News 
Volunteer Bat Roost Visitors, Roger & Sylvia Jiggins nominated for a Natural England GRAFTA award
Volunteer Bat Roost Visitors Roger & Sylvia Jiggins nominated for a Natural England GRAFTA award 

Expert VBRVs Roger & Sylvia Jiggins are in for a chance to win a Green Award for Terrific Acheivers from Natural England! 

County Bat groups can be tremendous sources of support and expertise for church communities living alongside bats. Essex Bat Group is a shining example of a dynamic and proactive Bat Group which is well-linked into, and respected by, the Church of England community in Essex. 
 
This is due to the tireless work of the Volunteer Bat Roost Visitors (VBRV) Roger and Sylvia Jiggins. Their knowledge of Essex bat roosts is unprecedented due to the sheer number of visits they undertake each year. They are expert at resolving sensitive situations, coming up with innovative solutions and as trainers they have secured many more VBRVs over the years. 
 
As well as having many direct links with Essex churches, they have a good relationship with the Diocese of Chelmsford, and undertake the considerable work of going through the monthly Diocesan Advisory Committee agendas, to flag up potential issues with bats. 
 
The Bats in Churches project is working with seven churches in Essex and Essex Bat Group, through Sylvia and Roger, have provided expertise and support, including a very popular presence at the Chignal Smealy village fete. 
 
The National Bat Helpline says: “The Jigginses go the extra mile to support churches, allowing us to provide a level of service we otherwise couldn’t resulting in years of data for Essex churches which helps provide an in-depth understanding of how bats use these churches, helping to conserve the bats in the long term and foster good relations with the churches.” 
 
“Sylvia and Roger are invaluable volunteers. Their wealth of expertise, alongside the careful consideration they put into every roost visit and report means that churches in Essex receive high quality, bespoke advice every time. Their relationship with the Diocesan Advisory Committee in Chelmsford goes a long way to safeguard the bats of Essex.” 
 
“Sylvia and Roger have a wealth of knowledge and are extremely dedicated. It was an absolute pleasure when they showed us around some churches in Essex; an enjoyable and invaluable day. There’s nothing they don’t know about bats and churches!” 
 
“Roger and Sylvia are great! I always know a visit is in good hands when they are on the case! Their knowledge and dedication is awesome.” 
 
We wish them all the best and heartily support their nomination! 
Dr Lotty Packman July bat survey
Expert ecologist Dr Lotty Packman surveys for bats in July 

July 2019: The bat survey season continues... 

For many of our female furry friends, the sole pup of the year has been born and, while they aren’t yet flying very successfully, they’re growing stronger fed by their mother’s milk. Keep your eyes peeled near known maternity roosts for pups on the ground as they’re learning to fly and if you see one report it to the free National Bat Helpline (0345 1300 228). If the helpline is closed, follow the advice on the Bat Conservation Trust website and check here for alternative contacts. 
 
You can see a lovely video of a mum collecting her grounded pup thanks to the work of Berkshire Bat Rescue here. 
 
Surveys Continue 
 
Our ecologists are being kept incredibly busy surveying the year 1 project churches, many of which have already undergone 2 surveys in May and June, with 2 more dusk surveys lined up for July and August. 
 
In Autumn, once the surveys have been completed and the data crunched, the ecologists will be collaborating with the churches, architects and advisors to provide recommendations on how best to manage their bat population. 
 
Cleaning Workshops 
 
Cleaning is often the biggest challenge for churches with a large bat roost; both because of the extra cleaning burden, and the damage to priceless church artefacts. To address this issue, we’ve worked with heritage cleaning experts to design a specialist cleaning procedure to minimise the damage to invaluable and non-replaceable church artefacts caused by bats. 
 
At the moment, we are trialling our bespoke methods with a small selection of project churches. But once we’ve got the techniques perfected, we will be producing a free cleaning booklet that will be available for everyone tasked with cleaning up after the bats. 
 
We will be running further cleaning workshops over the next four years with priority given to project churches, but if you are keen to help with cleaning your local church, or if you’ve got a specific question about cleaning churches inhabited by bats, you can get in touch with our Heritage Advisor Rachel Arnold at rarnold@thecct.org.uk 
 
Citizen Science Study 
 
This summer we have also piloted our new citizen science study where volunteers will be able to survey their favourite churches for bats. These surveys will allow us to better understand how bats use churches across England and the factors influencing their use of churches, as well as allowing us to predict how many churches have roosts and give us a thorough picture of the perspectives of those dealing with churches which are supporting bats. 
 
