July 2020 Update: Getting the ball rolling again

The project is facing the challenges presented by the pandemic head on and forging ahead with our plans while adhering to guidance as lockdown is slowly lifted. Churches are cautiously beginning to re-open and we’re getting ready for the autumn season of bat mitigation works at some of our churches. A huge thank you to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for supporting us through this tricky time.

For those re-opening your churches to visitors in line with Church of England guidance and thinking about how best to ensure social distancing, this video from St Nicholas' in North Walsham is certainly worth a watch. There is more on re-opening post-lockdown below.

We absolutely loved this film from the Essex Wildlife Trust of ecologist Neil Bedford surveying one of our project churches, the beautiful All Saints in Great Horkesley, Essex, for bats. It's a wonderful glimpse into the busy summer life of a bat ecologist (getting up at 2am for work!) and of the impact and challenges presented by bats in churches.

Covid-19 guidance for churches

There is a lot of excellent new guidance on keeping your church building safe when re-opening after lockdown, so we’ve put together some useful tips to help you prepare and to encourage social distancing once the doors are open.

Our fabulously knowledgeable heritage advisor Rachel Arnold has also put together a comprehensive guide on cleaning churches with bat roosts post-lockdown that you can download here.

For more information, please refer to the changing government guidance and the Church of England coronavirus resource page, which is regularly kept up to date.

If you’re thinking about visiting a Churches Conservation Trust church, please do read their covid-19 advice on how to do that while staying safe.

Volunteer bat surveys given the green light

We’re delighted to announce that we have now been able to launch this year’s round of volunteer surveys. With churches beginning to re-open, volunteers are now able to seek permission from churches to look for evidence of bats as part of our Bats in Churches Study.

The findings from the study will help us to understand how bats are using churches across England and the attitudes towards them. On registration, volunteers will receive instructions on getting in touch with their local churches and observing our carefully laid out social distancing guidelines while surveying.

The key change to the original survey plan is that volunteers will be conducting interviews with church representatives over the phone rather than in person. They are also advised that churches may be less open to surveys due to coronavirus concerns in which case they are asked to try a different church or try again next summer.

The surveys will run every summer until the end of August 2022 and you can find out more about what they entail and how to sign up on our website.

Claire Boothby taking part in the Bats in Churches volunteer survey by collecting droppings from a scatter on a wooden surface
Claire Boothby taking part in the Bats in Churches volunteer survey.

Bats in Churches LIVE will be back soon

Thank you to everyone that attended our Bats in Churches LIVE events over the lockdown period and to all our wonderful guests who took the time out to present their expert topics.

We received lots of heartfelt and constructive feedback from attendees and guests, the most common sentiment being ‘we want more’! Taking this onboard, we are planning to organise another season of lunchtime talks in the autumn so watch this space for details. We’ve shared some of the lovely feedback below.

“The whole series has been fascinating and extremely well presented. Thank you so much for these webinar sessions. It's been an absolute privilege to have been able to attend them! An opportunity which I may not have had without the lockdown!”

 “Please make more, they are brilliant and much more accessible than travelling to an event. Thank you so much!!”

If you missed the first round or would like to watch any of them again, you can find them all here.

A big bat box thank you

We’d like to say a huge thank you to the Nest Box Company who provided us with 12 eco bat boxes for St Peter’s church in Netherseal, Derbyshire. Derbyshire Bat Conservation Group will be installing those in the churchyard’s trees later this year. These wonderful boxes can be monitored without being opened and disturbing the furry residents, so we’re really looking forward to hearing about any critters that move in!

Upcoming Events

29th August: International Bat Night

This annual celebration of bats sees bat events for the public taking place across the country. Find out how to get involved and download the International Bat Night Pack from the Bat Conservation Trust website.

11th September, 7-8.30pm: Heydon's Virtual Bat Night

Project ecologist Phil Parker will be leading a virtual bat walk covering Heydon Church in Norfolk via Zoom. Phil will be taking us through Heydon’s bat story with pre-recorded footage of the bats. We’ll also be hearing about the history of the church from our heritage advisor Rachel Arnold and from churchwarden Angela Bucksey. If you fancy getting your nature fix without leaving the sofa this event is the one for you! Register to attend here.

You can also win a prize for the best bat or church creation – think biscuits, masks, models or more. Inspiration can be found on our resources page in the ‘Schools & Families’ section. Let your creativity run wild!

13th October, 7-8.30pm: Online training: Telling Stories- An Easy Guide To Interpretation

Are you thinking of making a new leaflet, guidebook or audio tour for your church or for your local bat / wildlife group? Do you want to tell people more about the bats living in and around your church, or share your amazing church history with visitors or your congregation? Join us for an online training session that will show you how to create and write all kinds of exciting interpretation to help people discover and celebrate the story of your church, or the wonders of the wildlife in your local area. You’ll also be able to share and get feedback on any particular projects you have in mind.

20th October, 7-8.30pm: Online training: An Easy Guide To Event Planning

If you’re new to running events, want to increase your fundraising, or are looking at running new and larger events, this session is for you. We will cover all the basics of event planning, for any size of event from a few people to a few thousand! We’ll discuss choosing the right events, timing, tickets, pricing, paperwork and the practicalities of making a successful, simple event people will want to come to over and over again.