Faith in Wales: Counting for Communities: Summary of Findings for the City and County of Swansea
Until now, Wales has lacked statistical evidence about the role of faith communities in the wider communities of which they are a part. The Gweini report, Faith in Wales: Counting for Communities, provides new information on the services provided by faith communities to the wider community, including: the numbers of volunteers they mobilise, the numbers of staff they pay to work with the wider community, the rooms and halls they make available, and their impact on tourism.
The survey on which it is based achieved an exceptional response rate of just over 49%, (over 58% for Swansea), and this allows summaries to be made for each of the unitary authorities. Here are some of the highlights of the information available for Swansea.
Swansea has over 230 active faith communities (individual congregations, or parishes in the case of the Church in Wales). Apart from four mosques, one Buddhist and one Bahi community and one Hindu mandir, all faith communities identified in the survey are churches.
This represents roughly one church for no more than 1,000 people in Swansea.
Every week, roughly 7% of the population of Swansea is estimated to be present at a church service. However, this figure understates the numbers who attend over the course of a year. Taking the single largest service in each church over a year raises the figure to 14%. A considerably higher proportion that this must attend one or more religious services over the course of a year.
The range of services churches provide in Swansea is enormous, including many services governments are not well equipped to deliver. The top five are Hospital visiting; Youth work (14 - 25 year olds); Marriage preparation; Support for older people; and Support for bereaved; in which the number of churches involved is estimated to be 94, 88, 87, 78 and 67, respectively.
In addition, a number of churches are already working in areas of emerging need and opportunity; around 35 churches are already working in at least one of the areas of employment training, alcohol and drug awareness, and personal finance issues and another 25 hope to work in these areas in the future.
Just under three-quarters of the churches in Swansea are active in one or other area of community services, with an average number of around seven areas of activity each.
Around 3,000 volunteers are estimated to work on behalf of the wider community in activities organised by churches in Swansea. This represents around 5,000 hours a week, equivalent to around 125 full-time workers.
In addition, churches in Swansea employ over 95 paid staff to work with the wider community, representing a further 1,400 hours a week, equivalent to around 35 full-time workers.
Many churches provide accommodation for the wider community. In Swansea, around 35 are estimated to operate purpose-built community centres; around 100 rent out rooms to outside groups; and around 80 supply some accommodation free of charge.
Churches offer support for the Welsh language: around 45 churches in Swansea are estimated to be involved in running classes in Welsh, or to be involved in activities for Welsh speakers.
Using standard techniques, the economic benefit impact of just part of the services provided by churches to Swansea can be estimated at £5.7M per year.
And, of course, this is only part of the impact of churches. For example, around 30 churches in Swansea are estimated to be strongly involved in their local Community Strategy or to participate in Government regeneration strategies, or both.