Taking bookings again
Tue 16 June 2020
It's a wonderful feeling to be putting new bookings in to the diary after months of handling nothing but cancellations! Delighted to be able to start supporting people in ministry in more practical ways again, starting with private retreats. Lockdown has been such a challenging time to be in any sort of leadership, let alone the personal/health/family issues clergy and ministers may have been carrying alongside their church responsibilities.
Here at Sheldon we have been continuing to work through all the practical things that we need to do differently now. There there has been much re-organising of furniture, ordering of supplies and rewriting of information - from website to guest folders to staff protocols. Places like the Laundry and Reception have been a heap of muddle out of which order is starting to appear.
In August we plan to start running catered events again - small numbers, 2m distancing, doing things differently. In July 10 of our hospitality volunteers are joining us for 48 hours to role play guests so we can try out how we feed and water people, how we manage prayers in chapel, how we keep the communal spaces as safe as possible, etc. The summer and autumn programme has gone through several changes, but this now looks like a reasonably settled offering in place and we're delighted to be taking bookings now. We are sad to have cancelled the 12,000-mile Service weeks but have added extra R5 (Read, Rest, Retreat, Relax, Recuperate) weeks, and scheduled retreats led by Simon Parke, Don Macgregor, Steve Radley and Peter Price. Group sizes will be smaller and we are making our booking system more agile in the face of more disruption anticipated over the months ahead. Sheldon is very well placed to find new ways of offering good retreat space under the new conditions.
As a community we have now divided ourselves up into three separate households to minimise transmission risk between us. It makes daily life more complicated but will help us keep the Sheldon show on the road if any of us get ill or have to self-isolate. It is very bizarre using screen sharing from adjacent offices instead of just popping round in person, but we're doing whatever it takes! At the moment we're still enjoying the shared pattern of a Monday to Friday working week and having weekends off. Very nice while it lasts, but once we have reasonable numbers of guests back in residence we will return to running a 7 day/week operation and reorganise ourselves accordingly. Members of our staff team will start returning to work in August to learn the new routines. In normal years we close Sheldon for a couple of weeks in September for our own holidays. This year we will stay open.
Masks and Walks
Looking at what we could offer to replace a little of our lost income, we have been making fabric face masks in a variety of colourful cotton fabrics and selling them through the theatre website. We have also temporarily opened up the Sheldon grounds for non-resident guests to enjoy an outdoor retreat/walk day. Details here.
Membership of the Sheldon Hub has continued inching towards 2,000. One member wrote recently "Not sure if I will ever make it to real life Sheldon, but the Hub is brilliant - even more so in the current strange times. Somehow, everything seems to be piling up again, and I feel really low and missing social contact, but the Hub feels like another family...." One of the success stories of the Hub, and the associated academic research we commissioned, has been to raise awareness of the serious flaws in the Anglican Clergy Discipline Measure. The agenda was deferred from May but we are now expecting the bishops to vote on 24th June to replace the CDM. We are liaising with Lambeth, the Faithworkers' branch of Unite, and the Ecclesiastical Law Society to try and ensure the replacement does justice well and reduces the risk of good clergy being mangled in a bad system.
We continue to be very grateful to Friends who have increased standing orders or sent gifts to help sustain Sheldon through challenging times. There is a Paypal link or for lower transaction charges login to our website and click on the donations tab. If you don't like doing things online just give us a ring!
For daily pictures, news and occasional fun, take a look at our social media channels
And we'll keep this page
Sheldon bookings updated as we re-open.