fbpx

Faith: How big a difference are we making?

Today, there is a chamber debate in Parliament on the contribution of faith organisations to the voluntary sector in local communities. I hope gets the attention it deserves!

They’ve picked a busy day for it!  London is voting a new mayor, there are countless other elections going on, and of course, the EU rhetoric continues to rumble… but faith organisations aren’t something to be overlooked or swept under the carpet.

New information from the think tank New Philanthropy Capital has managed to quantify the size of the faith-based charity sector – finding that 27%, or over a quarter, of all charities in Great Britain are faith-based. Split further, 64.5% of these are Christian, 23.2% are ‘Generally’ faith-based, 4.8% are Muslim, 4.6% are Jewish, 1% are Hindu and the others are Sikh, Buddhist, Quaker and multi-faith.  And this is without taking into consideration the many small community groups that are faith-based but might not have charity status! You can find the information here.

So what does this mean?  We went to both the Labour and Conservative party conferences in the autumn and asked people to do a quiz on faith-based organisations – how many there are, the impact that they have and the reach… It’s fair to say that the majority of people underestimated the extent that faith-based organisations work in their local communities.  Through research conducted by the Cinnamon Faith Action Audits, of which FaithAction was a partner, it was calculated that the faith sector gives over £3billion worth of support to the UK population – equal to the combined expenditure of 650 of the UK’s biggest charities.  It was also calculated that the faith sector has over 1,900,000 volunteers – which would make it the world’s fourth largest employer – and that the faith sector supports over 47 million people across the country – equivalent to the entire population of Spain!

Starting to realise the impact that faith groups make?

For me, when I started working at FaithAction, I didn’t need convincing about the difference that faith groups made.  My grandparents were Colonels in the Salvation Army, and I had seen first-hand the dedication and commitment that people of faith have to their local communities.  My grandma, who lived longer than my granddad, was someone who never gave up, who visited those who were ill in hospital or care homes, who served the local mother and toddler group – making countless cups of tea, and wrote books of poems to raise money for another local charity.  She had people in her house, was out every day and never stopped when it came to serving the community in Salisbury.  Even when her body started failing her, she still went to help out whenever her health would allow her to.

Since starting work in FaithAction, I have continued to meet countless other people who don’t rest from, or stop, providing services for their local communities – helping those in need, offering friendship and often rescuing people from isolation.

I hope all this gives you an idea of why today’s debate is so important.  We are here to highlight great examples of the work faith does in society, so if you have a project you want to talk about, why not get in touch?

If you want to see some of the organisations that inspire me — trust me, the full list is much longer — have a look below: