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Wales Press Release (11/03/2008)

FAITH COMMUNITIES CONTRIBUTE OVER £100 MILLION TO WELSH ECONOMY

First Minister welcomes "groundbreaking"  research into the contribution of faith groups Work undertaken by faith groups in Wales contributes the equivalent of over £100 million* to the Welsh economy, according a report launched today.

The report, Faith in Wales: Counting for Communities is the first of its kind in Wales. It includes statistics of all the main religions in Wales - Christian, Bahai, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh and was carried out by Christian group Gweini, working in partnership with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA).

First Minister for Wales Rhodri Morgan said in a forward to the report that he welcomes the "groundbreaking research" and expects it will be of "great importance" for fostering better understanding and awareness of faiths and cultures in Wales.

Speaking at today's launch Social Justice Minister Dr Brian Gibbons said that the report was an important milestone in better understanding the faith communities in Wales.

“I would like to thank all those who were involved in this research since for the first time ever we have estimates for the contribution of faith communities to society in Wales. The detailed evidence will help improve and strengthen interfaith relationships and will foster greater understanding and respect between different faiths.

"The Welsh Assembly Government has a proud record of working with all communities and has long recognised the important contribution made by all the faith communities to life in Wales."

The report highlights useful areas, such as the extent of volunteering in faith communities, and covers sectors such as youth, tourism, health and the Welsh language.

Rev Elfed Godding, the National Director of the Evangelical Alliance Wales, a founding member of Gweini, said: "One of the messages we want to get across in this report is that faith communities want to work with government to tackle problems in Wales. Faith communities are well placed to provide public services, especially as they are often in touch with hard-to-reach people.

"We believe the information in this report reveals that faith communities are leading the way within certain fields' there is often a lack of statistics in Wales for the voluntary sector, and this will enable us to see what is being done and where the gaps are."

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