Nottingham: Catholic cathedral begins 24 hour open door policy

 Nottingham's St Barnabas Cathedral has joined forces with Police and Social Services to train volunteers to keep the church doors open seven days a week. The "Watch and pray" scheme involves a rota of parishioners who devote one hour a week to keeping watch at the Cathedral. This enables the church to stay open to visitors, defying the growing trend of churches locking their doors outside of service times. Already 25 five people have signed up for the scheme and organisers have appealed for more. They say they need at least 100 volunteers to work in small teams to support each other. Nottinghamshire Police and Social Services back the idea and have offered training in handling difficult situations. Monsignor Tom McGovern said: "The Cathedral used to be open 12 hours a day every day but there have been a few thefts and other criminal offences and although such incidents are rare we've been forced to lock the doors when there's nobody around. "This is a step of faith by the mother church of the diocese following the lead of some other parishes which already run rotas. Our recent diocesan assembly revealed that people from far and wide want to come to the Cathedral and we're expecting an increase in visitor numbers." Thousands of people visit the Cathedral each year. Some come for quiet prayer or contemplation, some to enquire about the Catholic faith and others to enjoy the Pugin architecture or to visit the tomb of Nottingham's Mary Potter who is nominated for sainthood. Volunteer Kate Fletcher said: "Churches are mostly locked these days and having a key nearby with a neighbour isn't good enough for people who just want five minutes away from the noise of modern life. "Watch and pray enables us to open the door, put on lights and heating and welcome people. The Cathedral is a lovely peaceful place to sit for an hour so it also benefits the volunteers." Anybody interested in becoming a volunteer with "Watch and Pray" should contact Kate Fletcher on 0115 9605047.

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