Friday’s special: Church of England seeks PR expert to promote harmony between bats & worshippers
Steve’s breakdown: The ‘Bats in Churches Communications Officer’ will help to ease tensions between roosting bat populations and church-goers fed up of cleaning up their droppings.
Just a little demonstration to how far we go to find the stories you need. Happy Friday 😀
LONDON, England: The Church of England is on the hunt for a new PR officer with a rather unusual brief: to promote harmony between Church of England congregations and roosting bat populations.
Old churches make attractive homes for roosting bats, full of dark corners and boasting plenty of entry and exit points. Conservationists suspect more than half of all Church of England churches across the country are home to roosting bats.
Most have only small populations which cause church-goers little trouble, but in some cases large breeding populations have settled, causing chaos for the local community.
The small volunteer teams running local churches often can’t keep up with the cleaning regime needed to keep areas clear of urine and droppings, which can damage historic items and prevent community groups from safely using the space.
The smell can also deter couples looking for a wedding venue – a vital source of income for many rural churches. Some churches have been forced to unofficially close their doors in the face of the challenge.
The five-year Bats in Churches project is working to develop strategies to reduce the impact of roosting bats on churches and their local communities.
Recruitment is underway for a £34,000 per year communications officer for the scheme, who is responsible for working with bat experts and local church communities to help ease tensions.
“It’s about bringing peace to the people,” said Ione Fitzpatrick, who currently occupies the role. “The communities generally have gone from a place of being really quite desperate in some cases to a place of real hope.”
The Bats in Churches project is a partnership between Natural England, the Church of England, the Bat Conservation Trust, the Churches Conservation Trust, and Historic England.