The value of volunteer hours contributed through faith groups in Cornwall is in excess of £20 million per year.

That was the conclusion drawn by Lois Wild, project worker at Transformation Cornwall, as she presented the Key Findings of the Survey of Faith Groups in Cornwall at a conference held in the Chamber of Cornwall Council Offices on 23 January.

Over 100 delegates, gathered from across the voluntary sector, heard Lois explain that the survey, which had been conducted mostly online and via e-mail, represented the feedback from 184 faith groups (86% Christian, 8% Other, 3% Buddhist, 1% Islamic, 1% Jewish & 1% Baha’i).

Topping the list of groups for which the volunteers provided a service were children & young people (44%), elderly people (44%), homeless people (17%), people with mental health problems (14%) and as carers (14%).

And top services were Foodbanks/food parcels (48%), spiritual healing (28%), support for parents, such as mother & toddler groups (25%), bereavement (24%) and promotion of local produce/Fairtrade (22%).

Seventy-two percent of the groups offered their buildings for use by other groups and 61% provided this space free of charge.

“The results speak for themselves and clearly demonstrate the care and enthusiasm faith groups in Cornwall put into their communities,” Lois concluded.

Responding to the findings, assistant chief executive of Cornwall Council, Paul Masters, suggested that we are living through one of the biggest social experiments in recent times – a rebalancing of the roles of government, public services and the individual. “The Council recognises the incredibly important role that the faith sector, alongside other volunteering organisations, carries out to help the community,” he said.

The session on the survey results was followed by a series of presentations and ‘showcase projects’ from: Cornwall Faith Forum, Newlyn Trinity Methodist Church & The Centre, Bude Street Pastors, Wadebridge Christian Centre, Lizard Chan Buddhist Group and Churches Together in Cornwall; and a Practical Action Toolkit led by Debbie Croucher from Transformation Cornwall.

 Key Findings of the Survey of Faith Groups in Cornwall

               ITV West Country Package