Neath Port Talbot
Faith in Wales: Counting for Communities: Summary of Findings for Neath Port Talbot
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 53% for Neath Port Talbot), and this allows summaries to be made for each of the unitary authorities. Here are some of the highlights of the information available for Neath Port Talbot.
Neath Port Talbot has over 120 active faith communities (individual congregations, or parishes in the case of the Church in Wales). Apart from two mosques, all faith communities identified in the survey are churches. This represents roughly one church for no more than 1,100 people in Neath Port Talbot.
Every week, roughly 5% of the population of Neath Port Talbot 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 9%. 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 Neath Port Talbot 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; Social activities (lunch club, coffee bar, etc.); Youth work (14 - 25 year olds); and Marriage preparation; in which the number of churches involved is estimated to be 46, 43, 42, 36 and 33, respectively.
In addition, a number of churches are already working in areas of emerging need and opportunity; around 10 churches are already working in at least one of the areas of employment training, alcohol and drug awareness, and personal finance issues and another 20 hope to work in these areas in the future.
Over 60% of the churches in Neath Port Talbot are active in one or other area of community services, with an average number of around four areas of activity each.
Around 1,000 volunteers are estimated to work on behalf of the wider community in activities organised by churches in Neath Port Talbot. This represents around 1,700 hours a week, equivalent to over 40 full-time workers.
In addition, churches in Neath Port Talbot employ around 50 paid staff to work with the wider community, representing a further 700 hours a week, equivalent to around 18 full-time workers.
Many churches provide accommodation for the wider community. In Neath Port Talbot, around 7 are estimated to operate purpose-built community centres; around 50 rent out rooms to outside groups; and around 30 supply some accommodation free of charge.
Churches offer support for the Welsh language: around 12 churches in Neath Port Talbot 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 Neath Port Talbot can be estimated at £2.5M p.a.
And, of course, this is only part of the impact of churches. For example, around 8 churches in Neath Port Talbot are estimated to be strongly involved in their local Community Strategy.