As spring approaches, we would like to give you an update about Woodbrooke. We have already successfully navigated many unexpected challenges during the pandemic, thanks to the support of our many friends. We have moved from running a handful of courses online to offering a large programme of learning and opportunities for online worship in this way. This has meant our learning has become more accessible and more inclusive for many people.
We are keen to continue our focus on online learning, but we are looking forward to delivering some of our learning in person around Britain, working closely with the Local Development Workers, and possibly holding a few courses and retreats at The Woodbrooke Centre too.
Woodbrooke as a place, beloved by many Friends, has had many difficulties to overcome in the pandemic. Woodbrooke the place and the Woodbrooke learning programme have always been synonymous but the pandemic has changed Woodbrooke and we find ourselves at a crossroads. While the Woodbrooke Centre has remained open for most of the last two years, the business model that the centre was operating before the pandemic is no longer viable. For example, many people have asked when we are reopening for Bed and Breakfast, and the answer is we simply can’t afford to do so. B&B was only ever intended to fill in the gaps when we had spare bedrooms from residential courses and conferences, and it doesn’t work economically if you have too few residential events, as the gaps are just too big to fill.
We are heartened that many of our local customers are using us for day events and meetings, and we know how important it is to many people, far beyond just the Quaker community. We have also seen good uptake of our self-catering flat. We are not currently able to offer individual stays at the Woodbrooke Centre beyond this self-catering offer; however we do have some weekends available to book for your Meeting or group to hold a residential event. We can offer tailored teaching for these events from one of our experienced team of tutors to enhance your time together.
As anyone who has responsibility for property knows, there are always choices to be made that are right for the long term and not just for the immediate future: it’s about stewardship. Trustees are therefore taking time to consider Woodbrooke as a place and explore its purpose and how it fulfils our ministry. They will be working closely with staff, partners and neighbours, such as the Bournville Village Trust, as well as Friends, to discern a way forward. This isn’t an easy task and we ask for your support and upholding as we work on this over the coming months to look at all possibilities.
Please continue to take advantage of the wealth of opportunities Woodbrooke offers and do not hesitate to be in touch to share your thoughts.
Ingrid Greenhow Sandra Berry
Clerk to Woodbrooke Trustees Director