Faith groups' social support measured at £3bn
New research from the Cinnamon Network documents large scale social impact and economic value faith-based groups are having in their communities
The report from the Christian charity the Cinnamon Network is the most comprehensive analysis yet of the current level of commitment of local churches and other faith groups in supporting their communities.
Gathered in 57 "Faith Action Audits" and then extrapolated across the UK, it estimated that nearly two million volunteers and 125,000 paid staff are involved in almost 220,000 social action projects each year.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was the keynote speaker at the report’s launch in front of 400 delegates at the Emmanuel Centre in London on Wednesday (20 May).
Quoting Einstein when he said, “It is extraordinary what can be achieved by people who don’t care whether they get the credit for it or not”, he emphasised that the true work of the church was not done by Archbishops and senior leaders, but by every local church community.
‘Faith communities have risen to the challenges of the past seven or eight years in the most extraordinary way,’ he said, ‘As they have done before and will continue to do, whatever happens in the future with the economy, because there will always be people in need.’
The data was gathered in Faith Action Audits, conducted by 57 "Local Champions” who invited all types of faith groups who meet a wide range of social needs to participate.
More than 4,440 groups were contacted; with 2,110 responding. The results showed they were mobilising 139,000 volunteers and 9,177 paid staff to support 3,494,634 beneficiaries each year. The time given by these church and other faith groups was worth more than £200m, the report stated.
It went on to highlight that if there are around 60,761 faith groups in the UK and only 47.5 per cent of them (the same percentage that completed the survey) delivered what the Cinnamon Faith Action Audits’ average group did, this would mean that collectively the faith sector annually delivers 220,000 social action projects, by approximately 125,000 paid staff and 1,910,500 volunteers. Nationally this puts the time given by churches and other faith groups into their communities through social action projects at more than £3billion a year.
The findings were gathered in early 2015, across 57 cities, towns, and villages in both urban and rural areas.
Matt Bird, Founder of Cinnamon Network said, 'The Audit findings were extremely revealing and leave us in no doubt about the crucial role faith groups in the UK play in delivering key social action projects in their cities or towns.
'As Cinnamon Network our vision is to see local churches and other faith groups more empowered and encouraged to take up their place as they serve at the heart of their community.
'We also want to see their work externally recognised and properly resourced as part of the overall picture of provision in any given community.'
The report added that there is likely to be widening gaps in services due to statutory provision being increasingly limited.
‘Into these gaps the Cinnamon Network wants to see local churches and other faith groups grow in confidence and capacity in their role at the heart of the community,’ it stated.
The Cinnamon Faith Action Audit can be viewed here