Rhondda Cynon Taff
Faith in Wales: Counting for Communities:
Summary of Findings for Rhondda Cynon Taff
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%, (53% for Rhondda Cynon Taff), and this allows summaries to be made for each of the unitary authorities. Here are some of the highlights of the information available for Rhondda Cynon Taff.
Rhondda Cynon Taff has over 170 active faith communities (individual congregations, or parishes in the case of the Church in Wales). All these are churches - the research did not pick up any large congregations of other faiths. This represents roughly one church or parish for around 1,300 people in Rhondda Cynon Taff.
Every week, roughly 4% of the population of Rhondda Cynon Taff 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 7.5%. 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 Rhondda Cynon Taff is enormous, including many services governments are not well equipped to deliver. The top five are Hospital visiting; Children's work (under 14 year olds); Social activities (lunch club, coffee bar, etc.); Parent-toddler group; and Marriage preparation, delivered by between 75 and 50 churches each.
In addition, many churches in Rhondda Cynon Taff are already working in areas of emerging need and opportunity; such as employment training, alcohol and drug awareness, and personal finance issues, between 10 and 15 churches, in each case. In addition, between 15 and 20 others aspire to work in these areas in the future.
Two-thirds of the churches in Rhondda Cynon Taff are active in one or other area of community services, with an average number of around six areas of activity each.
Over 1,300 volunteers are estimated to work on behalf of the wider community in activities organised by churches in Rhondda Cynon Taff. This represents around 2,500 hours a week, equivalent to around 60 full-time workers. In addition, faith communities in Rhondda Cynon Taff employ around 130 paid staff to work with the wider community, representing a further 2,100 hours a week, equivalent to over 50 full-time workers.
Many churches provide accommodation for the wider community. In Rhondda Cynon Taff, around 20 are estimated to operate purpose-built community centres; around 90 rent out rooms to outside groups; and just under 50 supply some accommodation free of charge.
Churches offer support for the Welsh language: for example around 15 churches in Rhondda Cynon Taff are thought to be engaged in Welsh language teaching.
Using standard techniques, the economic benefit impact of just part of the services provided to local communities in Rhondda Cynon Taff can be estimated at £4.4M per year.
And, of course, this is only part of the impact of churches. For example, just under 30 churches in Rhondda Cynon Taff are estimated to be strongly involved in their local Community Strategy or to have been involved in Government regeneration or community or economic development initiatives, or both.