Fiona Muller spoke to Jennie Hawks, Historic Places of Worship support officer for the Diocese of Norwich. Jennie supports 629 churches in the Diocese of Norwich in openness and welcome to all.

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Why is it a good profession to get into?

I like my job because I get to work with a diverse section of the community. I work in a growing sector as the Church of England and other faiths realise that they need specialist support officers to help and nurture their churches.

I came into this career because I am interested in churches and their artefacts. Churches are still important in villages and towns – the church is often the only public building in a community, but they need to market themselves more effectively and become more welcoming and open to all parts of the community, which is where my post has an impact.

What does the work involve?

I work five days a week of approximately 40 hours. As my post is not wholly office-based there is a lot of travel around the region. I have to visit churches, meet church wardens and community representatives and help churches with a range of issues from maintenance and restoration to events.

No day is alike; I can be in King’s Lynn one day or out in the middle of rural Norfolk the next.

My busy periods are autumn when I am planning the following year’s open churches booklet, and Easter to August when I am planning events and activities with churches across the county.

I started working as a volunteer for a local church doing marketing and organising events. I got this post because my previous position gave me lots of experience in the diocese as I worked on the Leader Plus Broads and Rivers Open Churches Project.

What are the positives/negatives of this profession?

My favourite part of this job is helping churches develop and expand the number of activities they are involved in, and the amazing people I meet. My least favourite part is all the driving that I have to do.

I do love my job, though, and there are lots of positives to it – I get to meet lots of different people and love to try to help people to realise their potential. I also really like organising events and exhibitions.

On the negative side, you do tend to do a lot more hours than 40 a week!

Is there much local demand for people trained in this area?

There is certainly a demand for people to work in this sector, but as with lots of arts and heritage jobs it is a question as to whether the funding is available to support the role. Many people have to raise money for their own jobs, but there is definitely room for people who are entrepreneurial to make a career in this industry.

There are currently no opportunities in my field, but there are lots of opportunities for people to volunteer to help churches in marketing, computer and internet skills.

What would employers look for in someone applying for a vacancy?

The main qualifications for this position are enthusiasm, knowledge and the ability to network.

However, you also need to have computer skills, good communication skills and the ability to work with diverse groups of people.

For more information on Norfolk Open Churches go to www.norfolkopenchurches.com

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