COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS) Update 18th May 2020

This is our seventh short note dedicated to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

1. The Government has set up a task force developing plans to re-open places of worship, and a press release is available following the first meeting. You can find out more on our website at (scroll down to News).

2. The deadline for completing the National Churches Trust survey on the impact of Coronavirus is Monday, 25 May. You can find this on our website at (scroll down to Calls for Evidence).

3. When places of worship re-open, some people may wish to make a cash donation which they have built up over the preceding weeks. This may take them over the standard £30 pounds limit of the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme. The Churches' Legislation Advisory Service has asked HMRC about this, and a potential solution has been found. This may need some prior explanation to donors. You can find out more on our website at (scroll down to News).

Events, Call for Papers, Funding and other News


Obviously in the current climate, we are not able to confirm which of these events is still happening. Please check with the organisers’ website in each case.

Tales from the Crypt: (FREE) Legacy Workshops on applying to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, March, April and May in London – POSTPONED

These will be of interest to congregations who are thinking of applying to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and want to know more about how to develop exciting and worthwhile community engagement activities. They are based on using the experience of Holy Trinity, Cloudesley Square which successfully obtained a NLHF grant.

Holy Ground: A series of three lectures exploring art, faith and ecology, March & April

Organised by Art + Christianity, they are arranging to put these lectures online here


Church Monuments SocietyFriday 15 - Sunday 17 May - Kilkenny: Memorial Capital of Ireland - POSTPONED

Kilkenny is the venue for the Society’s first study trip abroad. The event is being organised jointly with the long‑established Kilkenny Archaeological Society, with a programme intended to appeal to Irish and British alike. Details of the full 2020 CMS programme

B’nai B'rith UK European Days of Jewish Culture & Heritage: 3rd-17th September 2020

Every year, B'nai B'rith UK holds the European Days of Jewish Culture & Heritage (EDJCH), which has now become an established feature of the European Jewish calendar and continues to be a great success.

The theme for 2020 will be 'Jewish Journeys' and the BBUK. This coincides with the national Heritage Open Days, which will run from 11th to 20th September this year.

Visit the B'nai B'rith UK website for more information

You can read about what happened in 2019 here



The 7th Future for Religious Heritage Biennial International Conference – October 2020 in Barcelona, Spain.

The conference theme “Europe’s Living Religious Heritage” will ask questions about the heritage we received from past generations and which we still use. Living religious heritage, in continuous, extended or even new use, can help us to understand the present and to make choices for the future, contributing to the well-being of both heritage and to society as a whole. Deadline 1st June 2020.


Advice for grant holders

If you have concerns about grants you hold, then the overall advice is to contact the funding body. Key links are:   

National Lottery Heritage Fund –

National Churches Trust -

Esmee Fairburn

Garfield Weston

ChurchCare grants


The Heritage Alliance: Coronavirus Guidance for the Sector

The Heritage Alliance have created a live Coronavirus Guidance Hub which is being continually updated with the latest guidance and advice on mitigating the effects of Coronavirus for organisations across the Heritage sector.

They have also created a separate Funding Hub listing potential sources of funding for heritage organisations during the Coronavirus crisis.

The Heritage Alliance has also been collating feedback from across the heritage sector on experiences and thoughts on the government measures and announcements from funders and ALBs. These are anonymised as appropriate, fed back to DCMS, as well as other government departments, and shared with other key organisations in the heritage sector to create as joined-up an evidence base and set of advocacy concerns as possible.


Historic England (HE) has set up an emergency response fund for small organisations.

Maximum grant £25k, deadline 3 May 

This is to support third-sector organisations and voluntary groups (which we assume will include places of worship) managing heritage projects, as well as heritage organisations and self-employed contractors who are severely affected by the impact of Coronavirus and who need additional emergency financial support beyond the Government’s measures.

HE has also published the results of their recent survey, which has informed the focus of the Emergency Response Fund.


NLHF Heritage UK-wide £50 million Emergency Fund launched to help the Sector

The aim is to address immediate pressures over the next three-six months for those organisations most in need. Applications open on Wednesday 15th April and can be accessed up until 30th June as short-term funding to stabilise operations and manage unforeseen risks. Grants of £3,000 to £50,000 will be available. The fund is designed to:

i) address immediate pressures over the next 3-6 months for those most in need.

ii) increase investment in essential digital skills across the sector, providing expertise in critical areas such as digital fundraising, use of social media and communications, and running online events and activities.


The National Lottery Heritage Fund Survey: results

NLHF has also surveyed more than 1250 heritage organisations on the effect of the Coronavirus crisis and have published this important data. The results show that 82% of respondents reported a high or moderate risk to their organisation’s long-term viability. 35% stated their financial reserves will be depleted within four months, and 46% of organisations can survive for no more than six months. Full results of the survey can be found here


Historic England: Coronavirus

HE has published detailed information on the disruption to their activities. Many of their staff are working from home, and they are continuing to provide advice and process grant payments as usual. 

