Faith in Wales: Counting for Communities: Summary of Findings for the County of Powys
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 45% for Powys), and this allows summaries to be made for each of the unitary authorities. Here are some of the highlights of the information available for Powys.
Powys has over 360 active faith communities (individual congregations, or parishes in the case of the Church in Wales). All identified in the survey were churches.
This represents roughly one church or parish for no more than 350 people in Powys.
Every week, roughly 8% of the population of Powys 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 26%. 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 Powys is enormous, including many services governments are not well equipped to deliver. The top five are Hospital visiting, Children's work (under 14 year olds), Support for bereaved, Marriage preparation, and Support for people with long-term illness; in which the number of churches involved is estimated to be 111, 97, 95, 86 and 81, 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 thirty hope to work in these areas in the future.
Well over half of the churches in Powys are active in one or other area of community services, with an average number of around five areas of activity each.
Over 2,700 volunteers are estimated to work on behalf of the wider community in activities organised by churches in Powys. This represents around 5,000 hours a week, equivalent to around 125 full-time workers.
In addition, churches in Powys employ around 27 paid staff to work with the wider community, representing a further 470 hours a week, equivalent to another 12 full-time workers.
Many churches provide accommodation for the wider community. In Powys, around 25 are estimated to operate purpose-built community centres; around 101 rent out rooms to outside groups; and around 60 supply some accommodation free of charge.
Churches offer support for the Welsh language: around 10 churches in Powys 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 Powys can be estimated at £5M per year.
And, of course, this is only part of the impact of churches. For example, around 30 churches in Powys are estimated to be strongly involved in their local Community Strategy or have been involved in Government regeneration initiatives, or both.