Faith in Wales: Counting for Communities: Summary of Findings for the County Borough of Torfaen
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 50% for Torfaen), and this allows summaries to be made for each of the unitary authorities. Here are some of the highlights of the information available for Torfaen.
Torfaen has over 50 active faith communities (individual congregations, or parishes in the case of the Church in Wales). All faith communities identified in the survey are churches.
This represents roughly one church for no more than 1,700 people in Torfaen.
Every week, roughly 2.5% of the population of Torfaen 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 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 Torfaen 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); Marriage preparation; Support for older people; and Youth work (14 - 25 year olds); in which the number of churches involved is estimated to be 36, 28, 26, 20 and 20 respectively.
Around 85% of the churches in Torfaen are active in one or other area of community services, with an average number of around five areas of activity each.
Just under 600 volunteers are estimated to work on behalf of the wider community in activities organised by churches in Torfaen. This represents around just under 1,300 hours a week, equivalent to over 30 full-time workers.
In addition, churches in Torfaen employ around 8 paid staff to work with the wider community, representing a further 170 hours a week, equivalent to four full-time workers.
Many churches provide accommodation for the wider community. In Torfaen around 30 rent out rooms to outside groups; and around 15 supply some accommodation free of charge.
Using standard techniques, the economic benefit impact of just part of the services provided by churches to Torfaen can be estimated at £1.1M per year.
And, of course, this is only part of the impact of churches. For example, around 7 churches in Torfaen are estimated to be strongly involved in their local Community Strategy.