Social role of churches is invisible, new survey reveals

The vital role of churches in tackling some of society’s biggest issues like poverty and dementia is largely invisible, according to research[1] released by specialist insurer Ecclesiastical.  Three quarters of UK adults cannot name any of the activities that take place inside their local church other than regular services and religious festivals, despite the support they provide to many vulnerable people.

When presented with a list of services offered by churches around the country such as food banks, elderly support groups, parish nursing and dementia support, the research found that more than half (54%) of those surveyed were unaware of the services their own local church provided. This increased to 65% in the over 55s and 83% of 18 to 25 year olds, two groups that benefit most from the support on offer.

Last year, a competition run by Ecclesiastical showcased the reach and impact of churches in the community.  It found that churches undertake a huge range of community services that include tackling loneliness and isolation in the elderly, hosting a wide variety of professional advice services, providing food parcels to the poor and lunches to children during the summer holidays.

Michael Angell, church operations director at Ecclesiastical, said: “With pressure on community services, our nation’s churches are leading the way in providing vital support to the elderly, the underprivileged and the community as a whole.

“Despite the challenges facing our churches, for example the recent cut to heritage lottery funding and the increasing costs of maintaining these buildings, church communities continue to find a way to provide vital services of real benefit to local people.

“Particularly in areas where community resources have been stretched to the limit, the activities and services run by churches provide a lifeline to those in need, so it is important that we continue to champion the work our nation’s churches continue to deliver locally on a national scale.”

Harriet Holbrook

[1]Research conducted by One Poll on behalf of Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, February 2017.

Survey of 4,500 adults across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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