Caring for your closed building during 'Lockdown'27 Mar 2020 By Mark Carter
Church Buildings Officer, Mark Carter offers some advice on caring for your closed building.
We are in unprecedented times and I know that many of you are worried about the impact of closing our churches.
It is likely that many of those who care for our churches feature in high-risk groups. The advice below is offered as a proportionate response to the issues at hand and it is likely that parishes will find creative solutions, as they have to continue worship and pastoral care online and in person through a wider community effort.
At no point should you or others put yourselves at risk or act against Government instruction in attempting to visit or care for the church building.
Historic churches are always at risk of metal theft. Whilst we may be isolating, thieves will not and will be looking to profit from the situation. Encourage community vigilance: everyone from near neighbours to dog walkers can help in keeping an eye on the building. Communities may have neighbourhood WhatsApp or Facebook groups where you can encourage this community vigilance.
It is allowable (at time of writing) for someone to visit the church periodically to check it over: it is suggested that this should not be someone in an at-risk group and with most people in the community at home and offering support it may well be possible for a younger, fitter person(s) to perform this check. Checks should be made on the external roofs, windows, downpipes to check for intrusion and also internally (metal theft can be characterised by roof leaks).
If your church cannot be locked you should display the sign provided by the Church of England (access the Coronavirus page on the main Church of England website – link at the end of this note). Temporary padlocks could be considered but care must be taken not to damage historic doors and frames.
You should look to turn off or drain-down your utilities. Ensure that intruder alarms, CCTV and fire alarms remain on. Check with any monitoring services or security companies you may use that they are still operating and whether there are changes to service pattern.
Normal heating patterns should be suspended (many churches have separate “Sunday” settings which heat the church more than on another day – this is obviously not required) but, where possible, heating should keep a constant temperature in the building. Fortunately, as we move into summer this should be easily achievable.
Your insurer will likely be offering their own advice on how to manage your closed building. Check their website for details. They are also adapting to the situation and having to deploy staff working at home.
The national church buildings team are liaising at national level with insurers: we will forward on further advice when it arrives with us.
Some churches have sensed opportunity to undertake building works whilst churches are closed. Please do not do this: churches are to be closed until further notice and this includes for construction.It is likely (at the time of writing) that the construction industry (large and small) will start to close-down in any case.
Matters of emergency repair and maintenance to ensure the building is safe may continue but please contact me or your Archdeacon for guidance. Similarly, if you have ongoing works and need advice as to how to cease work, please contact me or your Architect.
New Faculty Rules
On 1 April, amended faculty rules come into force.Separate briefing is being sent on these.Please contact me if you are planning on submitting an application for permission as different procedures may need to be followed due to the new rules and/or the current restrictions.The DAC will not be physically meeting or performing site visits during this time but I am in contact with the Chancellor to ensure that matters that need to be dealt with can be.
Church Buildings Officer
27 March 2020
- Guidance from the National Church Buildings Team on caring for your buildings during the Coronavirus