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Parishes help poor, says report

15 February 2013

by a staff reporter

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) suggests.

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 isolation.

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."


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