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Derby Cathedral

One of the Cathedral’s seven areas of mission is mission to the poor. There is considerable engagement with, and support for, other organisations. Much of this activity is enabled by:

· having a Canon Pastor with a remit that allows for this wider ministry;
· the covenant between the City Centre Churches. There is a monthly breakfast meeting and even where they are not actively collaborating in specific initiatives, they support one another in prayer;
· having a Justice and Peace Group at the Cathedral;
· the involvement of members of the Cathedral congregation as volunteers.


The facilities at the Cathedral are limited and therefore not much can be done on the premises, but once a month there is a Sunday lunch comprising members of the congregation and homeless and other vulnerable people. This began about seven years ago and over that time has grown from 10-15 participants to around 40. The ‘bring and share’ lunch starts immediately after the morning service but there is absolutely no suggestion that coming to the lunch is conditional upon having attending the service. In addition, Derby Housing Aid use the Cathedral free of charge for the annual Homelessness Sunday service.

Wider activities include:

· An ecumenical Street Pastors scheme, run by Derby City Mission. The Cathedral has volunteers, including the Canon Pastor, who act as Street Pastors and contributes £100 per person to the scheme to cover costs such as uniforms. The scheme has been going for 2 - 3 years. It has been influential in producing closer relationships with the City Council and the Police. They are been reassured that it is not an exercise in proselytising and have seen how useful it is when, for example, there are incidents outside nightclubs and the Pastors can help to calm down and care for bystanders.

· The Canon Pastor is a trustee of the Padley Centre which is a longstanding Derby charity working with some of the most socially excluded people in the local area, such as ones who are homeless, have mental health problems or addiction problems or are ex-offenders. The Cathedral supports the Centre with harvest gifts.

· The Cathedral Chapter has occasionally funded a breakfast for homeless people.

· The city centre church, St Peter’s organises Derby City Centre Chaplaincy providing chaplains to supermarkets, banks, cinema, department stores and market, recruiting and training volunteers from local churches. Members of the Cathedral are volunteer chaplains.

· Volunteers are also involved in debt counselling with the City Mission and St Peter’s linked into Christians Against Poverty.

· The Cathedral is often visited by asylum seekers, many of whom have been given individual support such as being given meals and accompanied to hearings. The Justice and Peace Group provides a network of people to draw on for the relevant assistance.

· The Cathedral vergers available throughout the week are equipped with information so that they can signpost enquirers with social needs to other organisations.

· The Cathedral sends volunteers to the soup run organised by the Baptist Church.

· There is support to the Salvation Army in their work with sex workers: often the contact is made through the soup run that gives a stepping stone to befriending and demonstrating the approachability of the church.

· Once a week on a Saturday afternoon, church members ‘Pray on the Streets’ in the city centre, that is, they approach people to see if they have prayer requests. Sometimes, people can voice anxieties such as debt and then there is also the opportunity to refer them to organisations that can help them.

· A retired clergyperson who works in a multi-faith way with people with HIV/AIDS, is just starting to be involved at the Cathedral

· The Canon Pastor is on various committees, such as the one that allocates money to homeless charities. Derby has boxes around the city for people to give to the homeless. This is administered in partnership with the City Council.

· In talking with members of the Cathedral who may be housebound or otherwise no longer able to be actively involved in community activity, the Canon Pastor indicates the important role they can play in praying, for example, for people who are homeless, ill or in financial need.

Key success factors

The role of the Canon Pastor is critical: the opportunity she has to work in this way as a chaplain not just to the Cathedral community but to the wider community. It is also vital that the approach is ecumenical (and often inter-faith). It enables a far greater impact and makes it easier to work with secular partners.

A main theme running through all the different initiatives is that of breaking down barriers and suspicion: reconciling and getting people to talk to one another.

Another key factor is the role of volunteers within the life of the Cathedral and in its wider community action. At Derby, the volunteers belong to the Guild of King Edward and there is an annual service recognising, valuing and showing appreciation for all that they do.


One of the barriers encountered is people holding entrenched positions. These can take the form of judgemental attitudes towards people in poverty. There may be some slight signs that these are breaking down because of the increasing social need that is currently evident. Or they can be seen in amongst those whose view of Christian mission begins and ends with evangelisation. Again, this standpoint is perhaps less prevalent than it was.

Challenges and opportunities for the future

The main challenge for the future, which can also be seen as an opportunity, is the growing need in the community immediately around the Cathedral and more widely. More specifically, there is awareness of the need to do more in relation both to young people and the elderly.

 Canon Elaine Jones