Like many organisations around the world, Truro Cathedral has been significantly affected by the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the continued and valued support of our congregation and supporters, the cathedral has seen its income drop such that by the end of the year we expect a shortfall of at least £250,000 on last year.
With lockdown dictating a three-month closure, visitor numbers being limited, events into next year being cancelled and public confidence at a low level, donations and income have drastically dropped, and we need to respond to this decline in income to ensure the future of the cathedral. Just like every other organisation, we must make changes to live within our means.
To that end, while we have taken every step possible to minimise our costs since lockdown first occurred, we must now regrettably, with the end of the job retention scheme on the horizon, make changes to our team through restructuring. The scheme has been invaluable in allowing us to support our team during the lockdown and for them to work flexibly since it has been lifted, but with the scheme ending in October, we have to, sadly, accept the realities of the economic situation facing us.
The cathedral employs a team of fifty part- and full-time staff and at the beginning of August, we commenced a consultation period with our staff. The announcement, whilst saddening, did not come as a surprise to many of them, as they were acutely aware of the difficult financial position we are facing.
The consultation, which has affected every team in the cathedral, has now concluded and those affected are all aware of the consequences facing them. It is deeply upsetting that we will say goodbye to valued and committed colleagues over the coming weeks, many of whom have been with us for years, but there was no alternative course of action.
Several colleagues have offered voluntary redundancy, which has mitigated the total number of compulsory redundancies we have had to make, for which we are grateful. But we are conscious that, as a cathedral, people are at the heart of what we do and who we are, and although we have to be aware of financial realities, the impact of such a move affects us all.
This current ‘Covid’ period is the most financially challenging time the cathedral has experienced, and in this, we are not alone. However, with these very difficult changes made, we are at least giving ourselves the strongest chance to live within our means and become stronger once Covid-19 becomes something in the past, and not a present reality. Ironically, we were looking ahead to an exciting future before the lockdown was imposed, and hopefully, in the not too distant future, we may well be able to give voice to these again.
For the time being, though, with a smaller team, we will need to be mindful of overstretching our resources and will have to manage our future expectations, until such time that we can rebuild our team.
Of course, we are tremendously grateful for donations we receive; many people are aware of the circumstances we find ourselves in, and we will pursue avenues of funding that allow us to develop future plans with confidence. But now is not the time for this. Instead, we are deeply conscious of the human cost of Covid-19, and our overriding concern at the moment is to support our staff affected by the loss of their livelihoods wherever we can. Profit and loss accounts don’t begin to express the suffering of those directly involved in the reduction of our staff team, and they are very much in our love and prayers as they face an uncertain future.