Why is Contagious cancelled?

Why is Contagious cancelled?

Coronavirus Pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted us all in many ways. The Government have introduced unprecedented measures to control the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives. Our priority is the safety and welfare of the children, young people, volunteers and staff in our care. So we are following the current government instructions to stay at home.

We have listened to the Government and read scientific reports that suggest the measures of social distancing, isolation, banning of groups of people and intense hygiene recommendations, are likely to continue for about six months. Even if there is a partial lifting of the lockdown, it is very likely that the social distancing measures will continue and anyone displaying symptoms will need to be isolated.

Venues

All of our venues are currently shut down as a result of the pandemic and they have cancelled many events in the short term. We have a good relationship with all of our venues and they have released us from our contractual obligations and most have returned our deposits. Everyone realises these are unprecedented times and we are working together to ensure we all bounce back next year and continue providing great quality conferences.

Low numbers

Since the virus outbreak the numbers of people booking Contagious has, understandably, dropped off. We were initially encouraged by the many people who had booked over the winter, but sadly now the conferences would struggle to reach the minimum numbers required to make them viable. Furthermore, the numbers of leaders who have booked mean that we are below the supervision levels we would need. Leaders are concerned for their own safety, employment uncertainty, financial insecurity and are not in a position to commit to serving on Contagious.

Delay in preparations

Our staff and volunteers are working from home or self isolating which means we are behind in the preparations for Contagious 2020. Furthermore, with the social lockdown we are unable to meet in teams for planning (many of our leaders have limited capacity with the increased demands from their churches for online material). One of our values is that we are committed to local church, so we always want to support our leaders in their local church ministry. In April and May we were due to gather our teams together for our training days, but these are no longer possible.

Due to the uncertainty, we have delayed spending any money on resources, printing, books, publicity or activity contracts to protect the charity. However, we are now at the point where those items cannot be delayed further, so we had to make the call whether we continued or not.

Contagious Charity Survival

Contagious is a small charity which relies on the income from our conferences to operate. We do not have any trust funds or large donors behind us, though we are hugely grateful to some individuals and many churches who make donations to our work. With the cancellation of Contagious 2020 we need to stretch our funding over two years.

To protect Contagious we have made the decision to apply to the Government’s Employee Retention Scheme and place our paid staff on furlough. This means that staff will not be available from May 2020 until further notice.

We are also inviting people to make a donation to Contagious, either with their booking fees or through our normal efficient routes. [Link]. Thank you.

We will bounce back in the autumn and with your support we hope to be in a healthy position to plan for 2021.

What if’s

No one knows how the next few months will pan out, but it doesn’t stop us asking those ‘what if’ questions. We have been considering carefully the following ‘what if’s’ which we share with you to demonstrate our thorough investigations and reasoning behind the decision to cancel.

What if venues open for business in July/August?

If the Government decide to lift all social distancing measures and restrictions on groups meeting together, and venues decide to open, we will not be able to quickly cobble together an event. There are many processes needed to prepare for our conferences including

  • safe recruitment of leaders with DBS/PVG checks and references;
  • publishing and printing of teaching material;
  • collection and communication of medical and dietary requirements;
  • activity planning and;
  • teaching preparation.

We also considered the impact on leaders, many of whom will have been in lockdown for a significant period and will probably want to devote their time to their local churches/workplace and visit families.

What if some venues open towards the end of the summer?

Again, we have considered this, but we do not feel this is fair to all our Contagious family. We have been excited about studying Revelation and other subjects, so if those early conferences miss out and the later events enjoy the material, this does not seem fair. We would rather postpone the 2020 teaching programme to next year so that everyone together can enjoy the great teaching in our conferences.

What if we were to run a conference with 2m social distancing?

We have considered this. We could half numbers in bedrooms from say 4 down to 2 (some of the dorms have 12 beds). Some rooms have bunks side by side so even if we half the numbers, people would not be 2 metres apart. Many bathrooms are shared. Social distancing throughout the day would be difficult at meal times, small groups, seminars and main meetings. Can you image a SUS group tournament where everyone remains 2 metres apart? Some of our centres have swimming pools or gymnasiums – would they be available? MAX west would not be the same without ‘Zumba with Faith’; Contagious ScoNo would never survive without a Ceilidh; and Central would not function with a wide game where people remain 2 metres apart! We thought about having two Big Teach meetings at the same time with people sat three seats apart on every other row, but the impact on relationships, the practical difficulties and the stress for leaders would be too much. We are sorry, but social distancing measures mean it is near impossible run a quality great conference that we all love.

What if a person became ill with Covid-19 on Contagious?

The current Government advice if a person becomes symptomatic is to self isolate for 7 days. All areas of the building/s the person had occupied or potentially touched would need to be deep cleaned and left unoccupied for 72 hours. We have had to consider how our volunteers would manage and supervise the young person. What personal protective equipment (PPE) would be required for our volunteers? How would the person leave/be collected and continue to self-isolate and not contaminate other areas? We have regrettably concluded that it would be unreasonable to expect our volunteer leaders to manage a case such as this.

We are aware of a case recently where a young person attending a residential weekend, displayed symptoms of the Coronavirus. NHS 111 advised the leaders to isolate the young person and that if the case were proven to be C-19 they would need to shutdown the camp and send everyone home. We all know the symptoms for Coronavirus are so similar to the common cold that we envisage many people could be isolated during a week of Contagious.

What if the pandemic goes away in the autumn, could we have a Contagious weekend?

We are open to the possibility of running some weekend events in the autumn, but no promises! This will depend on how deep the social-distancing measures go through the summer and whether venues and leaders are available.

What if I want to return next year, will my booking be held?

Yes! Everyone who has booked for 2020 so far will be reserved a place for 2021 (whether or not you have requested a refund/donation or for us to hold the money). You will receive an email towards the end of the year asking you whether you would like to confirm your place and make any changes to your registration form. Those who may be moving up an age group will be reserved a place in the older group.

If you have any other questions please complete the form below and we will do our best to answer. Please note, most of our staff are now on Furlough so it make take longer to get back to you.