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26 May 2015

New report shows Christian social action projects having massive impact

A comprehensive report by the Cinnamon Network claims to demonstrate the large scale social action impact and economic value faith-based groups are having in their communities.

The Cinnamon Faith Action Audit was launched at Westminster's Emmanuel Centre last week with keynote speaker the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

The survey reveals that the time alone given by churches and other faith groups through social action projects was worth over £200 million, which on a national level puts time given into their communities at over £3 billion a year.

Matt Bird, founder of Cinnamon Network says: "These findings were extremely revealing and leave us in no doubt about the crucial role faith groups in the UK play in delivering key social action projects in their cities or towns.

"As Cinnamon Network our vision is to see local churches and other faith groups more empowered and encouraged to take up their place as they serve at the heart of their community.

"We also want to see their work externally recognised and properly resourced as part of the overall picture of provision in any given community."

The audits were conducted by local champions in their communities earlier this year.

The survey stretched across 57 cities, towns, and villages in both urban and rural areas and covered faith groups who meet a wide range of social needs, including homelessness, social isolation, debt and addiction.

Steve Clifford, Alliance general director said: "It is fantastic that the Church is being the Church, sharing the love and good news of Jesus and transforming our communities through words and actions."

The report highlighted that if there are around 60,761 faith groups in the UK and only 47.5 per cent of them –the same percentage that completed the survey –delivered what the Cinnamon Faith Action Audits' average group did, this would mean that collectively the faith sector annually delivers an incredible 220,000 social action projects, by approximately 125,000 paid staff and 1,910,500 volunteers.

The research has called into question the stereotypes that faith groups predominantly work with women and children as it identified that paid staff and volunteers were actively working with people from all ages and with men and women in almost equal measure.

At the launch the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke about faith as a force for good in society and was joined by a panel of experts including Lord Tariq Ahmad, faiths minister DCLG and Michael Banks the deputy chief constable of Durham policing and national lead for citizens in policing.

The panel discussed the report in front of a live audience of around 500 people including many of the champions, local authority representatives and a number of politicians from the 57 areas that conducted an audit.

The audits seem timely in recognising that the new government will face a challenge in reducing deficit and acknowledges that budget cuts, changes to benefits and rising housing costs are affecting people in the UK and that statutory provision looks set to be increasingly limited, creating widening gaps in services.

Cinnamon Network's vision is to see local churches and other groups respond to this growing issue and build stronger relationships with local authorities, the police and other agencies.