As Blackburn Cathedral settles into many months of being home to one of the mass vaccination hubs against Covid-19, the Bishop of Blackburn has praised and thanked all those involved in making it happen.
Rt Rev Julian Henderson describes it as ‘an amazing achievement’ and he also urges everyone who receives a letter to attend for vaccination to do so.
From Monday of this week, thousands of people are expected to attend the centre every week to be vaccinated. Blackburn with Darwen Council is coordinating free parking nearby to facilitate the work.
Vaccinations will take place in the Cathedral’s crypt area beneath the main building, which has a separately accessible secure entrance. Anyone being requested to attend the new mass vaccination hub will receive a letter in due course with full details of what to do.
Bishop Julian said today: “Since the beginning of the pandemic we have been praying for deliverance from the virus. Now, thanks to the brilliance of scientists in this country and overseas, the vaccine will enable us to battle Covid-19 head on.
“For our Cathedral to be able to be at the heart of that battle, offering its building to be a mass vaccination centre, is a wonderful development and I’m delighted we are able to help in this way.
“It’s an amazing achievement to get the centre up and running so quickly and I want to thank everyone involved in making it all happen: The Dean and the whole community at the Cathedral of course; but also the NHS and all the other partners who have been associated with the project in any way, including the local council and also Frank Whittle Partnership, the builders of the centre.”
Bishop Julian continued: “I particularly want to pay tribute and offer thanks to all the Doctors, nurses and other NHS staff who will be on the frontline at the vaccination centre as many thousands of people pass through.
“From the beginning of the pandemic they have all worked tirelessly while facing challenging situations most of us can only imagine.
“That support for our communities continues, but now with the fresh hope of a vaccine. I speak for the whole Diocese when I say we are all incredibly grateful for the sacrifices they have made and will continue to make.”
The Bishop concluded: “Keeping those ongoing sacrifices in mind I also want to take this opportunity to urge anyone who receives a letter, asking them to attend the Cathedral (or any other vaccination centre) for a jab, to do so. This is the way we are going to defeat this virus and this pandemic.
“Across Lancashire we also continue to pray for a swift end to the pandemic and we pray particularly at this time for anyone in our County who has lost a loved one to the virus.”
The Cathedral’s Dean, The Very Rev Peter Howell-Jones added: “I wholeheartedly endorse all the sentiments expressed by Bishop Julian at this time and I appreciate his good wishes to the whole Cathedral community.
“Blackburn Cathedral – like all cathedrals around the country – has welcomed many people through its doors over the years.
“Never before have we done so in the midst of a pandemic but, sitting at the heart of the local community as we do, we felt it was right to offer to be a mass vaccination centre if we could.
“Hospitality and welcome is at the heart of Christianity - we saw that with Jesus on the mountainside giving people food and drink.”
“As the concept of being a vaccination centre now becomes reality here, we also feel the Cathedral has become a great hospitality centre for the community; something which is really important for us to be able to do at this time.”