Faith in Wales: Counting for Communities:
Summary of Findings for the County of Monmouthshire
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%, (around 30% for Monmouthshire), and this allows summaries to be made for each of the unitary authorities. Here are some of the highlights of the information available for Monmouthshire.
Monmouthshire has over 120 active faith communities (individual congregations, or parishes in the case of the Church in Wales). All faith communities identified in the survey are churches.
This represents roughly one church for no more than 720 people in Monmouthshire.
Every week, roughly 8% of the population of Monmouthshire 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 faith community over a year raises the figure to 18%. 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 Monmouthshire 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; Support for bereaved; Support for older people; and Youth work (14 - 25 year olds); in which the number of churches involved is estimated to be 62, 59, 55, 52 and 48, 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 12 hope to work in these areas in the future.
Around 80% of the churches in Monmouthshire are active in one or other area of community services, with an average number of around seven areas of activity each.
Around 1,300 volunteers are estimated to work on behalf of the wider community in activities organised by churches in Monmouthshire. This represents around 2,500 hours a week, equivalent to over 60 full-time workers.
In addition, churches in Monmouthshire employ over 20 paid staff to work with the wider community, representing a further 280 hours a week, equivalent to 7 full-time workers.
Many churches provide accommodation for the wider community. In Monmouthshire, around 30 are estimated to operate purpose-built community centres; around 55 rent out rooms to outside groups; and around 40 supply some accommodation free of charge.
Churches offer support for the Welsh language: around 4 churches in Monmouthshire 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 Monmouthshire can be estimated at £2.8M per year.
And, of course, this is only part of the impact of churches. For example, around 10 churches in Monmouthshire are estimated to participate in Government regeneration strategies.