Further information can be found here

Government has announced £750 million of funding for the charity sector

  • All charities are eligible for the job retention scheme, and furloughing employees would be the right solution for many organisations.

  • £370 million to small, local charities working with vulnerable people. This funding will be provided through organisations such as the National Lottery Community Fund. £60 million will be made available to the Devolved Administrations. 

  • The UK Government will provide £360 million directly to charities, including £200 million for hospices, with the rest going to organisations on the front line, for example, St John’s Ambulance.

Government information to support Charity Sector during Coronavirus Outbreak

The Charity Commission for England and Wales has published their response to concerns raised by charities during the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Lottery Community Fund

The Fund has announced that all its decisions over the next six months will be devoted to addressing the current crisis. It has also pledged to accelerate the cash component of this funding as far as possible, so that money can get to where it's needed, faster. Full details about how these decisions affect existing and future award holders can be found at: 


CAF Emergency Fund

In this time of national crisis, CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) has launched this rapid response Fund to help smaller charitable organisations affected by the impact of Coronavirus. Grants of up to £10,000 will help them to continue to deliver much needed support to our communities across the UK. This is intended as a rapid response.

Coronavirus Response – Funding Opportunities for Charities

NCVO have compiled a list of funding opportunities and news relating to coronavirus.

If you are registered with Funding Central, you can access it here:

 Home Office grants £14 million funding for security at Jewish institutions

The Home Office has provided the Community Security Trust to provide security measures at Jewish schools and synagogues.

DCMS Committee investigates impact of Coronavirus on the Charity Sector

The DCMS Committee intends to look at the impact of Coronavirus on the charity sector through a range of oral evidence sessions. Witnesses to these sessions so far have been representatives from NCVO, St John Ambulance Association and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Details of past and future sessions can be found

UK Community Foundations

The National Emergencies Trust has launched an appeal to raise funds to help local charities to support those individuals suffering hardship as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. These funds will be distributed through a number of charitable organisations including local community foundations to ensure it reaches those who need it most.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund Launches Rural Response Emergency Grants Programme

They are inviting applications for emergency funding from farming and rural community support groups, who are providing assistance to counter the effects of isolation during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Free searchable database of Coronavirus funders

The Charity Excellence website has a new, free database of funders supporting charities during the crisis.


New Minister for Building Safety, Faith and Communities

Stephen Greenhalgh MP has been announced as the new Minister for Building Safety, Faith and Communities at MHCLG.

5-Post-War Churches that Broke the Mould

A Historic England blog that looks at some of England’s most innovative 20th century churches.


2020 Year of the Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage has moved online

The Coronavirus crisis has thrown many 2020 plans into disarray, but cathedrals have quickly found way to reach out to their communities in new and creative ways with plans for 360 degree virtual online tours, online prayer requests, online daily organ recitals, cafes offering a click and collect service, Facebook support groups, and trying to stay open for people to be able to use the space safely for prayer and reflection during these unprecedented times. Look up the website of your nearest cathedral or see an overview here

You can even become a virtual pilgrim online from the comfort of your own home


UK’s Top Attractions open online to the World

ALVA, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions , has shared positive work being carried out by visitor attractions across the UK that have been opening themselves up to online visitors in new ways.


VisitBritain launches ‘Showing Love for Great Britain

VisitBritain has launched a marketing strategy to get people talking positively about visiting us once this crisis has come to end and has invited everyone to join the conversation.


Churches: metal theft

In answer to a Question from Jim Shannon MP [29878] on metal theft from churches, the Second Church Estates Commission, Andrew Selous MP, responded that:

‘The Church of England has witnessed a steady increase in metal theft recently. Between 2018 and 2019, reports of thefts were up 25%. The rise is attributed to an increase in international metal prices. Additionally, significant thefts are being co-ordinated by organised criminals working in teams. The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 had great success initially, but further work is necessary to update the law to reflect the organised nature of this crime. [Source: Commons Hansard, 18 March]


Places of Worship Security Funding Scheme

On 6th April 2020, Zarah Sultana MP asked the Home Secretary ‘how many places of worship have made unsuccessful applications for funding from the Places of Worship Security Funding scheme in each category of place of worship in (a) England and (b) Wales’, to which Kit Malthouse replied that, over the first three years, the Places of Worship scheme had received 431 applications in total, of which 134 were successful and 297 were unsuccessful.


Protecting Places of Worship

The Home Office has also launched a consultation on protecting places of worship. It is asking what steps should be taken to provide great protection from hate crimes for places of worship. Consultation ends on 10th May 2020.


Advice for collections care

There is some useful guidance on the Icon website that may be helpful for (major) churches with museum-standard collections. It has useful tasks that can be done at home and what will need doing when premises are re-opened. 


All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Loneliness

Throughout 2020, this Group is running a major independent inquiry into loneliness.

To form the basis of the inquiry, the APPG has launched a consultation to gather views and evidence on how to better tackle loneliness.