Churches and faith groups from across Wokingham Borough produced a powerful new report in May 2015 in association with UK charity Cinnamon Network, providing clear evidence of the large scale social action impact and economic value these groups are having in the local community.
Among other crucial statistics, the survey reveals that the time alone given by churches and other faith groups through social action projects in the area was worth over £2.6 million impacting 87,000 people. On a national level this puts time given by UK faith groups into their communities at over £3 billion a year, supporting 48 million beneficiaries.
Local organisation – Faith in the Community (Wokingham Borough) – invited all faith groups who meet a wide range of social needs to take part in the audit in February and 84% of these groups took part. They included those involved in addressing debt, social isolation, and community projects supporting residents of all ages.
The report highlighted that in the borough, over 3,000 volunteers invest over 250,000 hours each year, and over 200 paid staff work over 81,000 hours each year to benefit local neighbourhoods. The total financial value of this engagement is almost £2.8 million.
Jeremy Sharpe, who coordinated the research through Faith in the Community, was very encouraged by the results and explains ‘We have always been aware that faith groups across Wokingham Borough contribute a significant amount to the well-being of individuals and to wider community cohesion, and much of this taking place ‘under the radar’. This report provides tangible evidence of this and the figures help to paint a picture of the human and financial value of faith group’s involvement in the lives of local communities.’
The report was officially launched during an event at Lower Earley Baptist Church on Monday 28th September. “It was a privilege to have so many of the churches and faith groups who took part in this audit, members of the police, Wokingham Borough Council, local agencies and the Borough Mayor – Cllr Parry Batth – join us today as we launched this exciting new report”
Cinnamon Network’s aim in undertaking the Cinnamon Faith Action Audit nationally was to take a pragmatic approach and recognise that the government will face a challenge in reducing the deficit. At a time when budget cuts, changes to benefits and rising housing costs are affecting people in most cities and towns across the UK statutory provision looks set to be increasingly limited for the foreseeable future, 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.
Download a copy of the Faith Action Audit Wokingham_Faith_Action_Audit_Results_May_2015