15th May 2020

A letter from our Chair and Chief Executive

Dear Volunteers, Members & Friends

Over the last two months the teams at York Civic Trust and Fairfax House, working from home, have been delivering some amazing work across all fronts. Hopefully this great digital content has been seen by and reached more people than ever before. You may have seen some of it in our  e-newsletter, and we have had a regular feature in The York Press, where we have been able to raise the profile of individual objects or plaques.

We have also been pushing forward on our planning and advocacy work – especially concerning York Central and trying to regularly make contact with our museum room hosts to ensure that they are in good health. Behind the scenes, we have been working on developing our internal processes, procedures and project management with one eye on what the future might look like for us an organisation and as a city.

Our team of researchers, writers and reviewers have been feverishly refreshing the information that we will make available to our volunteers and visitors in Fairfax House when we reopen. We have been regularly completing our checks of the museum building and our collections, ensuring that everything is in order. This work has kept everyone fruitfully employed, provided some really useful learning to carry forward, and has strengthened links within the team at a time when being apart could have been very isolating.

As we progress through this monumentally disruptive and shocking year, the outlook for the timetable to re-open our museum and shop, as well as income earned from our rental properties and our investments, looks ever more uncertain and full of financial risk. With the future resilience of our organisation in mind, the Board of Trustees took the decision this week to utilise the Government’s COVID Job Retention Scheme, and place the majority of the employees on furlough leave from Monday 18th May. This decision was not taken lightly, but was considered the right decision to safeguard our organisation’s future.

This will mean that, in effect, we will wind down all but the purely essential work that needs to be undertaken to ensure that as a charity, museum, business and employer we are compliant with our commitments and maintain a profile and influence within the city as it starts to rebuild. A skeleton staff of three employees will remain working in order to deliver this work. However, with such a small number of retained staff, we will only be able to deliver a minimum level of activity. At present we are unsure how long this situation will last. It will be at least for a period of three weeks, but it is possible that it will be much longer.

We will continue to monitor the situation. When we feel it is right to resume activities we will, of course, be pleased to announce this. We are committed to the welfare of our staff, volunteers and members and ensure that our staff remain supported and connected during this period of furlough leave.

We look forward to the future very positively, even if we are all a little uncertain as to what the next few months might look like.

Thank you for your support.


Stay well and best wishes,

Stephen and Andrew

Stephen Lusty, Chair – York Civic Trust

Andrew Morrison, Chief Executive – York Civic Trust