Durham Cathedral is launching an ambitious and innovative plan to safeguard its future in a post-Covid world.

With support from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the backing of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, the cathedral is embarking upon a programme of “transformational change”, laying foundations for its recovery to ensure it can play a central role in the cultural and economic revival of the region.

The Change Programme, which will run until spring 2021, involves the cathedral’s staff and volunteer teams, supported in key areas by external consultants.

It is a collaborative process, designed to capture the best ideas for improvements from all levels of the organisation. Fundamentally, ‘people’ are at the heart of the Programme, from improving the experience of those who visit and worship, to transforming organisational culture to support more agile, digital, and collaborative ways of working.

In launching the programme, the cathedral is preparing itself to make the most of recent legislation, the Cathedrals Measure, which will move cathedrals to regulation by the Charity Commission for the first time.

It will also take forward plans for greater income generation and efficiencies, with the aim of delivering a balanced budget by the end of financial year 2022/23. The devastating impact of Covid-19, which reduced the Cathedral’s income by around 60 per cent, has recently led to a consultation process and a number of redundancies.

The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham, has said: “With each generation, the cathedral must find new ways of realising its mission through worship, education, conservation and the arts, and maximising its contribution to the cultural, spiritual and economic life of the North East.

“This has never been more important than it is now, as we come to terms with the impact of Covid-19.”

The chamber, announced the Change Programme, as it continues to support the cathedral’s efforts to advance its life and work.

In 2018 and 2019, for instance, through two black-tie dinners in the Cathedral’s magnificent Romanesque nave, the Chamber helped to raise over £200k for the Foundation 2020 appeal. Together with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Barclays, this contributed to the creation of a £10m endowment to safeguard the Cathedral’s annual maintenance programme in perpetuity.

Chamber chief executive James Ramsbotham, said: “We are always delighted to lend our support to the cathedral, and encourage our members to do the same.

“It is such a wonderful part of our region’s heritage. Restrictions on visitors and worshippers creates difficulties in terms of income, but we understand public health concerns and encourage people to support its fundraising efforts in other ways.

“The cathedral has survived many challenges throughout the centuries, as it has served our communities, and we know that this pandemic will be no exception.”

This winter, the cathedral is teaming jp with the County Durham Community Foundation on a Christmas appeal, Comfort and Joy, providing opportunities for members of the public to bring a moment of happiness to individuals and families who have been affected by social isolation.

About 1200 beneficiaries have been identified by six grassroots organisations, and each will receive a specially designed Christmas card, signed by the Dean.

For more information, or to support Comfort and Joy, visit: https://localgiving.org/charity/durhamcathedral/project/Comfort-and-Joy/.