Skip to content

Archive site notice

You are viewing an archived copy of Christian Concern's website. Some features are disabled and pages may not display properly.

To view our current site, please visit

Survey reveals Britain's dependence on churches

Printer-friendly version

To a significant extent, Britain is reliant on churches to reach out to communities and address the social needs of people amidst the financial crisis, a new study has found.

Special services

The study, conducted by the Church Urban Fund, shows that 6,500 Church of England parishes offer special services to help schoolchildren, parents, new immigrants and the elderly.

A total of eight out of 10 said that parishioners use their spare time to informally help those struggling with issues such as isolation, family breakdown, drug abuse, domestic violence or debt.

Overall, 54 per cent organise at least one activity to meet a need particularly relevant to their community, whether it be poor parenting or low self-esteem, homelessness or mental health problems.

These include specialist debt or stress counselling, community cafés and food, clothes and furniture banks. More than one in 10 said they ran street patrols to offer blankets and food to the homeless or to help drunk people get home.


Paul Hackwood, chair of trustees, said: “All over the country, churches are working to transform their communities, providing food banks, drop in centres and youth projects.

“The recession has led to unemployment and benefit cuts, which are having a really negative effect on people’s lives.

“It is often left to communities themselves to come together and fill the gap”.

Filling the void

It comes after Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, urged the Church to help in ways that the State had “run out of the capacity to do” as a result of its economic struggles. 

He said that this could be the “greatest moment of opportunity since the Second World War” for the Church to fill the void by providing services to communities.

Baroness Warsi

Baroness Warsi is due to highlight the role played by churches in helping communities whenspeaking at the publication of the annual “Church and Community Involvement” survey.

The survey shows that donations given by churchgoers to social action projects have increased by 19 per cent to £342 million in just two years.

With regards to the case of Shirley Chaplin heard by the European Court of Human Rights, she will say: “We may see the manifestation of faith as a crucifix around a neck, or a spire on a skyline – which of course it is.

“But too often we overlook the practical manifestation of faith: the mother and toddlers groups, the school assemblies, the fundraiser days, the 98 million hours churchgoers spend volunteering each year”.

Public good

Andrea Williams of Christian Concern commented:

“It’s important to recognise that Christianity is for the public good. There are concerted attempts to try and airbrush Christianity out of Britain’s public life. The assumption behind this is that the Christian faith is bad for society. This is demonstrably not the case, as this survey shows. Jesus’ teachings inspire people to serve other people in their communities.

“The Government must ensure that its legislation – whether Charity law or equalities legislation – does not inhibit churches and Christian organisations from carrying out their service whilst maintaining an overtly Christian ethos.

“We have already seen how equalities legislation has impeded Christian groups, such as the many Catholic adoption agencies that have been forced to shut down. And now we’re beginning to see new interpretations of ‘public benefit’ in charity law adversely affecting churches.

“Legislation needs to be revised so that Christians can serve their communities as Christians – not in a way that forces them to ‘leave their faith at the door.’”


The Telegraph: Churches stepping into void in recession Britain

The Telegraph: People who 'do God, do good', says Baroness Warsi