Faith in Wales: Counting for Communities: Summary of Findings for the County of Pembrokeshire
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%, (just over 48% for Pembrokeshire), and this allows summaries to be made for each of the unitary authorities. Here are some of the highlights of the information available for Pembrokeshire.
Pembrokeshire has around 250 active faith communities (individual congregations, or parishes in the case of the Church in Wales). Apart from one mosque, all faith communities identified in the survey are churches. This represents roughly one church for no more than 460 people in Pembrokeshire.
Every week, roughly 9% of the population of Pembrokeshire 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 23%. 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 Pembrokeshire is enormous, including many services governments are not well equipped to deliver. The top five are Children's work (under 14 year olds); ; Support for bereaved; Marriage preparation; Support for older people; and Support for people with long-term illness; in which the number of churches involved is estimated to be 79, 77, 75, 72 and 57, 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 15 hope to work in these areas in the future.
Just under three quarters of the churches in Pembrokeshire are active in one or other area of community services, with an average number of around five areas of activity each.
Around 2,100 volunteers are estimated to work on behalf of the wider community in activities organised by churches in Pembrokeshire. This represents around 3,700 hours a week, equivalent to over 90 full-time workers.
In addition, churches in Pembrokeshire employ over 70 paid staff to work with the wider community, representing a further 900 hours a week, equivalent to another 22 full-time workers.
Many churches provide accommodation for the wider community. In Pembrokeshire, around 33 are estimated to operate purpose-built community centres; over 90 rent out rooms to outside groups; and around 55 supply some accommodation free of charge.
Churches offer support for the Welsh language: around 50 churches in Pembrokeshire are estimated to be involved in running classes in Welsh, or activities for Welsh speakers.
Using standard techniques, and including the impact on tourism, the economic benefit impact of just part of the services provided by churches to Pembrokeshire can be estimated at £13.8M per year.
And, of course, this is only part of the impact of churches. For example, around 30 churches in Pembrokeshire are estimated to be strongly involved in their local Community Strategy or to take part in Government regeneration strategies.