Wakefield Cathedral’s Community Outreach Programme emerged after a major refurbishment to the cathedral. Coordinated by the Community Outreach Officer, Gillian Bunn, the programme aims to teach people about the history and significance of the cathedral, as well as uniting the local community. It is split across five key areas including; pre-school children, school age children, Christian nurture for young people, adult education and volunteer outreach.
Pre-Covid, activities included Cathedral Crafts for adults, which enables older people to reconnect with the community through creative activities; Film Food Friends Fun group aimed at 12 to 16-year-olds; summer holiday drop-in days and arts and crafts for school age children; and heritage open days packed full of tours, historic titbits and teaching.
“I love my job, I think my favourite part is being able to share such a wonderful place with everyone who comes into the cathedral – regardless of their faith, age, background or culture. I never cease to be surprised by the things that some of the children notice in the cathedral with fresh eyes every time.” - Gillian Bunn, Community Outreach Officer
Benefact Trust funded Gillian’s role from 2018 to 2020 and supported her in the cathedral’s mission to better engage with the community at large, but especially with younger families.
One year into her post, visitor numbers to cathedral activities rose significantly, as hundreds of people attended the Music Makers workshop and Rhubarb Rhubarb, which complemented the city’s Rhubarb Festival. Many of the participants had never visited the cathedral before.
Following this success, in 2018, Wakefield Cathedral was named in the top 10 of inspirational places to visit during Heritage Open Days for its family friendly event themed around Extraordinary Women.
It’s not always been sunshine and roses, and like many other cathedrals and churches, the COVID-19 pandemic had a massive effect on Wakefield’s physical community outreach. However, not to be deterred, community outreach activities moved online and they have been hosting online events including Heritage Open Days, Messy Cathedral and online school visits, ever since.