Part of the Community

by Gerry Lynch last modified 10 Jul, 2017 03:56 PM

New survey shows West Country people value their local church as part of the community

Nearly half of people in the South West of England, would consider the closure of their nearest church a significant loss to their local community, according to new research released today by specialist insurer Ecclesiastical. 

In one of the largest ever surveys of peoples’ attitudes towards the role and influence of churches in local communities, 47% of adults in the region aid they would see the closure of their local church as a major loss, while nearly a third (32%) said that they would campaign to keep their nearest church from closing. Meanwhile, 30% of South West respondents said they would provide financial support if their local church was in financial difficulty.

As the UK’s leading insurer of Grade I listed buildings, Ecclesiastical provides insurance for over 15,000 Anglican churches. The company commissioned the research to highlight the important role churches play in local communities outside of religious services and festivals.

Michael Angell, church operations director at Ecclesiastical, commented, “There have been many surveys conducted in the past founded on questions of church attendance and shifting attitudes to faith and religion. However, what we wanted to focus on was what people today actually think and feel about their local church and its place within their community.

“With the Department for Culture, Media and Sport currently considering the findings of its own survey as part of the English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review, our research provides a timely insight into how relevant churches remain today.”

Across the whole of the UK, Ecclesiastical’s research revealed 51% of the public back the role of churches. Meanwhile, 52% of people in the South West feel their local church is part of the history of their community and 32% think it is part of the fabric of their community.

Michael added, “We know from our own engagement with the church community up and down the country that the value and reach of churches’ work is on a scale that would be almost impossible to replace. Churches provide a wide range of community services from holiday clubs and parish nursing to foodbanks and mother and toddler groups, provisions many people rely on day-to-day. This work often goes unnoticed but to the people that use these services it is invaluable.”

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