The Mayor of London is encouraging politicians to look to the...
The Church and faith groups are saving the NHS more than £3 billion every year, according to a new study.
The Cinnamon Network - which is a charity that connects faith-based organisations - studied 32 church-led initiatives and identified how they tackle issues including mental health, obesity and social isolation.
They found that more than 3,500 churches and 200,000 volunteers were making a significant contribution to the overstretched health service.
Matt Bird, founder of the Cinnamon Network told Premier the state of the nation would be worse without the Church's help.
Speaking during Premier's News Hour, he said: "Now we have evidence to show actually, active churches help reduce obesity, help prevent loneliness, and address mental health issues and dementia and many other aspects of just normal life for normal people."
Rt Hon Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London said in a statement: "The NHS is under considerable pressure; increasing public expectation, increasing life expectancy, improvements in technology and limited resources. If we are able to improve our health and the health of the community, we can contribute to the better use of those limited resources.
"The Church's Impact on Health and Care research is an important contribution to understanding how the voluntary sector and specifically the church and faith-based projects can promote health and create community and belonging."
Niky Dix, is the founder of Intentional Health, a Christian charity that aims to equip local churches with the tools to inspire healthy communities.
She told Premier that the Church is in no way trying to replace GPs.
"What I see in the health service…there is a massive need to provide evidence for what you do and to be able to do what you do well and excellently.
"Things that might seem professional and excellent in the health world might not be as professional and excellent in the local church. That's actually why I set up Intentional Health because I thought, 'if I can equip the Church with the resources that stand on that excellent levels with GPs, that would make the GPs be able to see that…we're serious about this'.
"We want to do this and we want to do it well. We want to do it in a way that honours God, as well as honours our communities and serves them. We shouldn't just expect as a Church that GPs should signpost to us because we're offering this service. We have to show that we have something of value to offer as well and that's why we certainly take time in training the church volunteers as well."
Listen to Matt Bird, founder of the Cinnamon Network speaking to Premier's Alex Williams:
Listen to Niky Dix, founder of Intentional Health speaking to Premier's Eno Adeogun:
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