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Poll shows retreats advancing

by
31 October 2014

by a staff reporter

PETER GARDNER

Peace in Worcestershire: Holland House conference and retreat centre 

Peace in Worcestershire: Holland House conference and retreat centre 

THE number of visitors to retreat houses is forecast to rise over the next few years - even though several centres have closed - a new survey suggests.

The survey, by the Association for Promoting Retreats (APR), of 200 people who regularly book retreats, found that retreat houses could expect up to ten per cent more bookings by 2017.

When asked how they expect their retreat-going will change in the next three years, almost one respondent in five - 18.5 per cent - said that they expected to take more retreats, and only eight per cent said that they expected to go on fewer. This growth outstrips that predicted for quiet days, which is forecast to grow by just four per cent.

Retreat houses have struggled in recent years to remain financially viable, and several diocesan houses have closed. A survey of retreat houses conducted by the APR last year found that a quarter feared closure (News, 1 November 2013).

But this latest poll that found that those who take retreats are loyal. A majority - 63 per cent - take them once or twice a year, and are prepared to travel more than 100 miles for a retreat. Two-thirds of respondents were of retirement age.

The main barriers to going on retreats were work or family commitments; a third of those who took part in the survey said that cost was an inhibiting factor.

The vice-chair of the APR, the Revd Liz Baker, said: "These figures are a rousing vote of confidence in what retreat houses are offering in their own contexts up and down the country. While it is often assumed that non-residential events are the future, this wide-scale poll shows a growing demand for longer retreats, perhaps suggesting that church members are looking to invest a little more in their retreat experience, when they are able to find the time, rather than snatching a series of brief respites."

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