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Cathedrals to lose young helpers

CATHEDRAL CAMPS, which for 25 years have given young people the chance twork on historic buildings in the UK, will cease after this summer, it warevealed this week.Red tape and student debts - young people now have to work for most of thsummer - are to blame, say organisers, who admit the decision was made "witsadness, but in good heart".More than 10,000 young people from all over the world have worked ocathedral camps, which have been held up and down the country in botcathedrals and major parish churches.This year camps are being held at eight cathedrals, including Canterbury anDurham, and seven churches.Speaking on Tuesday, the Very Revd Richard Lewis, former Dean of Bath &Wells and chairman of the Cathedral Camps charity said: "We feel reconciled tthe fact that we have to close."Dean Lewis said that, over the past 25 years, the whole culture had changedwith a renewed emphasis on health and safety, which made it difficult to carrout a range of activities that had previously been associated with the campsHe said that the regulations and risk assessment meant an increase in costfor insurance and training. But the demands of meeting university fees had alsmeant a decrease in those applying for the camps.Finding accommodation, too, was becoming a problem: schools attached tcathedrals increasingly let out their accommodation during the summer."There are just so many restrictions now, including the fact that if yoclimb more than two metres up a ladder you have to wear a safety harness. As result, a lot of excitement in this work has gone. Cathedral Camps were ainspirational and informative experience for young people."From the cathedrals' point of view, he said, it was a serious loss. Thvolunteers carried out vital work that otherwise got overlooked."Speaking as a Dean, I would say that the camps  were invaluable, nojust for the experience they gave the young people, but for the cathedraitself. They covered that range of 'wouldn't-it-be-nice-to-do' jobs that woulnormally never get done."He said that last year he had visited a number of cathedral camps. AWorcester, campers were polishing medieval bones found on an archaeologicadig; at Exeter, the young volunteers polished the diamond windows.During the 25 years, 511 camps have taken place, with more than 130leaders. Volunteers contribute 85 for the week, to which the charity adds morthan 175 a week to cover the cost of each young person. Dean Lewis informed the 2006 leaders by letter this week that this would bthe last year.

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