A NATIONWIDE survey of more than 2000 churches and faith groups
has suggested that almost 3.5 million people a year benefit from
their social action.
The 2110 groups that responded to an online questionnaire
collectively mobilised 140,000 volunteers, and more than 9000 paid
staff, to run a total of 16,068 projects last year.
The Cinnamon Network, a charity that works to facilitate
Christian social action, organised the survey. It calculated that
the faith groups it polled gave more than 28 million hours of
voluntary work each year. If this had been done at the Living Wage
rate of £7.85 an hour, it would cost £220 million.
The report, the Cinnamon Faith Action Audit, was launched on
Wednesday in central London, and the Archbishop of Canterbury gave
the keynote address.
"I'm reminded that the work of the church is emphatically not
done by archbishops," he said. "It's done by every local church
community - and they do it in the most extraordinary way.
"Thanks to Cinnamon [Network] and other bodies like it, this is
not mere do-goodery. It is seeking to find best practice and put it
into action in the most professional way that can be
imagined. That is why faith is a force for good in our
Archbishop Welby was joined in a discussion of the report by a
panel that included the Deputy Chief Constable of Durham, and Lord
Ahmad of Wimbledon, a minister in the Department for Communities
and Local Government.
The founder of the Cinnamon Network, Matt Bird, said that the
findings showed how central faith-groups were in delivering social
action across the UK. "We want to see their work externally
recognised and properly resourced as part of the overall picture of
provision in any given community," he said.
The data was collected by 57 local "champions", who were mostly
members of congregations, selected by the Cinnamon Network to
investigate what faith groups were achieving in their area. They
invited churches and charities to fill in the questionnaires in
The survey found that, on average, each faith group ran eight
projects, supporting 1656 people, with four paid staff and 66
volunteers. The vast majority - 94 per cent - of those who
responded were Christian groups.
Anglicans made up 29 per cent of these. Of the rest, nine per
cent were Baptist projects, seven per cent were run by independent
Evangelical churches, six per cent were Methodist, and four per
cent were Roman Catholic. An array of smaller denominations and
non-denominational groups completed the list.
The most popular forms of social action were training and
education, befriending, running community groups, and foodbanks.
About one in three groups collaborated with another faith group in
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