While only 70 churches will be part of this summer’s pilot, the citizen science study will be launched officially next year. It would be great to have your support to do this, whether that is taking part as a volunteer, or meeting a volunteer that has contacted you about the survey. 
 
If you have any questions on the Bats in Churches citizen science study please email our Training & Surveys Officer Claire Boothby on churches@bats.org or visit our Get Involved page to find out more. 
 
If you’d like to find out more about the survey process and what it entails, you can watch our brand new survey training videos. 
 

April 2019: Bats in Churches project takes off! 

The Bats in Churches project is now officially underway with the new team on board and committed to seeing the project through over the next five years. The end of last year saw solutions successfully developed for the three pilot churches, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund confirm a grant of £3.8 million, securing the majority of the project funding. 
 
Our engagement, heritage and volunteer training experts, together with bat and conservation specialists, will be working with the 102 churches taking part in this trailblazing project. Our aim is to find locally appropriate and sustainable solutions to ensure the churches and their communities are able to thrive alongside their bats. Each church provides a unique set of challenges some of which will be addressed using Natural England’s specially created Bats in Churches Class Licence. 
 
We will be offering additional support to churches looking to host events and will be providing materials to further engage the local community with their church and resident bats. We shall also offer specialist cleaning workshops and work to bolster links between churches and local bat groups. This will help to build a network of volunteers to support the efforts of the dedicated church volunteers whose work is often made harder by the presence of bats. 
 
Over the past few weeks the team has been getting in touch with the project churches, going over plans and booking in visits. We have also contracted more specialist ecologists able to implement the Bats in Churches Licence, with some large-scale solutions already underway. And work has begun on a national survey database to collect information on how bats are interacting with churches across the country. 

About the Bats in Churches partnership 

Natural England, the Church of England, Historic England, the Bat Conservation Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust have come together as the Bats in Churches project. This unique partnership is bringing together cross-sector experts, church communities and volunteers to address the issues that can arise when bats and historic churches co-exist and help to ensure a harmonious future for both. 
 
After securing funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with additional funding from the partners and the AllChurches Trust, the Bats in Churches project is underway and runs until 2023. The project is working with over 100 churches across England to trial ways to manage the impacts of bats in churches as to solve conflicts where they have arisen. 
 
The project seeks to safeguard the future of protected bat roosts sheltered in England's churches, whilst reducing the negative impact on the fabric of these historic buildings and the people who use them. 
 
To do this, the project is bringing together experts and volunteers from across the natural and cultural conservation realms to investigate and put in place practical solutions to the problems caused by bats in historic churches, to help church communities to find a place of peace to live alongside their bat populations. 
 
The five year project will work with some of the most severely affected churches to support them to serve their communities without restriction. The project will help them to protect their historic spaces without harming bat habitats. The partnership will recruit hundreds of volunteers to help care for their historic churches and the bats who live in them, while thousands more will be able to get involved in an exciting citizen science study, education programmes and community-led bat and church events. 

Bats in Churches Class Licence 

The problems presented by large bat populations roosting and breeding in churches are unique. On one hand, churches are precious places of historic, cultural and religious importance that are treasured by the communities that use and enjoy them. On the other, bats are rare and fascinating flying mammals that warrant strong legal protection due to historic population declines. Protecting these bat populations while ensuring their impacts upon churches is minimised is a particular challenge. 
 
This is why a dedicated Bats in Churches Class licence has been developed by Natural England to give highly trained ecologists more freedom that ever before to devise ways for bats to live in churches without negatively impacting the church and its use. This new licence is specially for use in churches where large bat populations are causing unacceptably high levels of damage to church fabric and monuments and disruption to congregations. It enables highly skilled professional ecologists to work with those who care for churches to reduce the impacts being caused while facilitating the best outcomes for bats and for the buildings in which they live. 
Next steps: 
 
If you're involved in a project church and haven't heard from us yet please email Bats.Churches@naturalengland.org.uk 
 
For churches looking for advice on their bat population, the Bat Conservation Trust helpline is free to use on 0345 1300 228 
 
If you would like to receive all future news and updates emails, please sign up for our quarterly newsletter  
Designed and created by it'seeze
Our site uses cookies. For more information, see our cookie policy. Accept cookies and close
Reject cookies Manage settings