Food Bank - Copyright Jeff Blacker / REX

Massive rise in church volunteering

Sun 08 Mar 2015
By Desmond Busteed

Volunteering through UK churches has increased by nearly 17% over the past two years, according to the third biennial National Church and Social Action Survey.

Figures indicate that 1.1 to 1.4 million volunteers participated in church-based social action in the UK in 2014, benefiting 'millions' of people through various initiatives.

The study's revealed UK churches have increased the average number of volunteer hours on social action to 114.8m per annum. This is an increase of 16.8% compared with two years earlier and 59.4% compared with four years ago.

The research found UK churches have also increased the average number of staff hours on social action by 18.8% in two years. 

In addition to volunteering, church members also finance the vast majority of initiatives, according to the study, with UK churches increasing their spending on social action to approximately £393m in 2014.

This, the survey maintains is an increase of 14.9% in two years and 36.5% in four years. It believes 72% of churches are financing social actions totally themselves, while for those that have received any grants, these do not cover total costs.

Food distribution has become the number one activity, continuing the trend seen in the last survey.

The top 10 activities of churches in the 2014 sample are:
1. Food distribution
2. Parents and toddlers groups
3. Schools assemblies/RE work
4. Festivals/fun days
5. Children's clubs - up to age 11 (apart from church children's ministry)
6. Caring for elderly (apart from church members)
7. Debt counselling
8. Youth work - 12-18 (apart from church youth ministry)
9. Cafe open to public
10. Marriage counselling/courses


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