The Galilee Porch at Lincoln Cathedral has been temporarily fenced off in the interests of public safety and to prevent damage to the building.
The area has been monitored for some time following a number of incidents, and after other interventions failed to work, it was reluctantly fenced off following fire damage.
The Chapter Clerk of the Cathedral, Will Harrison, said: “The Cathedral has a long history of working with those in need of shelter and support, and we continue to work with individuals who find themselves in challenging circumstances, and with agencies which work with those in crisis. We have done our utmost to support homeless people practically, and we have always welcomed the majority whom we have come to know, and who have respected the shelter provided by the Cathedral.
“However, following a series of serious incidents, we had to reassess the situation which was found to be posing unacceptable risks to the public, to staff, to our choristers and to those sleeping in the porch, particularly during the long dark nights.
“Our staff were daily removing human waste that was found on and around the Cathedral building. Not only is this a health risk for the public and those who shelter there, it was proving a hazard to staff who were tasked with cleaning the porch.
“We also found significant damage as a result of a fire in the Galilee Porch which posed serious danger to the individuals sheltering in the porch, and had the potential to cause devastating damage to the fabric of the building. In light of this, it was essential to act to ensure the safety of all those using the area and to protect the Cathedral from further damage.
“We recognise that this has been a particularly difficult year, and that more people than ever need additional support with all aspects of daily life, including housing, unemployment and their mental health.”
Lincoln Cathedral welcomes all and provides pastoral support for anyone that would like to talk. We also encourage anyone who is experiencing problems, especially with homelessness, to contact one of the many organisations in the city and beyond who can offer practical help and support, including:
The Nomad Centre – https://www.lincsymca.co.uk/accommodation/night-shelter/
Crisis – https://www.crisis.org.uk/
Citizens’ Advice – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
Statement from Caroline Killeavy, CEO of YMCA Lincolnshire
“I fully support the action that Lincoln Cathedral have been forced to take. Their action has been prompted by serious Health & Safety and fire related concerns, and is no indication of their lack of care or compassion for those facing homelessness.
The team and community of Lincoln Cathedral have shown nothing but unwavering support for our work for many, many years. Lincoln Cathedral is the site for our annual Sleep Easy event, raising over £25,000 each year to fund essential homelessness related services. In addition to the cathedral raising funds through service collections and special events etc., the Dean of Lincoln has also taken a personal interest in our work. We have worked together to ensure resident spiritual engagement and increase public awareness of the issues surrounding homelessness and modern slavery. In this city we work in partnership to tackle social issues such as homelessness and there are many specialist partners who practically support those in need. Lincoln Cathedral work closely with many of these partners.”
YMCA Lincolnshire operate the Nomad Centre in the city, a unique facility offering en-suite rooms to those experiencing homelessness. The Centre has provided shelter to over 300 people this year, all previously sleeping on the streets.