Faith in Wales: Counting for Communities:
Summary of Findings for the County of Flintshire
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%, (48% for Flintshire), and this allows summaries to be made for each of the unitary authorities. Here are some of the highlights of the information available for Flintshire.
Flintshire has over 115 active faith communities (individual congregations, or parishes in the case of the Church in Wales). All identified in the survey are churches.
This represents roughly one church or parish for no more than 1,300 people in Flintshire.
Every week, roughly 4.4% of the population of Flintshire 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 church over a year raises the figure to 11.5%. 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 Flintshire is enormous, including many services governments are not well equipped to deliver. The top five are: Social activities (lunch club, coffee bar, etc.); Children's work (under 14 year olds); Hospital visiting; Marriage preparation and Parent-toddler groups; in which the number of churches involved are estimated to be 48, 39, 37, 31 and 28, respectively.
In addition, a number of churches are interested in working in areas of emerging need and opportunity; around 13 churches hope to work in the areas of employment training, alcohol and drug awareness, and personal finance issues in the future.
Almost two-thirds of the churches in Flintshire are active in one or other area of community services, with an average number of around six areas of activity each.
Around eleven hundred volunteers are estimated to work on behalf of the wider community in activities organised by churches in Flintshire. This represents around 1,700 hours a week, equivalent to over 40 full-time workers.
In addition, churches in Flintshire employ around 35 paid staff to work with the wider community, representing a further 320 hours a week, equivalent to another 8 full-time workers.
Many churches provide accommodation for the wider community. In Flintshire, around 24 are estimated to operate purpose-built community centres; around 60 rent out rooms to outside groups; and around 40 supply some accommodation free of charge.
Churches offer support for the Welsh language: around 25 churches in Flintshire 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 Flintshire can be estimated at £2.3M per year.
And, of course, this is only part of the impact of churches. For example, around 17 churches in Flintshire are estimated to be strongly involved in their local Community Strategy or have been involved in Government regeneration initiatives, or both.