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UK PRESS RELEASE (11/03/2008)

ARCHBISHOP WELCOMES LANDMARK REPORT - FAITH COMMUNITIES CONTRIBUTING OVER £2 BILLION TO BRITAIN

A landmark report published today suggests that the contribution of faith community congregations to the UK economy is well in excess of £2.1 billon.

Demonstrating the extensive contribution of faith community congregations (not para congregation faith based bodies) in relation to welfare provision, language, faith tourism, building use etc, the report - Counting for Communities - reveals just what a crucial a role faith has to play in contemporary society.

Commissioned by voluntary sector bodies working with the Welsh Assembly Government, the audit demonstrates that faith community congregations contribute £102 million to the Welsh economy per annum, which if projected upwards on a proportional basis for the UK as a whole would mean faith community congregations are contributing at least £2.1 billion.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Dr Rowan Williams, has warmly welcomed the report."Counting Communities demonstrates just what an extensive and valuable role faith communities play in today's society. The contribution made by Christians and people of other faiths to public life in Wales that is revealed in this report, offers both example and encouragement to us all. I hope that the report is widely read, not only in Wales, but also in all parts of the United Kingdom. People of faith looking to promote better understanding of the benefits of partnership between different faith communities and between faith and government will find much in it to commend."

Wales' First Minister Rhodri Morgan, meanwhile, writing in the foreword states that the study will "surprise a good many both within the 'faith sector' and more widely across the public and voluntary sectors through the sheer scale and breadth of the faith communities' contribution that it reveals. Faith communities have played a key role in the history of Wales and even today offer a range of vital services which complement and enhance the work of government."

President of The Council of the Christian Voluntary Sector in Wales, Rev Julian Richards said, "The findings of this audit demonstrate that the faith sector's contribution to the benefit of society is not confined to the past but is a present reality in today's Britain. This report signals to government and all involved in the delivery of welfare provision that the churches and faith based communities have a very strategic role the play in community development."

The report Faith in Wales: Counting Communities has been produced by Gweini: The Council of the Christian Voluntary Sector in Wales and the Wales Council for Voluntary Action. It will be launched today at the Brazz Restaurant in the Wales Millennium Centre, adjacent to the National Assembly for Wales. The keynote speaker will be Dr Brian Gibbons AM, Minister for Social Justice.

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