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Bulletin no.13 - Wednesday 10 June

5 months, 3 weeks ago


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

  1. Re-opening of churches for individual prayer
    As we are sure you will know the government has signalled that churches will be able to open for individual prayer from Monday 15 June.  Please do continue to prepare for re-opening your churches safely. We know that some of you were planning for Saturday 4 July as the likely date for opening and it may be that you will feel that you will not be ready to do so before that time. We quite understand this and would encourage you to open only when you feel that you have made all the necessary preparations to do so. Please do not feel pressured into opening on June 15 if this is too early for all your plans to be in place.  The Cathedral, for instance, was planning for 4 July and has made the decision that it will not be ready to open before that.

    The government has yet to issue their guidance on the re-opening of churches.  However, the Church of England has issued a revised Risk Assessment for re-opening our churches which is included with this bulletin and can also be downloaded from the Church of England website here: https://www.churchofengland.org/media/20510. At present we understand that our churches should not be left unattended when open.
  1. Funerals
    The House of Bishops, at its meeting on Tuesday 9 June has made the decision that small, socially distanced funerals may take place in church from 15 June.  A news release about this and other changes to restrictions can be found here: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/bishops-revise-and-produce-further-guidance Funerals should not happen in church before this date. (There has always been government provision for funerals to be taken in church.) A new guidance note issued by the House of Bishops to help you plan to conduct funerals safely is also included with this bulletin and can be found on the Church of England website here: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-06/COVID%2019%20Advice%20on%20Conducting%20Funerals%20v2%20links.pdf.

    However, we must stress that there has not been and there is still no provision made by government for weddings to take place in the church or in the church grounds.  We cannot take weddings until there are such provisions made by the government.
  1. Hygiene, cleaning and PPE as church buildings begin to open
    The Church of England through Parish Buying now has a complete new category, making available hygiene and cleaning supplies together with a range of PPE equipment.  The PPE equipment is being made available through a PPE buying group to ensure churches have access to fairly priced supplies that are sourced from audited supply chains to ensure quality and ethical supply.  These are from suppliers other than those used by the NHS and care homes. The deadline for registration and the first aggregation is Wednesday 17 June. For hygiene and cleaning supplies, Parish Buying are working with three pre-approved suppliers to support churches' requirements – simply register or sign in to Parish Buying to access these deals.
    For further details about the two parts of this scheme please see the video at: https://player.vimeo.com/video/423210837  

How to order PPE equipment

  1. In deciding what you should purchase, please refer the Church of England’s guidance at www.churchofengland.org/coronavirus
  2. Register or sign up for Parish Buying here: www.parishbuying.org.uk
  3. Please note that to order PPE equipment you need to sign up for the scheme, complete an expression of interest form and deposit funds into the holding account by 6pm Wednesday 17 June in order to be included in the first round of this procurement exercise. https://www.parishbuying.org.uk/categories/covid-19-supplies/ppe-supplies
  4. If funds are deposited after this date you will still be eligible for future aggregations. Estimated delivery is within 8 weeks.
  1. Hand sanitisers
    As we re-open our churches it will be very important that we make provision for people to remain as safe as possible. To this end the Archdeacons are working with the Chancellor of the Diocese to ensure that the faculty permission which will be needed in order to affix hand sanitiser dispensers (for those requesting them) permanently to the wall, near to doors into the church can be obtained in the fastest and easiest way possible.   More information will be released on this as soon as provision has been made. 
  1. Construction works and access to buildings for maintenance etc
    Church of England guidance provides advice on access to church and cathedral buildings for professional contractors such as architects, conservators, archaeologists and ecologists, and for construction workers. This guidance allows for construction work to resume on church buildings where appropriate, and for other maintenance-related tasks such as carrying out the Quinquennial Inspection. A template risk assessment for contractors is included within the guidance note.
  2. Guidance from the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
    Because church bells have not been rung for many months, it is important for incumbents and churchwardens to be aware that ringers should arrange to undertake appropriate maintenance checks and any necessary remedial work in every bell-tower before ringing can re-commence. The guidance note "When We Ring Again – preliminary preparations" which is attached explains what will need to be done. However, at present, national Church of England guidance is that only one “appointed person” may ring a single bell from a church.
  3. Southwark Diocesan Board of Education Update during COVID 19.
    The vast majority of SDBE schools have remained opened during the lockdown period supporting vulnerable pupils and key worker children. Numbers of pupils attending each school have fluctuated during this time. Headteacher and staff have been working on a rota basis to manage this on-site provision. The vast majority of our schools have also been providing online learning resources to support parents with home learning at this time. The SDBE closed its offices on Thursday 19 March. The team has been working remotely providing a full service to schools in line with our ‘Partnership Agreement’.
    Schools began to start to open for Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils from Monday 1 June. Secondary schools are starting to prepare for some face to face return of Year 10 pupils. The Department of Education has been sending daily advice to Local Authorities, the Diocesan Board of Education and Schools. The SDBE has, and continues to work closely, with its 12 Local Authorities in interpreting DfE advice and supporting Headteachers and their Governing Bodies. All schools have been undertaking in-depth risk assessments in order to determine, how, when and even ‘if’, they should open. As well as a duty of care to pupils we are all clear that we have a duty of care to all school staff and parents. The SDBE is therefore advising a measured, gradual opening up of its schools to ensure sustainability and safety.

May we thank you for all that you are doing at this time and assure you of our prayers as you prepare for this next stage of our journey together.

The Coronavirus Task Group

(Bishop Christopher, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, the Venerable Alastair Cutting, Ruth Martin and the Revd Canon Wendy Robins)