19th March 2020

In light of the current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) we wanted to let you know that like many others, BCT staff are now mainly working remotely in order to follow Government guidance, reduce risks and to enable staff to stay as safe as possible. Understandably in these uncertain times we are all facing a variety of challenges and we want you to know that our bat conservation work will continue, although there will need to be some changes to the way we work.

We will be keeping the situation under ongoing review. The BCT senior management team is having weekly meetings with Operations Team members to remain up to date with the latest developments and plan appropriate and timely responses. We are also in regular contact with project partners and other conservation organisations. Our aim is to keep staff, volunteers, and collaborators safe while also ensuring our core activities continue. We will continue to provide our teams with regular updates and in turn will share any relevant information with you.

For now the following updates are particularly important:

Meetings or interviews – All meetings and interviews will be conducted remotely. If you have a meeting scheduled with a BCT staff member we will be in touch.

Post – Please note that it will be much more difficult for us to process post in the current situation so we would ask that you do not post anything to us for the next two months. Should this be an issue please contact us by email on comms@bats.org.uk

National Bat Helpline – The helpline team are currently reviewing how they deal with cases that would normally have required a Volunteer Bat Roost Visitor visit now that Natural England has postponed all roost visits until further notice. Bat carers in the Bat Care Network have been issued with advice and we will keep in close touch with them. Please bear with us as most of the work of the Helpline is being dealt with remotely so you may experience slightly longer delays when trying to reach us or in gaining responses.

Training & Conferences – Like many others, we have made the decision to cancel or postpone all conferences, training events and workshops at least until the end of April. Where possible we are exploring ways to continue running events online by means of conferencing software and/or e-learning. We are investigating a variety of options and will be providing an update as soon as possible. Some postponed events have a new date and delegates have been advised where this applies.

Membership/Fundraising/Communications – Although there may also be some delays in replying to enquiries, be assured that we are doing all we can to stay in contact with our members, donors and funders. We are also continuing to work hard with all our supporters and collaborators to dispel the negative press surrounding bats. Fundraising is likely to become increasingly challenging over the coming months, your support will never be more important than now. Thank you.

Bat Groups – These are fast changing times and we are sure many of you will be disappointed at the need to cancel or postpone events and activities but please do all stay safe and do follow Government guidance (SEE: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response). We will continue to communicate with bat groups in the normal way, such as bulletins, as much as possible. We will also be able to deal with queries in the normal way although please bear with us if responses are delayed.

National Bat Monitoring Programme – We are hoping that we will be able to undertake some surveys this year, if sensible precautions are taken. We will be reviewing the situation regularly along with the latest government guidance and communicating with volunteers directly.

Conservation Team – the members of the team will all continue as normal as far as possible but of course this will be without any face to face meeting or events. Should any member of staff leading an area of work become ill we will do our very best to maintain essential communications. On any urgent matter where no reply is received please email cwilliams@bats.org.uk

These are undoubtedly challenging times – please take care, stay safe and stay in contact. By working together, we can support each other thought this difficult period.

Bat Conservation Trust Team