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Norwich social action survey shows work is 'force for good'

The social action work of churches and faith groups across Norwich is having a hugely positive local impact according to the results of a new survey ...

The social action work of churches and faith groups across Norwich is having a hugely positive local impact according to the results of a new survey. Network Norwich and Norfolk's Keith Morris reports.

The Cinnamon Faith Action Audit, conducted earlier this year, received responses from 43 Norwich-based faith groups. Between them these groups reported running 388 social action projects for the benefit of 85,320 people outside of their own membership group, during 2014.

This work was run by 215 paid staff and 3,921 volunteers, putting in a staggering 810,000 hours of work and, using the Living Wage rate of £7.85 an hour, plus some additional resources, the financial value of this project work is around £6.7 million.  

One of the respondents was Norwich Foodbank, which enlists the help of 180 volunteers, many from local churches. Last year it provided three-day emergency food parcels for 9,474 people including 3,231 children in genuine need, along with refreshments, listening ears and referrals to other agencies.  

Hannah Worsley, project manager, said: “Norwich foodbank celebrates the fact that those with faith work alongside those without – both in a volunteering capacity and with those accessing our service – serving either because they want to put their faith into action or out of a simple desire to help local people in need.”  

The Norwich report was launched on December 2 at a meeting of church leaders in Norwich under the banner of Transforming Norwich. Also speaking at the meeting was Norwich City Council leader Cllr Alan Waters, who welcomed the report and said: “The Cinnamon report on Norwich is a mirror reflection of what we at the city council aspire to do.”  

Phil Thorne, local co-ordinator of the survey and pastor at Alive Church in Norwich, said: “The results celebrate the immense variety of work impacting groups of all ages and situations from all faiths and none and will increase the working relationships with our local authorities.”  

Danny Doran-Smith, Chair of Norwich churches group Transforming Norwich, which has backed the survey, said: “Local churches and other faith groups in Norwich work with families, provide debt advice, coach people back into work, offer emergency food parcels and provide a safe place to belong and build friendships. These groups are uniquely positioned to support those in most need on multiple levels and we believe that they should be celebrated and encouraged.

“The results of the survey show that local churches and other faith groups in Norwich work with a vast cross-section of beneficiaries and gives an insight into the true breadth, value and impact they have on all sections of the community."  

Cinnamon Network founder Matt Bird said: “The purpose of the audit was to provide evidence for both the social impact and the economic value of all that faith groups do in communities across the UK. We hope that the evidence provided will inspire a greater confidence that faith and faith-based social action is a force for good in our society.”

Copies of the Norwich report are available from Transforming Norwich at transformingnorwich@gmail.com

 

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