TRAINING: The Witham chairwoman of trustees Shelagh Avery
TRAINING: The Witham chairwoman of trustees Shelagh Avery

THE small army of volunteers who help ensure the smooth running of Barnard Castle's arts centre will receive special training when the complex is given the green light to reopen after the Covid-19 lockdown.
Dozens of helpers give up their time to help The Witham’s small team of staff.
Shelagh Avery, chairwoman of trustees, said the volunteers were “chomping at the bit” to return to the centre.
However, a number of changes are being put in place to ensure social distancing regulations are observed, including a one-way system through the building.
Ms Avery said the initial plan would be to reopen the cafe and shop on the ground floor, with the first floor remaining out of bounds for the time being.
“We have a really buoyant group and we will need quite a few volunteers to help get people round the one-way system,” she said.
This will include volunteer toilet attendants to ensure a “one-in one-out” system is observed.
“We have told the volunteers we are ready to start thinking about how we will open, but we need to make sure the volunteers are as safe as the staff and customers. That will require new practices, training and the provision of PPE,” said Ms Avery.
“At the end of each day during at least the first week of reopening we will carry out a review of what has worked well and what needs improving – and the volunteers will be included. That will build up some new ways of working in the 'new normal'.”
While discussion continues at Government level as to what social distancing measures may be in place, how The Witham operates the cafe is currently being considered.
Ms Avery said: “If the two-metre rule continues, we face quite a challenge. There would only be four or five tables in the cafe space.
“So in that case, we will use the music hall as a cafe area and we are thinking about how best we might use the outdoor space.
“We are going to acquire some additional outdoor furniture so we can use the space when the days are fine.”