Duty of Care - Re-opening of Places of Worship
Updated: Aug 25
As news of the global pandemic was announced by WHO in Spring 2020, I was busy supporting global humanitarian workers prepare and begin to join the fight to help prevent the further spread of Covid-19, when I took a moment to reflect on matters closer to home. Being an active member of our church, I had the notion to establish a volunteer group to help deliver essential supplies to those self-isolated and to arrange telephone calls to those members of the community living by themselves to provide moral support. Our clergy quickly put services online with our own dedicated YouTube channel and within days, the volunteer group was briefed and swung into action.
Little did I think that my family would become affected by the virus as both my wife & daughter contracted it and we went into a period of self-isolation for over 4 weeks, not even leaving the house. Our volunteer group came to our rescue delivering essential supplies and the occasional phone call just to see how we were doing.
With the phased lifting of lockdown being announced by the Scottish Government, I set about drafting guidance for our church on how we could begin to reopen our church for private prayer & contemplation and with the help of Plan2Survive quickly put all the mitigation measures in place. Volunteers were briefed and equipped so that when Phase 2 was announced, we opened our doors to our community so that they could worship again. As Phase 3 was announced permitting communal and clergy led services, the challenge was to mobilise the volunteers to guide the community to worship safely and in compliance with all the necessary measures. There are always some people that naturally think that the measures are too restrictive, so having clergy remind the community during each service and having trained & equipped volunteers quickly allowed the community to settle into the new way of worshiping.
The approach adopted incorporated our duty of care not only to comply with Scottish Government guidelines, but also to ensure that our services were as safe as they could be to allow the community to return to worship. As with each easing of lockdown measures, it is always a challenge to ensure that people don’t get carried away and forget to be careful about their own health and that of others. Briefing and debriefing of volunteers quickly highlighted minor issues that could be resolved before the next service and where some members of the community were non-compliant, a quiet word from the clergy often resolved the issue.
There is no doubt that having a policing background has helped in ensuring our church community complies with the Scottish Government guidelines for Covid-19, but it is also harnessing the will of the volunteers, training and equipping them that has allowed the clergy to open the church on a regular basis, so that all may begin to celebrate their faith, albeit in a different way, but safely and with consideration for others.
Plan2Survive and its holistic approach has led our church to be one of the few that has opened its doors safely to its community, for which, we are eternally grateful.