Historic Churches 2020

4 BCD SPECIAL REPORT ON HISTORIC CHURCHES 27 TH ANNUAL EDITION LIVING WITH COVID-19 T HE UK government has recognised the importance of keeping our places of worship open and accessible. While the focus of congregations and the wider community is on their use as venues for religious and social gatherings, including church services, weddings, baptisms and funerals, it is important to remember that most places of worship are open to everyone during daylight hours. In a time of social anxiety and emotional need, places of worship offer a quiet place to disengage from the pressures of the world outside and to find solace in prayer, contemplation or meditation. These benefits are by no means limited to people of faith, and it is more important than ever that churches and other places of worship are kept open and cared for at this time. The pandemic has magnified existing problems and raised some new ones. Many churches already suffer from painfully small congregations, and their financial pressures have been made worse by a significant loss of income during lockdown. On top of this there are now Covid-19 related health and safety issues for anyone entering church buildings. This includes not only the clergy and members of the congregation and local community, but also contractors, professional consultants and conservators. For older places of worship the use of hand-sanitisers and disinfectants also poses a threat to historic surfaces. FUNDING SOURCES The Architectural Heritage Fund is one of several organisations to have published details of the various sources of funding available to UK charities and social enterprises during the Covid-19 pandemic, and its guide is available from the front page of The Heritage Funding Directory, www. heritagefundingdirectoryuk.org . UK-wide sources include the National Lottery Community Fund which is prioritising projects and organisations supporting communities through Covid-19, including church organisations, with funding of up to £10,000. Another is Hope Beyond, a new grant programme launched by Allchurches Trust to help Christian charities and churches in the UK meet changing needs within their communities arising from the pandemic. The statutory heritage bodies are generally focussing any additional support on projects they are already funding. In England however, details of a £50 million Heritage Stimulus Fund are on the Historic England website, and it is hoped that some of this will be made available to cathedrals and larger churches for major works through the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England. TRANSMISSION PREVENTION Covid-19 can spread in two ways: Directly , from close contact with an infected person (within two metres) where respiratory secretions can enter the eyes, mouth or nose. This risk increases the longer someone has close contact with an infected person. Indirectly , by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching own mouth, nose or eyes. Guidance on the safe use of places of work and worship during coronavirus varies nationally according to use and application. However, all guidance documents stress the need for risk assessment and mitigation measures, such as social distancing and the use of face coverings to minimise airborne transmission, and keeping the place clean between uses to minimise transmission from contaminated surfaces. For example, the Scottish Government’s