Social engagement policy
Westminster Abbey is committed to an active programme of social engagement. Social engagement means the Abbey’s engagement with the wider world in ways which contribute generally to human flourishing and specifically to social justice.
‘Social engagement’ is shorthand for the way we talk about the Abbey’s relationship with others and the world around us. It is the way we talk about and act on ideas which lead to human flourishing and social justice.
This way of thinking comes from the Christian belief that all people are made in the image and likeness of God, with an inherent dignity. The world God made shares in the dignity and blessing of God. We are joined with others of no religious faith or a different faith background who equally speak to and advocate for these moral and social values.
Social engagement is embedded in the life and work of the Abbey, and is a core part of its mission. Shaped by our distinctive role in history, it is expressed in our prayer and our preaching. It is included in our welcome given to the Abbey’s visitors and in the way we tell our story. Through advocacy, almonry, service and hospitality, we intend to increase our efforts to develop people, celebrate community and champion environmental stewardship.
Statement of intent
Westminster Abbey is committed to an active programme of social engagement. There will be both internal and external actions to ensure the Abbey works with integrity towards its community – locally, nationally and internationally. We will make social engagement sustainable by embedding it into the culture of work at the Abbey, both in our everyday practice and making room for growth in the future.
This will include development in three main areas:
Making a commitment to staff present and future to develop them in their roles, seeking to attract people from diverse backgrounds by opening up opportunities at the Abbey.
Internally this means making a real commitment to staff development in their roles and opportunities beyond them including work experience, placements and apprenticeships among lay and clerical staff.
Externally this means working with young people on projects which build skills and experience and providing world of work days in partnership with youth organisations.
Telling the Commonwealth’s history with integrity and truthfulness; people of all backgrounds will feel welcome here and want to be part of that story.
Internally this means ensuring our acknowledgement of the past and use of terminology is in line with our values, creating a clear narrative which is understood and confidently communicated by all staff.
Externally this means working with marginalised communities to honour our shared history through the Public Engagement programme and to inform the internal work we do.
Contributing to the Abbey’s goal of Net Zero Carbon by 2040 and wider elements of sustainability and biodiversity. This work will be carried out in alignment with the CofE Carbon planning and where appropriate and in support of the environmental priorities of His Majesty The King and other members of the Royal Family.
Internally this means outlining agreed actions in strategy within which every member of staff is able to contribute through their objectives.
Externally this means highlighting work being done in the Abbey, the Nation and the Commonwealth and advocating for behaviour change in the context of care for creation.
The Abbey is always open to new areas of potential activity across a range of possibilities within these three areas, measured carefully against the following criteria:
- Appropriateness against the Abbey’s unique role and status: i.e. what the Abbey can distinctively offer.
- A response to local, national and international need.
- Complementarity, and the need to avoid duplication with other agencies.
- The potential for direct participation by Abbey staff.
- The possibility of partnership with specialist agencies.
- The scope for targeting financial giving at the level available to the Abbey to make a genuine contribution.
- The potential for making a difference over a limited period (normally up to 5 years).
- The scope for supporting other areas on a short-term basis alongside the main projects.
Responsibilities for implementing Social Engagement at Westminster Abbey
Overall leadership for Social Engagement at Westminster Abbey sits with the Head of Engagement. They will work across the Abbey with the various stakeholders listed below to set the strategy for and monitor the delivery of social engagement.
Dean and Chapter
Dean and Chapter will specify the focus of our overall mission, considering the intentionality of our special services and ensuring preaching reflects the priorities where appropriate. Dean and Chapter will also lead on memorialisation.
The Board will actively support these priorities through strategy and oversight. They will hold Heads of Department accountable for actions they have committed to.
Heads of Department
Heads of Department will ensure that social engagement priorities are included in their departmental workplans and objective setting for employees.
Employees will have personal responsibility for carrying out objectives and taking an active role in social engagement through their own roles and feeding into the EEF.
Human Resources will support managers and supervisors with objective setting and measuring attainment of Social Engagement priorities.
The Employee Engagement Forum (EEF)
The EEF will be involved in staff-led action towards social engagement priorities.
The Almoner will ensure that organisations linked to the social engagement priorities are identified and among those supported financially. The Almoner has Chapter oversight for Social Engagement.
The Heads of Engagement and Human Resources
The Heads of Engagement and Human Resources will support managers and supervisors with understanding how their departments can contribute to social engagement priorities by identifying opportunities with them. They will also evaluate the programme and write an annual report to track progress.
Arrangements for implementing Social Engagement
Social Engagement priorities to be identified in Abbey Strategy, and then fed into departmental strategies.
The process will reflect strategy in the objectives set, identifying social engagement priorities specifically.
Abbey Net, emails, Abbey Week, noticeboards, training, open days and the Employee Engagement Forum will ensure Abbey-wide individual awareness of priorities alongside departmental objectives.
Social Engagement statement will appear on our website, news about programming, donations, services in support of our priorities will be publicised through the website and on social media. Social Engagement will be highlighted where appropriate in conferences, seminars and preaching.
Reputational risks surround this topic and risk should be noted both of not doing this work, but also the potential risk of doing this work without integrity.
Financial support for organisations in the priority areas will be given.
The Dean will give consideration to social engagement priorities when deciding on new memorials. Once the decision has been made the Fabric Commission will actively seek out diversity in those employed on creating memorials and ensure wording on them has integrity.
Public Engagement Group (PEG)
Programming will reflect social engagement priorities; ensure tickets can be allocated to priority groups; co-create programming with marginalised communities where possible; include staff engagement; and actively consider the words and narrative which are used.
Monitoring and review
Strategy will be written to include a timeline and intended outcomes/KPIs, this will be reviewed annually.
Reports will include (as examples):
- Statistics about staff development, work experience & placements with qualitative evaluation of each, to inform improvements in future strategy.
- Numbers of tickets taken up for events/tours/workshops by community groups and evaluation reports of the perceived value of these opportunities.
- Partnerships made through PEG programming, increased community engagement with groups at services etc.
- Impact of almsgiving reported through evaluation and reporting by organisation which the Abbey has funded.