HALF of the British public would regard the closure of their nearest church a significant loss to their community, a survey for Ecclesiastical Insurance suggests.
One third would also join a campaign to keep the church open, and a similar number would be happy to put their hands in their pockets if the church was in financial difficulty. More than half of the population think that their local church is part of the community’s history and one third see it as part of the fabric of their community, providing vital services to its people.
The survey by One Poll, conducted in February, questioned 4500 adults from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Ecclesiastical, which insures more than 15,000 Anglican churches, commissioned the research to highlight the part that churches play in local communities in addition to holding services and festivals.
Ecclesiastical’s church operations director, Michael Angell, said: “We know from our own engagement with the church community, up and down the country, that the value and reach of churches’ work is on a scale that would be almost impossible to replace.
“Churches provide a wide range of community services, from holiday clubs and parish nursing to foodbanks and mother-and-toddler groups — provisions many people rely on day-to-day. This work often goes unnoticed, but, to the people that use these services, it is invaluable.
“There have been many surveys conducted in the past founded on questions of church attendance and shifting attitudes to faith and religion. However, what we wanted to focus on was what people today actually think and feel about their local church and its place within their community.
“With the Department for Culture, Media and Sport currently considering the findings of its own survey as part of the English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review, our research provides a timely insight into how relevant churches remain today.”