Faith in Wales: Counting for Communities:
Summary of Findings for the County of Carmarthenshire
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%, (just over 47% for Carmarthenshire), and this allows summaries to be made for each of the unitary authorities. Here are some of the highlights of the information available for Carmarthenshire.
Carmarthenshire has over 410 active faith communities (individual congregations, or parishes in the case of the Church in Wales). Apart from one mosque and one Hindu Mandir, all faith communities identified in the survey are churches.
This represents roughly one Christian congregation for no more than 430 people in Carmarthenshire.
Every week, roughly 9.3% of the population of Carmarthenshire is estimated to be present at a church or chapel service. However, this figure understates the numbers who attend over the course of a year. Taking the single largest service in each congregation over a year raises the figure to 19%. 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 Carmarthenshire is enormous, including many services governments are not well equipped to deliver. The top five are Children's work (under 14 year olds); Hospital visiting; Children's work (under 14 year olds); Marriage preparation; Social activities (lunch club, coffee bar, etc.); and Support for bereaved; in which the number of churches involved is estimated to be 147, 137, 127, 124 and 112, respectively
In addition, a number of churches are already working in areas of emerging need and opportunity; around 10 churches are already working in at least one of the areas of employment training, alcohol and drug awareness, and personal finance issues and another 30 hope to work in these areas in the future.
Over 60% of the churches in Carmarthenshire are active in one or other area of community services, with an average number of around five areas of activity each.
Around 3,700 volunteers are estimated to work on behalf of the wider community in activities organised by churches in Carmarthenshire. This represents over 7,000 hours a week, equivalent to around 180 full-time workers.
In addition, churches in Carmarthenshire employ over 100 paid staff to work with the wider community, representing a further 2,400 hours a week, equivalent to another 60 full-time workers.
Many churches provide accommodation for the wider community. In Carmarthenshire, around 30 are estimated to operate purpose-built community centres; around 150 rent out rooms to outside groups; and around 110 supply some accommodation free of charge.
Churches offer support for the Welsh language: around 110 churches in Carmarthenshire are estimated to be involved in running classes in Welsh, or activities for Welsh speakers.
Using standard techniques, the economic benefit impact of just part of the services provided by churches to Carmarthenshire can be estimated at £8M per year.
And, of course, this is only part of the impact of churches. For example, around 30 churches in Carmarthenshire 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.