Guidance for Parishes during the Coronavirus pandemic


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The news regarding COVID-19 is constantly evolving.  The main point of contact for information from the Church of England is available:

Church of England dedicated guidance | Weblink

Our first priority is to care for those most vulnerable in this crisis, and we continue to pray for all those people caught up in the coronavirus epidemic, for those who are sick, for those who care for them, and for those responsible for planning for our care.

Do's and Don'ts - Latest Government Guidance

At your place of worship

Communal worship or prayer can be attended by more than 30 people but only if the venues used can safely accommodate larger numbers in a way which complies with COVID-19 secure guidance. It is important that risks are managed sensibly. In line with wider Places of worship guidance you should:

Do - Follow the mitigations that places of worship have put in place, for example using booking systems, changes to entrances and exits or staggered arrivals.
Do - Continue to broadcast services online for those who need to stay at home or are able to mark the event at home to avoid large gatherings.
Don’t break social distancing (2 metres between households, or 1 metre with mitigations, if 2 metres is not possible), and especially avoid touching people outside of your household.
Don’t interact socially outside of your household, or the group (of 2 households) that you went to the place of worship with.
Do - If you can, you should also wear a face covering – you must wear these if you travel on public transport or visit a shop.
Do - Make sure you provide contact details to the place of worship to support the NHS Test and Trace service designed to track and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Dowloadable action card here.
Don’t use shared areas for ablutions – wash at home, unless in an emergency.
Do - Remove communal resources. Single use alternatives should be removed after use and disposed of by the worshipper.
Do - Make sure only you touch your belongings.
Do - Take home personal items brought in to aid worship.
Do - Speak into a microphone to lead devotions or sermons to avoid shouting. Avoid sharing microphones between different speakers.
Do - Use a plexi-glass screen in front of a single individual raising their voice or singing.
Don’t - No one else should sing, shout, or raise their voice, beyond that one individual behind plexi-glass.

Parish Finances

Ecclesiastical Fundraising support materials

Ecclesiastical have produced a useful guide on fundraising for churches during COVID-19 which you may find useful.  It can be accessed here

Parish Buying resources

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies suitable for post Covid-19 opening are now available please click here.  Please remember it is good practice to compare prices before purchasing.

Generous giving

While our church buildings have been closed and as they start to re-open, we are still a church.  Meeting both together and virtually for prayer services and fellowship, loving our neighbours by offering practical support to the vulnerable, and caring for our communities.  The work of our church is reliant on people’s generosity, a generosity that is a hallmark of a lived-out faith and a testament to it. Encouraging giving in a parish can feel daunting, but it need not be so. There is a new simple tool available by the Church of England digital team.  This personalised giving video can set the right climate for people to review their giving and levels of generosity. There is a short and longer video which could be used on your A Church Near You page or edited into during your streamed or pre-record service.  Visit www.achurchnearyou.com to find the resource.

The Parish Resources website has a ‘digital giving’ website page which may be helpful.  Alongside other resources available on Facebook - Guidance on how to add a donate button to a charity Facebook page here and finally linking to online shopping fundraising opportunities such as  easyfundraising® which is the UK’s biggest charity shopping fundraising site.

Parish Resources | Weblink

For more information please visit:

Stewardship | Weblink


Funding opportunities

To search for the latest funding opportunities and closing dates please go to:

FUNDfinder | Weblink

National Churches Trust (NCT): Foundation Grants Scheme

The NCT’s foundation grants for maintenance scheme remains open and is accepting applications.  Offering grants between £500 and £5,000 towards urgent maintenance works and small repairs identified as high priority within a recent Quinquennial Inspection or Survey Report. Also, small investigative works and surveys. Project costs should be up to £10,000 excl. VAT and awards will never exceed 50% of the costs. Decisions will be made on a rolling basis from the start of 2020.  Click here.

Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund

Grants of up to £5,000 are available to support community organisations with emergency funding to deal with emerging issues in the community as a result of the continuing threat of coronavirus. This is a rapidly developing situation, and as a result, the focus of the fund will continue to evolve in line with the support required. Full details of the fund and criteria including how to apply are listed here.

The Ecclesiastical COVID-specific grants list

Ecclesiastical have collated a list of funders that support churches and are currently offering COVID-19 emergency grants. The general criteria of many COVID-19 emergency funds are to support projects and programmes helping local communities that will have been hard-hit by the crisis.  These funds will be especially relevant if your church is running projects supporting isolated and vulnerable people, foodbanks, or providing other kinds of support for your community.  To use their search function to find potential grants for your church please click below:

Ecclesiastical COVID-specific grants | Weblink 

The Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund

This will award grants to help fund urgent maintenance, repairs and surveys at some of England’s locally-cherished historic buildings and sites, apply here.

