MOST British people see church buildings as an important part of
the country's heritage and history, and a useful community asset, a
poll for the National Churches Trust suggests.
Even non-Christians, and those who profess no faith, believe
that church buildings have a place in society, providing space for
community activities such as playgroups, and cultural and social
events and meetings.
The researchers ComRes questioned 2061 adults, representing a
cross-section of the British public, and found that almost four in
five of them thought that churches were an essential part of the
Three-quarters (74 per cent) said that they benefited the social
life of communities. Three out of five non-Christians agreed, as
did a similar number (64 per cent) of those with no faith. The poll
also suggested that more than two out of five (45 per cent) of
British adults had visited a church or chapel over the past year.
Most went for religious services, but many (19 per cent) were
tourists or visitors, and 13 per cent attended meetings or cultural
and social events.
A majority (59 per cent) disagreed with the idea that repairing
and restoring historic church buildings only benefited churchgoers.
This view was shared by more than half (55 per cent) of those with
Claire Walker, the chief executive of the National Churches
Trust, an independent charity that funds urgent repairs and the
installation of community facilities at places of worship, said:
"This poll shows that the British public see churches and chapels
as major national assets of benefit to all.
"They agree that repairing and restoring church buildings and
making sure that they have modern facilities benefits the whole of
society and not just churchgoers.
"I hope that the widespread public support demonstrated in this
poll will help to ensure that other funders, such as the Heritage
Lottery Fund, continue to make the repair of churches and chapels a
priority in their allocation of grants.
"With the numbers of active churchgoers falling in parts of the
country, question marks have been raised over the future of some of
the UK's church buildings, with closures taking place in some
areas. But churches continue to be used by many people.
"In good repair, and with the right facilities to allow greater
community use, churches and chapels can continue to play a vital
role in the life and well-being of the nation for many, many years
"They may be historic buildings. But they can be part of our