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Church of England providing vital community services

A new study by the Church Urban Fund has highlighted the vital community roles performed by the Church of England's churches.

In response to an appeal from the new Archbishop of Canterbury, the report shows how churches are stepping in to plug gaps in the provision of vital services in communities across England. 

The report's key findings include:

• 6,500+ CofE parishes now provide special services for elderly people, schoolchildren, parents and new immigrants

• 8 out of 10 reported that individual parishioners give up their spare time to provide informal help to people struggling with issues such as isolation, family breakdown, drug abuse, domestic violence or spiralling debt

• 54% of clergy said they run at least one organised activity to address a specific social need in their area, and many organise several

• Activities range from parent and toddler clubs to highly specialised debt or stress counselling, community cafés and food, clothes or furniture banks

• More than one in 10 said they run street “patrols” providing blankets and food to homeless people or simply helping drunk people get home safely

Speaking just days before his appointment, the new Archbishop, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, said the economic crisis offered the Church its “greatest moment of opportunity since the Second World War” to reach into communities.

The CofE's 16,000 churches already serve a vast range of critical community needs, and many Anglican buildings double up as shops, playgroups, GP surgeries, food banks, citizens advice bureaux, post offices, refuges and homeless shelters, complementing their primary role as places of worship.

Click here to see some examples and find out more about our 'Open and Sustainable' campaign.