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Vale of Glamorgan

Faith in Wales: Counting for Communities: Summary of Findings for the Vale of Glamorgan

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 50% for the Vale of Glamorgan), and this allows summaries to be made for each of the unitary authorities. Here are some of the highlights of the information available for the Vale.

The Vale of Glamorgan has over 80 active faith communities (individual congregations, or parishes in the case of the Church in Wales). Almost all are churches. There is one mosque in Barry. This represents roughly one church or parish for no more than 1,500 people in the Vale.

Every week, roughly 4% of the population of the Vale of Glamorgan 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 8%. 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 the Vale is enormous, including many services governments are not well equipped to deliver. The top five are: Social activities (lunch club, coffee bar, etc.); Hospital visiting; Marriage preparation; Nursery group, creche or playgroup; and Youth work (14 - 25 year olds); in which the number of churches involved is estimated to be 41, 38, 29, 25 and 24, 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 another 10 hope to work in these areas in the future.

Almost 90% of the churches in the Vale are active in one or other area of community services, with an average number of four activities each.

Just under a thousand volunteers are estimated to work on behalf of the wider community in activities organised by churches in the Vale. This represents just under 2,000 hours a week, equivalent to 50 full-time workers.

In addition, churches in the Vale employ around 20 staff to work with the wider community, representing a further 380 hours a week, equivalent to another 10 full-time workers.

Many churches provide accommodation for the wider community. In the Vale, around 15 are estimated to operate purpose-built community centres; around 40 rent out rooms to outside groups; and 20 supply some accommodation free of charge.

Churches offer support for the Welsh language: around 7 churches in the Vale 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 to local communities in the Vale can be estimated at over £2M per year.

And, of course, this is only part of the impact of churches. For example, more than one church in the Vale is thought to be strongly involved in the local Community Strategy.

E-mail Graham Ellis on: valeofglamorgan [at] gweini [dot] org [dot] uk


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