Research overview and privacy policy


The University of York in partnership with Historic England, the Association of English Cathedrals, the National Churches Trust and the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance would like to invite you to take part in the following research project: COVID-19 side effects: an urgent review of the impact of closing church buildings and activities, priorities in re-engagement, and shaping future policy

Before agreeing to take part, please read this information sheet carefully and let us know if anything is unclear or you would like further information.

What is the study?

The research is gathering data on the various impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and churches’ responses to it in order to help shape future responses and support. It is being carried out now while memories are fresh and to enable any lessons learnt to be applied in the event of future restrictions as the course of the virus develops.

It is being carried out by staff of The Centre for the Study of Christianity & Culture, University of York. The research, method of data collection and processing has been reviewed and approved by the University of York’s Humanities Research Centre Ethics Committee (Chair: Dr Keith Allen,

Participants will complete an online survey and, if they elect to do so, provide further information and detail via interviews conducted remotely. The survey will take on average a maximum of 10 minutes to complete. Some questions may ask you to reflect on events or feelings which may cause you distress. In the event of distress being caused you may choose to withdraw from the study or leave the online survey. However, the survey and /or interview may offer you the opportunity to express opinions or communicate ideas and inform future policy and guidance. There is no financial incentive or benefit to taking part in this survey. The results of the project will inform national bodies and summary anonymized findings may later be published.

Why have I been invited to take part?

If you are completing the online survey, you have been invited to take part because we are seeking as broad a range of responses as possible, or because you have elected to take part by clicking the survey link. If you are taking part in an interview, it is because we would particularly value your input from your context, or because you have elected to be contacted to discuss your survey responses in more depth.

Do I have to take part?

No, participation is optional. If you do decide to take part, you will have been given a link to this information sheet (which you may retain for your records). If you agree to be interviewed, you will be asked to complete a participant consent form. If you change your mind at any point during the study, you will be able to withdraw your participation without having to provide a reason and your personal data will be deleted.

On what basis will you process my data?

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the University has to identify a legal basis for processing personal data and, where appropriate, an additional condition for processing special category data.

In line with our charter which states that we advance learning and knowledge by teaching and research, the University processes personal data for research purposes under Article 6 (1) (e) of the GDPR:

Processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest

Special category data is processed under Article 9 (2) (j):

Processing is necessary for archiving purposes in the public interest, or scientific and historical research purposes or statistical purposes

Research will only be undertaken where ethical approval has been obtained, where there is a clear public interest and where appropriate safeguards have been put in place to protect data.

In line with ethical expectations and in order to comply with common law duty of confidentiality, we will seek your consent to participate where appropriate. This consent will not, however, be our legal basis for processing your data under the GDPR.

How will you use my data?

Data will be processed for the purposes outlined in this notice.

Will you share my data with 3rd parties?

No. Raw data will be accessible only to the project research team at York and will be anonymised for processing. Anonymised data may be reused by the research team or other third parties for secondary research purposes.

How will you keep my data secure?

The University will put in place appropriate technical and organisational measures to protect your personal data and/or special category data. For the purposes of this project we will store the data on a secure Google Drive and anonymise data for processing purposes where possible.

Information will be treated confidentiality and shared on a need-to-know basis only. The University is committed to the principle of data protection by design and default and will collect the minimum amount of data necessary for the project. In addition, we will anonymise or pseudonymise data wherever possible.

Will you transfer my data internationally?

No. Data will be held within the European Economic Area in full compliance with data protection legislation.

Will I be identified in any research outputs?

Only where you have explicitly given us permission to do so. You may withdraw this consent at any time up to the conclusion of the project.

How long will you keep my data?

Data will be retained in line with legal requirements or where there is a business need. Retention timeframes will be determined in line with the University’s Records Retention Schedule.

What rights do I have in relation to my data?

Under the GDPR, you have a general right of access to your data, a right to rectification, erasure, restriction, objection or portability. You also have a right to withdrawal. Please note, not all rights apply where data is processed purely for research purposes. For further information see,

Questions or concerns

If you have any questions about this participant information sheet or concerns about how your data is being processed, please contact Keith Allen, Chair of the Arts and Humanities Ethics Committee ( in the first instance. If you are still dissatisfied, please contact the University’s Acting Data Protection Officer at

Right to complain

If you are unhappy with the way in which the University has handled your personal data, you have a right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office. For information on reporting a concern to the Information Commissioner’s Office, see