Well, what a week in the life of cathedral operations!
A week ago, I returned from a week’s leave to an organisation in the midst of Covid 19, or C19 as I’ve been abbreviating it. That seems like a long time ago as I write this now working remotely from the sunny climes of Camborne.
I saw my role in what was happening on my return to be a calming, patient and upbeat influence upon the team. Whilst some input from me was beneficial, the team is excellent and were as expected, on top of things with the Dean as the guiding light. My place was with and among the team.
Many steps had already been taken while I was away and the newly formed Coronavirus Action Group (CAG) was motoring through the immediate decisions and their actions, meeting regularly in a rapidly and ever-changing environment. The news of the day was that the cathedral was to suspend services for the public.
The main focus aside from the changes to services was how we could safeguard and support team members whilst also ensuring the cathedral could survive this financially. This was around the time of the announced government loans but before the 80% salary guarantee. We committed to supporting our team financially for as long as we can, and our bankers were thankfully supportive as we began to discuss the closure of our restaurant and shop. This was a matter of when and not if.
While the cathedral certainly has challenges over its financial sustainability, this was to be the year of transformation. Well, it seems that Covid 19 has other ideas! We are undaunted however and this is but a delay to our journey to sustainability and we hope that you, our supporters, will continue this journey with us being as generous as you always are.
We acted the following day to enable and support as many team members to work from home as possible just as the first members of our team began to enter periods of self-isolation. Our operational teams adjusted to new shorter opening hours and some changed duties to support the daily life of the cathedral.
We were then swiftly on to shutting down our shop and restaurant ahead of the government announcement on Friday. Taking the decision to further safeguard our team and the public from the virus.
The weekend went by and we made the most of the available time supported by some talented volunteers to work on preparation for Holy Week, keep an eye on our channels for that! The appearance of the Nave changed too with a poignant area for quiet reflection created inside the west doors. Something which may stay and become a feature, quite the first impression on entering from High Cross.
On Monday the Dean took the decision that it was time to close the cathedral to reinforce the need for everyone to stay at home when and where they can. The government’s stipulation on closure came later that evening. This stood down the remaining operational and skeleton office team moving those that could to working entirely from home, including the clergy.
In these times of staying at home and self-isolation where our team will not see their colleagues for some time I find it critical that colleagues can still interact with and show support for each other and have prioritised finding a way in which this can happen embracing the wonder of technology. We’ll be launching that very soon.
The cathedral team have been magnificent in the way they’ve adapted to these unprecedented circumstances and I thank them for their unflinching support. But I also extend my heartfelt thanks to all of the unsung heroes out there keeping the world moving and to our amazing NHS colleagues who are the absolute rockstars of the UK right now.
We’ll see you all on the other side.
Stay home, stay safe.