Churches and faith groups from across Kingston upon Thames last week launched a powerful new report in association with UK charity Cinnamon Network, providing clear evidence of the large scale social action impact and economic value these groups are having in the local community.
The Cinnamon Faith Action Audit for Kingston upon Thames launched at an event at YMCA Hawker in north Kingston, hosted by YMCA St Paul’s Group and introduced by Rev David Shosanya, Ambassador for the Cinnamon Network. It is the most detailed and comprehensive report of its kind to date.
The report reveals that £8.2 million was given in time by Kingston upon Thames churches and faith groups to local social action projects. Among other crucial statistics, the survey reveals that the time alone given by churches and other faith groups through social action projects in the area was worth about £8.2 million of financial value including a total of 467,574 hours of volunteer hours per year and impacting over 100,000 people in the local community.
On a national level this puts time given by UK faith groups into their communities at over £3 billion a year, supporting 48 million beneficiaries.
This shows that at a time when budget cuts, changes to benefits and rising housing costs are affecting many communities across the country, there are groups of committed and faith-driven individuals who are stepping into the gap.
Richard James, CEO of YMCA St Paul’s Group, said:
“I am pleased to be able to sponsor this Cinnamon Faith Action Audit for Kingston. The faith community in this borough has had a significant role to play in the local community for many years; this report provides a great snapshot on what impact it delivers. It is my hope that it provides a platform for increased communication and greater collaboration in the future.”
Local faith groups meet a wide range of social needs including social housing, support to families, providing debt advice, coach people back into work, offer emergency food parcels and provide a safe place to belong and build friendships.
32 faith groups from Kingston completed the Cinnamon Faith Action Audit in early February this year. The report highlighted that in Kingston, faith groups reached over 100,000 beneficiaries through more than 300 social projects in 2014. More than 4,000 volunteers and 590 paid staff contributed with a total value of £8,242,060 of paid and volunteer hours.
The report also disproved the stereotype of churches and faith groups predominantly working with women and children as it identified that paid staff and volunteers were actively working with people from all ages and with men and women in almost equal measure.
The event which not only launched the research itself, hosted key partners including Kingston Council whose Head of Strategic Partnerships Dean Tyler spoke of statutory provision becoming increasingly stretched leading to community action becoming more and more important. A point which Anthony Enoch, Deputy Borough Commander for the Metropolitan Police, Kingston agreed with. He described the growing symbiosis between community groups and the police force. “The Faith Action Audit gives additional footing with which supports our community work”, he said. We also heard from community groups themselves, including Kingston Vineyard, whose drop-in service, The Hub, supports hundreds of families and individuals in need within the borough. What emerged throughout the morning was that the needs of people within communities were central to policies and projects throughout the borough.
Cinnamon Network’s aim in undertaking the Cinnamon Faith Action Audit nationally was to take a pragmatic approach that recognises that the new government will face a challenge in reducing the deficit. At a time when budget cuts, changes to benefits and rising housing costs are affecting people in most cities and towns across the UK statutory provision looks set to be increasingly limited for the foreseeable future, creating widening gaps in services. Cinnamon Network’s vision is to see local churches and other groups respond to this growing issue and build stronger relationships with local authorities, the police and other agencies.