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'People who do God, do good' - Baroness Warsi 

A prominent Government minister and the architect of the Big Society have praised people of faith following the official launch of a report showing the total contribution by churches to social initiatives is worth more than £2.5bn per annum

Lord Nat Wei and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Faith and Communities Minister were speaking at the launch of the 2012 National Church and Social Action Survey results on Thursday (14 February) in Parliament.

The research by Jubilee+, an organisation which aims to equip churches to increase their capacity to serve the poor, revealed that hours spent by UK churches on social action initiatives have increased by 36 per cent in two years to 98million hours.

People who do God do good- BarThere has been a 'rapid diversification' of social actions by churches, with the average number of social action initiatives undertaken by a church rising from 5.7 in 2010 to 8.2 in 2012.

Mother's and toddlers, school assemblies, festival and fun days, food distribution (which has increased 'significantly'), children's clubs, youth work (apart from the church's own children's and youth ministry) and cafés were among the top social action initiatives.

By fully costing volunteer time, adding in the use of facilities and direct financial contribution 'one can see that the total contribution to social initiatives is probably above £2.5bn per annum,' noted report author Geoff Knott.

Lord Wei, patron of ACT Network, which co-published the report, praised this contribution.

He said, 'For hundreds of years in this nation, churches have formed the bedrock of community, of social solidarity, and of service to those in need following Christ's example.

'I am glad today to note and to highlight the great contribution they and their members continue to make in knitting together the fabric of our society.

'We should never take their role for granted nor dismiss Christian faith and action to the dustbin of history, but show tolerance and respect for a radical movement of compassion that has been instrumental in helping to keep this country together.'

Baroness Warsi commented, 'There is one big reason why I have made the case for faith. ... because people who do God do good. In other words, very often faith is the basis for good deeds.

'It influences, it inspires, it impels at every turn. We may see the manifestation of faith as a crucifix around a neck, or a spire on a skyline - which of course it is. 'But too often we overlook the practical manifestation of faith. The mother and toddlers' groups, the school assemblies, the fundraiser days, the 98 million hours churchgoers spend volunteering each year.

'For me, that's the most powerful manifestation of faith; the collective demonstration of people's individual beliefs.'

At the gathering Baroness Warsi launched a new programme to celebrate and link social action projects.

'Together in Service' is designed to motivate and inspire new work, especially around multi-faith volunteering projects between religions. Visit http://bit.ly/WPGzYR for more.

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