The current pandemic has presented unforeseen challenges that have had an impact on all of us, our families and friends, and on employers too.
We have experienced what many of us would never have considered - our Cathedral church with its doors closed to the public for months on end. Although we are now planning towards opening the doors to the Cathedral on 15th June for private prayer and reflection, we have come to realise that life after lockdown is likely to be very different and that there will be a “new normal” for many months to come.
The Cathedral is entirely financially independent. As a result, we warmly welcomed the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and have been grateful for the financial support that it and other schemes have provided. Despite that support, and having halted all but essential expenditure within this period of lockdown, we forecast that in this year and next the Cathedral will expend a lot of its reserves – well over £1m across its funds – as a direct result of lost income caused by the pandemic. It will also have lower annual income to work in years to come with which to deliver its mission.
As a result, we believe it is right to propose changes. Our reflections on what should come next have been based on both our financial outlook and the need to refocus our priorities to meet the challenges of the future.
These decisions have been difficult to take, not least because they will directly impact on several of our colleagues and indirectly impact on us all in our small close-knit community. We have not taken them lightly, but we do think they are in the best interests of the Cathedral and its mission in the long term.
We will now enter into a consultation process with the members of staff affected.
Our proposals for the future of the organisation will impact the following:
Café - We have made the difficult decision to propose that we do not re-open the Café once lockdown is eased. The Café makes a modest profit in a good year with the better summer months subsidising the winter months. We would be unlikely to reopen, at the earliest, until part way through the summer, and our customer numbers would be significantly reduced for many months, resulting in significant financial loss.
Shop - The shop will be closed for the time being. We are proposing that we do not re-open the shop until the Cathedral is able to accept a significant volume of visitors and social distancing is relaxed, which we do not envisage is likely to happen before late in the year at the earliest. When it re-opens it will be relocated into the Cathedral and we intend that it should be volunteer-led, possibly supported by a part time member of staff. There will be an impact on the office team because a simpler approach to the delivery of our commercial activities will be required.
Learning and Engagement - We have made the difficult decision to propose that we cease the current work of the Learning and Engagement Team. It is unlikely that we will be welcoming school visits to the Cathedral in the foreseeable future as it is expected that primary and secondary schools will be impacted by restricted school budgets and the challenge of securing social distancing in transportation. This has also prompted a discussion on the future of Learning and Engagement and its place in promoting our ambitions regarding Christian theological study, evangelism and mission, through the work of the Chancellor.
We understand that you may have questions. You can direct these to:
We will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.