Church buildings benefit all, NCT research suggests

30 January 2015

church in wales

Eyes in the sky: a miniature helicopter drone is flown around Llandaff Cathedral, inspecting it for anything that needs to be repaired. The Church in Wales is exploring using drones to assess cathedrals that cannot put up scaffolding because of surrounding graveyards

Eyes in the sky: a miniature helicopter drone is flown around Llandaff Cathedral, inspecting it for anything that needs to be repaired. The Church i...

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 country's heritage.

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 no religion.

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 to come.

"They may be historic buildings. But they can be part of our future, too."

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