Culture Recovery Fund now open to applications

Many of you will have seen that details of the administration of the £1.57bn culture recovery fund have now been (mostly) revealed. There are three funds most relevant to churches and cathedrals.  There are the usual caveats; for example there are two revenue funds (one for heritage organisations and one for arts organisations) and you can only apply to one. It is important to read the application criteria for each fund in detail. Crucially the details of the £120m of capital funding have not yet been released but are expected shortly.
 
An overview of the three most relevant funds is included in the attached note, which represents our best understanding of the criteria. Please note the very short application windows, especially for the joint National Lottery Heritage Fund – Historic England revenue scheme, which opened on 30 June and closes on 17 August.  Find out more here.

New Allchurches Trust fund - Hope Beyond

Hope Beyond is aimed at enabling churches and Christian charities to meet changing need within their communities as the longer term impact of Covid-19 becomes clearer. Funding projects that will enable people, organisations and communities to flourish in life after lockdown.  Grants of up to £50,000 are available, and the amount you receive will depend upon the cost of your project and level of need in your community, ranging from 10% of project cost through to 80%.
 
In developing the Hope Beyond programme, Allchurches Trust carried out an online consultation to better understand what our beneficiaries felt the key needs of people of all ages in their communities would be as a direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Hope Beyond grants programme will, therefore, look to address these three themes:
 

  1. Responding to the issues of loneliness and isolation exacerbated by the Coronavirus pandemic where new and/or enhanced support is being proposed.
  2. Focused on growing community resilience and promoting mental and emotional health and wellbeing
  3. Focused on growing technological capability and resilience and supporting those without online access to get online through training and support.

 To find out more information about the programme, read the research report and apply online, head to www.allchurches.co.uk/hopebeyond.
 


Parish Administration

APCMs

In response to COVID-19, APCMs not yet held should be suspended during the current situation, please follow the advice below:

1. The time for holding meetings of parishioners to choose churchwardens is extended to 31 October 2020.

2. The time for the admission of churchwardens is extended to 31 January 2021.

3. Existing 2019 churchwardens continue in office until 31 January 2021, unless re-admitted earlier or a successor is admitted earlier.

4. The period for holding APCMs is extended to 31 October 2020.

5. Existing 2017-20 lay members of deanery synod continue in office until 30 November 2020 even where their successors may have been elected at 2020 APCMs.

6. Deanery synod secretaries must provide the Diocesan office with names, addresses and emails of clergy and lay members (as per 5. above) asap and no later than 1 July 2020.

7. Unless the APCM has already been held, PCC members for 2019 will continue in office until the postponed 2020 APCM.

 


Care of Church Buildings

Please note the criminal fraternity may not heed the government’s advice and stay at home. We have had one instance of a break-in since the lock-down started. The Suffolk police have recently re-issued their guidance for churches and this can be found here. It’s not lock-down specific but it’s a timely reminder of good practice for when this is over.

Don't forget that the new faculty rules took effect from 1 April. An evolution rather than a revolution and the good news is that more work can be done under List B than before and there is an increase in the number of items that don’t need any permission at all (List A). The new Lists are available here.  You are encouraged to use the online faculty system (OFS) for your List B and faculty applications.  All faculties via OFS will be charged at £200, paper-based applications will incur a fee of £250.
 


Safeguarding

If your church/cathedral is taking responsibility for organising a volunteering service (rather than people helping neighbours or family as private citizens), then you must follow usual safeguarding policies, procedures and practice guidance.  This page on the Church of England website includes a various links to COVID-19 Safeguarding guidance and factsheets.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) renewals must still take place when required.  The DBS has provided updated information regarding identity checks in light of COVID-19 available here.

Remember to consider government guidance regarding social distancing, and guidance regarding shielding for those who are extremely vulnerable.  Anyone who has been particularly advised by the government to stay at home should be encouraged to do so.

Safeguarding training 

Basic Safeguarding (C0) and Foundation (C1) courses are still available to complete on-line.
 
Leadership training (C2&C3) has been postponed and will be able by Zoom later this year.  It is recognised that there are people who are required to complete Safeguarding Leadership training in order to continue with some of their duties within the Church and the National Safeguarding Team has advised that people can continue to work without the training. However, as soon as circumstances change, they will be expected to attend a training event.

Scamming

Please note that the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned of strangers and cold callers trying to exploit the elderly and vulnerable while we all try to meet the challenge of COVID-19.  We must be alert, support our communities and ensure our outreach and ministry continues to be compassionate and safe.

For more information about Safeguarding during the coronavirus please visit:

How to? Zoom and telephone call | PDF

Church of England | Weblink

Updated 04 August 2020.