If you've passed by the Institute lately and seen it in its dormant state, you'd be forgiven for thinking that nothing at all was going on, but that's not entirely been the case.
Whilst we've not been able to trade or come together for meetings, there have been regular catch-ups by telephone conference between a limited number of key figures from the Committee, the Stewardess and the Shildon Heritage Alliance CIC for the purposes of monitoring the situation with the coronavirus lockdown, mitigating financial impacts and planning a way to become operational again once the Government say we can.
The Secretary of the Committee made a successful application for relief at the beginning of the lockdown, which has helped to meet some of the financial challenges and managed to place the staff on furlough. The Committee Treasurer and Stewardess have been working on planning changes to the way visitors are served in order to mitigate the likelihood of the spread of coronavirus whilst still offering great service.
A number of additional changes have been made around the place, including a little more work on the spruce up of the Hackworth Lounge, following on from the repainting that the team from PPG carried out pre-lockdown. The Lounge carpet has been removed, ready to be replaced, thanks to the kind help of Shildon businessman Paul Harle, and we've seen the installation of a new handrail at the entrance to help some of our older members to manage the steps. We are particularly grateful to our Committee member Selwyn for the latter, as well as for his brilliant 'What's On" board outside enabling passers by to see what's coming up.
The Committee have prepared some new signage explaining the new Covid-19 measures whilst the Save Our Stute volunteers have bought bar top protective screens and floor marking tape to make clear how everything will work when we re-open.
We have also been looking at the possibilities for making more use of our fantastic outdoor spaces to enable folk to spread out more, if and when we are allowed to reopen and to potentially hold some events outdoors taking advantage of the hopefully fine summer weather.
So we're hoping that someday soon, when you're ready, and allowed, to come back - we'll be ready to welcome you, perhaps not with open arms (don't want to spread that virus) but with a cheery smile and a few happy greetings.
(17th Jun 2020)