Faith in Wales: Counting for Communities:
Summary of Findings for Caerphilly county borough
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, the numbers of volunteers they mobilise, and the rooms and halls they make available.
The survey on which it is based achieved an exceptional response rate of just over 49%, (just over 47% for Caerphilly), and this allows summaries to be made for each of the unitary authorities. Here are some of the highlights of the information available for Caerphilly.
Caerphilly has over 125 active faith communities (individual congregations, or parishes in the case of the Church in Wales). All identified in the survey are churches. This represents roughly one church or parish for no more than 1,350 people in Caerphilly.
Every week, roughly 3.5% of the population of Caerphilly is estimated to be present at a religious service. However, this figure understates the numbers who attend over the course of a year. Taking the single largest service in each faith community over a year raises the figure to 7.5%. 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 Caerphilly is enormous, including many services governments are not well equipped to deliver. The top five are Children's work (under 14 year olds), Social activities (lunch club, coffee bar, etc.), Hospital visiting, Parent-toddler groups and Leisure activities and hobbies; in which the number of churches involved is estimated to be 64, 48, 43, 33, and 29, respectively
In addition, a number of churches are already working in areas of emerging need and opportunity; around 5 churches are already working in at least one of the areas of employment training, alcohol and drug awareness, and personal finance issues, and twenty hope to extend work into these areas in the future.
Almost three quarters of the churches in Caerphilly are active in one or other area of community services, with an average number of around five areas of activity each.
Around eleven hundred volunteers are estimated to work on behalf of the wider community in activities organised by churches in Caerphilly. This represents around 3,200 hours a week, equivalent to around 80 full-time workers.
In addition, churches in Caerphilly employ around 45 paid staff to work with the wider community, representing a further 880 hours a week, equivalent to another 22 full-time workers.
Many churches provide accommodation for the wider community. In Caerphilly, around 10 are estimated to operate purpose-built community centres; around 50 rent out rooms to outside groups; and around 25 supply some accommodation free of charge.
Churches offer support for the Welsh language: around 10 churches in Caerphilly 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 to local communities in Caerphilly can be estimated at £3.2M per year.
And, of course, this is only part of the impact of churches. For example, around 15 churches in Caerphilly are estimated to be strongly involved in their local Community Strategy or have been involved in Government regeneration or community or economic development initiatives, or both.