MORE than half of Church of England parishes run projects to
help address a social need such as debt, homelessness, or family
breakdown, a new report from the Church Urban Fund (CUF)
Some 54 per cent of parishes - about 6500 - are running at least
one organised activity; and those in inner cities or on council
estates are most likely to be running one or more projects.
The report The Church in Action found that, although
churches based on estates were among the poorest in the country,
more than two-thirds of respondents having an income of less than
£25,000 per annum, 58 per cent of them were providing food banks,
and 55 per cent were running youth activities. More than half of
these parishes also ran activities that addressed social
The chairman of trustees at the CUF, Canon Paul Hackwood, said:
"Churches are working to transform their communities. . . The
recession has led to unemployment and benefit cuts, which are
having a really negative effect on people's lives. It's often left
to communities themselves to come together and fill the gap."
The most frequently offered activities are parent-and-toddler
groups, and clubs to help children with homework, and provide care
for older people.
The study, which was carried out by the CUF with support from
the Church of England, found that, while three-quarters of parishes
had a close working relationship with local schools, they did not
have a close relationship with councils, or the local police.
It suggested that "closer working relationships with key local
agencies might help parishes to provide more targeted and strategic
support for their parishioners."