piece inspired by the journeys of visitors recovering from addiction. This performance was the result of workshops and consultations with members of the Cathedral community with lived experience of addiction about the services that are available to support recovery.

June – Bravery and Creativity from Recovery Church Members

Four women from Recovery Church shared their experiences – both positive and negative – with approximately 100 Gateshead Adult Social Workers and Heads of Service at The Fed, Dunstan, highlighting opportunities for future learning. Later in the month, Recovery Church members participated in a session led by a trained facilitator to explore the SoulCollage method of self-discovery, which uses art and creative collage to encourage personal reflection and growth.

July – Stories of Sanctuary Rehearsals and Concert

As part of a three-month series of workshops led by citizen songwriters, members of Recovery Church further developed ‘See Me’, a song co-written with singer-songwriter Sean Cooney for the Honest Truth event. In early July, during a rehearsal, the group shared the song with the newly formed ‘Stories of Sanctuary’ choir at the Cathedral. Both groups will unite to perform ‘See Me’ in the Stories of Sanctuary concert at the Cathedral on Thursday 18 July at 7:30pm.

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Newcastle Cathedral receives limited funding from the Church or Government, relying on income from events, fundraising, and donations from people like you.

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